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Robert Richardson
Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Volume II. (1869)



C H A P T E R   I X .

Political experience--Beaver anathema--Extra on remission of sins--Annual
meetings--Journey to Nashville--Discussion with Mr. Jennings.

S OON after the debate with Robert Owen, Mr. Campbell became unexpectedly involved in a political canvass for the office of delegate to a convention called to amend the constitution of the State of Virginia. Discontent had long existed, especially in that portion of the State west of the Blue Ridge, in relation to the basis of representation, the right of suffrage and some other matters. As representation was based in part upon slaves, and these were held chiefly in the eastern section of the State, the white population of the western portion, though nearly equal in number to that of the east, found themselves under the control of a majority disposed, they thought, to legislate too exclusively for the interests of their own section. Moved at length by the remonstrances of the western members, or fearful that the rapidly-increasing white population of the west would soon outstrip that of the east and secure political power, the Legislature, during the session of 1827-'28, passed an act to take the sense of the voters on calling a convention. A large majority being found in favor of it, a deep interest immediately spread through the commonwealth; and the most eminent men in the country were sought out as delegates, the east expecting to secure such arrangements as would enable it to [304] retain its supremacy; and the west hoping to gain over a sufficient number of votes to remodel the constitution upon different principles.

      Four delegates were to be selected from the district in which Mr. Campbell resided. Among the distinguished politicians of the western section, Philip Doddridge, of Wellsburg, stood pre-eminent. He was a man of remarkable abilities, and had been repeatedly a representative in the public councils. All eyes rested upon him as the political champion of the west, and he was at once nominated. Up to this time, Mr. Campbell had been before the public only as an educator and a religious teacher. He had never sought nor held any civil office, and had no desire whatever to engage in political affairs. So strongly, however, were the public impressed by his commanding talents and his success in contending against clerical power that a very general desire was expressed to take him up also as a candidate for the convention. Many of those most forward in this were among those opposed to Mr. Campbell in religious sentiments, but from their confidence in his abilities they were the first to propose him and the most eager to induce him to accept the position. So entirely, however, was he devoted to religious reformation, and so averse to everything connected with political strife, that it was not without some reluctance and misgiving he finally consented to become a candidate. It was urged upon him that it was not a canvass for an office of emolument, but an occasion of the utmost importance to the State of which he was a citizen, as the organic law was to be amended and the control of the eastern and great slave-holding portion of the State to be resisted. His religious friends urged, on their part, that as the position was one of great dignity and quite [305] above the ordinary sphere of politics, it would not compromise him in any respect as a religious teacher, but would probably give him greater influence in this respect, and afford him an opportunity of extending the principles of the Reformation by personal intercourse with the eminent and influential persons in the State with whom he would be placed in communication. Influenced by these considerations, he finally consented with the express stipulation on his part that he would not be required or expected to engage personally in the canvass. It was also expressly understood that Mr. Doddridge, whose influence was almost unbounded, fully approved of Mr. Campbell's nomination, and would gladly accept him as his colleague. No sooner, however, had the canvass commenced, than Samuel Sprigg, a distinguished lawyer of Wheeling, in the adjoining county, and a warm personal friend of Mr. Doddridge, offered himself as a candidate in opposition to Mr. Campbell, and it was soon discovered that Mr. Doddridge was lending his powerful influence to promote Mr. Sprigg's election. Upon this, Mr. Campbell addressed some letters to Mr. Doddridge, exposing and severely censuring the course he had thought proper to pursue, and announcing his determination, under the circumstances, not to retire from the field, as Mr. Sprigg's friends probably hoped he would do, but to leave the issue entirely with the people.

      On account of this unexpected opposition, and as Mr. Sprigg was engaged in addressing the public at various points, Mr. Campbell's friends urged him to forego his purpose of remaining silent during the canvass, and insisted that it would be necessary for him also to make some speeches, especially in the more distant parts of the district, where he was less known. Yielding to [306] these representations, he filled several appointments during the few weeks previous to the day of election, at which time he made it a point to be present at one of the most doubtful and important precincts in Monongalia county, where Mr. Sprigg was also to address the voters at the polls. On this occasion Mr. Sprigg spoke first, and took occasion to descant upon the unfitness of persons of the ministerial profession for such duties as were to devolve upon the members of the convention, and upon the importance of sending delegates whose lives had been spent in the investigation and practical application of the principles of civil government and constitutional law. He expounded also the engrossing subject of representation, as founded upon the basis of the white population exclusively, or upon the compound ratio of white population and slaves, announcing himself in favor of the former as essential to the political equality of the western portion of the State. Upon these subjects he continued to speak so long that but little time was left for Mr. Campbell before the opening of the polls.

      Under the circumstances, Mr. Campbell manifested that superior knowledge of human nature, and that fine appreciation of existing conditions, which, had he chosen to devote himself to political matters, would have enabled him to obtain almost any office within the gift of the people. Knowing that the audience were somewhat wearied with the political disquisitions to which they had been listening, he, upon rising, remarked that he could not think of detaining the people much longer from the polls, and then proceeded to rebut, in a few pointed remarks, the arguments which had been used by his opponent against the political competency of ministers of religion, and in favor of [307] the supposed claims of lawyers upon the confidence of the community. He then briefly expressed himself as in favor of having representation based entirely upon the white population, and depicted the evils growing out of the existing system, where men enjoyed political power in proportion to the number of persons they held in bondage. Admitting the propriety of requiring from candidates an expression of their principles, and perceiving that the audience consisted almost entirely of farmers, he went on to say that the principle which would guide him was one of a very plain and simple nature.

      "As you well know, my friends," said he, "each portion of our widespread country has its own peculiar interests, and in my judgment this simple fact should govern the entire course of its legislation. If the people of Virginia were a manufacturing community, then its legislation should be directed to the fostering and protecting of manufactures. If we were a commercial people, then the interests of commerce should demand our special attention. But, gentlemen, our State, having no large cities, contains almost exclusively an agricultural population, and I hence argue that the interests of the farmer should be chiefly considered in whatever changes may be proposed in the organic law. Agriculture is, with us, the commanding interest of the State; and while my opponent has been descanting upon the white basis and the black basis, you will permit me to observe that agriculture is with us the true basis of prosperity and of power, and that the honest farmer, who by his daily toil increases the wealth and well-being of the commonwealth, becomes its truest benefactor." Extolling this virtuous and most important calling, showing in eloquent terms the dignity of labor, and announcing himself as having been for years a practical farmer, holding with his own hands the plough, he gradually enlisted the warmest sympathies of his audience, declaring that should they think proper to send him to the convention, while he [308] would by no means neglect the special interest which the west had in a just and equal representation, his aim would be to secure such arrangements as would best subserve the great cause of agriculture. "'Tis the interest of the farmer," said he, "that should be consulted. It is his welfare especially that should be promoted, since it is the farmer who has to bear at last the burdens of the government. Allow me," said he, in concluding, "to illustrate this by what I noticed when a lad on a visit to the city of Belfast. In viewing the city, I recollect that my attention was particularly engaged by a large sign over one of its extensive stores. This sign contained four large painted figures. The first was a picture of the king in his royal robes, with the crown upon his head, and the legend issuing from his mouth, 'I reign for all.' Next to him was the figure of a bishop, in gown and surplice, with the inscription, 'I pray for all.' The third was a soldier in his regimentals standing by a cannon and uttering the words, 'I fight for all.' But the fourth figure, gentlemen, was the most noteworthy and important of all in this pictorial representation of the relations of the different parts of human society. It represented a farmer, amidst the utensils of his calling, standing by his plough and exclaiming, 'I pay for all!'"

      When the shouts and cheers which greeted this conclusion had subsided, the polls were opened. As the law then required each one to announce publicly the name of his candidate, in order to have his vote recorded, nothing for a long time was heard but "Campbell," "Campbell," and it really seemed as if the choice was about to be unanimous. At last one individual came forward and gave the name of "Sprigg;" upon which Mr. Sprigg arose and pleasantly remarked, with a bow, "I thank the gentleman for his vote, for I was really beginning to think you had all forgotten that I am a candidate."

      When the votes of the different counties were [309] returned, it was found that Mr. Campbell and Philip Doddridge were elected, along with Charles D. Morgan and Eugenius M. Wilson, both of Monongalia, to represent the district consisting of Ohio, Tyler, Brooke, Monongalia and Preston counties. The convention, composed in all of ninety-six delegates, met at Richmond on the 5th of October, 1829, and was the most august assembly ever convened in the State, numbering among its members, James Madison and James Monroe, former Presidents of the United States, together with Chief-Justice Marshall and such eminent personages as John Randolph of Roanoke, Judge Upshur, Benjamin W. Leigh and Philip S. Barbour. Many persons from a distance attended to listen to the debates, and among them the talented T. F. Marshall, of Kentucky. The preliminary arrangements having been completed, committees appointed, etc.--Mr. Campbell being on that of the judiciary--it was not long until the existing issues between the east and the west were brought forward. After the discussion had proceeded for some time, and Mr. Doddridge and others had spoken, Mr. Campbell delivered an able speech against the proposition to apportion representation in the House of Delegates according to the white population and taxation combined, for which the east strenuously contended, and which on account of the tax on slaves would have had the effect of perpetuating the political power of the slaveholders.

      It would be out of place here to enter into the merits of these discussions, or to institute a comparison between the arguments of Mr. Campbell and those of others. Suffice it to say that he endeavored to establish four points: 1. That the principles upon which such a proposition was founded rested upon views of society unphilosophic and anti-republican. 2. That such a basis of [310] representation was the common basis of aristocratical and monarchical governments. 3. That it could not be made palatable to a majority of the freeholders of Virginia; and 4. That the white population basis would operate to the advantage of the whole State. In discussing these points he entered upon the subject of human rights, and exposed briefly but pointedly the fallacies of those who wished to establish such an inequality in the right of suffrage. He here incidentally manifested the natural tendency of his mind to reach beyond merely arbitrary and conventional arrangements and to contemplate things in relation to some grand general principle.

      "While, sir," said he, "I am on the subject of such a state of nature, or viewing man as coming into society, may I not take occasion to observe that man exhibits himself as possessing the right of suffrage anterior to his coming into the social compact. It is not a right derived from or conferred by society, for it is a right which belongs to him as a man. Society may divest him of it, but it cannot confer it. But what is the right? It is that of thinking, willing and expressing his will. A vote is nothing more nor less than the expression of a man's will. God has given to man the power of thinking, willing and expressing his will, and no man ever did, as a free agent, enter into any society without willing it. And, we may add, no man could enter into a social compact without first exercising what we must call the right of suffrage. It is a right natural and underived, to the exercise of which every man has by nature as good a reason as another."

      Again, in referring to an argument of Judge Upshur, he remarked: "This gentleman starts with the postulate that there are two sorts of majorities--numbers and interests; in plain English, men and money. I do not understand why he should not have added also majorities of talent, physical strength, scientific skill and general literature. These are [311] all more valuable than money, and as useful to the State. A Robert Fulton, a General Jackson, a Joseph Lancaster, a Benjamin Franklin is as useful to the State as a whole district of mere slaveholders. Now all the logic, metaphysics and rhetoric of this assembly must be put in requisition to show why a citizen having a hundred negroes should have ten times more political power than a Joseph Lancaster or a Robert Fulton with only a house and garden. And if scientific skill, physical strength, military prowess or general literature in some individuals is entitled to so much respect, why ought not these majorities in a community to have as much weight as mere wealth? We admit that fifty men in one district may have as much money as five hundred in another, but we can see no good reason why the superabundant wealth of those fifty should be an equivalent, or rather a counterpoise, against four hundred and fifty citizens in another."

      During the sittings of the convention, Mr. Campbell delivered several speeches, and sought earnestly to secure for the west the changes which were demanded. After many days' debating, however, it appeared evident that the eastern majority was determined to perpetuate its rule, and that no satisfactory adjustment or compromise could be effected. The constitution, accordingly, which was at length drawn up and submitted to the convention January 14, 1830, and which retained those provisions to which the west was opposed, was finally adopted by a majority of fourteen votes.

      While in attendance as a delegate, Mr. Campbell never suffered his religious position to be obscured or compromised for a moment. The great matters concerning the kingdom of Christ were far dearer to him than any earthly interests, and he accordingly, during his stay at Richmond, was careful to make his position as member of the convention contribute as much as possible to his influence as a religious teacher. In his private [312] intercourse with distinguished persons and in the social circle, he neglected no proper opportunity to press the claims of religion, and on every Lord's day addressed large audiences upon the great themes of the primitive gospel. Many of the members of the convention attended his meetings, and were greatly impressed with his remarkable powers, the novel simplicity of his religious views, and the vast range of thought and scriptural knowledge which he displayed. As illustrating the impression which he made, it may be stated, that as ex-President Madison was returning home from the convention, he stopped during the first night with a relative, Mr. Edmund Pendleton, of Louisa, and early next morning, as he and Mr. Pendleton were walking on the portico, the latter, who was somewhat favorable to the principles of the Reformation, asked Mr. Madison what he thought of Alexander Campbell. Mr. Madison in reply spoke in very high terms of the ability shown by him in the convention. "But," continued he, "it is as a theologian that Mr. Campbell must be known. It was my pleasure to hear him very often as a preacher of the gospel, and I regard him as the ablest and most original expounder of the Scriptures I have ever heard."

      Mr. Campbell's political position tended greatly to influence and to secure, even from those who were prejudiced against him, that consideration which his abilities and his native dignity of character merited. His sojourn and preaching in Richmond also contributed in no small degree to promote the spread of his views of religious reformation amongst the community there, and led to the formation of some warm friendships. Many came from a distance to see and hear him, and to confer with him on religious subjects. One, a young physician, who had been the subject of deep convictions, [313] and had become enlightened by reading the the "Christian Baptist," traveled more than a hundred miles for these purposes and to be baptized by Mr. Campbell at Richmond. Many interviews were sought also by the citizens, and profitable conversations held, among which was one of unusual interest with the ruler of the Jewish synagogue, the venerable Mr. Judah, published in the "Mill. Harb.," vol. i., p. 561.

      Among the persons there introduced to him was R. L. Coleman, a young Baptist preacher from Albemarle county, for whom Mr. Campbell conceived a special regard, and who became afterward one of the chief supporters of the cause in Eastern Virginia. Mr. Coleman was born three miles from Scottsville, May 13, 1807, and was the son of Joseph Coleman, a Calvinistic Baptist. The death of his mother when he was nine years of age made a very deep and permanent impression upon him, and led him to religious reflection and much prayerfulness. He was thus preserved from many youthful snares, and, though naturally of a fearless, sensitive and ardent temperament, was enabled to resist the influence and example of those who were wild and dissipated. When he had reached the age of sixteen, the death of his eldest brother greatly deepened his religious impressions, and he resolved that he would endeavor to become a Christian, devoting himself to reading religious works and attending religious meetings. Being under the impression that the Methodists were the most zealous and successful preachers, he first visited their meetings, and day after day, at the mourners' bench, sought the benefit of their prayers, in hopes of receiving that assurance of salvation he had been taught to expect. Failing in this, however, while many of his acquaintances, who had been careless and unconcerned, [314] professed to be converted, be, after a year or two, ceased to attend these meetings, which left him still uncomforted and unhappy, and remained at home to read the Bible and pray. Such, at this time, were his mental anxieties and constant watchfulness that his health failed and his spirits were greatly depressed. Finally, however, he became satisfied, from reading the Bible, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, that he had come into the world and died for sinners, and that he was both willing and able to save them. He felt, also, that he was a sinner, and that he was not only willing to be saved, but that he would give the world, if it were in his possession, to become a Christian. While sitting under a tree and reflecting upon this subject, the question presented itself to him--Why am I not saved? He saw that Christ needed not to be made willing to save him by the intercession of preachers, for he said, "He that is willing to come unto me, I will in no wise cast out;" but, though he fully believed this, and also knew that he was willing to be saved, he had no assurance that he was saved, and remained unable to give any reason why he did not enjoy this assurance. He was satisfied that his heart was changed, that he loved God and the people of God; and that he took pleasure in praying to God and desired to serve him, but still had no assurance that his sins had been forgiven. As he had now been for about three years diligently engaged in seeking for this, as the usual preliminary to a public profession, he felt that he could do no more, and determined to offer himself before the Baptist church as a candidate for baptism. He was unable to say that he had received any assurance of forgiveness, but when he had related to the church the exercises of mind which he had experienced, he was adjudged to be a fit subject for [315] baptism. Next morning, when he went down to be baptized, his mind remained still dark and gloomy in relation to the assurance of pardon which had so long engrossed it; but he was no sooner buried in baptism than he arose from the water with entirely new views and feelings. Perfected by obedience, his faith had become effective; the darkness of his mind was at once illuminated; he realized that his sins had been washed away in the blood of Christ, and that of this he had received, in baptism, the assurance he had so long sought in vain. From that moment his former anxieties and fears for ever disappeared.

      Mr. Coleman was not at this time at all acquainted with Mr. Campbell's views. From rumor he had been led to regard him as a sort of semi-infidel, and little thought that in his own experience he had been just illustrating some of the very things which Mr. Campbell was laboring to impress upon the religious community--viz.: the error of waiting for special spiritual operations, and of depending on variable frames and feelings for the hope of acceptance, rather than upon the word of God and the obedience of faith. Shortly after this, a young Baptist preacher, Gilbert Mason, visiting that part of Virginia, insisted on Mr. Coleman accompanying him on some of his preaching excursions, and by degrees induced him to offer public prayer, and, after some time, to give an exhortation. Finally, he prevailed upon him to take a text and deliver a sermon. Much pleased with his effort, Mr. Mason persuaded him to renew it, until at length he so far overcame his diffidence that he consented to assist other preachers at their meetings. After traveling about for some time in this way, he was urged by two Baptist preachers, Elders John Goss and Porter Cleaveland, to unite with [316] them in keeping up alternately a monthly Baptist meeting in Charlottesville, where no church had as yet been formed. Having acquiesced through their persuasion and his desire to do good, an appointment was made for him, which afterward upon reflection he greatly regretted, being distressed at the idea of having to appear before the superior community of Charlottesville and the literary and distinguished persons belonging to the University of Virginia. Compelled, however, by his promise, he set out for his appointment oppressed with many anxieties and fears, and seeking for help in earnest prayer. At length, as he rode along, the thought occurred to him, "I am willing to be a fool for Christ's sake," when in an instant his anxiety disappeared and he became perfectly tranquil in resignation to the will of God. Entering the house, he found the congregation large, and feeling relieved from all considerations of self, he stood up in the pulpit without perturbation, and in the enjoyment of unusual freedom began to address the congregation from the text, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?' In appearance he was tall and prepossessing, graceful in his manner, copious in diction, abundant and apposite in his quotations of Scripture; and the people soon became deeply interested as the young preacher dwelt with feeling and earnestness upon the important query to which he had directed their attention. So highly pleased were all with the discourse that he was invited to speak again in the evening, but declined doing so. The other preachers failing to carry out their arrangement for monthly preaching, this now devolved upon Mr. Coleman, who subsequently, with the aid of. Mr. Mason, held a meeting of some days, baptizing a number and constituting a Baptist church of some [317] sixty members. Under his labors the church there continued to prosper, so that in two or three years its membership had increased to two hundred, and he was duly ordained its pastor in May, 1831, by Elders John Goss and Porter Cleveland. As he had now become one of the most popular preachers in the Baptist ranks, he was kept constantly in the field, happy in being able to speak to his fellow-creatures on the great subject of salvation and to enjoy the society and fellowship of those who professed to love the Lord. Such was his zeal and ardor that, though delicate in health, he labored more abundantly than many who were vigorous, preaching not only at Charlottesville, but in Scottsville, Lynchburg, through the valley from Staunton to the Warm Springs, and over the Alleghany to Pocohontas. Previous to the meeting of the convention, he had been reading Mr. Campbell's writings, and it was with great pleasure that, upon visiting Richmond, he for the first time saw and heard him delivering in the First Baptist Church a discourse of three hours' duration upon the covenants, based upon Ex. xix. and xx., and Heb. viii. Greatly impressed with his masterly development of the subject and his accurate and profound knowledge of the Scriptures, he became more and more convinced of the need of the reformation in religious society for which the speaker so eloquently pleaded, and, with his usual candor, expressed his approval of it and endeavored to maintain its principles among his Baptist friends.

      Mr. Campbell, on his way home from the convention, filled an appointment for preaching in Upper Essex meeting-house, where he had a very agreeable meeting with many of his acquaintances in this portion of the State. He enjoyed particularly the pleasure of an [318] interview with the venerable Bishop Semple, who came to hear him, and with whom he spent the evening in religious and social converse at the hospitable abode of Thomas M. Henley. After prayer and praise they reposed upon the same couch, and in the morning, after Mr. Campbell had baptized a young disciple from King William, they parted with the kindest wishes.

      "What I admired most of all," said Mr. Campbell, in speaking of the incident, "was the good temper and Christian courtesy of this venerable disciple, who, though unable to rise above all his early associations and the long-received opinions which a long course of reading and teaching had riveted upon his mind, yet did not lose sight of the meekness and mildness, the candor and complaisance which the religion of Jesus teaches, and without which, though a man's head were as clear as an angel's intellect, his religion is vain." This interview was succeeded by a somewhat extended correspondence in the "Harbinger" with Bishop Semple, which, though kindly in spirit, did not produce agreement in opinion.

      Reaching home on the first of February, having been absent since the twenty-second of September, Mr. Campbell found many letters awaiting reply. Among them was one from William Tener of Londonderry, in his answer to which, after referring to his attendance at the convention, he says, in relation to the motives which had influenced him in becoming a candidate for the convention:

      "But you may ask, What business had I in such matters? I will tell you. I have no taste or longings for political matters or honors, but as this was one of the most grave and solemn of all political matters, and not like the ordinary affairs of legislation, and therefore not incompatible with the most perfect gravity and self-respect, I consented to be elected, and especially because I was desirous of laying a foundation for the abolition of slavery (in which, however, I was not [319] successful), and of gaining an influence in public estimation to give currency to my writings, and to put down some calumnies afar off that I was not in good standing in my own State."

      The constitution adopted by the convention proved, as Mr. Campbell expected, quite unpalatable to the people of the west. When the vote was to be taken on its ratification in Brooke county he was present, and, by request of the citizens, gave a brief exposition of its main features, expressing the hope that the people would reject it on account of the anti-republican principles upon which it was based, and quoting the case of one of the counties, largely slaveholding, which would have gained representation by its adoption, but which had, nevertheless, by its delegates, "voted for principle and against power." This brief address produced a marked effect, and was much admired for its sententious brevity and point; and when the voting was over it was found that in Brooke alone, of all the counties in the State, the rejection was unanimous, three hundred and seventy votes being polled against, and not one in favor of it. In several other counties, however, there was a near approach to unanimity, as in Logan, where, out of two hundred and fifty-seven votes, there were but two for ratification, and in Ohio county, where, out of six hundred and forty-six, only three were found in its favor. It contained, indeed, in its unequal provisions, the seeds of its own destruction, and it was not many years until the eastern portion of the State found it expedient to agree to a new convention and to concede many of the reforms which had been urged by Mr. Campbell and the other western delegates.

      During Mr. Campbell's temporary connection with these political affairs important religious movements [320] were in progress, seriously affecting the relations of the reforming churches to the Baptist community. His kind personal feelings for many of the Baptist preachers, and his strong desire to continue in religious connection with a people whom he greatly esteemed, had induced him to bear with many deficiencies in their system, in hopes of leading them forward to better views. It was now becoming evident, however, that the increasing bitterness of those who were opposed to the Reformation and the high-handed measures they were disposed to adopt, would soon result in division. Mr. Brantly, Abner W. Clopton, Spencer H. Clack and others were writing with great acrimony in the Baptist periodicals, and giving such misrepresentations of Mr. Campbell's views as were well fitted to awaken and intensify prejudice and opposition. In Kentucky, John Taylor, an aged Baptist preacher, was preparing to circulate what he called a "History of Campbellism," giving the most distorted views of the teaching and purposes of the proposed Reformation, well calculated to create the most bitter hostility in the minds of the uninformed. In various places, indeed, exclusions and divisions had already occurred with individual churches, and a growing spirit of alienation was making itself evident. In the spring of this year (1830) the Third Baptist Church at Philadelphia excluded a number, who immediately formed an independent church, adopting the ancient order of things. But it was in Kentucky, and in certain portions of Virginia, where the principles of the Reformation had been most widely diffused, that the greatest difficulties occurred. It is not to be supposed that in these the Reformers were always faultless. As Mr. Campbell had formerly said, "When any doctrine is professed and taught by many, when any matter gets [321] into many hands, some will misuse, abuse and pervert it." Thus some excited prejudice unnecessarily by declaiming against church covenants, creeds, etc., to the legitimate use of which Mr. Campbell never had objected. Uninformed persons, here and there, gave just offence by dogmatical and crude assertions, nor did a conceit of superior knowledge and an overbearing disposition fail to quench in some that spirit of Christian love and moderation so necessary to success in any attempt to correct the religious errors of mankind. It cannot be truthfully denied, however, that the Reformers in general were conspicuous for the forbearance and patience with which they endured the misrepresentations and injuries of their opponents, who, in their hasty zeal to save from the flames of progress whatever they supposed to belong to the Baptist cause, destroyed by their rashness, in various instances, those precious things which had been so long and so nobly cherished by the Baptists as a people--the rights of conscience, church independency and Christian liberality.

      In the existing state of feeling a slight impulse only was needed in order to precipitate results. This came from an insignificant and unexpected quarter. It had happened that two or three fragments of churches on the Western Reserve, as at Youngstown and Palmyra and the church at Salem, which refused to go into the Reformation, had united themselves with a small Association on Beaver Creek. Here, by the aid of a Mr. Winter, and one or two other preachers who were violently opposed to Mr. Campbell, they induced the Association to publish a circular anathematizing the Mahoning Association and Mr. Campbell as "disbelieving and denying many of the doctrines of the Holy Scripture," of which alleged heresies they went on to [322] present a portentous list. This document was circulated with great diligence, republished in the Baptist papers with commendation, introduced by Dr. Noel into the minutes of the Franklin Association in Kentucky, and its preamble quoted as an introduction to decrees by the Appomattox Association in Virginia, denouncing Mr. Campbell's writings and all persons holding the views expressed in the Beaver publication. These proceedings at once brought matters to a crisis, and induced the Baptists almost everywhere to separate the Reformers from their communion. A spirit of discord and intolerance seemed to sweep over the land, creating everywhere embittered feelings and high-handed and arbitrary decisions on the part of churches and associations. Unable to allay the fury of the storm, Mr. Campbell contemplated its movements with composure, and however much he regretted the extremes into which the Baptists were hurried through the misrepresentations and exaggerations of a few bigoted partisans, he entertained no fears for the results, which he plainly foretold and calmly awaited. After characterizing the Beaver anathema as "a tissue of falsehoods," and exposing, by irrefragable documents, the immoral character of Mr. Winter, one of its chief prompters, he asks:

      "Who is making divisions and schisms? Who is rending the peace of the churches? Who are creating factions, swellings and tumults? We who are willing to bear and forbear, or they who are anathematizing and attempting to excommunicate? Let the umpires decide the question. For my own part, I am morally certain they who oppose us are unable to meet us on the Bible; they are unable to meet us before the public; and this I say, not as respects their talents, acquirements or general abilities, but as respects their systems. [323] Thousands are convinced of this, and they might as well bark at the moon as to oppose us by bulls and anathemas. If there be a division, gentlemen, you will make it, not I; and the more you oppose us with the weight of your censure, like the palm tree we will grow the faster. I am for peace, for union, for harmony, for co-operation with all good men. But I fear you not; if you will fling firebrands, arrows and discords into the army of the faith, you will repent it, not we. You will lose influence, not we. We covet not persecution, but we disregard it. We fear nothing but error, and should you proceed to make divisions, you will find that hey will reach much farther than you are aware, and that the time is past when an anathema from an association will produce any other effect than contempt from some and a smile from others."

      These anticipations were fully realized. The rent extended much farther than its originators expected or desired. Many who had been apparently undecided declared for the Reformers, who were found to constitute the larger and the more intelligent portion of many churches, and who, having the sympathy and confidence of the people in general, and the aid of many eminent and influential preachers, were able, after their separation, to sustain and carry on to still greater advantage the reformation in which they were engaged.

      Among the distinguished preachers who about this time came publicly forward in support of the Reformation was Jacob Creath, Sr., who had heretofore been somewhat cautious and tardy in defining his position. To his surprise, as he advanced, he met Jeremiah Vardeman coming back. "Hey," said he, "Jerry, what's the matter?" "Oh," replied Vardeman, "if this thing takes, we shall all starve. The Baptists are not too liberal as it is." The diminished contributions from the churches, growing chiefly out of their unsettled and [324] discordant condition, and falsely attributed to the teachings of the Reformers, had been employed as a successful argument to retain in the Baptist ranks one who was a reformer in sentiment, and who had done much to promote the cause of the Reformation in Kentucky. And as is usual in such cases, he thought it necessary to signalize his renewed zeal for the Baptist cause by urging the most extreme measures, as at the meeting of the Elkhorn Association in August, where through his influence the churches at Versailles, Providence and South Elkhorn were excluded without examination or committees of inquiry, apparently with a view of cutting off a few obnoxious individuals, as the Creaths and Josephus Hewit, who publicly advocated the primitive faith and order. It was on this occasion that Jacob Creath, Sr., delivered a speech to the Association in defence of the rights of the churches, which by Thomas Campbell and other competent judges present was regarded as almost unequaled for eloquence and power. No arguments, however, were of any avail. The majority in the Association, forty-two out of seventy-one, had resolved upon its course, and, much to its discredit with the pubic, proceeded to cut off the above-named churches, without employing any of the usual restorative measures indicated in the Scriptures or sanctioned by Baptist usage. As to Jeremiah Vardeman, his public life in Kentucky closed with these unfortunate proceedings, which at once spread division throughout the churches of the State. Removing immediately to Missouri, where he died in the course of a few years, he seems not to have retained much of his former influence. His name was always mentioned, however, by Mr. Campbell with affectionate regard, and often with the remark, "I knew him well, and if I had been in [325] Kentucky at the time, Jeremiah Vardeman would never have been persuaded to abandon the cause of the Reformation." As to Jacob Creath, Sr., from this meeting of the Elkhorn Association in 1830 he devoted himself wholly to the establishment of the reformed views in Kentucky, in which he was eminently successful, converting many sinners and in some cases bringing over nearly whole Baptist churches, and by his prudence and mildness doing much to allay the asperity and embittered controversies which existed at this period. Released from the continued opposition and jealousy of prejudiced brethren, and the trammels of Baptist customs and Calvinistic theories, this faithful laborer rejoiced in the freedom and fullness of the simple gospel, and along with many other able preachers, as William Morton, John Smith, Jacob Creath, Jr., etc., soon organized a large number of reforming churches, many of which, especially in towns, adopted weekly communion, while in the country others still continued the Baptist custom of meeting monthly, when only they could have the services of a preacher.

      It was during this year, and about a month before. the meeting of the Elkhorn Association just referred to, that Mr. Campbell issued his famous "Extra on the Remission of Sins," in which he presented also the scriptural meaning of regeneration, shortly before discovered by Dr. Richardson, and presented by him to the readers of the "Harbinger" in some essays signed "Discipulus." Entering largely into the whole subject of conversion, Mr. Campbell showed that baptism did not, any more than natural birth, change the nature of the thing born, but its relations, and was simply the means of introducing the new being into a new state. Making some clear distinctions between state and [326] character, and between the principle of faith and the actions which it produces, he gave, in this remarkable production of sixty pages, written within two weeks, such a presentation of the nature of primitive Christianity, and of the simplicity, completeness, efficiency and excellency of the gospel, as had never been exhibited since apostolic times. A very large edition of it was printed, and being extensively distributed, its effect upon the community was very observable. The simplicity of the gospel and the design of baptism had been already variously presented and illustrated, both in Mr. Campbell's previous publications and in the discourses of the numerous able preachers who were now advocating primitive Christianity; but an exposition of the gospel plan of salvation, so connected, so clear and comprehensive, had never before been presented to the public.

      About this time the lawfulness of associations became a question of interest with the Reformers. The conduct of the one at Redstone, and the recent anathema issued by that at Beaver, with similar proceedings attempted in Kentucky and Virginia, had exhibited in a prominent light the tendency of such bodies to the exercise of arbitrary power. Many began to fear that such abuses were inherent in the very nature of such organizations, and that they might, however prudently managed for a time, become unexpectedly engines of mischief. As there was no positive command for them, others among the disciples regarded their existence as incompatible with the principle they professed of adhering closely to Scripture precept and precedent. Hence, when the Mahoning Association met this year (1830) at Austintown, there was found to exist an almost universal conviction that some public expression on the subject was demanded by the interests of the cause. Mr. [327] Campbell, who was present, entertained no doubt that churches had a right to appoint messengers to a general meeting, to bear intelligence to it and bring home intelligence from it, or transact any special business committed to them. He thought such meetings might be made very useful to promote the general advancement of the cause and the unity and love of the brotherhood, and was in favor of continuing the Association, or something like it, which would, he thought, be needed. He censured, indeed, the inconsistent conduct of which associations had been guilty in attempting to impose their decisions upon churches, but felt no apprehensions on this score in regard to the Mahoning Association, where the churches were so fully enlightened and so completely on their guard against encroachments on their rights. A large majority was, however, found to be opposed to everything under the name or character of an association, and it was finally resolved, unanimously, that the Mahoning Association, as "an advisory council" or "an ecclesiastical tribunal" exercising any supervision or jurisdiction over particular congregations, should never meet again. It was then resolved into a simple annual meeting for worship, and to hear reports of the progress of the gospel, and such a meeting was accordingly appointed for August of the next year, at New Lisbon. This closing session of the Association at Austintown was a season of great enjoyment. During its continuance more than thirty persons were baptized. The news from the churches was of the most cheering character, upward of one thousand converts being reported during the year, although out of the ten preachers in the field, not one had been constantly engaged, nearly all being farmers and compelled to labor for their families. The entire contributions for itinerant services during the [328] year had scarcely exceeded five hundred dollars, evincing the spirit of self-sacrifice which prevailed among the preachers and the efficiency of the simple gospel as the power of God for salvation, even when presented by men of the most ordinary literary attainments.

      In the same month in which the Mahoning Association resolved itself into a simple annual meeting, the same course was adopted by the Stillwater Association, assembled at Cadiz. Two years before, at its meeting three miles from Morristown, charges had been brought by some of the preachers opposed to the reformatory movement, against Cyrus McNeely, because he had without ordination baptized an individual who presented himself at the Cadiz Church where he presided. Mr. Campbell and his father and James Phillips were all present in the Association when the case was brought up, and defended the course of the Cadiz Church as being not only scriptural, but according to regular Baptist precedent. Elijah Stone, Mr. Pritchard and other opposed preachers, formerly of Redstone, could make no effective reply, and finding themselves baffled, withdrew from the Association and formed another one, which, from its littleness, was appropriately called ZOAR. The Stillwater Association met the following year at Well's Creek, above Steubenville, and in 1830, having at Cadiz, as before stated, resolved itself into an annual meeting, has continued ever since to meet in this capacity regularly on the Friday before the third Lord's day in August. The system of annual meetings thus introduced was afterward generally adopted by the churches in various districts throughout the different States. These meetings have been occasions of happy reunions between preachers and members of different churches, and have been usually attended with large [329] ingatherings. In no case has any attempt been made to resume the powers exercised by Baptist associations. The assembled messengers, instead of sitting as a court of inquiry to ascertain the standing of churches as to orthodoxy, have occupied themselves much better in laboring to convert sinners to Christ and in exhorting one another to love and good works.

      During the spring of 1830, Mr. Campbell paid a short visit to Cincinnati and contiguous parts of Kentucky, attending a very interesting meeting at Mayslick, and in the month of October he undertook a more extended tour through Ohio and Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee. Traveling in a gig, in company with Samuel Parmley, of New York, he passed through Zanesville, where he preached, and continued thence through other towns to Wilmington, Clinton county. The whole Baptist church here, with the exception of one member, had embraced the ancient gospel, and within the previous five months about two hundred persons had been added to the churches in that region under the labors of Aylett Raines, Arthur Crihfield and Samuel Rogers, whom Mr. Campbell much rejoiced to meet. Mr. Crihfield was a man of considerable ability, though superficial in his attainments. He seemed much devoted to the cause, and afterward edited for some years a periodical which he called "The Heretic Detector." In this, growing heady and opinionative, as is common with those who consider other people's faults to the neglect of their own, he lost for a time the confidence of the brotherhood. This, however, by an abandonment of his censorious and imprudent course, he subsequently in a good degree regained, for he was a sincere-hearted believer, and falling after some years into a decline, gave ample evidence, not only of his [330] confidence in the truth, but of his regret for the improper spirit in which he had essayed to defend it.

      Samuel Rogers, for whom Mr. Campbell had a very high regard, had been laboring for some time in the cause of religious reformation. His history is instructive, and may be best given in his own brief but expressive words:

      "I was born in old Virginia, November 6, 1789; moved to Kentucky in 1793; settled in Clarke county, Kentucky, until 1801. Moved then to Missouri, called Upper Louisiana, then under Spanish rule. My mother, a pious Methodist, sewed up her Bible in a feather bed to keep the priests from finding it. This was the only Bible I ever saw until I was grown. My father urged my mother to leave her Bible, as it might give her trouble in this new territory, but she said she must have it to read to her children, and she did read it to us much, and by her piety and counsels tried to impress its truths upon our minds and hearts. As I was the eldest child, this was all the preaching I heard until a grown man.

      "After my mother had taught me to write my name and spell a little, I was sent to school three months. At the end of this time, I graduated with honor, having learned to read, write and cypher to the rule of three. This was about all our teachers knew themselves. My mother's readings, prayers and counsels gave me early a high regard for her religion. Though my proud heart often rebelled, yet a mother's voice would bring me back to sober reflection again. I heard a Methodist preach the first discourse I ever listened to: soon after, I heard a Baptist. I liked the free salvation of the Methodist, but disliked his baptism. I liked the baptism of the other, but disliked his Calvinism. I returned to Kentucky about nineteen years old, and found a great stir occasioned by the late strange revivals under B. W. Stone and others. Many abused Stone, while others praised him; I, however, went to hear him for myself, and was much pleased. He called on all to come to Christ, and invited all to lay aside [331] their creeds and take the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. I was pleased with his preaching: it sounded like the truth--like the religion I had read of. Whatever may have been said of the errors of Stone and those people, it was evident they were spiritually minded, and the most prayerful people of their times. I was baptized by Stone, 1812. The war came on, and the Church became greatly demoralized; and I among the rest was by no means exempt from its unhappy influences. However, after the war, through the preaching of Stone and others, we all got to work again, renewing our covenants with God, and a glorious revival followed. I became an exhorter by necessity. We held little meetings from house to house, and often had to send for a preacher to baptize our converts. The preachers told me I was called of God to preach. I had not thought of being a preacher, but being convinced by their arguments that I was divinely called, I was ordained by Stone at Caneridge fifty-two years ago. He then gave me a Bible, saying: 'Preach its facts, obey its commands and enjoy its promises.' I was greatly troubled about my call. I contended that if I was called, as were the apostles, I ought to have their credentials and be able to prove my apostleship. I attempted to draw from dreams and visions and vague impressions, some superhuman aid; often went on long tours upon a mere impression of the mind, taking it as a call. I thought I ought to perform miracles. My mind was often in a wretched state. About this time I got the 'Christian Baptist,' and found relief. I believe I should have gone crazy but for Alexander Campbell. I was not slow to embrace his view, but knew it to be truth the very moment I saw it, and at once and in haste adopted it. This was about 1825. I had traveled thousands of miles, preached all over the wilds of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri--swam rivers, exposed myself to every danger, saying, 'Wo is me if I preach not the gospel!' I was ardent, impulsive, enthusiastic, and my labors were greatly blessed. But a heavy gloom hung over me when I would think of my call and compare it with that of the apostles. [332]

      "Bless the Lord! Alexander Campbell came to my relief. His debate with Walker, and then his debate with McCalla, waked up the people, and to me it was like the rising up of the sun after a long gloomy night. I heard him at Wilmington, Ohio, on his first visit. I compared him to Ezra of old, that great reformer who restored to Israel the lost law of God. Stone had given me the book, but Campbell taught me how to read it in its connection. I took his first periodical, the 'Christian Baptist,' and since that time have taken and read everything he ever published. I owe him more than any man since apostolic times. He preached no new gospel and brought in no new God, but taught us to worship intelligently the God whom we had ignorantly worshiped, and to go back over the heads of all human teachers to the great Fountain of truth for our faith and practice.

      "Alexander Campbell taught as no other man, but with a clearness and simplicity that carried at once conviction to the mind of every man of common sense. He gave me the New Testament he published, with preface and appendix. I have it yet. It is the best of all new translations; his preface and appendix are invaluable.

      "I have sacrificed my whole life for this cause--received almost nothing for twenty-five years of the time. Baptized my thousands--I think seven thousand, as near as I could tell--but have a beautiful home ready for me on the other side of Jordan. I am in my eightieth year, preach yet much, my voice as good as ever; can speak in the open air so as to be heard by one thousand people. Amen."

      While at Wilmington, Mr. Campbell was much pleased to find that the churches in that vicinity had adopted the ancient order of things, and were walking in the ordinances and commandments of Christ. Under the labors of Samuel Rogers, the church at Antioch was the first congregation in Clinton county that met for these purposes. Nothing ever gave Mr. Campbell greater happiness than to find those who had [333] made a profession of the gospel leading pious lives and carefully observing the means of grace. These were with him always matters of far more interest and importance than the making of converts.

      Having delivered a discourse at Wilmington from Acts iii. 12-26, one young man came forward and was immersed for the remission of sins by Samuel Rogers. On the fifth of November he went on to Cincinnati, where, at this time, there was a congregation of nearly three hundred members, prospering under the labors of James Challen. Here he spoke twice on Lord's day, four persons coming forward for baptism. On Monday he spoke at Mill Creek, and in the evening of the same day at Covington, Kentucky, where the Baptists generally had embraced the Reformation. Samuel Parmley, here embarking on a steamboat to descend the Ohio, Ephraim A. Smith of Danville, Kentucky, noted for his humility, zeal and devotion, and a particular friend of Mr. Campbell, became his fellow-traveler. Preaching in Cynthiana, Kentucky, in Leesburg and in Georgetown, he went on to the Crossing's meeting-house, where he also had an appointment. Here he received a pressing invitation from Richard M. Johnson, whom he designates in his journal as "the author of the Sunday Mail Report,"1 to speak at his house in the evening, [334] but having to meet appointments at Frankfort, he was compelled to decline. At Frankfort he was very kindly received at the house of Governor Metcalf, whose wife was a member of the church. After preaching in the academy and baptizing a lady who presented herself, he went on to the neighborhood of Versailles and spent the night at T. Bullock's, where J. Creath, Jr., was holding a meeting, and where he found Josephus Hewit and L. I. Fleming. The latter was a very devoted and pious Christian, for whom Mr. Campbell had a warm attachment, and with whom he had become acquainted on his first visit to Kentucky in 1823. He was a native of Woodford county, born near Midway, October 15, 1798, His mother was a pious woman, and from early boyhood he was noted for his devotional spirit. He united with the church in Georgetown under the ministry of B. W. Stone, from whom he received the chief part of his education. He soon began to aid at [335] meetings as a public speaker, but was especially distinguished by his habit of visiting from house to house in order to promote the interests of Christ's kingdom. He was so humble and unassuming, and so universally recognized as one of the most pious of men, that he was everywhere gladly welcomed. He had a peculiar faculty of making himself at home wherever he went, attending to his horse, cutting wood, making fires and aiding familiarly in everything in which he could be of service. Nor did he enter less readily into the religious matters of the household, being everywhere "a sweet odor of Christ," and availing himself of every opportunity to impart some spiritual benefit. Ever preferring others to himself, he literally "went about doing good," and, indifferent to his own comfort, seemed to live only for the promotion of piety and humanity.

      Mr. Campbell, after preaching in Versailles, where he found J. Creath, Sr., and John Smith, went on toward Lexington, and lodged with B. A. Hicks, where he had an interesting conversation with Brethren B. W. Stone and F. R. Palmer upon religious reformation. Arriving in Lexington on Saturday, he stopped at the house of his friend Joseph Ficklin, and after dining with Dr. Woods, president of Transylvania University, repaired to Dr. Fishback's, where, in the presence of a large company, he spent about four hours very agreeably in answering questions proposed by the doctor concerning the Reformation.

      Next day he addressed a very large audience in Lexington, from John iii., and as this discourse exhibits strikingly his power of tracing analogies, and his usual comprehensive range of thought, the notes of it are here given from his journal:

      "After attempting to show why John and none of the other [336] evangelists, narrated the interview with Nicodemus, we proceeded to speak of the kingdoms of nature, grace and glory, as usually defined. The constituents of a literal kingdom were first detailed. The propriety of the application of the term kingdom to nature, grace and glory was next vindicated. Then the analogies between these three kingdoms were traced in the prominent characteristics of a kingdom: 1. The creation of each by a word of God. 2. The design of each to produce beings correspondent with its constitution--natural beings--gracious beings--glorious beings. 3. The adaptation of the means employed to each of the ends proposed, natural life, spiritual life, eternal life. 4. The three births, or the modes of introduction into each kingdom. The first birth, natural; the second birth, gracious; the third birth, glorious. The first birth of and from the flesh, the second of and from the water and the Spirit, the third of and from the grave. 5. The three salvations: 1st, From natural dangers; God is thus the Saviour of all men in the kingdom of nature. 2d, The salvation of the soul from the guilt, pollution and the power of sin in the kingdom of grace. 3d, The salvation of the body from the grave, or the glorification of soul and body at the resurrection of the just and in the kingdom of glory. 6. The impossibility of being a citizen or subject of any one of these kingdoms, without being born into it. 7. An illustration of the whole subject, drawn from the use and meaning of the outer court, holy place and most holy, in the tabernacle. In the conclusion, we emphasized on the kingdom of heaven, or of grace; the import of being born of water and spirit, or the necessity of regeneration in order to admission into the kingdom of grace. These were items in the series of illustrations presented on this occasion. After the discourse, Squire Hickman, once a Deist, cured by our writings, presented himself for immersion."

      In the evening of that day he addressed, by special invitation, the medical class of Transylvania University on the following questions: 1. Has God ever spoken to man? 2. In what language has he spoken? 3. If in [337] human language, how is it to be interpreted? 4. What has he said to us in his last message by his Son?

      From Lexington, proceeding southward through Athens, Nicholasville, Harrodsburg and Danville--at which latter place eleven persons presented themselves for baptism after his discourse, he continued on his way through Columbia, Glasgow and Bowling Green to Nashville, preaching at various points, and accompanied now by J. Creath, Jr. On Friday, 10th December, he delivered an address at Nashville upon the characteristics of the apostasy and the mystery of iniquity, in contrast with primitive Christianity; and as most of the clergy of the city were present he gave out an appointment for the following evening, when he proposed to attend to any inquiries or objections which persons might have to offer. When the time arrived, after some inquiries had been noticed, which were proposed through J. Creath, in regard to faith and repentance, the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Nashville, Obadiah Jennings, rose and controverted Mr. Campbell's views of faith as merely "natural faith," advocating a faith produced by a "supernatural operation." This was the same Mr. Jennings who had been active many years before in Washington county, Pennsylvania, in those fining associations called moral societies, which had attempted to enforce by law Presbyterian views of the Sabbath, and which Mr. Campbell had so successfully resisted.

      Mr. Jennings was a zealous Presbyterian, and doubtless conscientious and sincere in his efforts to sustain the theological opinions of his party. He had relinquished the successful practice of law at Steubenville for the ministerial office, to which he had zealously devoted himself, having been pastor of the Steubenville [338] congregation for six years, and then succeeding Rev. Matthew Brown in the congregation at Washington in the spring of 1823. In 1828 he removed to Nashville. He possessed respectable abilities, but was not a popular preacher, being wont to write his sermons and speak from notes, but this practice did not appear to be necessary to him, as he was much more effective and fluent when compelled to speak extemporaneously. To his first address Mr. Campbell replied, and Mr. Jennings then rejoined in a speech of considerable length, after which, alleging indisposition, he retired, and Mr. Campbell, after a few concluding remarks, dismissed the assembly.

      Next day he delivered a discourse on Eph. iv., after which ten persons came forward and were immersed in the Cumberland river in presence of an immense crowd. At the close of his sermon in the evening, three others came forward, who were immersed next morning by J. Creath. On Monday evening, Mr. Campbell preached again, and then left the city to visit Franklin and Columbia, Tennessee, in company with P. S. Fall. Returning again to Nashville on the 21st, he delivered another lecture there on Friday evening, at which Mr. Jennings was present. Having learned that the latter designed to make further objections if opportunity were afforded, Mr. Campbell then gave another invitation to objectors and inquirers, appointing to hear them next day (Christmas) at ten o'clock.

      When the hour had arrived, he proposed that in order to prevent any misappropriation of time, some one should preside over the meeting, and that only twenty minutes should be allowed at one time to each speaker. Dr. Felix Robinson having been requested to preside, Mr. Jennings soon rose, and after [339] inveighing against the proposed "Reformation," attempted a defence of the sects against the censures of Mr. Campbell, charging Mr. Campbell himself with making divisions. Mr. Campbell in reply showed that the principles he advocated were anything but sectarian, since they required that everything for which there was clear scriptural authority should be received, and that all opinions should be held as private property. Mr. Jennings then attempted to sustain the doctrine of a special divine call to the ministry, and in the course of the day touched upon a great many other points, charging Mr. Campbell with fraternizing with Arians, criticizing at considerable length the new version, etc., and finally proceeding to deliver strictures upon Mr. Campbell's views of the "New Birth."

      Mr. Jennings had very adroitly availed himself of the privilege which Mr. Campbell, from his fearless confidence in the power of divine truths had given to objectors. Having provided himself with abundant materials in the numerous misrepresentations which had been circulated against Mr. Campbell and his views, he flitted from one subject to another, dwelling upon each just long enough to infuse the venom of the sting of sectarian hostility, and carefully evading any direct collision. Declining to assume the affirmative of any proposition which he himself believed, he said that "he had attended with a view to discuss, not Presbyterianism or Calvinism, but Campbellism." He determined to avail himself, accordingly, to the utmost, of an advantage which, had it not been conceded by Mr. Campbell, would have been justly regarded as ungenerous, since there is nothing, however true or sacred, against which plausible objections may not be offered, and that, too, in a much shorter time than is required for their [340] refutation. After Mr. Campbell had indulged Mr. Jennings thus during the day in making these assaults, he at length proposed to remain another day at Nashville, provided Mr. Jennings would select some one topic and confine himself to its discussion. To this Mr. Jennings assented, and gave as the subject, "To be born again; what is it, and what the effects thereof?" still carefully avoiding to commit himself to any definite affirmation. When the time for discussion arrived, Mr. Campbell objected to this as merely a topic, and not a logical proposition, and after considerable delay, Mr. Jennings finally agreed to the following: "To say that to be born again and to be immersed is the same thing, is false and cannot be supported by the word of God." Although Mr. Campbell regarded this as an awkward proposition, he consented to discuss it, provided Mr. Jennings, to save time, would concede that the term regeneration in Tit. iii. 5 was equivalent to being born again, in his sense of the expression. By this time it was one o'clock, and the moderators, Messrs. Hayes, Foster and Payne, adjourned to three o'clock. Mr. Jennings then spoke first, descanting on the uncharitableness of Mr. Campbell's view that the terms immersion and regeneration were applicable to the same act. Mr. Campbell, in reply, appealed to the congregation against such attempts to arouse prejudice, and which had nothing to do with the proof of the proposition, and showed by the article on the "Decrees" from Mr. Jennings' Confession of Faith how ill it became him to talk about the charitableness of systems. Mr. Jennings, continuing in the same strain, was called to order by Mr. Payne, the presiding moderator, who was a Methodist.

      With regard to the merits of this discussion upon regeneration, it is evident that it was mainly a debate [341] about the meaning of a term, and that Mr. Jennings, in conceding in the beginning that "regeneration" and "being born again" were equivalent expressions, virtually yielded the whole question. Mr. Campbell showed that, while in the process of regeneration a begetting by the word of truth (James i. 18; 1 Pet. i. 23-25) was necessarily involved, the person thus begotten and quickened by the Spirit could be justly and scripturally regarded as born again only in the act of immersion, through which he formally entered into a new state and assumed publicly the relation of a child of God. As, naturally, a child is born of its father only in being born of its mother, so, spiritually, baptism became to the believer the new birth--the "washing," "bath" or "laver" (loutron) of regeneration, after which alone he could be scripturally recognized as born of water and spirit, and legitimately in the kingdom of heaven. Hence, by the early Christian writers, baptism was itself termed regeneration. Mr. Campbell did not really regard baptism as the whole process of regeneration, as Mr. Jennings sought to make appear, but insisted as strongly as any one upon a previous impartation of spiritual life through faith as indispensably requisite. As this, on the other hand, constituted in Mr. Jennings' view the whole of regeneration, and he desired to reduce baptism to a mere emblem of "spiritual operations," it was evidently neither his policy nor his aim to understand or to represent Mr. Campbell correctly. The spirit of captiousness and perversion in which he carried on the discussion is indeed fully exhibited in the pretended report of it which he prepared, and which was published after his death by his nephew, S. C. Jennings, who was also a bitter opponent. This work, abounding in gross personalities, full [342] of misrepresentations and injurious insinuations, and bristling on every page with the most vindictive hostility, served only to show the power of bigotry to present one so amiable and irreproachable in a moral and social point of view, as was Mr. Jennings, in a light so totally different as a religious partisan.

      During Mr. Campbell's stay in Nashville, more than thirty persons became obedient to the faith, and the cause of the Reformation was greatly strengthened. Bidding an affecting adieu to his friends there, on the 28th of December he set out for home, accompanied by his daughter Eliza Ann, who had been spending some time with her sister in Tennessee, Mrs. Ewing. Passing through Kentucky as rapidly as the state of the roads and weather would permit, he addressed large audiences at his different appointments on the way to Maysville, and was much pleased with the general prospects of the cause, finding that the feelings of the great mass of the non-professing community were on the side of the Reformers on account of the injustice and illiberality which had characterized the proceedings of their opponents. On Wednesday, the 26th of January, he crossed the Ohio river through the floating ice, and passing through Ohio, arrived at home on the evening of the 3d of February. "Thus," adds he in his journal, "under the kind and indulgent care of our heavenly Father, we finished a tour of fourteen hundred miles by land in one hundred days, without a single accident worthy of a name.  . . We found the same kind care and merciful providence had been extended over our family which had accompanied us by day and night, through all the dangers and toils of a winter journey through a great variety of country and circumstances. [343]

      1 Mr. Campbell here calls Colonel Johnson "the author of the Sunday Mail Report" by courtesy, since, as chairman of the committee, he was of course the reputed author. He was probably led the more to do this as he did not wish the authorship to be attributed to himself, as had been done. When his friends said to him, "People say you are the author of that Report," he would laughingly reply, "People say a great many things that are not true," and so pass the matter by.
      While, from a variety of circumstances, it is difficult to think that Mr. Campbell was not particularly concerned in getting up this document, if not by furnishing the original sketch, at least by suggesting the course of argument or sending a copy of his discussions with Prest. Wylie and others [334] the chief questions involved, it is due to the truth of history to say that some claim the actual authorship for Rev. Obadiah Brown, a Baptist minister at whose house, in Washington, Colonel Johnson boarded. Mr. Brown, when a young man, had filled the office of chaplain to Congress, but, by degrees, became much engaged with politics and politicians, having considerable influence over General Jackson, and affording him valuable assistance in the difficulties of his stormy administration. He was regarded by those who knew him best as a man of very great ability, and is said to have been in the habit of aiding Colonel Johnson both by his advice and in the preparation of documents. It is stated by a highly respectable Baptist minister of Albemarle county, Virginia--W. P. Farish, who was at the time a partner of Mr. Brown in the stage and mail-carrying business--that he charged Brown with being the author, and that, after some evasive replies, he understood him finally to admit the fact, expressing, however, the desire that Colonel Johnson should have the credit of it. From these facts, some of which have come to the knowledge of the writer since the publication of the first volume, and for which he is indebted to R. L. Coleman of Virginia, the reader can form his own conclusions as to the authorship of this famous Report, which, at least, embodied the views which Mr. Campbell was known to entertain on the subject. [335]


[MAC2 303-343]

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Robert Richardson
Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Volume II. (1869)

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