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



C H A P T E R   X I .

Union with the "Christians"--Faith and opinion-Distinguished fellow-
      laborers--Eastern tour--Skeptics of New York--Editorial labors--
      Progress of truth.

T HE tendency of religious theories to create division, as seem in the last chapter, was now to be contrasted with the power of the Scriptures to promote union. The good feeling between the "Reformers" and the preachers and members of the "Christian Connection," which a common advocacy of the Bible had produced some years before on the Western Reserve, had gradually extended itself to other parts of Ohio, and especially to Kentucky, where the "Christians" constituted a large and respectable body, estimated at from ten to twelve thousand members. It was natural that a warm mutual sympathy should arise between the two people whose religious views and aims in many respects corresponded, and that the high personal regard existing between Mr. Campbell and B. W. Stone, L. Fleming and other preachers of the "Connection," as well as between many of the private members of the two communities, should lead to mutual intercourse and to a better understanding upon religious subjects.

      The agreement which was found to exist in all important matters had already given rise to desires and even plans for union, but each of the communities still preserved its separate organization, and, in some respects, [370] its distinctive character. B. W. Stone favored a more free communion. "As well," said he, "might we forbid unimmersed persons to pray, to praise, to teach, as to forbid them to commune. . . . What authority have we for inviting or debarring any pious, holy believer from the Lord's table? Though it is done by many, we see no divine authority for it." Mr. Campbell had formerly expressed sentiments precisely similar, but a fuller comprehension of the relations of baptism to regeneration and the remission of sins had latterly inclined him to stricter views. He dreaded even the appearance of setting aside any divine institution, or of assuming to judge of men by their supposed sincerity rather than by their actual obedience to the word of God. Again, B. W. Stone thought that the name "Christian" was given by divine authority and ought to be the distinctive title of every follower of Jesus. This was also the view of Thomas Campbell (C. B., vol. vii., p. 12), but his son did not concur in this, nor concede the correctness of the criticism on the word (Crhmatisai) upon which it chiefly rested. He admitted indeed that the name Christian was proper and appropriate, and only wished that all were worthy of it. He preferred "disciple," however, as a more humble appellation and of earlier and more frequent use in the New Testament. Much of Mr. Campbell's repugnance to the denominational name Christian was due to the fact that the anti-Trinitarian speculations of those who had already adopted it, had subjected them to charges of Arianism, a heresy to which he had a peculiar antipathy. These charges indeed he had found by intercourse with Mr. Stone and others to be unjust, and he had become latterly well satisfied that the "Christians" generally in Kentucky were [371] disposed to abandon all speculation about the modus of the divine existence:

      "In Kentucky," said, "and the South-west generally, this is getting out of fashion, and many of the congregations called 'Christians' are just as sound in the faith of Jesus as the only-begotten Son of God, in the plain import of these terms, as any congregations with which I am acquainted. With all such I, as an individual, am united, and would rejoice in seeing all the immersed disciples of the Son of God called 'Christians,' and walking in all the commandments of the Lord and Saviour. We plead for the union, communion and co-operation of all such; and wherever there are in any vicinity a remnant of those who keep the commandments of Jesus, whatever may have been their former designation, they ought to rally under Jesus and the apostles and bury all dissensions about such unprofitable subjects as those long-vexed questions about trinity, atonement, depravity, election, effectual calling, etc. If it had not been for this most unreasonable war about Arian or Unitarian orthodoxy, the name Christian would not have been traduced in the land as it has been, and much might have been done to promote the union of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ sincerely. With all such I am united in heart and in hand, and with all such I will, with the help of God, co-operate in any measure which can conduce to the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. Indeed I feel myself, as an individual (for here I only speak for myself), at perfect liberty to unite in every act of religious worship with any sect of Baptists in America--not as a sect, but as disciples of Jesus Christ--if their moral and Christian behavior be compatible with the gospel, irrespective of all their speculations upon the untaught questions of their creeds."

      Thus faith, and not opinion, was ever with Mr. Campbell the basis of Christian union. He advocated fellowship with all who received the teachings of the Scripture in their simple and obvious meaning, and [372] whose conduct corresponded with these teachings. There was no need of strained interpretations, specious glosses or textual perversions where no theological theory was to be sustained, but all could learn the truth by taking the Bible in its proper connection, and construing it in harmony with the established laws of language. When, from the necessity of the subject, as in the case of the inscrutable mysteries of the divine nature, a boundary was reached beyond which the human mind was unable to pass, there its investigations must be reverently stayed in humble adoration. Within these boundaries even, a just regard was to be paid to time and opportunity as to the extent of Christian attainment. The simple truths of the gospel could be received by babes in Christ, and upon these truths all could be united in one body, in which progress was indicated not by schism but by growth, and every part of which, "fitly joined together," thus made increase "unto the edifying of itself in love." All, if not taught, must at least be teachable; all must seek wisdom, but not to be "wise above what is written;" and in all cases obedience must keep pace with knowledge of the divine will.

      Such were alike the guiding principles of both communities, and any apparent differences in progress were more complementary than antagonistic. Both Mr. Campbell and Mr. Stone were alike devoted to the great end of uniting the true followers of Christ into one communion upon the Bible, but each regarded the method of its accomplishment from his own point of view. Mr. Campbell, contemplating the distinct congregations with their proper functionaries as the highest religious executive authority on earth, was in doubt how a formal union could be attained, whether by a general [373] convention of messengers or a general assembly of the people. Barton W. Stone, on the other hand, looking at the essential spirit of the gospel, exclaimed, "Oh, my brethren, let us repent and do the first works, let us seek for more holiness, rather than trouble ourselves and others with schemes and plans of union. The love of God, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us, will more effectually unite than all the wisdom of the world combined." This great truth was not long in being exemplified, and that, too, by methods which, like the natural movements of the body, were the most direct and simple, and which will be fully seen in the brief notices which it is necessary now to take of some of the individuals who chiefly aided in accomplishing the desired end.

      Among these may be particularly mentioned John Rogers, a younger brother of Samuel Rogers, already spoken of. Born in Clark county, Kentucky, December 6, 1800, he was taken in 1801, with the rest of the family, to the West, and spent his early years on the plantation owned by his father not far from St. Louis, then called Pancour. In 1809 the family returned to Kentucky, and settled near Concord in Nicholas county, where considerable religious excitement still lingered. After the baptism of his brother Samuel in 1812, his attention became strongly directed to religion, so that in the following year, during meetings held in Millersburg in Bourbon county, by B. W. Stone and others, and where Walter Warder and J. Vardeman also were preaching, he earnestly sought for some time that "religious experience" which was supposed to be conversion, and which apparently had been obtained by some of his associates who joined the Baptist Church. Being exhorted to pray on, and still hoping for some [374] inexplicable, palpable or sensible manifestation by which he would "know his sins forgiven," he passed through various states of feeling, and was finally, in December, 1818, baptized by B. W. Stone, and united with the Christian Church. As he gave evidence of piety and speaking abilities, his brother Samuel obtained his release from his apprenticeship to the cabinet business, to which he had already devoted three years, and he engaged soon after in preaching in Ohio and elsewhere, working occasionally at his business in order to defray expenses, and encountering all the toils and hardships of the pioneer Christian preachers, traveling on foot and preaching almost daily with little pecuniary compensation, but considerable success in turning sinners to Christ. Having procured a horse, he worked again at his trade in Wilmington, Ohio, to obtain clothing and a saddle and bridle, and preached for a considerable time in that portion of the State. He accompanied afterward his brother Samuel on two long tours through Missouri, making a great many converts, and after his return visited various parts of Virginia. During all this time he was greatly troubled in regard to his "call to the ministry," it being strongly held by the "Christians" that there must be a sensible, special and unmistakable "call" to preach, and that no one should "take this honor to himself" or presume to administer the ordinances unless thus "called of God." As John Rogers had not been the subject of any special visitation, but felt impelled to labor simply from an earnest desire to serve the cause of Christ and to bring men to a knowledge of salvation, he often felt inclined to doubt his authority. These doubts, however, were subsequently transferred to the clerical theory which had created them. [375]

      In the year of Mr. Campbell's debate with McCalla (1823) he became the regular preacher for the church at Carlisle, in Nicholas county, Kentucky, where three years afterward he first saw Mr. Campbell, who was there on a visit. From this interview, and the reading of the "Christian Baptist," his views of the Christian institution were much enlarged, and he learned greatly to admire and love the individual whose developments of the primitive gospel had done so much to enlighten men's minds on the subject of religion. Being a true lover of the Bible, and a man of clear perception and sober judgment, he was not long in comprehending and appreciating aright those points in which Mr. Campbell was thought to differ from Mr. Stone; and as he had much influence with his own people, he became largely instrumental in removing prejudices and preparing the way for a cordial Christian union with the Reformers.

      Another individual whose influence greatly contributed to this union was Thomas M. Allen, a native of Shenandoah, now Warren county, Va., born October 21, 1797. His ancestors were Presbyterians, and he received his education chiefly from Mr. Snyder and William Williamson, Presbyterian preachers, and from John S. McNamara, one of the most eminent mathematicians of the time. Before he was seventeen years of age he entered the army as a volunteer, and served for more than six months during the war with England, in a Virginia regiment commanded by Colonel Yancy. In 1816, while returning to Virginia from a visit to Kentucky, when within six miles of Washington, Pa., in a violent storm a large tree suddenly fell across the road, instantly killing a young lady by his side and crushing his own horse under him, inflicting upon him [376] at the same time so much injury as to result in the almost entire loss of the use of his left arm. Removing to Kentucky in 1819, he married in Fayette county, and attended the law school of Transylvania University, and subsequently, in 1822, commenced the practice of law in Bloomington, Ind. Here his success equaled his highest expectations, but he and his wife being immersed by B. W. Stone, he returned to Kentucky, and on the 23d of June, 1823, became one of the original six members of the church constituted at "Old Union," in Fayette county, the other male members being Samuel Ellis and James Rankin. He soon commenced preaching, and in May, 1825, was ordained at "Union." His speaking abilities, fine personal appearance and popular manners gave him great influence, and his labors were attended with marked success. He planted churches at Paris, Antioch and Clintonville in Bourbon county, and at Cynthiana in Harrison, being also a fellow-laborer with most of the distinguished pioneer preachers of Kentucky, and enjoying the confidence and esteem of the entire brotherhood.

      He had obtained the "Christian Baptist" soon after it commenced, and was delighted with its developments of the simple nature of the religion of Christ, its distinctions between the different dispensations, and the new light which it threw upon the themes of the Bible. He quickly abandoned all the speculations for which with others he had been contending, and accustomed himself to speak always of Bible things in Bible words. The total avoidance of the terms of scholastic divinity. and the practice of speaking of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit just as the Scriptures speak, he soon found to do more toward settling the vexed questions about the "Trinity" than had been done by the [377] controversies of fifteen centuries. He aided much in extending the circulation of the "Christian Baptist" and of the views it presented, and in leading the people forward to more accurate conceptions of primitive Christianity, and labored to promote the most fraternal and friendly relations between the "Christians" and the Reformers.

      In July, 1827, he baptized at Georgetown a young man about twenty-two years of age, who was destined to exert no inconsiderable influence upon the progress of truth in Kentucky. Born at Georgetown, John Allen Gano had received during his early years a good English education and some knowledge of the languages from B. W. Stone, Jesse Olds and Charles O'Hara. During this period his religious impressions were strong, but were afterward effaced by his love of society and youthful pleasure. Having studied law, he resolved, after his admission to the bar, to go to Texas as his permanent home, but upon his way, descending the Ohio, was seized with a severe hemorrhage of the lungs, and was left at a village on the Kentucky shore to die. While in this alarming state, his religious feelings returned with great force, and as be slowly recovered he determined to study the word of God and to adopt a different course of life. When able to return to Georgetown, he waited on the ministrations of various preachers, but found so little light and so many contradictions in their teaching that he became discouraged as to the possibility of finding the way of life, and had nearly fallen into his old associations, when he fortunately attended the preaching of B. W. Stone and his brethren, under which he was brought into a state of deep conviction and was led to confess Christ. Possessed of warm feelings and great readiness of [378] expression, he could not refrain from urging the claims of the gospel upon the people, both at the time he confessed his faith and at his immersion, and soon became fully engaged in the work of the ministry, in which he was eminently successful. It was in the year of his baptism that he first saw and heard Mr. Campbell, and was at once impressed by his preaching and teaching, which he thought excelled anything he had ever heard.

      "I sought him out," he remarked, "at the residence of Brother J. T. Johnson. I feared I should be overawed in the presence of one so gifted. But I found him so easy of access, so kindly attentive to every question, such Christ-like humility and benevolence breathing in every word and manifest in every action, that I soon felt myself at home with him. I do not remember to have seen so much of heavenly wisdom and true dignity of character, blended with such child-like simplicity and meekness, except in the beautiful life of his co-laborer, B. W. Stone. I wondered that any one could see and hear him and not admire and love him. After this I read his writings with great interest and profit. Since then," he continues, in a recent communication, "I have had the pleasure of his company at our home and elsewhere, more or less through a period of nearly forty years. I have always found him the same truly courteous, affable, Christian gentleman--pure, chaste and dignified in deportment and conversation--a model of piety and devotion to God. Oh it was always a rich treat to listen to his words of wisdom and divine instruction, drawing as he ever did from the Book of books his lessons of truth and love! . . . I owe to this great and good man much indeed. And amongst the things not the least, the lesson that enabled me to distinguish the gospel, in its facts, commands and promises, from the opinions and speculations of men about them--the one the power of God unto salvation, the other powerless, empty and vain."

      There was another individual, however, who perhaps more than any one else directly contributed to elect the [379] coalescence of the two communities. This was J. T Johnson, at whose house Mr. Gano first formed a personal acquaintance with Mr. Campbell. Born October 5, 1788, in Scott county, Kentucky, and educated at Transylvania University, he studied law and was admitted to practice before he was twenty-one. After his marriage he resided on a farm near Georgetown, and early in the war of 1812 became a volunteer aid to General Harrison, and at the siege of Fort Meigs, in his fearless discharge of duty, had a fine gray charger shot under him, and was himself struck by a ball, though not seriously injured. After the peace he became, in 1815, a candidate for the Legislature, and was readily elected every year in succession till 1819. In the financial crisis of this year he lost his entire fortune, some fifty thousand dollars, which he voluntarily gave up to pay the debts of his friends, for whom his generous confidence had induced him to become surety. In 1820 he was elected to Congress, in which he served four years, and in 1828 was again returned to the State Legislature, after which, from his love for domestic quiet, he determined to abandon political life, much to the regret of the people.

      Ever characterized by the highest moral integrity, he had evinced also a sincere religious faith, and before his first entrance upon congressional duties had become a member of the Baptist church at the Great Crossings during the summer of 1821. It was not, however, until after his retirement from the busy scenes of political life that he undertook to examine carefully those religious questions which were at this time occasioning so much excitement in Kentucky, and to which his attention had been particularly directed by the proceedings of the church at Great Crossings in 1828 against J. [380] Creath, Jr., who was at that time their preacher and known to favor the doctrines of the Reformers. During the years 1829-30 he himself says,

      "I had more leisure. The public mind was much excited in regard to what was vulgarly called Campbellism, and I resolved to examine it in the light of the Bible. I was won over, and contended for it with all my might in the private circle. I was astonished at the ignorance and perversity of learned men who were reputed pious and otherwise esteemed honorable. My eyes were opened and I was made perfectly free by the truth. And the debt of gratitude I owe to that man of God, Alexander Campbell, no language can tell."

      He was no sooner convinced of the correctness of the reformatory principles than, with that promptitude and earnestness which belonged to his character, he at once endeavored to introduce them into the church at the Great Crossings. These efforts, however, being resisted, and the church persisting in unscriptural usages, and in refusing to receive as members persons who had confessed Christ and been immersed into his name after the primitive model, he resolved to detach himself and form a society governed exclusively by the Bible. Accordingly, on the second Saturday of February, 1831, he, with two others, B. S. Chambers and W. Johnson, formed the nucleus of a separate congregation at the Great Crossings, and at this first meeting he baptized his wife and his brother Joel and his wife, thus constituting a church of six members. Abandoning soon after the lucrative practice of law in which he had been engaged, he began the public advocacy of that primitive gospel which, by its simplicity and wonderful adaptation to the wants and condition of a sinful world, had captivated his heart and enlisted all the powers of his noble nature. Abounding in human sympathies, [381] high-minded and honorable in all his feelings, he possessed a remarkable ingenuousness and simple directness of purpose which inspired at once respect and confidence. Without that profundity or reach of thought by which some men are characterized, he possessed a singular power of perceiving the practical relations of things and of disengaging at once the speculative and the fanciful from the actual and the positive. Hence he soon became distinguished as a preacher for the directness of his appeals and the scriptural simplicity of his addresses, while his high personal character, his well-known disinterestedness, his courteous bearing and fervid devotion to the cause of God and of humanity soon rendered him one of the most successful and effective advocates of the cause. In stature he was slightly above the medium height, and his person was finely formed. His countenance was pleasing, with an unmistakable air of frankness and kindness, which, together with the peculiar dignity of his manner, secured the most respectful attention.

      His separation from the Baptist party, and his adoption of the Bible alone as the source of religious light, led him to a closer intimacy with B. W. Stone, who lived near Georgetown, and for whom he entertained a high regard, and he was urged by the latter to become co-editor of the "Christian Messenger," to which he acceded at the close of 1831. Heartily sympathizing in the earnest efforts of Elder Stone to establish the union of Christians upon the Bible, this subject engrossed much of his attention, and he appears to have agreed to aid in editing the paper in order to promote, if possible, a general coalescence between those in religious connection with Mr. Stone and the Reformers, who had recently been in a good measure separated [382] from the Baptists. He found that a union in sentiment and religious aims already existed between the two people to a great extent. Both desired to build upon the Bible alone; both were opposed to creeds as terms of communion; both desired the spread of the primitive gospel; both were alike persecuted and maligned by those who, glorying in orthodoxy of opinion, failed to recognize a scriptural unity of faith. He felt, therefore, that he could heartily co-operate with Elder Stone in endeavoring to overthrow the bigotry which he detested and to promote the Christian union which he longed to see prevail, and which was throughout his life one of his most favorite themes.

      This editorial union of B. W. Stone and J. T. Johnson was soon followed by a fraternal union between the "Christian" church and a number of Reformers residing in Georgetown. Agreeing to worship together, they found so much agreement in all essential matters, and so happy an effect produced in the increased number of conversions, that they were induced near the close of 1831 to appoint a general meeting at Georgetown to continue four days, for the purpose of considering the subject of a complete union between the two people. This meeting included Christmas day, and a similar one was appointed for the following week, including New Year's day, at Lexington. Many of the leading preachers on both sides attended and took part in these meetings, and so much evidence was afforded of mutual Christian love and confidence, and such undoubted assurances were given of a firm determination on the part of all to have nothing to do with doctrinal speculations, but to accept as conclusive upon all subjects the simple teaching of the Bible, that there seemed to be no longer anything in the way of the most earnest and hearty [383] co-operation. After the meeting at Lexington, some further friendly conferences were held by means of committees, and by arrangement the members of both churches communed together on the 19th of February, agreeing to consummate the formal and public union of the two churches on the following Lord's day, the 26th. During the week, however, some began to fear a difficulty in relation to the choice of elders and the practical adoption of weekly communion, which they thought would require the constant presence of an ordained administrator. The person who generally ministered to the Christian Church at Lexington at this time was Thomas Smith, a man of more than ordinary abilities and attainments, and long associated with the movement of B. W. Stone. He was an excellent preacher and was considered a skillful debater. He possessed withal a very amiable disposition, and was highly esteemed by Mr. Campbell, whom he often accompanied during his visits in Kentucky. He was at first, like others, apprehensive that the proposed union was premature, and that disagreement might arise in regard to questions of church order. The union was therefore postponed, and matters remained for a short time stationary, but it soon became generally apparent to the Christian brethren that there were no exclusive privileges belonging to preachers as it concerned the administration of ordinances, and Thomas M. Allen coming to Lexington, induced them to complete the union and to transfer to the new congregation, thus formed under the title of" the Church of Christ, "the comfortable meeting-house which they had previously held under the designation of "the Christian Church." This wise measure secured entire unanimity, and was especially gratifying to the Reformers, who had been meeting in [384] rented building. At Paris, also, Mr. Allen succeeded in effecting a union between the two churches, for one of which he had been himself preaching, while James Challen at this time ministered to the other. He proposed that both he and Mr. Challen should retire, and that the united churches should engage permanently the services of Aylett Raines. This was accordingly done, and Mr. Raines, leaving his field in Ohio, from this time continued to preach for the church at Paris, as well as for other churches in Kentucky, for more than twenty years, aiding besides in numerous protracted meetings, and by his steady, unremitting labors and able advocacy of the Reformation principles greatly extending their influence.

      In this connection it is proper to mention F. R. Palmer, who had been for some time preaching at Caneridge. He was a warm friend of Mr. Campbell, and often with him during his visits in Kentucky. He had been educated by B. W. Stone, and was a man of superior abilities, a fine preacher and entirely friendly to the union, as was also his brother, Henry D. Palmer; and their history serves still further to illustrate the sufficiency of the Bible as the source of religious light and the basis of Christian union. Called providentially in the midst of an irreligious community in South-west Tennessee to the study of the Scriptures, they soon discovered how different were modern churches from the models given in the New Testament. Both were men of fine personal appearance, strongly resembling Henry Clay, not only in form and features, but also in gifts of oratory. Devoting themselves to the spread of the simple truths they learned from the book of God, they traversed the entire region west out to the Mississippi river, accomplishing great good. Subsequently [385] Francis came into Kentucky, and Henry, bringing his slaves to Illinois, freed them there and distributed among them a large portion of his estate. Finally settling in this State, he continued his labors in the gospel with extraordinary success until the close of life, greatly endeared by his labors and sacrifices and noble Christian character to the entire community. He had remarkably correct views of the gospel, great faith in God and in Providence, praying always for everything, and urging the necessity of a new and of a divine life, of spiritual-mindedness, of entire devotion to God and of the presence and aids of the Holy Spirit. In church discipline also he desired to see a strict enforcement of the Scripture precepts and a prompt separation of those who walked unworthily. Removing finally to Eureka, in Woodford county, he died in September, 1861. His brother Francis, emigrating to Missouri in 1836, has labored most successfully in that State, and still preaches as well as ever, though eighty years of age, having been for more than half a century engaged in the ministry.

      The union of the churches in Georgetown, Lexington and Paris led at once to the union of the Christians and Reformers throughout the State. This was greatly promoted by the efforts of John Smith and John Rogers, who had been appointed at the Lexington meeting to visit all the churches and hold meetings in conjunction with each other, and who were most successful in removing any lingering doubts or prejudices--a result to which Elder Stone's earnest and intelligent advocacy of the movement greatly contributed. Thus, as the latter had foreseen, Christian love resolved, by simple and direct methods, differences and difficulties which would probably have been only augmented by any system of [386] church representation or any formal general convention, and Mr. Campbell rejoiced in an issue which he greatly desired to see accomplished, but which he, for a time, feared was prematurely effected. He thought sufficient time had not perhaps been allowed for a thorough comprehension of the principles of the Reformation, and dreaded lest these should in any wise be overruled or lost sight of in so sudden and unceremonious an arrangement. His misgivings, however, proved to be entirely groundless. Everywhere throughout the united churches these cherished principles were found to be sincerely approved and carried into effect. Untaught questions were no longer debated; baptism for remission of sins, which had been adopted by many of the Christian brethren before the union, was universally practiced; weekly communion was generally adopted, and stricter rules recognized in relation to church order and discipline. All were united upon the Bible alone, and with the most fraternal feelings strove together for the faith and institutions of the gospel. Nor was the effect less striking as respects the community without. Never before had the word of God manifested so much power in the conversion of sinners. Never before were meetings so successful in bringing the people to an intelligent and scriptural profession of Christ. Multitudes were added to the churches throughout the State, and an impetus was given to the cause by the union of the two people, which served to illustrate the overwhelming power which the gospel would exert upon the world if, in like manner, all the sad divisions of Protestants could be healed. The sectarians of Kentucky, who had foretold a speedy disruption of the union, were surprised to find their vaticinations unfulfilled, and not less grieved at the inroads continually making upon their own power, [387] which, from this period, steadily and rapidly declined, until the Reformers became by far the most numerous and influential body in the State.

      Mr. Campbell, himself, previous to the union, was not fully aware to what extent the principles advocated in the "Christian Baptist" had been diffused in Kentucky. Many of the Christian preachers. indeed, were already fully satisfied of their correctness, and some, as has been seen, had openly adopted them even before B. W. Stone had fully yielded his assent. To those of this class, already mentioned, may be added B. F. Hall, who, in 1826, on returning to Kentucky from some meetings in Tennessee, where many "mourners" were left uncomforted, and during which he had become greatly impressed with the conviction that the modern administration of the gospel must differ greatly from that in use in primitive times, happened at the house of a friend to meet with the McCalla debate. Turning the leaves slowly over, his eye caught Mr. Campbell's remarks on the design of baptism. Reading it carefully, he had scarcely finished, when he sprang to his feet and clapping his hands, cried out, "I have found it! I have found it!"

      "I gave thanks to God," he said in speaking of the incident, "I had found the keystone of the arch. It had been lost a long time. I had never seen it before--strange that I had not! But I had seen the vacant space in the arch a hundred times, and had some idea of the size and shape of it, and when I saw baptism as Mr. Campbell had presented it, I knew it would exactly fit and fill the space. I felt as if converted anew, and was far happier than when I first made profession, and far more certain that I was right. Now all was light around me, and I felt that I was standing on a rock.

      "In the summer of 1826," he continues, "I met B. W. [388] Stone and spoke of the matter to him. He told me that he had preached it early in the present century, and that it was like ice-water thrown on the audience; it chilled them, and he had in consequence abandoned it altogether. I insisted it was God's truth, nevertheless, and that I felt compelled to preach it at the meeting to which we were then going. He begged that I would not preach it while he was present, and said he was to leave after meeting on Lord's day morning, and then I could do as I thought proper. I complied with his request, but preached it privately to those who appeared concerned, and five of them were induced to take the Lord at his word, whom I immersed the next morning for the remission of sins. Our venerable Samuel Rogers was present at that meeting, and was the only preacher who did not oppose the doctrine."

      Some time after the union was accomplished in Kentucky, Mr. Campbell paid a visit to the East, accompanied as far as Richmond by his father, who designed to make a tour through North Carolina and to disseminate there the principles of the Reformation. He was attended also by his daughters Maria and Eliza, the former of whom, in January preceding, had been married to R. Y. Henley, and who, with her husband, was now on a visit to East Virginia. B. F. Hall, also, who had arrived at Bethany shortly before, continued with Mr. Campbell during the most of his tour. Preaching at Fredericksburg, Bowling Green and other points, he arrived at Richmond about the 24th of October, and addressed the citizens in the new meeting-house, called "Sycamore" from the tree which shades its doors. The meeting being continued for some days by Mr. Campbell and others, among whom was D. S. Burnet who had been for some weeks in East Virginia, some twenty-five persons were added to the church. Mr. Campbell preached also at several points in the vicinity of [389] Richmond, and finally passing down to Jamestown, York town and Norfolk, took passage in the "Columbus" for Baltimore, where several meetings were held with great benefit to the cause.

      Proceeding thence direct to New York, he found the Church there divided into several parts, owing to extreme views in regard to church order and unanimity of opinion. His labors were therefore chiefly directed to the restoration of unity and the correction of existing errors among the brethren, and were, to a considerable extent, successful in preparing the way for a reunion, which happily occurred in March, 1835. While here, he addressed the numerous skeptics of the city at Tammany Hall and Concert Hall on several occasions, obtaining a very respectful hearing and making a profound impression. At the close, Mr. Offen, in behalf of one of their societies, presented him with the following thank-offering:

      "SIR: The trustees and members of the society of Moral Philanthropists (of which I am also a member) have deputed me to present to you their thanks for your friendly visit to Tammany Hall, being highly pleased with the splendid talents they have witnessed, connected with erudition the most profound, which has both delighted their ears and conferred dignity upon their hall. The friendly sentiments you have also expressed toward skeptics, appealing to them as men--as honest men--instead of treating them with contumely, as do the Christian priesthood of New York, are specially noted. These kind feelings, sir, they duly appreciate, and to them they heartily respond. As it respects some of the evidences of the Christian religion, you have candidly and ably stated them. Should a change take place in our views on that subject, be assured it will be honestly and publicly avowed.

      "In the event you should again visit New York, you will be to us always a welcome guest. Permit me, sir, to tender [390] to you their best wishes for your health and prosperity, and be pleased to accept the full assurance of their high esteem."

      During his stay at New York, he delivered several discourses in the Laurence Street Church, where Dr. Barker presided, and in Union Chapel, where ten persons came forward for baptism, two of whom had been skeptics. On one occasion in passing up Broadway he was struck with a statue placed in a niche in the front of St. Paul's Church, and in his characteristic vein of humorous satire made it the subject of a short article in the "Harbinger," headed "Turning out the Apostles," in which he says:

      "One of the most appropriate designing in the various models of architecture in the church-building department in the city of New York is to be seen at St. Paul's Church, Broadway. Whether by accident or design in the plan of the chief architect, one thing is certain, he has most symbolically, graphically and emphatically pictured out the truth. On the outside of the church, in a very substantial and plain niche, facing the great thoroughfare, there stands in marble the Great Apostle. He seems greatly offended at being turned out of doors; has his parchments under his arm and his staff in his hand, as if hasting out of the walls of the cathedral. The little old man appears careworn and vexed with what he has seen within, and seems to cast an eye to heaven, welcoming the peltings of the storm rather than the mummery and the mockery of the blind adoration and insulting homage of wood and stone--instead of the religious obedience of men and woman to the Master through the traditions which he was commanded to deliver to the Church of Christ. The apostles, indeed, are turned out of aIl the fashionable churches in all the Atlantic cities, as far as we are able to judge. They are not only exiled from the great cathedrals with crosses and cowls, from the St. Pauls', the St. Peters', the St. Johns' and the Christs' churches of English and Roman Episcopacy, but from the religious theatres of all the daughters of the Scarlet [391] Lady. Thousands of dollars are squandered in all the pomp and pageantry of the pride of life to beautify and adorn masses of brick and stone, rather than to cover the nakedness and to feed and educate the inmates of the 'sordid huts of cheerless poverty.' Pulpits built of mahogany, cushioned and crimsoned in all the gorgeousness of unblushing pride, like inner temples, costing from two to three thousand dollars, environ the object of their adoration--encircle the golden altar on which they present their weekly oblations to that god who delights in a splendid house, in the ornaments of crimson and scarlet, in gold and silver, in the melodies of organs and the sound of unbelieving and unsanctified choristers, more than in the incense of a grateful heart."

      During this period Mr. Campbell had himself many practical illustrations, not only of the unpopularity of the apostles but of those who in their name sought to reform religious society. These were exhibited not only in the usual form of detraction and misrepresentation, but in the absolute refusal by the religious parties to admit him to speak in their houses of worship. In New York he was refused all the Baptist meeting-houses. Even Archibald McClay, formerly one of his warmest friends, denied him the use of his house, because, as he said, "he was not in full fellowship with the Baptists." At Philadelphia, which he next visited, he experienced similar treatment. Mr. Chambers, who with his Presbyterian congregation had, as formerly stated, rejected creeds some years before, assured Mr. Campbell of his sincere wish that he should occupy his pulpit, but through the influence of the Baptists, as was supposed, his elders refused assent. He spoke, therefore, in a house courteously tendered by the Universalists, as well as in the Callowhill street meeting-house, where during his stay some sixteen persons were added to the disciples meeting in Bank street, [392] under the care of William Ballantine. This excellent man, formerly in charge of one of Robert Haldane's seminaries at Elgin, and whose essay on the elder's office had occasioned so much division in the Haldanean churches on the subject of church order, was now engaged at Philadelphia in teaching classes in Greek and Hebrew. Like many of his coadjutors in Scotland, he had been opposed to immersion, and had even written a work in favor of infant sprinkling, which, as elsewhere stated, falling into the hands of Robert Tener of Dungannon, had for a time deterred him from being immersed according to his previous intentions. Mr. Ballantine afterward, however, became enlightened on the subject and was himself immersed, so that when Robert Tener, in 1833, emigrated to the United States, the first person who arrested his attention upon landing at Baltimore and uniting with the church there, was William Ballantine, then a prominent member of the congregation. Mr. Campbell, after leaving Philadelphia, preached three times at Baltimore, also at other points in Maryland, reaching home after an absence of upward of three months, during which he had traveled seventeen hundred miles and delivered about eighty discourses. Much good had been accomplished, and about seventy persons in all added to the churches during his tour. Soon after, D. S. Burnet, calling at Baltimore on his way to Cincinnati, held some meetings, during which the church received an addition of fifty new members. Everywhere, Mr. Campbell had left scriptural truths so deeply implanted in the minds of the people that the fruits could be gathered long after his departure. After some time, William Ballantine visited Bethany, and Mr. Campbell published for him an edition of his essay on the elder's office, which [393] was well received by the churches. The questions, however, of which it treated had been long since considered and determined among them, and the scriptural truths it urged in relation to elders had been already embraced in the "ancient order of things."

      On January 24th of this year (1834) another daughter was born to Mr. Campbell, and named Virginia. On the 24th of June following his eldest daughter, Jane Caroline, died of consumption. During the preceding winter she had removed from Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Albert G. Ewing, and her three children, to reside near Bethany, but a severe cold contracted during the journey at once awakened into activity the pulmonary disease inherent in the family, which proved rapidly fatal. Amiable in her disposition and patient in suffering, she calmly resigned herself in the midst of happiness and youth into the hands of the Redeemer in whom she had put her trust, and died in the hope of a blissful immortality.

      Continuing unremittingly his editorial and other labors, Mr. Campbell not only maintained his positions against all assailants, and made successful raids into the territories of his opponents, but cultivated with assiduity the wide domain already possessed. James G. Bell, an intelligent, zealous and amiable disciple, who some years before had been an inmate of his family, had left by his will a small sum to be expended in essays on the Patriarchal, Jewish and Christian dispensations, in pursuance of which Mr. Campbell this year printed for distribution an extra embracing these subjects, but particularly expounding the nature and elements of the kingdom of heaven. In this he adopted and presented an analysis given by Dr. Richardson three months before in the "Evangelist," a periodical which [394] Walter Scott had established at Carthage, Ohio. Previously, the phrase "kingdom of heaven" had been supposed to signify the Church, and in consequence of this error various false interpretations had been given to portions of Scripture. It was shown that the idea involved in "kingdom" was a compound one, embracing at least three distinct conceptions--viz., a king, subjects, and the territory or place where the subjects lived under the government of their king. In the kingdom of heaven Jesus was the king, those who had acknowledged him were the subjects, and the world (cosmoV) in which they lived was the territory. This view both Mr. Campbell and Mr. Scott regarded as an important addition to the truths developed during the progress of the Reformation, as it served to elucidate various portions of Scripture, and to correct false and mischievous applications of the teachings of Christ, as especially exemplified in the parable of the tares (Matt. xiii.).

      Much attention was at this time given to subjects of church order and discipline arising from the peculiar condition of the churches. The union between the Reformers and the "Christian" brethren in Kentucky had extended itself through most of the Western States, and immense numbers of new converts had everywhere been added to the churches, which were, as yet, but imperfectly supplied with elders, and but partially acquainted with the rules and principles of church government. B. W. Stone, removing to Jacksonville, Illinois, established there his periodical, and by his personal labors and those of his coadjutors greatly extended the spread of the gospel in the West. J. T. Johnson, in connection with B. F. Hall, started a periodical in Kentucky, where the former continued to labor with such [395] indefatigable industry and success that he became known as "the Evangelist of Kentucky," and everywhere imparted strength to the churches by his unfailing faith and courage.

      Meanwhile, a young member, P. C. Wyeth, from near Bethany, going to England, united in London with the Scotch Baptist church there, over which William Jones, author of various works on Ecclesiastical History and former co-pastor with William Ballantine, presided. Mr. Jones, much surprised to hear from Mr. Wyeth the particulars of so extended a reformatory movement in America, and conceiving that in its general features it agreed with that attempted by Archibald McClean and the Scotch Baptist churches, at once opened a communication with Mr. Campbell and obtained some of his works, with which he was so much pleased that he determined to reproduce them in England in a periodical which he entitled "The British Millennial Harbinger." Thus the views of Mr. Campbell obtained favorable access to the minds of a community, themselves professing a desire to return to the primitive faith and practice, and numbering some thirty churches in Great Britain, many of which, however, were small, the one in London consisting of only thirty members, under the pastoral care of Elders Jones and Nixon. Elder Jones' letters to Mr. Campbell and the replies occupied considerable space in their respective Harbingers, until at the end of sixteen months William Jones suspended his publication, alleging increasing age and his desire to prepare for the press a volume of sermons. Subsequently, he thought fit to express publicly his dissent from some views which he erroneously attributed to Mr. Campbell, but this sudden turn was without avail to check the progress of free opinion, and [396] the republication of Mr. Campbell's writings was shortly after resumed by the congregation of disciples meeting at Nottingham, in a periodical called the "Christian Messenger, or a Voice from America," edited by J. Wallis, a devoted Christian and friend of Reformation, who for a number of years, with marked ability and prudence, continued to promote the interests of the cause in Great Britain and Ireland, which thus received in return the fruitage of those germs of independent thought and religious truth which, within those realms, had been long before implanted in the youthful mind of Alexander Campbell. [397]


[MAC2 370-397]

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

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