[Table of Contents]
Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Volume I. (1868)
C H A P T E R X I.
Reformatory views of the Haldanes--Division--Religious influences at Glasgow--
Abandonment of Presbyterianism--Helensburgh--Embarkation
HE knowledge which he obtained during his intimacy with Mr. Ewing, in regard to the religious reformation then progressing in Scotland, made a deep impression on the mind of Alexander Campbell. That devotion to the Bible by which the movement was characterized was entirely consonant with his own cherished feelings; and that independence of spirit which led the Haldanes to establish a system of lay-preaching and itineracy, and to endeavor to carry the gospel into every town and hamlet in spite of clerical opposition, was most congenial to his own character and disposition. Such, indeed, was the contrast between the unselfish and liberal proceedings of the Haldanes and their coadjutors, and the course which the clergy pursued under the influence of their narrow policies and bigoted sectarianism, that it is not surprising to find him stating, as he did in after years, that he "imbibed disgust at the popular schemes, chiefly while a student at Glasgow." Nor is it strange that the munificent liberality of the elder brother, Robert, and the earnest and abundant labors of the younger, James A. Haldane, filled him with admiration. He felt his own devotion to the cause of human salvation and advancement strengthened, and, while without means  to imitate the example of the former, he felt that he might, at least, follow that of the latter in preaching the gospel without charge. Hence it was that, when he commenced his public ministry, he resolved that he would preach the gospel without fee or reward. To the purpose then formed he steadfastly adhered throughout his subsequent life, not only demanding nothing for his services as a preacher, but defraying his own traveling expenses, in all his many tours through the greater part of the United States, as well as in Canada and in Europe.
As it respects the doctrines taught by the Haldanes, he found that they did not fully approve the views of Glas, Sandeman and of Walker, which were at that time much discussed, and with which he had himself become somewhat acquainted. The Haldanes regarded the writings of Glas and Sandeman as exhibiting, here and there, noble views of the freeness of the gospel and the simplicity of faith; but to their system, as a whole, and especially to the intolerant spirit manifested by them and their followers, both the brothers were always strongly opposed. With regard to faith, they regarded Sandeman's view, that it was the mere assent of the understanding to testimony, and that faith in Christ did not differ from faith in any other historical personage, as frigid and defective. They regarded it as resting, indeed, upon the evidence furnished by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, but as embracing not only the understanding but the heart; and both of them have remarked that "trust or confidence in Christ seemed substantially to express the meaning of the term." This simple and comprehensive view was that which Mr. Campbell, in his subsequent religious history, himself adopted, and continued to advocate during his  entire life. Amidst his numerous controversies, indeed, he was often obliged, in contending against the popular errors upon the subject, to insist upon the absolute necessity of evidence, and to assert, most truthfully, that where there was no evidence, there could be no faith; yet he ever regarded true faith in Christ as implying a willingness to submit to his authority, and as consisting in a heartfelt, personal trust in Him as the Son of God and the appointed Saviour of mankind.
The object of the Haldanes had not been the inculcation of new tenets. They wished rather to awaken the community from their apathy to greater religious zeal, and had no idea, in the beginning, of separating from the Church of Scotland, with whose doctrines, as exhibited in the Westminster Confession, they substantially agreed. They had, however, simpler views of the gospel, and labored especially to impress upon men the divinity, dignity and the glory of Christ, and the all-sufficiency of the work of salvation which he accomplished; and to enforce the great principle of justification by faith. Thus far, their reformation was a revival of that of Luther and Calvin, from whose spirit and teaching Protestants in general had at that time greatly departed. When finally compelled, through the opposition and intractability of the clergy, to form a separate congregation, they were unexpectedly led to enter upon a new chapter of church reform, and from the teaching of the Scriptures, to which they were accustomed to refer as the only authority, to adopt the independent or congregational form of church government. It was to Mr. Ewing, whose mind was much engaged with this particular subject, that this change was mainly due. He had advocated it before in the Missionary Magazine, and in his religious sentiments  generally he was much more favorable to the views of Glas and Sandeman than were the Haldanes. Indeed, his introduction of the works of Sandeman into the seminary at Glasgow gave umbrage to the Haldanes, who protested against it, and it was one of the reasons for the transfer of the seminary to Edinburgh. When the new churches were first formed, it was adopted as a principle that ecclesiastical usages should be conformed to the practice of the apostolic churches. Hence, while the Scottish National Church attended to the Lord's Supper only twice a year, Mr. Ewing first introduced, at Glasgow, the practice of celebrating it every Lord's Day. This was soon after adopted by the Edinburgh church, and the rest of the new churches. Mr. Ewing next proposed a weekly church-meeting, besides the Lord's Day meeting, which was to be for social worship and mutual exhortation. Various publications were at this time made upon the subject of church order, as Mr. Ewing's "Rules of Church Government;" "Reasons for separating from the Church of Scotland," by Dr. Innes; a pamphlet by Alexander Carson, containing his reasons for separating from the Presbyterians, and a volume by James A. Haldane, published in 1805, entitled "Views of the Social Worship of the First Churches," which quickly ran through two editions. To these publications, replies were made by the Rev. Mr. Brown of Langton and others, which occasioned other pamphlets from J. A. Haldane, Mr. Ewing and Mr. Carson. Thus the subject of church order came to occupy a large share of attention, and gave rise to much discussion and disagreement among the members of the churches. It was about this time that William Ballantyne published his "Treatise on the Elder's Office," which brought matters to a crisis, and  was the means of producing a widespread division in the new churches. In this treatise he insisted upon a plurality of elders in every church, and upon the great importance of mutual exhortation on the Lord's Day, as the means of obtaining them. Mr. Ballantyne had first been officiating in Thurso, but afterward in the Tabernacle at Elgin, where he had under his charge one of the classes of missionary students supported by Robert Haldane. The adoption of his views by the Haldanes, and the debates which they occasioned, caused great disaffection amongst the churches; and when J. A. Haldane, during the spring previous to Alexander Campbell's visit to Glasgow, informed his congregation at Edinburgh that he could no longer conscientiously baptize children, and, in the month of April, was himself immersed, the division, which had been for some time imminent, immediately occurred in the church at Edinburgh. Some of the members went back to the Established Church; some to Mr. Aikman's church in College street, while a considerable number concluded to become a separate church, and rented a room to meet in. The remainder, about two hundred in number, remained with J. A. Haldane, agreeing to make the question of baptism a matter of forbearance. It was not, indeed, so much the change in J. A. Haldane's views of baptism, as the doctrine urged by Ballantyne and others that it was not only the privilege but the duty of the members in general to speak in the church on the Lord's Day, that was the real cause of division. This practice, which had been introduced several years before, under the title of "church order," had been found largely productive of church disorder, and threatened to destroy completely the pastoral office. Many debates and dissensions, and some local schisms,  as at New Castle and London, had, indeed, already been produced by thus allowing incompetent members (for in these cases the most ignorant are generally the most forward) to undertake the office of public teachers and exhorters--an office which, in the primitive Church, could safely be exercised, under apostolic direction, only by those possessed of spiritual gifts.
These dissensions, and the division which took place immediately after J. A. Haldane's immersion, were earnestly deprecated by both the brothers, and sincerely regretted by many pious men in all the religious parties, who regarded, approvingly, the remarkable success, thus far, of the effort to awaken a deeper religious interest among the people. The division spread rapidly from Edinburgh through all the churches of the connection; and, as the pecuniary assistance of Robert Haldane could no longer be consistently continued to those who were opposed to his views of church reform, and who, with Mr. Ewing and the leaders of the seceding party, refused to have visible communion any longer with those who adhered to the Haldanes, this great effort to establish Congregationalism in Scotland was deprived of that support which had hitherto so largely contributed to its success. Accordingly, the cause of Independency from this time languished, whilst the prominent religious parties, who had, at length, become awakened to more correct views of the gospel, and to greater earnestness, began to exert a better influence; and, under the leadership of Chalmers and others, to preach the gospel in greater purity, and to adopt various successful methods of promoting religious knowledge.
This disruption among the Independents connected with the Haldanes had taken place during the year  preceding Mr. Campbell's attendance at the Glasgow University, and the questions involved were still frequent subjects of discussion at Mr. Ewing's. The Haldanes, who regarded the preaching of Christ crucified as the great essential matter, and wished all differences about church order and church ordinances to be matters of forbearance, continued to persevere in the course they had adopted. Believing that there should be a plurality of qualified elders in every church, Robert Haldane had consented to act for a time, with his brother James, in the church at Edinburgh. In the course of a few months, he himself abandoned pedobaptist views, and was immersed. The same change took place also with various other leading men in the connection. John Campbell had long since been immersed, and was now acting as pastor at Kingsland Chapel, near London, where he continued to labor for thirty-six years, with the exception of five years which he spent as a missionary and explorer in Africa. Mr. Innes, also, who came to Edinburgh, soon after the disruption, to preach for a portion of the members who had broken off from the Tabernacle, in a few months, likewise, changed his views on the subject of baptism, and was immersed.1 The same change had occurred  with William Stevens, who, as before related, had succeeded John Campbell as teacher in the Edinburgh Seminary. The acute and critical Dr. Carson, also, had experienced the same change of views on the subject, and now occupied the same position as the Haldanes, believing that immersion only was baptism, but in his church at Tubbermore not making it a term of  communion, A great number of the Glasite Independents had, indeed, a number of years previously, adopted immersion, and becoming very strict in their views of communion and of church discipline, had given rise to the Scotch Baptists, who found in Archibald McLean a very able champion of their principles. It was the works of McLean that had revolutionized the views of William Jones, the author of the History of the Waldenses, who was baptized at Chester in 1786, and who was at this time (1809) presiding over the Scotch Baptist Church in London. A similar change of views in regard to baptism had occurred among a party of Independents, gathered together at Glasgow by the "Benevolent Magistrate," the father-in-law of Robert Owen--David Dale,2 who had died at Glasgow  some two and a half years before Mr. Campbell took up his sojourn there. This eminent man, who, by his genius and enterprise, had accumulated great wealth, which he devoted largely to Christian enterprises, had been brought up in the Church of Scotland, but was gradually led to reject creeds and other human compositions, as possessed of any authority in matters of faith and duty, and to appeal to the Scriptures alone. He was led to this view through the influence of Mr. Barclay, a Scotch clergyman, who founded the sect of the Bereans, so called because, after the example of the  ancient Bereans, they professed to build their religious system on the Scriptures alone. This party first assembled as a separate society in Edinburgh, in 1773. Mr. Dale was led by his new principles to adopt Independency, and he became finally the pastor of the church thus formed at Glasgow. Contention soon after arose about points of church order and discipline; such as the regular use of the Lord's Prayer, rising to sing, the audible utterance of "amen" by the worshipers, etc. A portion of the church broke off and joined the Glasites, and Mr. Dale continued with the remainder, who advocated mutual forbearance in regard to things not clearly revealed, and who continued for some time in harmony. But differences of opinion again manifested themselves--First, In regard to the right of elders to contract second marriages, which some alleged was forbidden by Paul's precept, that the elder was to be "the husband of one wife," but which Mr. Dale regarded as merely a prohibition of polygamy; Second, In respect to a community of goods, which was strenuously advocated by the poorer members, but which Mr. Dale held was only a temporary and partial practice of the primitive Church, and nowhere commanded; and, Third, Respecting infant baptism, which a large number protested against as unscriptural. These latter, among whom was Mrs. Dale, being unable, through conscientious scruples, to yield this latter point, a new secession occurred, Mr. Dale continuing with the remaining members, and devoting the remainder of his life and his great wealth to missionary and philanthropic purposes.
It may appear somewhat singular that, at this period, none of the questions connected with infant baptism and immersion which had thus caused so many divisions  in Scotland, and in regard to which Mr. Campbell became afterward so distinguished, engaged, at this time, his attention in the least. This may be accounted for, however, by the fact that immersion was not made a term of communion by the Haldanes, and was never urged upon any, being left as a matter of choice to private and individual consideration. In the next place, Mr. Ewing and his coadjutor, the amiable and accomplished Dr. Wardlaw, who had left the Burghers and was now an Independent minister, residing in Glasgow, and who was often at Mr. Ewing's, were both vehemently opposed to immersion, and earnest advocates of infant baptism, in favor of which they both subsequently wrote treatises, which were severely criticised and confuted by Mr. Ewing's former classmate at the University, Alexander Carson of Tubbermore. Under the circumstances, therefore, this particular subject was not likely to become a matter of discussion at Mr. Ewing's, in his family or among his guests, and Mr. Campbell's attention seems to have been entirely confined to the main purposes of the reformation undertaken by the Haldanes, and to those principles of Independency and church order in which Mr. Ewing was particularly interested.
Mr. Ewing frequently invited parties of students to his house along with Alexander, who was greatly impressed with his piety and learning during these interviews, as well as from hearing his lectures and discourses, which he took the opportunity of doing frequently on Sunday evenings, having to attend service in the day-time at the Seceder church. Mr. Ewing still preached in the spacious building which had been used as a circus. The pulpit was in the centre of the building, and Mr. Ewing's audience generally consisted  of from one thousand to two thousand persons, though the building would have held a much greater number. Mr. Ewing was a very fine lecturer, and very popular both as a man and as a preacher, as was also Mr. Wardlaw, who frequently officiated. Between them and the Seceder preacher, Mr. Montre, there was a considerable contrast, for the latter, though a good man, and influential and even popular in his party, was a prosy speaker. His church was large, and during his attendance, Alexander noted down various criticisms and remarks upon his delivery, with which he seems to have been by no means pleased. He therefore availed himself of all the opportunities that presented themselves for "occasional hearing," and thus heard Mr. Ewing frequently, sometimes Mr. Mitchel at Anderston, as well as Dr. Balford at George's Square, and Dr. Wall at the Salt Market, with all of whom he formed an agreeable personal acquaintance. He heard also a number of probationers in all the churches.
The opportunity which he thus enjoyed at Glasgow, of hearing preachers of different denominations, and the intimacy he enjoyed with them, tended greatly to foster his native independence of mind, and to release him from the denominational influences of his religious education--an effect which was, doubtless, facilitated by the fact that his revered father, to whose religious sentiments he was accustomed to pay the utmost deference, was now separated from him by the wide Atlantic. It was, however, by the facts relating to the Haldanes, so often recounted to him by Mr. Ewing and others, that, as formerly intimated, the change in his religious views was chiefly due. He was particularly impressed with the persistent opposition of the clergy of the various establishments to every overture for  reformation; with the unscrupulous methods they often resorted to to hinder the progress of the truths they refused to admit, and the disposition they constantly manifested to exercise the power which they possessed in an arbitrary manner. He became, therefore, gradually, more and more favorable to the principles of Congregationalism entertained by Mr. Ewing, which secured an entire emancipation from the control of domineering Synods and General Assemblies, and which seemed to him much more accordant with primitive usage. At the same time, he did not feel himself at liberty to abandon rashly the cherished religious sentiments of his youth, and the Seceder Church to which his father and the family belonged, and in which he had thought it his duty to be a regular communicant.
He was in this unsettled state of mind as the semi-annual communion season of the Seceders approached, and his doubts in regard to the character of such religious establishments occasioned him no little anxiety of mind concerning the course proper for him to pursue. His conscientious misgivings as to the propriety of sanctioning any longer, by participation, a religious system which he disapproved, and, on the other hand, his sincere desire to comply with all his religious obligations, created a serious conflict in his mind, from which he found it impossible to escape. At the time of preparation, however, he concluded that he would be in the way of his duty, at least, and that he would go to the elders, and get a metallic token, which every one who wished to communicate had to obtain, and that he would use it or not, afterward, as was sometimes done. The elders asked for his credentials as a member of the Secession Church, and he informed them that his membership was in the Church in Ireland, and that  he had no letter. They replied that, in that case, it would be necessary for him to appear before the session and to be examined. He accordingly appeared before them, and being examined, received the token. The hour at which the administration of the Lord's Supper was to take place found him still undecided, and, as there were about eight hundred communicants, and some eight or nine tables to be served in succession, he concluded to wait until the last table, in hopes of being able to overcome his scruples. Failing in this, however, and unable any longer conscientiously to recognize the Seceder Church as the Church of Christ, he threw his token upon the plate handed round, and when the elements were passed along the table, declined to partake with the rest. It was at this moment that the struggle in his mind was completed, and the ring of the token, falling upon the plate, announced the instant at which he renounced Presbyterianism for ever--the leaden voucher becoming thus a token not of communion but of separation. This change, however, was as yet confined to his own heart. He was yet young, and thought it unbecoming to make known publicly his objections, and as he had fully complied with all the rules of the Church, he thought it proper to receive at his departure the usual certificate of good standing.
At the close of the University session in the month of May, as there was no prospect of obtaining for some time a suitable vessel to transport the family to America, he was urged by some of his Glasgow friends to go to Helensburgh as tutor for their families, who were to spend the summer at this agreeable watering-place. He accordingly went thither in the beginning of June, and having obtained pleasant lodgings, taught a number of families, among which were those of Mr.  Monteith, Mr. R. Burns, Mr. Wardlaw, Mr. Buchannon and others. Helensburgh seemed to him a very beautiful, healthful place, and a fine seaport. It lies in Dumbartonshire, nearly opposite Greenock, on the north shore of the Clyde, which here forms an estuary some six miles in width. The most of his acquaintances here were ladies, the male members of these families being occupied in Glasgow during the greater part of the week. Here, freed from the routine and confinement of the college course, he spent some time very delightfully in the midst of a highly cultivated and refined society, and in instructing the young ladies and others who were his pupils.3 His only regret was, that, from the demands made upon his time in teaching, as well as by necessary social calls and the evening walks of parties of ladies, for whom the escort of the youthful tutor was constantly in requisition in order to visit the shady groves and to enjoy the fine prospects from various points in the neighborhood of the village, he had but little time for the reading he desired to accomplish. He by no means, however, neglected his religious improvement, as various pious reflections and annotations upon passages of Scripture, written down during this period, evince. His naturally lively temperament, tempered by religious sobriety, his fine powers of conversation, and his agreeable manners rendered him a pleasant companion to all; and the happy associations which he enjoyed at Helensburgh, for a brief period, seem to have thrown over this portion of his life a charm which he felt quite reluctant to dissolve, when, after a five weeks' residence, a favorable opportunity of emigrating, in a ship from  Greenock, presented itself, and he had to return to Glasgow in order to make preparations for the voyage. Before leaving Helensburgh, however, being requested by one of his friends, a Mr. K------g, to write something for him as a memento, he endeavored to express his feelings in the following lines:
"On a beautiful vale adjacent to the seaport village where
I often spent the evening hours.
"Where, gently pointing to the eastern skies,
Grove-clad Camcascan hills high-tow'ring rise,
Thence, from a spring, Drummora gently flows,
And, as it wends its way, still larger grows,
Till in a murmuring brook it swiftly glides
And hides its treasures in the ceaseless tides.
Along its winding course a valley lies,
Where, all around, in gay luxuriance rise
The spreading trees, the lowly plant and flower;
The hazel copse, the shrub, and woodbine bower--
There, in its golden beauty, smiles the broom,
And close beside, the myrtle in full bloom.
There the young elm and beech, in shady rows,
With other shrubs, entwine their pliant boughs,
And form the cool retreat, the sweet alcove,
The seats of pleasure and the haunts of love;
And there how oft at even have I seen
The fair ones sporting through their alleys green!
And heard them sweet address each herb and flower;
Tell this one's beauties, that one's genial power;
With deep botanic skill on every leaf descant,
And all their virtues in poetic numbers chant!
How, at their coming, did the grove rejoice!
The birds, to charm them, strain their mellow voice!
The flowers, to please them, with each other vie!
The trees, to shade them, lift their heads on high!
How did the hills return their accents sweet
And in soft echoes all their joy repeat!
How did the brook that murmured harsh below,
Now change its movement and more gently flow!
Thus would they sit, near yon translucid spring,
Tell their glad tales and then alternate sing.
Here cheerful sport, till evening dews were feared,
And moonbeams trembling in the brook appeared; 
Then would they homeward bend their winding way,
And through the groves in many a gambol play.
Fair spot! and wilt thou not like me soon change?
And in thy bowers the fair ones cease to range?
Will not thy flowers, that with each other vie
Beneath thy shades, soon droop their heads and die?
For me, no more I'll wander through thy glades,
Seek thy close coverts, and thy cooling shades.
No more within thy shady bowers
I'll spend my lonely evening hours;
And now, you groves and vales and lucid well,
And all you beauteous seats of mirth, farewell!"
These lines afford a fair specimen of his skill in versification, and while they betray the absence of that delicacy of ear which readily detects redundant or defective measure, they, at the same time, exhibit poetic fancy and feeling.
It required about a fortnight in Glasgow to make the necessary preparation for the voyage, and then a further delay was occasioned because the ship in which he had taken passage conditionally, the Latonia, Captain McCray, master, from New York and bound there, was, with all other vessels in part, detained by an order from government, until a warlike expedition then fitting out, the destination of which was to be kept secret, should have time to leave the coast. At length, on the 31st of July, with much regret, he took leave of his many warm friends at Glasgow, whose memory he continued to cherish through life, especially that of Mr. and Mrs. Ewing, with whom he was most intimate. He regarded Mrs. Ewing as a very pious and excellent Christian lady, and in after years often spoke with much sympathy of the sad accident by which, in 1828, she was suddenly deprived of life.4 Passing down to  Greenock by the Flyboat with his mother and the family, they arrived there so late at night that it was with some difficulty they could find lodgings; but having at length succeeded, two days more were spent at Greenock in completing their preparations, and at length, everything being on board, the vessel weighed anchor on the 3d August, 1809, and they prepared to bid adieu to Scotland, in which, from the time of the shipwreck, they had spent just three hundred days. 
[Table of Contents]
Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Volume I. (1868)
Send Addenda, Corrigenda, and Sententiae to