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



C H A P T E R   X I V .

Religious society modified--Estimate of labors--Dr. Thomas--Tour to the
South--Letters--Bereavements--Education--Bethany College.

T HE success which had thus far attended Mr. Campbell's efforts to remodel religious society had been remarkable. The text which he had chosen when he delivered his first discourse at the organization of the little Brush Run Church in the secluded valley of Buffalo had been literally and fully verified: "Though thy beginning be small, thy latter end shall greatly increase." Already numerous flourishing churches in almost all the States of the Union, as well as in Great Britain and Ireland and the British Provinces, were keeping the ordinances as enjoined by the apostles, and holding forth the Word of Life in its primitive simplicity and power. Already had large and respectable religious bodies yielded to the reformatory principles, and, abandoning human theories and traditions, formed a firm and happy union upon the Bible alone. Still more had the divine efficiency of the original gospel been displayed in the conversion of thousands of the most intelligent portion of society, and in its steady and onward progress amidst the hostile ranks of sectarian opposition. Nor was the influence of the truth less manifest to the thoughtful and observing in the changes and modifications enforced upon almost all the Protestant communities, both in their teaching and in their practice. [439]

      These changes, indeed, slowly and reluctantly conceded by the spiritual rulers to satisfy the awakened spirit of inquiry and to secure what might remain of clerical authority, were doubtfully acknowledged by some, and even positively denied by others who wished to conceal unpleasing facts. They were, however, perfectly obvious to all who had watched the progress of events, or who chose to compare the existing liberalized tone of religious society with the intense bigotry and active divisive spirit which formerly prevailed. The idea of the possibility of a universal Christian union upon the Bible alone had insensibly pervaded a large portion of the religious world, and human standards had lost much of their usurped and arbitrary domination over the consciences of men. Their feeble and uncertain light had grown pale before the bright beams of divine truth now shed forth by the Bible as held aloft in the hands of Mr. Campbell, and whose radiance multitudes everywhere now began to enjoy without recognizing immediately the source from which it emanated. Hence, when Mr. Campbell's opponents in those communities which had been thus modified by his influence jeeringly asked the Reformers, "Wherein do you excel?" "Is this your boasted Reformation? " he justly replied:

      "I should be pleased to compare notes and the present state and history of the Baptist society and other societies around us, with their state and standing when we first said Reform! We have much to say on this subject whenever our brethren are seriously disposed to canvass this matter with that sincerity and gravity which it demands. Meanwhile, though it may appear invidious were I to institute such a comparison, I would say, as I said to the Roman Catholic bishop at Cincinnati, when he asked, with regard to Protestants, where they had reformed: 'Sir,' said I, 'when I wish to compare Protestants and Roman Catholics in those respects of which you [440] speak, I do not compare Protestants with the Romanists which live among them, and have been in part enlightened or reformed by them; but when I draw the invidious comparison which you institute, I select a society of pure and unmixed Catholics in New Spain or Old Spain, and alongside of those I place a congregation of American Protestants.'"

      Amidst all his successes, however, and though consciously wielding a prodigious influence over the minds of a large portion of the religious world, Mr. Campbell never for a moment entertained the thought of becoming the head of a party or of allowing himself to be recognized as the founder of a religious denomination. Thus, when, at New Orleans, one of the papers so represented him in announcing his appointments there, he at once addressed to the editors the following note:


      "GENTLEMEN: Allow me to thank you for the kind and complimentary notice which you gave, in your issue of the 13th inst., of my arrival in your city.

      "I also feel very grateful to the ministers and members of the Methodist Church for tendering me the use of their house of worship for Lord's day evening, and regret that it is not in my power to accept it.

      "You have done me, gentlemen, too much honor in saying that I am the I 'founder' of the denomination, quite numerous and respectable in many portions of the West, technically known as 'Christians,' but more commonly as 'Campbellites.'

      "I have always repudiated all human heads and human names for the people of the Lord, and shall feel very thankful if you will correct the erroneous impression which your article may have made in thus representing me as the founder of a religious denomination.
  "With very great respect, I am yours,
"A. CAMPBELL.      
      "NEW ORLEANS, March 14."

      Nor was he at any time unwilling to acknowledge his [441] liability to err, and to admit that in the various trying circumstances in which he had been placed, he had committed, unwittingly, mistakes and uttered unguarded expressions.

      "It is not for us," said he, in 1838, in speaking of the events of 1823-1827, "to form a proper estimate of our own labors or of those of others; we are not good judges of such matters, and therefore I presume not to do so. I leave this matter to the judgment-day. . . .

      "It is a common cause in which all are engaged, and much has been done and much is doing by many distinguished brethren, of whom I am persuaded better things than that they labor for a temporal prize, or for the comparative honors that human breath can bestow. We have all more credit than we deserve; for we ought to have learned, years before we did, what the Christian institution is in all its parts from such competent instruction as the New Testament affords.

      "I will say, with Father Campbell, to whom, under God, the friends of Reformation (not to draw an invidious comparison) are as much indebted as to any living man, if the Lord will graciously forgive all I have done wrong in pleading his cause, I shall be perfectly content with the humblest place in his everlasting kingdom, and to unite with all my brethren in lauding that mysterious and overwhelming grace which condescended to save our sinful persons and accept such unworthy services at our hands."

      The occasion of these remarks was a tendency for a time, on the part of Walter Scott, to exalt beyond measure the importance of the practical restoration of the design of baptism, and to claim that this was in reality the restoration of the gospel. Mr. Campbell could not, with his more enlarged views, regard this, or any other particular development of truth in the progress of the Reformation, as the restoration of the gospel--an honor which he urged might, with even more propriety, be [442] claimed for the restoration of the primitive confession of faith in Christ. He accordingly deprecated any partial views of this nature, and any unjust comparisons which were calculated to create rivalry and strife among those who were engaged in a common cause. His humble estimate of his own labors and his frank admission of imperfection in his best endeavors, together with his well-timed former "Letters of Epaphras," and the replies in the "Harbinger," had the happiest effect in correcting errors and eccentricities which, if less kindly and prudently treated, might have resulted in still greater evils, and compromised, in some measure, the success of the Reformation itself.

      It was also his remarkably firm adherence to the original principles and primitive spirit of the Reformation which led him to oppose publicly about this period certain materialistic speculations broached by one who, for a time, had promised to become an efficient coadjutor in the cause. This was a young Englishman of the name of John Thomas, a physician, who, soon after his arrival at Cincinnati, had been baptized by Walter Scott. After paying a visit to Bethany, where he was hospitably entertained by Mr. Campbell, he went to Philadelphia, where he remained for some time in connection with the church there, and where he had proposed to establish a periodical. Hoping, however, to find a better field in Eastern Virginia, he removed to Richmond, and there commenced the publication of the "Apostolic Advocate." Ambitious of distinction, fluent and captivating as a public speaker, and manifesting, especially in his writings, a bold spirit of independence, he soon acquired a considerable degree of popularity. Being unfortunately, however, self-confident in his disposition, and having imperfectly [443] comprehended the principles of the Reformation, he soon began to evince a spirit of dogmatism and of opinionativeness wholly inconsistent with them. This was first shown in his refusing to recognize religiously or even pray with any who had not submitted to the gospel as he understood it, and in his bold advocacy of the doctrine that immersion, as practiced by the Baptists, was invalid. By his specious reasonings several who had been Baptists became unsettled in regard to their baptism, and Albert Anderson and a few others were induced to submit to reimmersion. It was the Baptists themselves, indeed, who, some time before, had originated the practice of reimmersion, having required it of some who had been baptized by the Reformers and who wished afterward to unite with the Baptist Church. Mr. Campbell had, however, always been entirely opposed to the practice of reimmersion upon such trivial grounds as were alleged in favor of it, believing it to be in all cases valid where there was a sincere belief in Christ, however uninformed the baptized person might be at the time with regard to the nature or design of the institution. Nothing, he justly thought, could ever justify reimmersion, except a consciousness on the part of the individual that at his first baptism he was destitute of faith in Christ. Dr. Thomas, however, in his zeal against sectarianism, seemed disposed to nullify all the proceedings of the religious parties and to establish his own opinions and decisions in the chair of infallibility. His positive assertions on the subject of re-baptism were well calculated to disturb weak minds, and several individuals, even, who had been baptized by Reformers and for the remission of sins, began to doubt their former obedience and to solicit reimmersion. Among these was the wife of Dr. Thomas himself, [444] who had become thus disquieted in her mind, though formerly baptized on a profession of her faith by D. S. Burnet.

      From his personal regard for Dr. Thomas and unwillingness to discuss a subject so unprofitable, Mr. Campbell long forbore to notice, publicly, the course pursued by him, but was obliged at length by his persistency to express in the "Harbinger" his dissent from such views. This duty he performed in a mild spirit, hoping that Dr. Thomas would be induced to abandon his course. This expectation, however, was not fulfilled, for the doctor going on to broach various materialistic theories in regard to the nature of the human soul, the state of the dead, etc., and evincing a determination to dwell upon these untaught questions, Mr. Campbell was finally reluctantly compelled to reprove publicly his factious course, and to expose in an Extra published December, 1837, his vain and idle speculations.

      In this, as the doctor had perverted the freedom of discussion and of opinion allowed in the Reformation into license, Mr. Campbell found it necessary to restate its leading principle, that "opinions upon all subjects not revealed were to be private property, and that no citizen of Christ's kingdom had a right either to demand or propound them with any authority whatever."

      "Liberty of speech and of the press" said he, "is not with me licentious extravagance nor disregard for the opinions of others; nor is the proper use of our rights the sustaining of every restless demagogical spirit who will be conspicuous for something--for anything. On all Bible facts, precepts, promises and declarations, on all its various documents, ordinances and statutes, we go for full and free discussion; but we say it is abhorrent to the Reformation for which we plead to [445] propagate mere opinions and speculations; and that it is entirely off the ground we occupy to favor those who devote their tongue or their pens to build up any theory, ancient or modern, original or borrowed."

      Leaving then the doctor's case to the church of which he was a member, Mr. Campbell resolved to dismiss the subject. As the doctor had recently removed to Amelia county, a small congregation there under his influence undertook to justify him, but the church at Richmond, where his membership still remained, at once repudiated both him and his speculations.

      Having received many urgent calls from the Southern States, Mr. Campbell, in the fall of 1838, determined to make them a visit. Setting out accordingly on the 8th of October, accompanied by his daughter Lavinia and Joseph Henley, he proceeded, by way of Baltimore, to Washington. On the way from thence to Fredericksburg, he was accompanied by William Carman, a warm friend and worthy member of the church in Baltimore, and also found himself seated in the stage with Bishop Meade, of Virginia, with whom he had a long conversation, and with whose liberality, candor and good-nature he was much pleased. At Fredericksburg he was met by R. L. Coleman, who, he remarks in his journal, "continued with us the whole time in Virginia, much to our gratification and comfort."

      "We found," he adds, "our brethren, Bagby, of Louisa, and Henshall, of Richmond, waiting for our arrival at our old friend Woolfolk's, of Caroline. The former was with us at several points, and the latter continued in our company till we arrived at Richmond. We met our much esteemed brethren, Henley, Du Val and Pendleton, with many others at Antioch; and so continued to meet at every point other brethren of note among the disciples till we arrived at Brother Carter's, in the environs of Richmond. [446]

      "At Newton, King-and-Queen county, we had a very pleasing interview with our old friend Andrew Broaddus. He attended our meeting, and favored us with a little friendly conversation on incidental topics. He enjoys good health, but like most men in the environs of seventy, is evidently descending the hill of life. It would be a consummation devoutly to be wished could he, before he passes the Jordan of Time, induce his brethren to rescind their 'Orders in Council,' and to open their ears to a candid consideration of the points at issue between them and us. It would do them no harm to move forward a few paces toward the primitive simplicity of the gospel and to the practice of the ancient institutions of Christ. They would not have to give up any truth in admitting all we contend for, as many of them now concede. We only ask for a renunciation of human traditions; and wherever they are found they ought to be abandoned. The word of the Lord shall stand for ever, but the counsels of men shall come to nothing."

      Mr. Campbell had resolved not to pay any farther attention to the speculative errors with which Dr. Thomas and some of his adherents were disturbing the churches in Virginia. Finding, however, that these pernicious teachings were persisted in by some two or three individuals in almost every church, he found himself compelled to speak, first in private and then publicly, against these roots of discord. Passing on from Richmond to Charlottesville, he spoke there four times and twice in Scottsville, in the same county. The students of the University greatly desired to have him deliver a special address to them, but failed to obtain permission, owing to what Mr. Campbell wittily styled the quadrangular orthodoxy of the establishment, which required the chaplain to be either an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, or a Baptist. After visiting Monticello and the grave of Jefferson, he passed down [447] into Amelia county, and sent word to Dr. Thomas that he would be at Gainesville on Monday, and would there examine publicly the views which the doctor had presented in a discussion he had recently held with Mr. Watt, a Presbyterian preacher, and that if he chose to attend he should have liberty to reply. To this arrangement the doctor agreed, and after the matters objected to by Mr. Campbell had been discussed for several days with the utmost equanimity and good feeling, but without any prospect of coming to agreement in opinion, Dr. Reuben H. Dejarnette, during recess, took Mr. Campbell aside, and reminding him of his expressed desire to recover Dr. Thomas, if possible, from his errors, and not to push the discussion so far as to injure him or drive him wholly from the Reformation, suggested to him to refer the matters in debate to the brethren present, as he was convinced that the doctor's speculations were sufficiently exposed. To this proposition Mr. Campbell assented, reserving the right of rejecting the action of the referees if he should find it necessary. Dr. Dejarnette then proposed to Dr. Thomas to refer the matter to the brethren, to which he agreed, and the proposed reference was then publicly announced and the discussion terminated. In order to avoid, however, an abrupt dismissal of the audience, it was agreed that each speaker should deliver a short address on some general topic before concluding. Some twenty-three of the principal brethren then met, and after duly considering the questions of difference, framed the following resolution:

      "Resolved, That whereas certain things believed and propagated by Dr. Thomas, in relation to the mortality of man, the resurrection of the dead and the final destiny of the wicked, having given offence to many brethren, and being [448] likely to produce a division among us; and believing the said views to be of no practical benefit, we recommend to Brother Thomas to discontinue the discussion of them, unless in his defence when misrepresented."

      Dr. Thomas having consented to abide by the requirements of this resolution, the matter was seemingly adjusted, and great hopes were entertained at the time that he would devote his abilities to the cause of Bible Christianity.

      "I cannot but hope," said Mr. Campbell, speaking of the interview with Dr. Thomas, "that the discussion held at Gainesville will fully satisfy all that where the Bible is silent we ought to be as silent as the grave; and when it speaks often and clear, we ought to speak with corresponding clearness and frequency. May the Lord bless all who are led by the Bible!" The hope, however, it may be here stated, that Dr. Thomas would abandon his speculations, proved fallacious. His indomitable self-esteem would not suffer him to keep his covenant with the brethren and allow the world to remain ignorant of his imagined new discoveries. He, therefore, soon after, while on a visit to England, endeavored to spread his materialism there, and after his return commenced in Illinois the publication of a paper called the "Investigator," in which he so openly displayed his apostasy from the cause he had at first espoused that Mr. Campbell was compelled to denounce him publicly as having departed from the Reformation ground and as seeking to form a new party. In this, however, the doctor's success was extremely small, for, notwithstanding the most persevering and unwearied efforts on his part, he was able to make but few converts to his opinions, and soon ceased to attract attention, being utterly discountenanced by the churches. [449]

      Mr. Campbell, after the Gainesville discussion, went on to Charleston, South Carolina, which had recently suffered by a terrible fire and a visitation of yellow fever. After making in his journal some judicious remarks upon the frequent misapplication of the meaning of providence, he thus speaks with regard to slavery:

      "We conclude that slavery has proved no greater blessing to the far South than it has done to Virginia. It has exhausted whatever of natural fertility had been originally in the soil; and South Carolina seems to have once had a reasonable proportion of fruitful territory. It has superinduced the worst system of agriculture which one could easily imagine; and it has imposed on the whole community views, feelings and habits exceedingly inimical to the resuscitation of the soil and the agricultural improvement and advancement of the State. Tobacco, rice and, cotton are profitable crops for slave labor, but exceedingly unprofitable for other labor; and it seems they are predestined to live together; they are legally married in the South, and South Carolina favors no sort of divorces, literal or figurative, except in the conjugal affinities of States."

      Visiting Dr. Irwin and other friends in Barnwell district, who had gone to Charleston in hopes of meeting him there, but were disappointed, he went on thence to Augusta, Georgia, where he met with E. A. Smith. The Savannah Baptist Association being in session, it passed a resolution advising the churches to refuse him the use of their meeting-houses. He obtained, however, the Methodist and Unitarian houses of worship, in which he spoke for several days. From what he saw of the state of society, he made the following remarks in his journal:

      "I am convinced that more than half the white population of the Carolinas and Georgia are an age behind the same class in the North and West of our national patrimony. And [450] still worse, I am of opinion that their condition can never be improved under the institutions of those regions. It is of the essence and of the tendency of those institutions to concentrate all power, wealth, learning and respectability in the hands of an elect few, peers of the realm, princes and nobles of the land, 'lords of the fowl and the brute.' The good citizens at the South, amongst whom are many good and choice spirits, are not to blame for these institutions. They did not create them. They are themselves the creatures, not the creators, of these institutions. They are born and educated under them, and cannot be blamed for the vices of a dominant majority when they do not countenance them. It is of the essence of our national creed that the minority shall submit to the majority in all things temporal and political--things spiritual and eternal are always excepted."

      After speaking at various points in South Carolina and Georgia, and enjoying the kind hospitalities and aid of many warm friends, he proceeded to Montgomery, Alabama, where he was met by the amiable and talented James A. Butler, one of the most active Reformation preachers in the State. After speaking at various points, he at length reached Mobile, where he remained three or four days, and then sailed on board the "Giraffe," by way of the Gulf and Lake Pontchartrain, for New Orleans. His general impression of the state of things in the regions he visited may perhaps be best learned from the following letters written while upon his tour:

"STEAMBOAT 'TAPALOOSA,' ALABAMA RIVER, January 16, 1839.      
      MY DEAR BROTHER RICHARDSON: I have been daily resolving for two months past that the next vacant hour would be occupied in writing a few words to Brother Richardson. But vacant hours are with me rare almost as angel visits. It has been with me a sermon of three months' continuance, interrupted only by the stages of a journey of some three [451] thousand miles. My public addresses have been in Virginia thirty-four, in South Carolina twenty-three, in Georgia twenty, in South Alabama ten, besides some hundred fireside sermons, almost as laborious as those in public assemblies. I am a wonder to myself in enduring fatigue; often almost done out, yet as fresh in the morning as ever. I perform daily ablutions, either sponging or rantizing the whole person, followed up by friction sweats; which lustrations, being performed about the dawn of day, greatly invigorate and fortify against colds and the accidents of new lodgings and a very variable climate.

      "No accident worth stating has yet overtaken us. That Eye that slumbers not has watched our down-sittings and up-risings, and guarded, as well as guided, all our paths. No shield like that of Jacob's God, no munition like the Rock of Ages! We have had a stream of consolation following us all the way, as well as a bright cloud animating our onward course. We have the prayers of many Christians and the benediction of them that love the city of our God.

      "My present tour reminds me of those in 1823-'24-'25, when I was widely scattering the seeds of reformation in the West. The first principles of things--the objections of the captious, the scruples of the conscientious, the problems of the curious and the ambushes of the enemies--all require and receive a degree of attention. We have to dispossess demons and exorcise unclean spirits, as well as to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. The chief priests, the scribes and the rulers of the people are generally in league against us. But there are some more noble than in Thessalonica, who hear the word with teachableness. Upon the whole, opposition is strong, well disciplined and co-operative. Still, the truth is omnipotent and many minds are leavened by its power, and though but a few have yet turned out courageously to avow their purposes, some have, and many more will. We are getting into the confidence of the best part of the Baptist communities, which are very numerous in the South.

      "But alas for the South! None are more enslaved to me [452] than slave-owners. A few demagogues in religion and politics first make the people, and then represent them. . . . In religion, two or three little popes govern all the associations and conferences--they think--and the people pay them for it.

      "I have aimed at disabusing the public ear and propitiating a favorable hearing of all the main points at issue, and have generally succeeded. A few preachers are well disposed to examine; one or two have boldly asserted their independence, and I doubt not but others will follow. Upon the whole, things are as hopeful as such a latitude and such institutions and manners and customs will permit. But alas for the South!

      "I expect to be in New Orleans about the 22d, and will leave there about the 29th for Jackson, Louisiana, and then peregrinate Louisiana and Mississippi up to Vicksburg, thence to Louisville, through Kentucky by land to Maysville, thence to Bethany, Deo volente, where I may arrive some time in March. Lavinia joins me in kind regards to yourself and Sister Richardson. . . . Affectionately, as ever, your brother in the hope of eternal life,
A. CAMPBELL."      

"MOBILE RIVER, January 17, 1839--Steamboat 'Tapaloosa.'      
      "BELOVED BROTHER COLEMAN: Time has not passed so smoothly since I saw thee last. 'There is no place like Virginia; says Lavinia, and I am almost of the same opinion. Disciples of Christ are not numerous in the South. . . . We are disabusing the public mind of false impressions and presenting definite views of first principles. The Baptists are exceedingly opposed through the decrees of their Associations, who have forbid the opening of their meeting-houses to me and the brethren. Still we find some among them who will hear and open their houses. Favorable impressions have been made in all places, and a few converted. But our population in the South is much more ignorant than in Virginia. We have a few educated intelligent men, as we have a few rich and powerful; but the majority are poor, ignorant and uneducated. . . . Such persons are not interested in clear, distinct perceptions; they are fond of mystic doctrines, man-worship [453] and enthusiastic feelings. The brethren are of the best class of citizens and of very respectable attainments. But it will require many sermons and labors, or much reading, to achieve much in these regions. They want preachers, they want houses and they want a more concentrated population to work upon. Farms are large--from one thousand to ten thousand acres--consequently not much society. Many negroes, everything dear, traveling very high--twice the Virginia rates. . . . Still, I would not have you to think that little has been done, or that little can be done, in this benighted region. But it will require much effort. Several preachers are already much prepossessed; one has come out for Reformation, and others, I think, are on the way. . . . I sketch this in a crowd in the cabin of the steamboat. Since you parted with me at Petersburg we have traveled nearly two thousand miles. I expect to be at New Orleans on the 22d, and then to commence my tour in Louisiana and Mississippi. I expect to arrive in Kentucky in March, and at Bethany about the beginning of April, when I shall expect to hear from you and soon to see you.

      "Lavinia joins with me in her kindest and most Christian regards to yourself, Brother and Sister Goss, Brother Poindexter, and indeed all our special acquaintances in Charlottesville. May the love of God, the favor of Jesus Christ and the communications of the Holy Spirit be with your spirit, my dear brother! In all affection, yours in the Lord,

"A. CAMPBELL."      

"NEW ORLEANS, January 23, 1839.      
      "MY DEARLY BELOVED SELINA: Through the unceasing kindness of our Father in heaven we are safely arrived in this great commercial emporium of the South and South-west. But we have brought a poor article to this market; few bidders and no buyers inquiring for drafts on the Bank of Heaven. Bonds drawn on the richest bank in the universe and at the cheapest price are unacceptable and uninteresting to this community 'Buy wine and milk without money and without price.' [454]

      "I am to offer my wares and merchandise this evening at the Congregational meeting-house of Mr. Clapp. It is announced in all the city papers. This city appears much more orderly and decent than I expected, and has some very fine buildings. But the population is of all castes but the right one, and everything is more in demand than the things of heaven.

      "O Mammon! Mammon! Riches, honor, fame, whatever thou art that captivates the human mind from God and Christ and heaven, thou art an insidious, murderous foe! A delusion, false and cruel! And such is the infatuation of sin that men will hear their worst enemy rather than their best friend. How much need for the petition, 'Lord, abandon us not to temptation!'

      "We are all homesick enough, but as much as I desire to see my dear Selina and my children and friends--and I never more longed to see them all--I must, like the soldier enlisted in the war of his country and king, faithfully serve my term and get an honorable discharge. I have undertaken a certain mission and I must perform it all.

      "We had a very pleasant passage from Mobile to New Orleans. We unfortunately lost much of the pleasure of the voyage through the Gulf of Mexico, having passed through the most of it during the night. I always sleep sound by land and by sea, and although we almost ran aground on a shoal in the night, and had a good deal of backing out and noise, I did not hear anything of it, but slept sweetly for seven hours, from nine to four.

      "On Monday we shall leave here for Jackson, Louisiana, where Brother Shannon and the University of this State are located. I know not what stay I will make in these two States of Mississippi and Louisiana, but presume I cannot leave before the end of February, and then I shall pass through Kentucky from Louisville to Maysville, and thence to Bethany, Virginia, if the Lord will.

      "Our times are in His hand who rides upon the whirlwind and directs the storm. The will of the Lord alone shall [455] stand for ever. May we, my dear wife, all be submissive to his holy and righteous will. To understand and practice the Christian religion is heaven begun and anticipated on earth, and to make others happy in the same way is to promote our own peace and joy and bliss; for while the sons of the flesh are hated and hating, deluded and deluding, sinned against and sinning, the Christian is beloved and loving, enlightened and enlightening, blessed and blessing in all his Christian efforts to do good.

      "I am announced in the city papers as about to deliver an address on the 'Christian System' this evening, and shall arrange my thoughts in the following order:

      "PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.--1. If the Christian religion be divine, it must be a system. For God works systematically, hence nature is a system of systems. But Christianity is divine because it is good and true, and like all God's systems it is positive, simple, natural, authoritative and adapted to the happiness of its subjects. 2. Man is the subject of the Christian system--not man as he was, but man as he is. Man may be contemplated as he was, as he is and as he shall be. The Christian religion, while it alludes to man as he was and as he shall be, treats man as he is. 3. But man as he is is the subject of many systems and sciences, physical, political, legal. Christianity treats man as he is morally, or in his relations to an intellectual and moral system, and treats with him as he is, that it may make him what he ought to be.

      "Then we shall consider THE CHRISTIAN SYSTEM: 1. The Author of it. 2. The subject of it. 3. The end of it. 4. Its elements. 5. The acceptability it effects for man with God. Something like this seems to press upon my mind this evening.

      "My dear Selina, I need not enjoin upon you the religious and moral training of our dear children. I am aware that you love me, and love them on my account as well as or your own. They are dear pledges of our mutual love and esteem, and therefore I have all confidence in your maternal as well as conjugal affection. I only say that while I see the and moral evils of the present time in the training of children, [456] and the sad course of this generation, I am, like Joshua, more and more resolved that as for me and my house we shall serve the Lord. Remember me affectionately to my father, to all my children, to all my brethren who ask for me, and to all my household. Yours ever,
A. CAMPBELL."      

      At New Orleans, Mr. Campbell received many polite attentions from Mr. Clapp, pastor of the First Congregational Church there, who granted him freely the use of his meeting-house. After delivering five lectures, which were heard with great interest by large audiences, he ascended the Mississippi and spoke in the Episcopal church at St. Francisville, and thence proceeded to Jackson, the seat of one of the State colleges, whose president was James Shannon, a fine scholar and an earnest disciple, who had already established a church there. From this point he thus wrote:

JACKSON, LOUISIANA, February 8, 1839.      
      "MY DEAR SELINA: I am now safely lodged at the residence of our good brother Shannon, president of the Louisiana College. We have been bound to the house by a four days' rain and snow. Through the continual goodness of our heavenly Father we are thus far preserved from all evil.

      "'Oh how great is his goodness which he has laid up for them that love him, for them that trust in him before the sons of men! He shall hide them in the secret of his presence from the pride of man. He shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.'

      "We are now about one hundred and fifty miles above New Orleans, and had expected, but for the rain, to have been to-night with Mrs. Johnson, concerning whom you heard so good a report from Dr. McCall. We met with many acquaintances in New Orleans, amongst whom were Brother Hurlbut, of Pittsburg, and Sister Nancy Owen, from Tennessee, Mr. Richard Talbot, and others of equal interest and reputation. I found and left them all well. I expect to be [457] in Natchez in about a week, and in Vicksburg in some two ox three weeks.

      "I have spoken here to very large and attentive audiences several times, and expect to leave to-morrow, if it does not rain, for Woodville, Mississippi. I think much good has resulted from my labors here, as well as in other places that I have visited. We are slaying the prejudices of the people and propitiating the ears of thousands to the truth. In all places we have disarmed prejudice and awed opposition into silence, or made it do homage to the truth. We are, however, rather grubbing and pioneering than planting, and sowing rather than reaping.

      "I only want the consolations of your presence, my dear Selina, to fill up the measure of my earthly happiness, and to see my dear family partaking with me in the good things of the heavenly religion of our Saviour and benefactor. Amidst all the company which I have around me--and it is most acceptable and often greatly interesting--there is none that can fill the place of the mother of my dear children and the partner of all my fortunes, food or evil. Strange relation! Wonderful union! Certainly it is a divine institution! God said it is not good for man to be alone. Alone in the midst of society I often am, merely because I am not all here. For the man is not without the woman, and the woman is not without the man in the Lord!

      "God in the midst of a deep sleep--a type of death--created out of man's side a woman. The devil in the disguise of a serpent deceived and seduced her. The woman's son and Lord in the guise and covering of a son of man caught the enemy in his own craftiness, and being killed, killed him; by being captured, captivated captivity! Well now, the heavenly Father during the deep sleep of the second Adam created out of his opened side, whence blood to atone and water to cleanse issued, a bride for his son. So that Jesus is the Husband of the Church, and she, the bride, is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. So that he loved her and gave himself for her, that he might have a pure, chaste, virtuous bride [458] as his companion and his delight for ever. May we, my dear sister-wife, bring forth meet fruits, that when he appears we may appear at his marriage supper, and that we may be in full dress, without speck or wrinkle or any such thing.

      "My most affectionate regards to all at Bethany, as if named one by one; while I remain, as ever, your loving and beloved husband,
A. CAMPBELL.      
      "The Lord bless you all!"

      After speaking eight times at Jackson, Mr. Campbell visited Woodville and Consolation, and then went on to Natchez and other points in Mississippi, scattering with a liberal hand the seeds of righteousness and piety everywhere along his route. From Natchez he passed up the river to Louisville, having become exceedingly desirous to reach again his loved ones at Bethany, from whom he had been now absent more than five months. However firm his will, and however exacting his own sense of obligation to spread abroad the knowledge of the truth, no one felt more deeply the privations of absence or held in more constant or affectionate remembrance those who were dear to him. Their names seemed to be ever upon his heart, and the special incidents or circumstances which were associated with their memories seemed to be indissolubly linked with all his private musings. He forgot no family anniversaries, he omitted no opportunity of recurring to events fitted to deepen family affection or enliven social intercourse. Hence it was that, upon his tours, his letters to his family and friends were numerous and often of considerable length. From his remarkable talent for the despatch of business he availed himself of every spare moment for such communing, on steamboats, in hotels and other stopping-places, while at the same time he constantly kept up his regular series of essays and [459] communications in the "Harbinger," averaging, with its extras, more than fifty printed pages per month. It was thus, in harmony with his constant practice and his desire to impart happiness to all connected with him, that, on the anniversary of his first marriage, which occurred while he was in Louisville, he addressed the following letter to Mrs. Campbell:

"LOUISVILLE, March 12, 1839.      
      "MY DEAR SELINA: This day, twenty-eight years ago, I gave my hand, and my heart accompanied it, to your amiable and excellent predecessor in the holy bonds of matrimony. Heaven lent me that precious gift more than sixteen years, of the value of which I never did form an over-estimate. But more than eleven years since He called her to himself from this land of cares and fears and griefs and woes unnumbered, and more than ten years ago appointed you to fill her place in my affections, and to be her successor in all the endearments and trials of the conjugal and maternal relations.

      "I have, my dear Selina, found you worthy of all the affection and esteem which were due to her who desired to bless both you and me by nominating you to be her successor. I have, from ten years' intimacy, superadded to an acquaintance of ten years more, found you to be in understanding and in feeling, in piety and in social excellence, all that is desirable in woman; and, permit me to add, though I have seen many an amiable and excellent woman since I gave you my heart and my hand for life, I have never thought that I saw one more deserving of my affection and esteem than yourself.

      "Now, my dear, you may be assured that if, either by my long absence from you or any apparent neglect that at any time I may, in my absent, studious hours or seasons, have exhibited toward you, it would seem as if I did not truly and worthily appreciate your society and your excellences, I would have you know that it was the offspring of the frailties of human nature--which, you know, in its best estate, is always vanity--or the imperious calls of duty, to which, you know, I [460] am not altogether deaf or inattentive. You are my fellow-soldier, my true yoke-fellow, my partner in all my labors in the cause of religion and humanity, and therefore, as you share in my toils and self-denials, I pray that we may equally partake in the eternal rewards and enjoyments.

      "I do not intend ever to leave you so long again, as I do not think that it will be my duty. Meanwhile, I trust,as the Lord has kindly borne with all my frailties--and I am aware they are neither few nor little--and has led me by his right hand in the times and places of danger, that he will still send his angel before me and keep me in all my ways, and restore me to your bosom and that of my beloved family in due time.

      "Meanwhile, my beloved Selina, constantly, as I know you do, pray to the Lord for me that I may be humble, spiritually-minded, wholly devoted to the Lord, and that my labors may be accepted by him and blessed. . . .

      "Farewell, my dear, and remember me affectionately to all. Yours ever, in nature and in the Lord,
A. CAMPBELL.      

      From Louisville, accompanied by William Morton, he went on to Shelbyville, where he spoke three times, and was happy to meet again with J. Taffe, his former agreeable traveling companion, who, along with a Brother Gates, of Louisville, highly esteemed by Mr. Campbell, accompanied him to Frankfort, where he was met by his esteemed fellow-laborer, P. S. Fall, whom he styles in his journal "the first Reformer in Kentucky." Leaving Frankfort, he visited, in company with Messrs. Taffe and Gates, many other points between that city and Maysville, renewing his intercourse with many warm friends. Spending in all fourteen days in this State, during which he spoke fifteen times, he closed with an address, on March 25th, to the Maysville Lyceum on "Supernatural Facts," which was afterward published at the request of the society. In less than an hour after this address he embarked on board a steamer for [461] Wellsburg, and arrived at Bethany on the 28th of March, having spent about six months on this tour, speaking about once for every day and baptizing some forty persons.

      While he was absent his sister Alicia died of consumption, January 16, 1839, at Matthew McKeever's near West Middletown, and was buried near her mother in the cemetery at Bethany. She had been for some years the wife of M. S. Clapp, and cheerfully yielded her gentle spirit into the hands of her Redeemer. During the very same year, on the 9th of July, Mr. Campbell was called to suffer the loss of his second daughter, Eliza Ann, who had been some time before married to Dr. John C. Campbell, a lawyer and a gentleman of high intelligence and standing in Wellsburg. She had become a member of the church at fourteen years of age, and met the approach of death with the utmost calmness and resignation.

      In concluding the notes of his late extended tour, Mr. Campbell remarked in regard to the general condition of society:

      "On a survey of all we saw and heard on the whole subject of religion and morality--both theory and practice--we must say that much is wanting, very much is wanting, in order to correct and scriptural views of the gospel and its institutions; and still more, in order to moral and Christian excellence of character before God and man. This is truly a degenerate age as respects Christian purity and Christian enjoyment. There is, too, everywhere more of a readiness to reform the creed than the heart, to rectify the understanding rather than the affections, and to exhibit sound tenets rather than godly lives; good works are much more wanting than good notions; devotion to God more than submission to a party; personal and family religion more than plans and benevolent operations on paper for the Asiatics and Africans. [462] . . . Millions are consumed upon the lusts of men for thousands that are laid up on deposit in the Bank of Heaven. But time fails. I must speak of this hereafter. 'O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy!'"

      These reflections were connected with an important purpose. During Mr. Campbell's entire course there was no subject which more deeply interested him than that of education. But at no former period of his life had he been so deeply impressed with the great want of an educated and efficient ministry to supply the demands of the Reformation, now so widely spread. It was not possible, however, that education or any other subject could undergo his scrutiny without being expanded in harmony with the massive proportions of his own intellectual nature; and having for some time longed to present to the public the result of his reflections upon this topic, he, after his return, began to develop in a series of essays a grand system of education, designed to embrace all ages and to develop man in all the attributes of his complex being. This plan was to begin at the nursery, and to have family, school, college and church education adapted to the entire physical, intellectual, moral and religious constitution of man.

      He proposed, therefore, 1st, a FAMILY INSTITUTION for the purpose of furnishing accommodations for those in attendance at the primary school, and especially for the development of the domestic character, as well as for furnishing a model of family government and economy. This was to be under the control of two persons, a patron and a matron, and to be a home for lads under fourteen, where these could be subjected to a system of kind parental discipline, carefully instructed in the facts, precepts and promises of the Bible, and trained [463] up in the paths of morality and religion. Knowing that all the powers of human nature were to be strengthened and improved by exercise, the muscles, the perceptive and the reflective powers, the moral sentiments, the feelings and the affections were to be every day employed and exercised on objects and in actions suitable to their nature and functions. For these ends he contemplated a very extensive course of instruction adapted to children, connected in a good measure with their amusements, and embracing the elements of natural history, agriculture, etc.

      In the second place, education in the SCHOOL was to be conducted on the same general principles, and to embrace a complete course of preparation for college, it being constantly kept in view that the formation of moral character, the culture of the heart, was to be made the supreme end, all other purposes being held subordinate.

      In the third place, in the COLLEGE, he proposed a liberal course of studies, giving somewhat more prominence than usual to the physical sciences, and contemplating the most liberal provisions for thorough instruction, so as to prepare young men to enter upon the study of the learned professions. In this department, however, as in the others, moral and religious training was to form a principal feature and the Bible was to be made one of the regular text-books, so that no one could receive the honors of the institution without being thoroughly acquainted with the Sacred Oracles, which were to be taught regularly every day--not with the design of evolving from them any system of doctrines, but for the purpose of familiarizing the mind with Bible facts and institutions.

      In the fourth and last place, the CHURCH with which [464] the institution was to be connected, embracing all who were really members, would present to the entire institution and to the world a practical conformity to the requirements of religion, and thus exemplify the truths and excellences of the gospel of Christ.

      This grand scheme of education was no sooner presented than it was hailed with delight by well-wishers to humanity and by eminent educators of various creeds, who were struck with its completeness and its novelty, and who had learned to anticipate the success of every enterprise undertaken by Mr. Campbell. History could refer to the genius of Prince Talleyrand alone for conceptions so grand and a scheme so exhaustive. It was at the period of the French Revolution, and on the evening of the day when the destruction of the Bastile had filled the palace with terror and the Assembly with surprise, that Talleyrand was appointed one of eight members to draft a constitution. It was at this singular juncture in human affairs, when popular frenzy, as it were with volcanic power, upturned the very foundations of society, and amidst frightful desolations threw up from the depths of human nature many precious gems of original and unrecognized political and social truth, that the Constituent Assembly, considering that the best means of giving stability to its reforms was to cultivate the understanding of the people, committed to Talleyrand the most extraordinary task ever undertaken by an individual, in charging him to produce a plan of public instruction which should prepare the coming generations for the lofty destiny supposed to await them.

      The report which he presented in consequence to the Assembly has deservedly attached to his memory the highest renown. Previously, education had been [465] entirely in the hands of the clergy, but the author, breaking away at once from all conventionalities, established usages and narrow systems, proceeded boldly to consider the whole subject of education in its origin, its object, its organization and its methods. The subject was thus treated, for the first time, with an immediate view to national ends. Education was contemplated as required not only for all ages, but as addressed to the understanding, the powers of which were to be developed; to the soul, whose moral instincts were to be awakened; and to the body, whose activities and strength were to be improved. For these purposes he proposed to establish primary schools in every canton for elementary instruction. From these, pupils were to be transformed to secondary schools in the chief towns of every district, where a thorough common school education was to be imparted to fit all for the ordinary business of life. Special schools were then projected for each department, in which instruction was to be given in the useful arts and professions. Finally, a great National Institute was to be established in the capital for the purpose of the most profound researches in science and literature, in order to advance human knowledge and to centralize the national mind as the legislature centralized the national will. This magnificent scheme, which embraced the development of man's physical, intellectual and moral nature, and which even gave to moral culture a special prominence with a view to render all good and useful citizens, was, nevertheless, strikingly defective in assigning to moral principle no other origin than the understanding and no other sanction than mere utility. According to the spirit of the times, morality was based entirely on temporal motives, and no reference to any religious sentiment was [466] admitted. The plan, however, was not carried into execution, owing to the convulsions of the succeeding period, and remained a barren project until revived by Guizot, to some extent, after the Revolution of 1830.

      The system projected by Mr. Campbell, who depended entirely upon the resources of his own capacious mind and enlarged experience and observation, presented the same great objects and the same comprehensive classification, but it differed radically from all preceding measures in making the Bible the basis of all moral culture. The relations of the great principles taught in the Bible to human rights and political and social freedom had for some time been partially recognized, but no one had assigned to it its proper position in respect to moral science, which had, as yet, found no better foundation than philosophy, and the study of which even was postponed to the latest period. Mr. Campbell was convinced that a very great chasm was suffered to exist in the ordinary course of education between the primary school and the college. The almost total neglect of moral culture during this period left, he thought, pupils quite unprepared to engage in the studies and encounter the temptations of college life. He argued that there could not be any proper preparations for college without such a development of the moral faculties and such instruction as would enable students to take correct views of life and of society, and justly to recognize the obligations and responsibilities resting upon them. This preparation, imparted only in exceptional cases in home education, he thought should be assiduously communicated to all, and that a proper foundation should thus be laid for all subsequent attainments. This moral education, in his view, could be derived from no other source than the Bible, whose [467] lessons alone furnished the proper basis for such an attainment, which he did not conceive to consist in mere instruction in the principles or in the philosophy of morality, but in the formation of character. This, which had heretofore formed no part of the purpose for which schools were established, he thought should be made the chief object, believing it quite possible to form the human character by early discipline and instruction, to implant proper motives, direct the feelings in a proper course, and fix in the mind moral and religious principles. His conceptions, indeed, in regard to these points, corresponded closely with those of the eminent De Fellenberg, who for many years had been endeavoring, under many difficulties, to put his ideas into practice at Hotwyl, but of whose views Mr. Campbell does not appear to have known anything until after he had published his own.

      Impressed with the great deficiency of competent teachers for schools and for the churches, Mr. Campbell had many years before conceived the plan which he now submitted, but he had delayed making it public, as a literary institution called Bacon College had been somewhat unexpectedly started by the brethren at Georgetown, Kentucky, and he did not wish to divert the resources of the friends of education there from the enterprise in which they were engaged, until its success was assured. Bacon College being at length removed to Harrodsburg, under favorable conditions, and his observations during his late extensive tours having awakened him more fully to the pressing wants of the community and the churches, he thought the time had fully arrived for the execution of his designs. In his earnest desire, therefore, to promote the highest interests of society, and to appropriate his own time and abilities [468] to the most beneficent ends, he resolved to consecrate much of what remained to him of life in preparing for the coming generation better-instructed teachers than had been formed by the old methods.

      "Having now," said he, "completed fifty years, and on my way to sixty, the greater part of which time I have been engaged in literary labors and pursuits, and imagining that I possess some views and attainments which I can in this way render permanently useful to this community and posterity, I feel in duty bound to offer this project to the consideration of all the friends of literature, morality and unsectarian Bible Christianity. I am willing to bestow much personal labor without any charge in getting up this institution, and also to invest a few thousand dollars in it; provided only our brethren--the rich and opulent especially--and those who have children to educate, will take a strong hold of it, and determine to build up an establishment that may be made to themselves, their children find many others a lasting and a comprehensive blessing."

      During the winter of 1840, a charter having been obtained for Bethany College through the attentions of John C. Campbell, Esq., who had formerly been a member of the Legislature, Mr. Campbell announced his determination to proceed at once with the arrangements necessary for the institution, and invited donations from those disposed to assist. The first donation, $1000, was made by Philip B. Pendleton, of Virginia, as a legacy. On the 11th of May, 1840, the trustees held their first meeting. At the second meeting, September 18th, Mr. Campbell was elected president of the college, and requested to prepare a scheme of the course of education to be adopted. On this occasion he presented to the Board a bond for a deed of land for the use of the institution, and the trustees, after appointing a building committee, and making some other [469] arrangements, adjourned to the next year. Meanwhile, Mr. Campbell, with his usual promptitude, proceeded on his own responsibility to erect a large brick building for the accommodation of students. At the second annual meeting of the Board of Trustees, May 10, 1841, four professors were appointed, viz.: W. K. Pendleton, who had married Mr. Campbell's daughter, Lavinia, during the previous month of October, Andrew F. Ross, Charles Stewart and Robert Richardson. Notice was also ordered to be given that the collegiate department would be open for the reception of students on the 21st of October following. [470]


[MAC2 439-470]

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Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Volume II. (1869)

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