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



C H A P T E R   X .

Mormonism--Its exposure--Co-operation--Evangelists--Infidelity--Work
of the Holy Spirit--Divisions--Meeting-houses--Worship--Slavery.

T OWARD the close of this year (1830) the delusion of Mormonism began its course in Northern Ohio. Chief amongst its promoters appeared Sydney Rigdon, who was believed, upon good evidence, to have been also its originator. Captivating as a public speaker by his fluency and his exuberant fancy, he had depended upon these superficial endowments for popularity and success. In private he had been found petulant, unreliable and ungovernable in his passions, and his wayward temper, his extravagant stories and his habit of self-assertion had prevented him from attaining influence as a religious teacher among the disciples. He was ambitious of distinction, without the energy and industry necessary to secure it, and jealous of the reputation of others, without the ability to compete with them. Floating upon the tide of popular excitement, he was disposed to catch at anything which, without demanding labor, might serve for his advancement, and was naturally led to seek in deception the success which he found denied to indolence.

      It appears that, while living in Pittsburg, he was connected with one of the printing-offices, and obtained access to the manuscript of a romance written by a former Presbyterian preacher--a Solomon Spaulding-- [344] who, adopting the style of the Bible history, had, for his amusement, given a fanciful account of the nations inhabiting Canaan before the time of Joshua, and described, with great minuteness, their modes of life, wars, migrations, etc. He attributed also in it the settling of North America to the ten lost tribes, and, giving to his work the title of" Lost Manuscript Found," was wont to read portions of it frequently to his friends. Having copied or obtained possession of this manuscript, Rigdon seems to have secretly occupied himself during several years in altering and arranging it to suit his purposes; and discovering, at Palmyra, New York, as early as 1827, a suitable coadjutor in the person of Joseph Smith, a pretended fortune-teller and discoverer of hidden treasure, noted for his idleness and love of everything marvelous and mysterious, he arranged with him the plan of future operations. Accordingly, in 1830, it was duly announced that Smith had by an express revelation disinterred certain golden plates, on which were inscribed, in the "reformed Egyptian character," important divine communications, giving an account of the ten lost tribes, the origin of the North American Indians and revelations designed to usher in "the latter days." These plates Smith professed to have the power to decipher and translate by means of translucent pebbles which had been provided for the purpose, and by the aid of polygraphic angels; and a book in manuscript was speedily produced, called the "Book of Mormon," an edition of which was at once printed at the expense of a Martin Harris, who was so credulous as to believe in Smith's pretensions, and who alone, of those concerned, was able to defray the expense of publication.

      Meanwhile, Rigdon had been for some time diligently engaged in endeavoring, by obscure hints and glowing [345] millennial theories, to excite the imaginations of his hearers, and in seeking by fanciful interpretations of Scripture to prepare the minds of the churches of Northern Ohio for something extraordinary in the near future. He sought especially in private to convince certain influential persons that, along with the primitive gospel, supernatural gifts and miracles ought to be restored, and that, as at the beginning, all things should be held in common. From his want of personal influence, however, he failed in disseminating his views, except to a very limited extent. In Mentor, where he resided, he was quite unsuccessful, but was more fortunate in Kirtland, the adjoining town, where a flourishing church became much disturbed and unsettled by his plausible theories and brilliant declamations.

      Immediately upon the publication of the "Book of Mormon," Smith organized his dupes and abettors at Palmyra into the "Church of Latter-Day Saints," and sent forth his "apostles" to convert the people. Two of these, Cowdery and Pratt, soon made their appearance in Mentor, and were received as old acquaintances by Rigdon, who at once publicly endorsed their claims, and, with several others, was immersed into the new faith, which he immediately endeavored to propagate at Palmyra. The people there, however, knowing too well the character of Smith to believe that he could be charged with a heavenly message, treated the whole affair with contempt and ridicule. It became necessary, therefore, to change the basis of operations to some region where Smith was unknown, and the point selected was Kirtland, where the minds of the people had already become to some extent prepared by Rigdon, and where about one-half of the members of the church were soon led away into the delusion and filled with the [346] wildest fanaticism. Mormon "elders" and "apostles" were speedily sent forth, who traversed Northern Ohio and gained many proselytes among the ignorant and superstitious, and some even among persons of intelligence, who had been filled with vague expectations of a speedy millennium.

      It is unnecessary to relate particularly the progress of this gross delusion or the history of its leaders, who, after erecting a temple and establishing a bank at Kirtland, found it necessary to emigrate to Independence, Missouri, from whence, largely increased in numbers, they were soon driven to Illinois, where they erected another temple and built the city of Nauvoo. Nor is it necessary to detail their introduction of polygamy, their establishment of a grand and successful system of missions throughout the world, their fortunes in Illinois, where open war with the citizens was prevented only by the voluntary surrender of Smith and others to the civil authorities at the instance of the governor; or the subsequent death of Smith at the hands of a mob in the prison to which he had been committed for safe-keeping. Suffice it to say, that upon his death Rigdon and Brigham Young disputed the right to the succession, and Young prevailing, Rigdon was expelled from the community and retired into the interior of New York, where he has since lived in obscurity. Meanwhile, under the guidance of their new and far more competent leader, the Mormons sought an almost inaccessible region amidst the mountains of Utah, beyond the boundaries of civilization, where, by incredible industry and the marvelous power of communism in promoting material interests, they have created, as if by magic, in the midst of an arid waste sown with salt, a magnificent city, through whose streets streams of pure water [348] conveyed from the mountains impart freshness and verdure to rows of beautiful shade-trees, and irrigate extensive orchards and fruitful gardens, and where on every side are seen commodious residences and vast public edifices reared by the hands of skillful artisans decoyed from the Old World by the wiles of no less skillful emissaries. Here is presented the strange spectacle of a social, political and religious absolutism in the midst of a free republic, and of an open, legalized licentiousness in the bosom of a Christian nation, which, extending itself around this corrupt community, gradually encircles it as a rapidly-growing tree encloses with its young wood a cureless canker in its heart.

      From the first moment of its appearance, Mr. Campbell endeavored to stay the progress of this imposture and to expose the villainy of those concerned in it. Having obtained a copy of the "Book of Mormon," he published both in the Harbinger and in a separate tract of twelve pages a brief analysis of its contents and character, laying bare its flagrant falsehoods and its contemptible absurdities. The timely appearance of this tract, the active opposition of the intelligent preachers on the Reserve, and a visit which Mr. Campbell paid in June to Northern Ohio, where he spent twenty-two days, delivered eighteen discourses and baptized twenty-seven persons, greatly contributed to expose this shameless imposition soon after its first appearance, and to put a stop to its progress in the reforming churches, among which, indeed, with the exception of the one at Kirtland, it was far less successful than with the Methodists and other popular denominations, with whose views of special spiritual operations and communications it possessed a greater affinity.

      The schismatic and partisan spirit which in Kentucky [348] and elsewhere had induced the Baptists to exclude the Reformers from their communion, was still steadily extending itself through the denomination. In Eastern Virginia, a conference of eight churches belonging to the Dover Association had been called in December, 1830, at which a report of a committee of nine was adopted, setting forth the alleged errors of "Campbellism," and recommending a declaration of non-fellowship with all who should persist in them. As both R. B. Semple and A. Broaddus were on the committee, it is to be presumed that this report presents as clear and intelligible a statement of the supposed differences between Mr. Campbell's views and those of the Baptists as could be given, and it is interesting as showing how strangely party-spirit can blind the eyes and warp the judgment of good men, and lead them to misconceive and misrepresent the plainest matters. "In principles," the report says, "the errors alluded to may be classed under four heads--viz., the denial of the influence of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of man--the substitution of reformation for repentance--the substitution of baptism for conversion, regeneration or the new birth--and the Pelagian doctrine of the sufficiency of man's natural powers to effect his own salvation."

      "This," said Mr. Campbell, in his notice of the report, "is the bill of indictment, to every item of which we plead not guilty. . . . The four obnoxious 'principles'" he afterward remarks, "are reducible to two. The whole matter in brief is the denial of their mystic influences of the Holy Spirit and immersion for the remission of sins. . . . That God has 'his own time' for converting every person is a favorite point with many. . . . And because we differ from them in this one opinion, they have, if we do not repent of it, assigned us our portion with infidels and hypocrites. I say one opinion, for none of the other charges will at all, in [349] any conceivable latitude of interpretation, apply to us. We do not substitute reformation for repentance, except they mean the term and not the thing. But we prefer the term 'reformation' to their distinction between 'legal and evangelical repentance.' Neither do we substitute baptism for conversion. And as for the Pelagian notion of 'man's natural powers to effect his own salvation,' it is a chimera of their own heads. We never said nor thought such a thing."

      As Mr. Campbell had the highest respect for Messrs. Semple and Broaddus, and could make all due allowance for their prejudices, he did not entertain or express the least unkindness on account of their misrepresenting him as above and thus holding him up to public odium. On the contrary, he said:

      "I sympathize with you, believing you to be the most honorable of my opponents, and to be conscientious as far as any men can be who appeal to proscriptive decrees. I know you appear to fear that vital religion is endangered by our representations of the ancient gospel. We know that the reverse is the fact. Our greatest objection to your philosophy is, that it substitutes an imaginary work of grace upon the heart for that love and peace and joy and purity which a clear perception of, and an unfeigned submission to, the ancient gospel can alone produce and maintain.

      "We plead for faith, repentance, reformation, a new heart and universal obedience; and ascribe to grace and the blood of Jesus, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, everything which the Scriptures teach, in their own words and sentences, in the fullest import and meaning of them, but each in its proper place."

      When the report above referred to was submitted to the church at Bruington, to which Bishop Semple ministered, Dr. Duval, in the presence of an unusually large assembly convened upon the occasion, exhibited so forcibly and eloquently the injustice done by it to [350] Mr. Campbell and his friends, that although Messrs. Todd, Semple, Broaddus and others used all their talents and authority to induce the church to receive it and enter its "resolutions" upon their church book, they were unable to prevail. Bishop Semple then insisted that those who would not vote with him should take letters of dismission and join some other church. This the majority declined to do. He then proposed a postponement, and finally a modification of the resolutions, but the meeting closed without any final action. Next day Bishop Semple and A. Broaddus preached, after which Reformers and anti-Reformers broke the loaf together, when the good old bishop's heart relented; he shed many tears and they had quite "a fine time." Such were the conflicts engendered in the hearts of many between the expansive Christian love which the gospel itself inspired and the narrow aims and policies of the spirit of sectarianism--the former prompting to union with all who trusted in Christ, the latter inducing those possessed by it to recoil from every one who questioned the authority of those human opinions and theories which were the boast and the reliance of orthodoxy.

      While these matters were in progress, Mr. Campbell was discussing in the "Harbinger" various subjects of interest having an immediate relation to the existing state of affairs. Among these the co-operation of churches in sustaining preachers of the gospel occupied much attention. As the few overtasked preachers already engaged were poorly supported and wholly unable to supply the demands of the cause, Mr. Campbell strongly urged that the churches should be arranged in districts, as he endeavored to show was the case in primitive times, in order that, by mutual aid, they might sustain a sufficient number of evangelists in the field. It was some time, however, before such arrangements could be properly carried out, as but few preachers could be obtained who were able to devote themselves wholly to the work, and vague notions of the "freeness" of the gospel, as well as a misapplication of his remarks on l "hirelings" in the "Christian Baptist," and of his example in preaching without charge, still repressed the exercise of the liberality needed to sustain an effective ministry. The subject being brought to the attention of the annual meeting at New Lisbon, in August, 1831, a plan of co-operation by counties was devised and suggested to the churches, care being taken to distinguish it as a matter of mere expediency, "to be adopted, continued or discontinued, as experience might dictate." Mr. Campbell, indeed, in his recommendations to the churches, never presumed in the slightest degree upon his personal influence or authority. He was well aware of the existence among the churches of a spirit of independency and a jealous regard for their liberties, which his own writings had created, and which would not brook even the appearance of dictation; and while he sought on various occasions to guard against an extreme in this direction, he rejoiced to see the churches so much on their guard against that oppressive religious thraldom from which they had been released, and which he never betrayed the slightest desire to re-establish.

      In the absence of specific directions in Scripture respecting the appointment and regulation of evangelists or preachers of the gospel, Mr. Campbell regarded these matters as left to the dictates of human prudence. Recognizing the Church as the authorized tribunal in such cases, he thought no one justified in assuming the office of a public laborer without the sanction of a congregation, and esteemed it proper, where several [352] churches existed in the district, that these should, as far as practicable, participate in the selection, recommendation and ordination of preachers whose field of labor necessarily included many churches, and whose conduct and standing might seriously affect the interests of the cause at large. Each evangelist, also, was required to have his membership in some particular congregation, to which he was amenable for the faithful performance of his duties, official or unofficial.

      During this period Mr. Campbell continued his able defences of the gospel against the cavils of infidelity, in a series of letters to Humphrey Marshall, a bold and self-sufficient infidel of Kentucky, who had published some animadversions on the debate with Owen, and whose imaginary "Bible Contradictions" Mr. Campbell disposed of with great skill and point. He also defended with great power the divine mission of Jesus of Nazareth against the objections of L. H. Cohen, a rabbi of the synagogue in Richmond, Virginia.1 [353]

      As the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of man continued to be one of the chief matters of controversy with the Baptists, he, about this time, wrote his "Dialogue on the Holy Spirit," in which he proposed to develop the subject with special reference to the systems of the sects. In this he was led to employ abstractions and philosophical distinctions in relation to [354] "moral and physical power," etc., with a view, as he said, to make himself understood, but which only opened the way to new misunderstandings. As these distinctions were unknown to Scripture, and some of the conclusions built upon them seemed peculiarly liable to misconception, Thomas Campbell quite disapproved of the Dialogue as a full and just presentation of the subject, and it was from respect to his judgment that Mr. Campbell subsequently omitted it from a volume labeled "Christianity Restored," in the first edition of which it had been inserted, along with some of the Extras of the "Harbinger." In this Dialogue he had, indeed, applied his reasonings specially to the case of conversion, and had clearly stated in it that while the Holy Spirit operated upon sinners by the demonstrations and evidences of the gospel, he took up his abode in the saints. "The Spirit of God," said he, "the author of these proofs, by them opens men's minds to hear, to obey the gospel. Those who obey the gospel are in that gospel declared to be sons of God, and as such receive the Holy Spirit, promised through faith." The principles from which he reasoned had, however, a much more extensive application than to the case of conversion, and, like all human philosophy in religious matters, were calculated to create difficulties rather than to remove them. Hence, while his opponents raised a clamor against him as denying "the operations of the Holy Spirit," some of those who were professed advocates of the Reformation were led to construct a word-alone theory which virtually dispensed with the great promise of the gospel--the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers. These persons were found chiefly among those who had been previously skeptical, and who were habitually disposed to rely upon reason rather than to walk by faith; and their [355] crude and erroneous doctrines were well calculated to bring a reproach upon the Reformation. They were disposed to resolve religion entirely into a system of moral motivity; to disbelieve the actual indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers; to deny special providence and guidings, and, by consequence, the efficacy of prayer. Taking Locke's philosophy as the basis of their system, and carrying his "Essay on the Human Understanding" along with the Bible in their saddle-bags, they denied even to its Creator any access to the human soul except by "words and arguments," while they conceded to the Author of evil a direct approach, and had more to say in their discourses about "the laws of human nature" than about the gospel of Christ.

      It was to check the effects of such speculations, wholly inconsistent with the reformatory principles, but well suited to a superficial and unspiritual religionism, that Walter Scott at this period wrote and published his "Discourse on the Holy Spirit." In this he endeavored to show that "Christianity as developed in the Sacred Oracles is sustained by three divine missions--the mission of the Lord Jesus, the mission of the apostles and the mission of the Holy Spirit;" and furthermore that as the personal mission of Christ was to the Jews, and that of the apostles to the world, that of the Holy Spirit was to the Church. Dwelling upon these points, he showed that in each case, as propriety required, the mission terminated upon its proper object; Christ confining his ministry to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel," the apostles going out into the world to disciple the nations, and the Holy Spirit, sent on the day of Pentecost, remaining in the Church or body of Christ, dwelling in all its members, and acting through them in comforting the saints and convincing the world [356] of sin, righteousness and judgment. Exposing the incorrectness of the popular notion that the Spirit was sent to the world, as being in direct contravention of Christ's declaration that the world could not receive him, he insisted upon the absolute need of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer in order to real and permanent union with Christ, and to the production of those fruits through which Christ was glorified among men. Finally, he showed that while the personal mission of Christ to the Jews and that of the apostles to the world were limited in duration, the mission of the Holy Spirit to the Church was permanent in its nature, since the Comforter was to abide with it for ever. "There is no member of the body of Christ," said he, "in whom the Holy Spirit dwelleth not; for it will hold as good at the end of the world and in eternity as it does now, and it holds as good now as it did on the day of Pentecost and afterward--that 'if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'"

      This discourse, being widely circulated in pamphlet form, had a powerful effect in imparting clearness and definiteness to the views of the Reformers upon this important subject. It was the first time it had been publicly brought forward in so particular a manner, and the clear scriptural evidence presented in the discourse was generally received as decisive of the questions involved. This result was much aided by Mr. Campbell's warm commendation of the sentiments which it contained.

      "Brother Walter Scott," said he--"who in the fall of 1827, arranged the several items of faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, the Holy Spirit and eternal life, restored them in this order to the Church under the title of Ancient Gospel, and successfully preached it for the conversion of the [357] world--has written a discourse on the fifth point (viz., the Holy Spirit), which presents the subject in such an attitude as cannot fail to make all who read it understand the views entertained by us, and, as we think, taught by the apostles in their writings. We can recommend to all the disciples this discourse as most worthy of a place in their families, because it perspicuously, forcibly and with a brevity favorable to an easy apprehension of its meaning, presents the subject to the mind of the reader. Our opponents, too, who are continually misrepresenting, and many of them no doubt misconceiving, our views on this subject, if they would be advised by us, we would request to furnish themselves with a copy, that they may be better informed on this topic, and, if they should still be conscientiously opposed, that they may oppose what we teach, and not a phantom of their own creation."

      It was because Mr. Campbell opposed the popular notions of special illuminations and mystic influences of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, that he became obnoxious to the charge of undervaluing the exercises of the heart. In a very courteous review, published this year, of the Extra on remission, Andrew Broaddus remarked:

      "The great error which lies at the bottom of Mr. Campbell's theory, of the actual forgiveness of sins in baptism, appears to consist in an undervaluing of the exercises of the heart, and attaching to external conduct or action the importance which really belongs to those exercises."

      "I doubt not," said Mr. Campbell, in reply, "that Mr. Broaddus thinks this is all correct, and yet a more unjust representation of my views was never penned. I cannot blame Mr. Broaddus for censuring in strong terms a view of Christianity against which such a charge could fairly lie. I would join with him and denounce such a representation of Christianity as leaves the heart of man not only out of view, but in the background. How often have we said that the greatest objection we have against the whole system we [358] oppose is because of its impotency on the heart? But Mr. Broaddus thinks that his system is the only one which takes the heart of man into good keeping, and consequently he that dissents from him leaves the heart out of view."

      "Once for all," said he again, "let it be distinctly noted that we appreciate nothing in religion which tends not directly and immediately, proximately and remotely, to the purification and perfection of the heart. Paul acts the philosopher fully once, and if we recollect but once, in all his writings upon this subject. It is in his first Epistle to Timothy: 'Now the end of the commandment, or gospel, is love out of a pure heart and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned.' . . . We proceed upon these as our axiomata in all our writings, reasonings, preachings: first, unfeigned faith; second, a good conscience; third, a pure heart; fourth, love. The testimony of God apprehended, produces unfeigned or genuine faith; faith obeyed, produces a good conscience. This Peter defines to be the use of baptism, the answer of a good conscience. This produces a pure heart, and then the consummation is love--love to God and man."

      Mr. Campbell believed that as in nature the position of the earth in reference to the sun is changed in order to the production of summer fruits, so in religion the internal state of the sinner in reference to God is changed through the faith and obedience of the gospel, so that the heavenly influences might produce their proper effects. "Jesus," said he, "gives us the philosophy of his scheme in an address to a sinner of that time: 'Your sins,' says he, 'are forgiven you; go, and sin no more.' He first changes the sinner's state, not 'external but internal,' and then says, 'Go, and sin no more.' He frankly forgave the debt. The sinner loved him."

      These remarks were elicited chiefly by the course pursued by Mr. Broaddus in his review. This was [359] largely composed of disquisitions upon "real" and "relative" change, upon "state," "quality," etc., and was permeated throughout by that entire misconception of Mr. Campbell's teaching already adverted to, as neglecting the heart and having nothing in view but external and formal changes. Mr. Campbell showed in his reply that no changes are more real than such as are relative, and that the term "state" was as applicable to internal as to external conditions, to the latter of which Mr. Broaddus erroneously supposed Mr. Campbell to confine it. In his overweening estimate of religious "experiences," and his effort to represent Mr. Campbell as advocating a mere outward work or opus operatum in religion, Mr. Broaddus was led to speak of baptism as "an external or bodily act," and to controvert the view taken by Mr. Campbell that through it the "state" of the sinner was changed. In reply, Mr. C. expresses his surprise that the Baptists should have so long contended with Pædobaptists and broken fellowship with them about a matter which in their view was of so little importance. Entering then into the heart of the subject, he thus ably exposes the shallowness of the philosophy opposed to him:

      "1. There are no acts of worship or of religion ordained by Jesus Christ that are at all to be regarded as outward or external bodily acts. 'God is a Spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.' Vocal prayer and praise, though they are exercises of the larynx, the tongue and the lips; the bending of the knee, or the standing erect or falling upon the ground; the eating of bread, the drinking of wine, or any other exertion of one or more or all of our organs, mental or corporeal, are not to he regarded as acts of religion except they are exercises of the understanding and the heart; and no man of any sense pleads for these, as bodily acts, as of any importance whatever. [360]

      "2. But the spirit of man cannot think at all without the body; it cannot think if the brain be not exercised; it cannot speak unless the tongue be moved; it cannot feel but by the nerves; it cannot move but by the organs of the body. How unreasonable, then, to separate or to regard human action in reference to the particular organ which operates! Immersion is as spiritual an act when proceeding from faith in God's promise as any act in which a person is either active or passive. FAITH IS AS MUCH A BODILY ACT AS IMMERSION. No man without the exercise of his senses can believe anything. 'Faith comes by hearing,' says a master in Israel."

      Thus ever, upon his stronger pinions, Mr. Campbell rose above the highest altitude of his ablest opponents, and from his loftier point of observation was enabled to take wider and better views of truth and duty. His confutation of Mr. Broaddus' "Extra Examined" was throughout triumphant, and became the means of convincing many of the truth of the positions he advocated.

      In October of the year 1831 his family was increased by the birth of a son, who was named Alexander. His domestic happiness continued uninterrupted, and at no period were his public labors more incessant. During the year he had been about half the time from home, laboring in word and doctrine, and had immersed about two hundred persons. Everywhere the principles he taught were undergoing the most active scrutiny, and gaining the confidence and the support of unsectarian and intelligent minds. His various publications were constantly gaining a wider circulation, and his incessant activity was still adding to their number. A pocket edition of the New Version of the Testament was about this time projected. Being subjected to a careful revision, in which he received important aid from F. W. Emmons, who had then taken up his abode in [361] Wellsburg, It was subsequently stereotyped and published in a small and portable form.

      The intolerance with which, in many cases, the Reformers were treated by the Baptists served to illustrate more fully the tendencies and spirit of the sectarianism which Mr. Campbell sought to overthrow, and tended to justify more fully his efforts in the estimation of the people. It was impossible to explain satisfactorily, on Christian principles, the necessity of division where there were so many points of agreement, and the unprejudiced were unable to recognize as just reasons those distinctions which appeared so vast as seen through the magnifying glass of sectarian bigotry, but so minute and trivial in the eyes of Christian love. Mr. Campbell, however, by no means attached the blame to the Baptists as a people, but attributed the whole difficulty to a few individuals, who were bent on maintaining the supremacy of their own favorite theories, rather than the freedom and the clemency which the Baptists were wont to cherish.

      These ancient characteristics, however, were at times still exhibited among them, even by Mr. Campbell's opponents, as may be seen in the following instance:

      Toward the close of this year (1831), Thomas Campbell had set out upon a visit to the churches in Eastern Virginia. Upon arriving at Fredericksburg on a Friday, he was invited by Elder G. F. Adams, the pastor of the Baptist church there, to preach on the following Lord's day. Bishop R. B. Semple, coming into town on Saturday, was introduced to him, and next morning had another interview with him and accompanied him to meeting. Here the bishop listened to his discourse, and at its close added a few remarks. In the afternoon also he gave a short exhortation when the Lord's [362] Supper was administered, and afterward returned home, bestowing his parting benediction on Thomas Campbell, who was to preach again at night. In the kind and courteous recognition thus granted by Bishop Semple to Thomas Campbell it is not to be supposed that he intended to compromise in any degree his cherished religious sentiments, or to sanction what he still honestly thought to be defects in Mr. Campbell's teaching. After so much religious disputation, however, it was, under the circumstances, a very pleasing incident, showing that the supposed differences were not such, after all, in the estimation of Bishop Semple, as to preclude fraternal communion. Providence, too, seemed to give to this incident a peculiar significance, for in a few days Bishop Semple was seized with pleurisy, which terminated, on Christmas day, 1831, his long and useful life; and it hence so happened that the last discourse he ever heard was from the lips of the godly man to whom the Reformation owed its origin, and that it was likewise with Thomas Campbell he enjoyed his last communion upon earth--an antepast, it is to be hoped, of that higher Eucharistic feast where the pious, redeemed from all their prejudices and errors, shall sit down together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God.

      The jealousies and misconceptions created by Mr. Campbell's opponents among the Baptists continued nevertheless to produce their natural effects, and soon after Thomas Campbell's arrival at Richmond the pastor of the Baptist church there, and those with him, requested all favorable to the Reformation to withdraw and become a separate people. To this sixty-eight members finally assented and formed a distinct church, which met first in the Capitol on the fourth of March, [363] 1832, on which occasion Thomas Campbell preached to a large assemblage with great acceptance. He continued for some time successfully his labors in Richmond, where he was at length confined by a serious and protracted illness, during which he received the kindest attentions from his friends and the medical visits of the eminent Dr. Cullen, who conceived a warm attachment for his patient, and would receive nothing for his valuable services. Separations between the Baptists and the Reformers occurred in various other portions of the State, and these were still farther extended by the action of the Dover Association in the fall, excluding six of the most prominent Reform preachers in their body, and recommending the churches to separate all "Reformers" from their communion. The preamble and resolutions adopted on this occasion, couched in terms to which Andrew Broaddus himself objected, contained so many incorrect and unjust statements that they occasioned no little bitterness of feeling between the parties, and tended to increase public sympathy for the worthy individuals, as well as for the cause they were designed to discredit. The consequence was a general division between the Baptists and Reformers, and a rapid increase on the part of the latter, who now met regularly without hindrance to keep the ordinances, and enjoyed the labors of a number of excellent and devoted preachers. A meeting-house was soon erected in Richmond, as well as one in Bowling Green, in Essex and at other points. These were plain, substantial buildings, conveniently arranged, and without any of those expensive and unnecessary ornaments in which vanity and pride so often expend the wealth which ought to be devoted to charitable and religious uses. Such, indeed, has in general been the character of the [364] meeting-houses built by the Reformers. Mr. Campbell himself, who was extremely simple in all his tastes and habits, was decidedly opposed to everything which savored of show or ostentation in houses, dress or equipage. On the character of church edifices he about this time made the following remarks:

      "It is most devoutly to be wished that all who plead for reformation would carry out their principles in the plainness, convenience and cheapness of the buildings which they erect for the assemblies of Christians. No greater satire could be inscribed on marble against the religion of Jesus Christ than are many of the houses called churches, wherever the people have the means of gratifying the spirit which is in them. There is no difference between the Baptists and other sects in this particular. Opulent communities amongst them have stately edifices, with lofty steeples and ponderous bells. There were some Baptist cathedrals on which more than forty thousand dollars have been expended for the sake of showing that the Baptists would be as respectable as any other sect if they had it in their power. The spirit of baptized and sprinkled Calvinism, whether in the Presbyterian or Congregational form, is one and the same, if a thousand arguments could prove such a proposition. Large, convenient and permanent houses may be built for generally half the sum usually expended on the same number of square feet. The Quakers are more exemplary in this respect than any other sect. But even their plan could still be improved. Let there only be a regard to convenience and durability; let all that is merely to gratify the lusts of the eye and the pride of life be left to them who seek to gain influence over the children of the flesh by reducing Christianity to the taste and fashion of this world, and we can build two, three and sometimes four meeting-houses for the price of one of the same dimensions.

      "Under the present political influences which govern society it is necessary to have synagogues or meeting-houses large enough for the accommodation of the disciples who can [366] meet in any one place, and such of the community as may desire to attend their meetings. But for the sake of the humble Founder of this our religion and the Author of our hope before God, let not the walls of the house nor anything in it reproach our profession."

      Similarly, he loved to see the utmost simplicity in the order and worship of the house of God. He delighted in the public reading of the Scriptures, the plain and earnest exhortations of the brotherhood, and in solemn psalms and hymns of praise. He had no relish for anything formal or artificial, such as the repetitions in fugue tunes or the establishment of singing choirs. As to the use of musical instruments in worship, he was utterly opposed to it, and took occasion at a later period to remark in regard to it that it was well adapted to churches "founded on the Jewish pattern of things" and practicing infant sprinkling.

      "That all persons," said he, "who have no spiritual discernment, taste or relish for spiritual meditation, consolations and sympathies of renewed hearts, should call for such aid is but natural. Pure water from the flinty rock has no attractions for the mere toper or wine-bibber. A little alcohol, or genuine Cogniac brandy, or good old Madeira is essential to the beverage to make it truly refreshing. So to those who have no real devotion or spirituality in them, and whose animal nature flags under the oppression of church service, I think that instrumental music would be not only a desideratum, but an essential prerequisite to fire up their souls to even animal devotion. But I presume to all spiritually-minded Christians such aids would be as a cow-bell in a concert." M. H., Series iv., vol. i., p. 581.

      Shortly before the time of Thomas Campbell's visit to Richmond a slave insurrection in Southampton county, attended with the brutal slaughter of more than sixty persons, nearly half of whom were mothers and [366] children, had spread a feeling of alarm and insecurity through that portion of the State exposed to a similar calamity, and every one seemed anxious that something should be at once done to avert impending dangers. The subject of slavery, previously referred to only in the most guarded manner, was now everywhere freely and unreservedly canvassed, and various plans were proposed for its removal, its injurious effects upon the political and social interests of the State being strongly urged in the Richmond papers and in the Legislature. Although far removed from the troubled district and free from the immediate evils of the slavery institution, Mr. Campbell thought it his duty as a citizen to use his influence in favor of emancipation, and to express his sentiments upon the institution itself.

      "Slavery," said he, "that largest and blackest blot upon our national escutcheon, that many-headed monster, that Pandora's box, that bitter root, that blighting and blasting curse under which so fair and so large a portion of our beloved country groans--that deadly Upas, whose breath pollutes and poisons everything within its influence--is now evoking the attention of this ancient and venerable commonwealth in a manner as unexpected as it is irresistible and cheering to every philanthropist--to every one who has a heart to feel, a tear to shed over human wretchedness, or a tongue to speak for degraded humanity. . . . We have always thought, and frequently said, since we became acquainted with the general views and character of the people of Virginia, that there was as much republicanism in Virginia, even in the slaveholding districts, as could be found among the same number of inhabitants in any State in the Union. And, moreover, we have thought that if the abolition of slavery was legitimately to be laid before the people of this commonwealth, as it now is, there would be found even among slaveholders a majority to concur in a national system of emancipation. [367]

      "Under this conviction we had digested a plan for the final abolition of slavery in this State, which we intended to submit in the Convention which framed the present constitution; and indeed this was a chief inducement to reconcile us to a seat in that body. But in the more matured judgment of many members of that convention with whom we conferred, and who were as alive to the subject as we could be, it was thought impolitic and inexpedient at that time to urge this subject farther than to guard against the insertion of a single word in the constitution recognizing the existence of this evil. The subject is then constitutionally within the power of the Legislature to take any measures, at any time, which in its wisdom it may think expedient."

      As the plan recommended by Mr. Jefferson, which was to colonize beyond the limits of the United States all slaves born after a certain period, was then under discussion, along with other methods of getting rid of the evil, Mr. Campbell on his part proposed this plan: That the ten millions of dollars previously appropriated annually to the payment of the national debt then just extinguished, should thenceforth be applied to the colonization of the colored race, as stated in these terms:

      "Be it enacted, That from and after the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, the sum of ten millions of dollars shall be annually appropriated to the colonization of all people of color, either slaves or free persons, in ----, until the soil of our free and happy country shall not be trod by the foot of a slave, nor enriched by a drop of his sweat or blood; that all the world may not believe that we are a nation of hypocrites, asserting all men to have certain natural and inherent rights, which! n our practice we deny; and shedding crocodile tears over the fall of Warsaw, and illuminating for the revolution of the Parisians, while we have millions of miserable human beings at home held in involuntary bondage, in ignorance, degradation and vice, by a republican system of free slaveholding."

      He adds: "Virginia can, and she will, rid herself of this [368] curse; and we say the sooner she does it, the better for herself, morally, politically, religiously and every other way, But should the nation take it up, how gloriously would the cause triumph! And as sure as the Ohio winds its way to the Gulf of Mexico, will slavery desolate and blast our political existence, unless effectual measures be adopted to bring it to a close while it is in the power of the nation."

      Thus it was that Mr. Campbell, ever mindful of the best and highest interests of society, omitted no opportunity of employing his abilities and his influence in behalf of every measure likely to promote them. Prompt but not rash, conservative but not stationary, his plans were usually characterized no less by novelty than by prudence, and his thoughts upon political as well as upon religious and other subjects were marked by that breadth of view, that truthful simplicity and practical sagacity which ever distinguish superior minds. [369]

      1 This Mr.Cohen was a man of considerable ability, very zealous for the Jews' religion, and supposed to be a descendant of Aaron, his father having acted as high-priest and being succeeded in this office by his son. In youth he had conceived a sudden and violent passion for the granddaughter of Sir Charles Burdette, of London, an orphan, whom he met accidentally in Philadelphia. Her father, Malcolm Campbell, a Scotchman, had been a member of the Presbyterian Church, while her mother was an Episcopalian. Mr. Cohen's father, hearing of the engagement was much distressed, and exacted from his son, in presence of the elders, a binding oath that he would marry none but a Jewess. Perceiving the difficulties which surrounded her affianced husband, Miss Campbell was induced to become a proselyte to Judaism, but after her marriage experienced great depression of mind in consequence, and finally returned to the Christian profession, on account of which her husband separated from her. She was a lady of literary tastes, and published a number of fugitive pieces of poetry in a little volume, which furnished also a touching history of her life and trials, and of the religious transports and death of her son, Henry Luria, who, as well as several others of her children, embraced the faith of Christ. Her sad narrative affords a striking illustration of the unhappy effects resulting from religious disagreements, especially [353] in the marriage relation. Among other matters, the volume contains two letters, addressed to her by Mr. Campbell, from one of which the following is an extract:
      "MY DEAR MRS. COHEN: Your letters to Mrs. Campbell and myself were duly received. I am glad to learn that you are about to publish a narrative of your son's conversion from Judaism to Christianity. It will be no doubt a very interesting work. It will afford me pleasure to notice and commend it in the "Harbinger." I have heard my wife often speak with much pleasure of her having met you on the Ohio river and forming a very agreeable and interesting acquaintance with you, such as I once enjoyed in forming the acquaintance of your husband in Richmond. . . .
      "Unfortunately, sects and schisms, and consequently controversies, strifes and alienations, have, more or less, through all Christendom, paralyzed the Church of Jesus Christ and greatly prevented the spread and power of the gospel of the great Messiah. As did the Jew, so do the Gentiles, more or less, render ineffectual the word and teachings of the Holy Spirit by their traditions. Christ's gospel is no theory, no philosophy, no mere dogmata, no opinionisms. It is a glorious and yet a simple development of the most significant, splendid and grace-abounding facts, precepts and promises that ever were or ever can be submitted to the human understanding, the conscience and the affections of men. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, as did Peter, the great apostle to the Jews, on the first Pentecost after Christ's ascension and glorification as Lord of all, Jew, Gentile and Samaritan, presented the facts of Christ's death as the only sin-offering; together with his burial, resurrection, ascension and coronation as Lord of the universe, as the foundation alone sufficient and all-sufficient for the salvation of Jew and Greek and Samaritan; and whosoever desires pardon, peace and eternal life may indeed enjoy all the blessings which the largest heart and the most ardent soul in the world can enjoy or entertain. But upon these glorious facts and realities I need not enlarge. You doubtless appreciate them. It is a personal, living faith in a Divine Redeemer; and it is this alone which can meet the essential wants and cravings of enlightened reason. Mrs. Campbell unites with me in kindest regards to you. In all benevolence,
  "Yours most respectfully,


[MAC2 344-369]

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

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