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



C H A P T E R   X I X .

Spiritualism--Death of prominent laborers--Bible union--Visit to Nashville
--"Campbellism Examined"--Revision of Acts--Tours.

A NOTHER defection marked, about this period, the course of the reformatory movement. As the former one was in the direction of materialism, this took that of spiritualism. Both, however, were alike palpable departures from the fundamental principles of the Reformation, which peremptorily inhibited doctrinal speculation, and both were with equal readiness detected and exposed by the simple teachings of the word of God, which proved no less adequate to the prompt correction of error than to the inculcation of religious truth.

      A young man called Jesse B. Ferguson, who for some years had labored quite acceptably in the cause of the Reformation, became at last the regular preacher at Nashville, Tennessee, where he published also a monthly magazine. Being extremely fluent, of popular manners and considerable oratorical power, he soon squired very great influence, and rose to such a height in the estimation of his hearers, and especially in his own, that his head became giddy, and, being no longer able to preserve his religious equilibrium, he was precipitated doctrinally into the regions of departed spirits, where he immediately attempted to immortalize himself by new discoveries. His roving fancy [603] accordingly soon found in these realms of the dead what he supposed to be a vast field for missionary enterprise, and he began to fill his magazine with the doctrine that in the state intermediate between death and the resurrection those who had died unrepentant would have another opportunity of hearing and obeying the gospel. Conceiving that, according to the teaching of Peter, "Christ went and preached" to such "spirits in prison," he seemed to cherish the hope that he himself might hereafter in those shadowy realms be chosen as an apostle of this post-mortem gospel.

      These speculations no sooner appeared than Mr. Campbell kindly and repeatedly remonstrated against them as unscriptural and incompatible with the Reformation principles. These gentle methods failing, however, he found it necessary to make a complete exposure of Mr. Ferguson's unwarrantable proceedings and of the flimsy sophisms by which he was endeavoring to sustain his false teaching, and to lead away disciples after him. This exposure was by no means a difficult task, as Mr. Ferguson possessed no logical power, but it was a considerable time before the people to whom he ministered could free themselves from the fascination of his rhetoric, so that, although discountenanced by the Reformers in general, he continued for some time to exercise at Nashville an unhappy influence over the minds of many, and to inflict considerable injury on the cause of truth.

      On the 4th of January, 1854, Thomas Campbell terminated at Bethany his long life of faithful labor. Until he was about eighty-three years of age he had continued his custom of itinerating among the churches, which were always happy to welcome the venerable teacher, who was universally recognized as the living [604] impersonation of all the Christian graces. Upon returning from one of these excursions in Ohio in the summer of 1846, during which he had the companionship of J. R. Frame, he was so greatly exhausted with heat and fatigue that he was induced through the solicitation of his friends and relatives to remain thenceforth at Bethany. After some two or three years he became affected with a dimness of sight, which in a short time terminated in total blindness--a sad privation to one so social and so fond of reading, but which he bore with the utmost resignation. Still retaining, to a considerable extent, the vigor of his mental faculties, it was his delight during his blindness to converse with his former acquaintances, to recite to them various hymns and passages of Scripture with which his memory was stored, and to comment on the sentiments they expressed. He would often, too, with his usual winning courtesy, request his visitors or Mrs. Campbell, whose attentions were unwearied, to read to him certain hymns and Scriptures which he desired to hear or to memorize. On one occasion, during the years thus spent in ever-during darkness, at the earnest instance of friends who desired once more to hear him from the pulpit, he consented to deliver a farewell address. He preached, accordingly, on the 1st of June, 1851, in Bethany, to a large audience, a last discourse on the subject of the two great commandments--love to God and love to our neighbor. He was at this time in his eighty-ninth year, and his health continued good until within some three weeks of his decease, when he became troubled with an inflammatory affection of the mouth, inducing loss of appetite and great debility. Growing gradually weaker, but without acute pain, he at length expired so gently that [605] it was scarcely possible to distinguish the moment when he ceased to breathe. Throughout his illness and in his death he manifested the same calm confidence in God and humble reliance on his Divine Redeemer which had ever characterized his life, protracted to ninety-one years, lacking about a month. Mr. Campbell thus spoke of the event in a letter to the excellent Brother Dungan, of Baltimore:

"BETHANY, VIRGINIA, January 24, 1854.      

      "MY DEAR SIR: Health, peace and prosperity to thee and thine! I presume you may have already heard that Father Campbell has joined the Church above and entered into rest, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. Yes, he has been introduced to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to all the spirits of just men made perfect, of which I have no more reason to doubt than I have that he has vacated the family and the church at Bethany. What a balm for all our wounds! What a consolation for all our bereavements! 'Say to the righteous that it will be well with him.' I never knew a man, in all my acquaintance with men, of whom it could have been said with more assurance that he 'walked with God.' Such was the even tenor of his path, not for a few years, but a period as far back as my memory reaches; and that is on the other side of half a century. How many say, 'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last days be like his,' who nevertheless do not choose to live his life! . . . Oh that we could realize a little--yea much more--of the riches and glory of the saints in light! How contemptible the grandeur and glory of earth! Well now are the golden moments. Oh that we could realize their value, and lift our thoughts from things of earth and time to heaven and immortality!"

      On the 14th of March, a little more than two months after the death of Thomas Campbell, the venerable Jacob Creath, Sr., also finished his course with joy. [606] Strongly resembling the former in his devotion to truth, his courteous bearing and his social habits, he resembled him also in the bereavement of sight, which he patiently endured for the last seven years of his life, during which, however, he still preached occasionally, and took great delight in attending meetings and visiting the brotherhood.

      Nothing interested Mr. Campbell more at this period than the operations of the Bible Union in the revision of the Scriptures. Having himself in part published in the "Harbinger" an amended version of the Acts of the Apostles with a commentary, he was appointed by the Bible Union to furnish a revision of this portion of the New Testament. He manifested also his usual interest in the great subject of missions, and was accustomed to meet with the A. C. M. society as its president regularly every year, delivering addresses and urging increased liberality. He published also a series of very interesting letters from Dr. J. T. Barclay, the missionary at Jerusalem, and constantly favored the extension of missionary operations to other parts of the world. Through the efforts of the devoted Ephraim A. Smith, a colored missionary, Alexander Cross, a pious and devoted man, had already been sent to Liberia, but had fallen a victim to the climate from over-exertion soon after his arrival. A mission at Jamaica also was, not long after, established, which produced considerable fruit. While at one of the missionary meetings at Cincinnati, Mr. Campbell, in a letter to Mrs. Campbell, amidst personal items and matters of business, thus expressed himself in relation to the things which were ever nearest his heart:

      "There is good health as far as I can learn in this city. . . . But what a world of shadows this is! Nothing real-- fleeting, fading, dying world! I am almost a stranger here [607] where I used to know almost all persons of notoriety. But there is a world of grand and glorious realities, and a world of sad and fearful and tremendous realities. There is only one supreme Philanthropist, and even he cannot save people in their sins. He only saves from sin. And this salvation must begin here or never. We are saved from the guilt, the shame, the pollution, the tyranny of sin in this world or never. Oh that poor mortals would stop their mad career in time! Else better for them they had never been. Say to my children, Flee, flee, flee from the wrath to come, and seize the proffered pardon before the uncertain moment, and yet certain to come, overtakes them. Labor not for the food that perishes, but for that which endures to eternal life. . . . Farewell, my dear wife. Your affectionate husband,
"A. CAMPBELL."      

      During the previous year, December 30, 1852, Mr. Campbell's eldest son, Alexander, was united in marriage with a very amiable lady, Miss Mary Ann Purvis, of Louisiana. Toward the close of the following year, from many earnest solicitations and from various circumstances growing out of the defection of J. B. Ferguson, Mr. Campbell was induced to pay a visit to Nashville, on which occasion he enjoyed the company of A. E. Myers, a successful preacher and a graduate of Bethany College. The following notice of his discourses, from the Methodist "Christian Advocate" of that city, is expressed in a courteous and candid spirit:

      "The distinguished gentleman whose name heads this article is now on a visit to this city. We had an opportunity of hearing him on last Sabbath morning at the McKendree Church, which he occupied by the courtesy of the pastor and trustees. The congregations were vast, filling the body and galleries of the spacious house. He ascended the pulpit at half-past ten o'clock, and introduced the service by reading from the Holy Scriptures, singing and prayer. It was manifest to those who had seen Mr. Campbell in former years [608] that his physical man is giving way under the weight of years and labor, and we doubted his ability to address an audience so large; when he began to speak, however, it was evident that his voice was still clear and strong for one of his years. His subject was Faith, founded on the eleventh of Hebrews, and was listened to with profound attention. We should be pleased to give an extensive analysis of his discourse had we time and space. A brief notice must satisfy our readers.

      "After a brief exordium, he stated as a leading proposition that the whole Christian religion is founded on faith; faith in the revelation made to man in the Bible--faith in the doctrine given by plenary inspiration. He combated the sentiment that man, by reason or by imagination, could acquire a knowledge of divine things; the plan of salvation was revealed alone in the Bible. He next defined faith, which, in the language of the Apostle, is 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' When properly received and increased, it becomes to the believer an assurance of the great doctrines of faith, he having no doubt as to their truth or divine origin. This faith embraces Christ as the only and all-sufficient Saviour and Mediator. Here the speaker enlarged upon the character and mission of the Son of God, affirming that Christ was the most illustrious being in all the universe--that he combined in himself the perfections of the human and divine natures; as a man he was as perfect as Adam, and as God he was as perfect as the God of Abraham. Unitarianism he pronounced in all its forms as utterly at variance with the doctrines of Christianity.

      "In the incarnation and mission of the Son of God, the Father has made a full and complete exhibition of his love. God has here done all he could for the redemption of our race, and he who will not avail himself of the glorious plan of salvation, and will not be saved by Christ, is out of the reach of God's mercy. He then propounded the question, What is religion? After various remarks, he showed that it was the grand principle which binds man to God--that it had not its [609] birth in philosophy; it did not originate in the human imagination, but was of God, wholly supernatural, above nature, above reason.

      "The simple element in religion is sacrifice. Here he dwelt on the efficacy of the atonement, and with strong emphasis commended Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world--the Lamb of God in whom all the types and sacrifices and symbols of the Old Testament dispensation found their antitype--the Lamb of God whose blood cleanses from all sin. 'No man can come to God,' said Mr. Campbell, 'only through faith in the bleeding Lamb of God.'

      "He concluded by striking a severe blow at modern infidelity, and at those mistaken and misguided souls who are looking to other quarters than the Bible for a knowledge of the will of God and the plan of salvation--who are consulting disembodied spirits for an answer to questions already solved in the word of God. He said the tallest seraph in heaven, or all the angels that surrounded the throne of God, had not the power to reveal the scheme of man's redemption; God alone could make that plan known, and this has been already done in the book of revelation; we need no other. Had this been left to angels, there had been silence in heaven, not only for a half hour, but for ever. . . .

      "The discourse we regarded as able and appropriate, and in the main one which most Christians would receive as sound in its theology. At the close of the sermon, Mr. Campbell was introduced to Bishop Soule, who was one of his auditors. After the usual salutation, Bishop Soule expressed his gratification at the exalted character he had ascribed to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Mr. Campbell promptly replied, 'He is our only hope.' . . . He announced before he concluded that he would deliver during the week, in the church on Cherry Street (the one occupied by Mr. J. B. Ferguson), a series of lectures on 'Neology and Spiritualism.' In making this announcement he struck the 'Spirit Rappers' some heavy blows. Success to him in opposing this [610] miserable humbug, which, Mr. Campbell justly remarked, comes from infidelity, or is evidence of infidelity in the heart of him who is under its influence.

      "It is but justice to say that the two points kept prominently before the audience in the two discourses were, first, the divine authenticity,perfection and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as a revelation from God; and second, the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sin, by faith in his name. These two points well established, he will proceed to demolish the infidelity of German philosophers and spiritualism, technically so called, which is only another phase of infidelity."

      In his usual frank and fearless advocacy of truth, Mr. Campbell had resolved to meet Mr. Ferguson in the midst of the community in which he had been propagating error, and expected that the latter would meet him publicly in defence of his doctrines. In this, however, he was entirely disappointed, for this gentleman, who had for some time professed to be in receipt of communications from the spirit world, announced that he had orders to the contrary in a special communication from Dr. William E. Channing, formerly of Boston, but then a citizen of the seventh sphere in Hades.

      "In this letter," said Mr. Campbell in his notes, "from the elegant and fascinating orator and writer of sermons, Dr. W. E. Channing, Mr. Ferguson received a 'positive command' not to attend any of my meetings while in Nashville, and also to hold no nocturnal spiritual levees during my sojourn in that city. All of which, I presume, was very punctually acquiesced in. And thus I was denied the pleasure of any intercourse or interview with Mr. Ferguson, through the solicitude of the late Dr. Channing for his personal and spiritual safety. He was, therefore, truly obedient to the infernal vision." [611]

      Mr. Campbell, nevertheless, according to arrangement after his introductory discourses in the Methodist Episcopal church edifice, the use of which had been courteously granted, proceeded to lecture during the week, in the evenings, in the Cherry Street meeting-house, which Mr. Ferguson usually occupied, and to contrast the character and claims of the divine revelation with those of spirit rapping. While Mr. Campbell was in Nashville, John T. Johnson also arrived, and with his usual zeal at once commenced a series of religious meetings. On Saturday evening, Mr. Campbell visited and addressed the students of Franklin College, and spoke three times in Nashville on the following Lord's day to large and attentive audiences, when several intelligent persons came forward for baptism. On Monday he visited Murfreesboro', at the request of the students and faculty of the Baptist University there, and made an address in the evening. Before leaving Tennessee he also visited Clarksville in company with John T. Johnson, where he spoke twice, and on his return through Kentucky spent six days at Hopkinsville, where he delivered eight discourses, and a special address to the young ladies of the flourishing female seminary there under the care of his cousin Enos. Passing thence by stage to Louisville, he went on to Indianapolis, where he had an agreeable interview with the brethren and delivered two discourses. Here, still in company with Brother Myers, he took the cars for Wheeling, and arrived at home next day after an absence of thirty days, and improved in health by his journey of sixteen hundred miles.

      About this time (1855) there was published a book of three hundred and sixty-nine duodecimo pages, entitled "Campbellism Examined," by Elder J. B. Jeter, of [612] Richmond, Virginia. In this work the author, a Baptist minister of distinction, proposed to give "a faithful delineation" of "Campbellism," a term by which he was pleased to designate the Reformation urged by Mr. Campbell. This was the most respectable treatise on the subject yet produced on the part of the Baptist opposition, and as it was written in a courteous style and in an apparently fair and candid spirit, it was well calculated to answer the purpose for which it was designed. Admitting that the Baptist and other churches needed reformation, and that what he termed "Campbellism" had "exercised an extensive influence on the religious sentiment of the country," the author proceeded to furnish from his point of view a sketch of "its rise, progress, modifications and influence, as well as its distinctive principles," and to defend against its assaults the cherished doctrines held by Baptists. It was received by them accordingly with much favor, though far from being complete in itself and equally far from presenting a full and accurate view of Mr. Campbell's teachings. The work was therefore regarded by Mr. Campbell, in a somewhat rambling review which he made of it in some pieces in the "Harbinger," as doing him great injustice, and he proposed to Elder Jeter a discussion of the points involved, to be published in the "Religious Herald," so that his defence might be given to the Baptist community. This, however, Mr. Jeter declined, and Mr. Campbell then thought of writing a volume in reply, which he hoped would circulate where the "Harbinger" did not; but owing to his pressing engagements in the revision of Acts and other unavoidable labors, this was from time to time postponed.

      It was the connection of Mr. Campbell and the Reformers with that portion of the Baptists who were [613] engaged in the revision movement that had given occasion, as many supposed, to Dr. Jeter's book, as well as to several other attacks upon him about this time by Baptists, who seemed to fear that any association with the Reformers tended to promote the spread of religious principles which they conceived to be erroneous, but which they seemed unable to oppose by any other weapons than those of misrepresentation and perversion. These assaults, however, were by no means relished by some revision Baptists, who were in a better position for candid inquiry as to Mr. Campbell's views and had learned to understand him better. Hence Dr. Lynd, who stood deservedly high among them, while commending many things in Dr. Jeter's book, thus remarked:

      "We are somewhat disappointed in the first part of this work upon the inception of Campbellism. The circumstances and influences under which the author acted should have occupied a larger space, and more of the sentiments of Mr. Campbell as they consecutively appeared from his pen should have been given on this point. But we rise from the reading of this portion with the conviction that more was needed to enlighten us upon the inception of the system. . . . The natural temperament of Mr. Campbell doubtless gave rise to his extravagant mode of opposing what he supposed to be wrong, but the state of the churches and their modes of action at the time had much more influence. Few men would have had the moral courage to attack them as he did. There was certainly great abuse, by the uninformed, of what was called 'Christian experience,' and Mr. Campbell fixed his attention upon its abuses. Creeds were also much abused in many parts of our country. About the time he commenced his reformation, the churches who adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith obliged every candidate, before baptism, to read it and receive it as containing the truths of the gospel. [614] Two questions were uniformly asked them--first, whether they had read the confession of faith? and second, whether they believed the doctrines taught in it? And there were many in the churches who would have voted against the reception of the candidate if he could not have answered these questions in the affirmative. The formula which is now adopted by a large body of the churches shows clearly the reformation which has been wrought upon this subject. Whatever we may think of Mr. Campbell's religious views, we are certainly indebted to his extravagance for the removal of many extravagances from our own churches. In this portion of the work, the chaos of Campbellism, the writer does not take into view as fully as he might have done the popular evils in our own borders constituting the extreme on one side, and the extravagance of Mr. Campbell constituting the extreme on the other side. It would have added much to the value of the work if the evils existing in our churches in many parts of the country at the time had been pointed out, as it would have aided us to comprehend more clearly the consecutive stages of the reformatory process." (Mil. Harb. for 1855, p. 140.)

      Again, in regard to Mr. Campbell and his views, Dr. Lynd thus spoke in a letter to the editor of the "Tennessee Baptist," who had been writing against Mr. Campbell just before with great virulence:

      "BROTHER GRAVES: I feel myself called upon in an editorial article in your issue of March 31st to answer certain queries that you have propounded. Your paper reached me to-day. Your inquiries are based upon the following expressions employed by me in a short review of 'Jeter on Campbellism:'

      "'With his views as formerly expressed we could not sympathize, but as recently expressed they are in conformity with our own views.' . . . In the remark above I have reference to his views as set forth in the following articles, published, I think, in 1846: [615]

      "'1. I believe all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, is profitable for teaching, conviction, instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect and thoroughly accomplished for every good work.

      "'2. I believe in one God as manifested in the Father? the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are therefore one in power, nature and volition.

      "'3. I believe that every human being participates in all the consequences of the fall of Adam, and is born into the world frail and depraved in all his moral powers and capacities. So that without faith in Christ it is impossible for him, while in that state, to please God.

      "'4. I believe the Word which from the beginning was with God, and which was God, became flesh and dwelt among us as Emanuel, or "God manifest in the flesh," and did make an expiation of sins by the sacrifice of himself, which no being could have done that was not possessed of superhuman, superangelic and divine nature.

      "'5. I believe in the justification of sinners by faith without the deeds of law; and of a Christian, not by faith alone, but by the obedience of faith.

      "'6. I believe in the operation of the Holy Spirit through the Word, but not without it in the conversion and sanctification of the sinner. . . .

      "'7. I believe in the right and duty of exercising our own judgment in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

      "'8. I believe in the divine institution of the evangelical ministry, the authority and perpetuity of baptism and the Lord's Supper.'

      "Is there a Baptist church in the State of Tennessee or in the world that can show a more sound confession of faith? These are the views I endorse, and so does every evangelical man in every denomination of Christians.

      "Further, I referred in my remarks particularly to his views expressed in his debate with Dr. Rice, in the following language: 'You may have heard me say here (and the whole country may have read it and heard it many a time) that a [616] seven-fold immersion in the river Jordan, or any other water, without a previous change of heart, will avail nothing without a genuine faith and penitence; nor would the most strict adherence to all the forms and usages of the most perfect church order, the most exact observance of all the ordinances, without personal faith, piety and moral righteousness--without a new heart, hallowed lips and a holy life, profit any man in reference to eternal salvation. We are represented because of the emphasis laid upon some ordinances as though we made a Saviour out of rites and ceremonies--as believing in water-regeneration and in the saving efficacy of immersion, and as looking no farther than to these 'outward bodily acts,' all of which is just as far from the truth and from our view as transubstantiation or purgatory. I have, indeed, no faith in conversion by the Word without the Spirit, nor by the Spirit without the Word. The Spirit is ever present with the Word in sanctification and conversion. A change of heart, a essential to a change of character, and both are essential to admission into the kingdom of God. "Without holiness no man would enjoy God." Though as scrupulous as a Pharisee in tithing mint, anise and cummin, and rigid to the letter in all observances, without those moral excellences, usually called righteousness and holiness, no man can be saved eternally, for the unrighteous shall not enter into the kingdom of God.'

      "Now, with these views I concur. Does any Baptist repudiate them? I understand that the foregoing principles are with him fundamental principles, and I suppose that all his other exhibitions of Scripture teaching must he subordinate to these. What other just rule can be applied? Apart from the influence of this rule, it would be easy to quote plain passages from the New Testament which would go to show that the apostles did not in good faith hold the fundamental doctrines of redemption. This is certainly done by the opposers of these principles. I am no apologist for the errors of Mr. Campbell or any other man, but I do most heartily endorse the principles stated in this confession. I feel bound [617] as far as possible to explain his views as published since that confession was made by his fundamental principles. If he is an honest man he will believe nothing which he does not believe to be in conformity with these principles.

      "I think it is but an act of justice, and the laws of language demand it, that his views, as published in the 'Christian Baptist,' which you quote, should be explained in the light of the fundamental principles which he has solemnly declared he holds. I believe, with Mr. Campbell, that faith is belief in testimony. The circumstances under which it is exercised, embracing the views of the sinner and his state of heart, constitute the difference between the belief that saves and the belief that does not save. And that is taught in all theological schools, though not always in the same words. I have no sympathy with the doctrine that immersion must be administered to procure remission of sins, and yet I believe the design of this institution is not clearly understood either by Baptists or Pædobaptists. No person who believes the Bible can deny that there is a connection between baptism and salvation, as there is between regeneration and salvation, or between faith and justification, or between persevering obedience and salvation. The question to be determined is, What is that connection? I believe that Mr. Campbell has not reached the truth in this matter, and therefore I do not endorse his views. But may not Baptists generally fall short in their views of baptism? Is there not a point of view to which all of us may be brought by honest and Christianlike discussion. I believe we enjoy the love of God in our hearts the moment we believe in Christ, and that it may be shed abroad more clearly by the Holy Spirit and that the most of the spiritual blessings we enjoy may be consequent upon our baptism must be admitted by all who hold that baptism is 'the answer of a good conscience toward God.' How can a believer fully enjoy spiritual blessings while this answer of a good conscience has not been had? . . . The quotation from the 'Christian Baptist,' page 293, repudiates merely the doctrines of mystical, metaphysical or spiritual influence [618] independently of the word of God. And who, at the present day, does not repudiate it? This I understand Mr. Campbell teaches, when I compare the language with the eight fundamental articles of his creed.

      "In the long passage which you have quoted from 'Christian Baptism,' p. 256, he states expressly that baptism is not as a procuring cause, as a meritorious or efficient cause, but as an instrumental cause, in which faith and repentance are made fruitful and effectual in the changing of our state and spiritual relation to the divine persons whose names are put upon us in the very act. I do not know how much Mr. Campbell may mean by the words 'our state and spiritual relations,' but I am certain there is a sense, and an important sense, too, in which this is doubtless true. The quotation from 'Christian Baptism' does not show that Mr. Campbell denies the influence of the Holy Spirit in conversion. He is speaking of the influence which, in apostolic times, was denominated 'the baptism of the Holy Spirit.' His facts in relation to this are correctly stated. While we differ from Mr. Campbell, let us, as Christians, be magnanimous, and give to his language the fairest construction that can be put upon it. Let us examine it in the light of his published fundamental principles." (Mil. Harb. for 1855, p. 512.)

      At the close of spring (1855) Mr. Campbell succeeded in completing the task of revision assigned to him by the Bible Union, to which for many months he had devoted every moment which could be spared from his college and other duties, with the exception of the time occupied in his trip to Nashville. Such was his earnestness and his deep interest in the cause of revision, that giving up his agricultural affairs into the hands of his eldest son, he had secluded himself in his little gothic study, and given almost his whole attention to the work, greatly to the injury of both his mental and bodily vigor. To one of such active habits, the loss of his accustomed physical exercise alone was of itself [619] a serious injury to his bodily health. Nor was the character of the labor required less hurtful to his mental powers. The close examination and comparison of minute verbal details demanded in the revision and in the preparation of extended critical notes was exceedingly harassing and irksome to a mind accustomed, like that of Mr. Campbell, to range at pleasure amidst the grandest subjects of human thought, and to find amongst these its natural and healthful sphere of action. His conscientious and persevering endeavors therefore to perform his work faithfully were of no small detriment to his mental faculties, and the effects soon became visible in his public discourses. His mind seemed to have been cramped like the limbs of a prisoner long confined in heavy fetters. He appeared unable to take that extensive and powerful grasp of the subject for which he had been so conspicuous, and his pulpit efforts, though still interesting and occasionally brilliant, ceased for some time to manifest their former unity and point. His friends noticed too, occasionally, a singular confounding of things relating to the past, and odd mistakes in regard to articles furnished by his correspondents for the "Harbinger," of which he still retained the chief management. Nor were such eclipses of memory wanting, now and then, in the performance of his college duties. These results, however, arising more from his recent undue labor than from advancing age, became less noticed after a time when he resumed his usual habits and experienced again the benefit of traveling abroad. The following letter, written shortly before the completion of his revision labors, expresses his desire for a pleasant reunion of his friends at the approaching college commencement, when he expected to have his toilsome but not unpleasing task completed, [620] and to be at length freed from his revision labors and the duties of the college session:

"BETHANY, VIRGINIA, May 30, 1855.      

      "MY DEAR SON HENLEY: I thankfully received from you some days since a very acceptable epistle, for which I return you my thanks. I have the pleasure of saying to you that we at Bethany are still moving forward in our usual way, in ordinary health and comfort. I have been more oppressed and broken down with hard labor this year past than at any period in my life. The labors bestowed on the New Version, superadded to my former labors and present obligations, have greatly oppressed me and cut short my correspondence. I am 'a debtor without hope to pay' to my friends in private correspondence. I write you with special reference to yourself and lady and my dear grand-daughter making a visit to Bethany in the latter part of next month and at the commencement on the 4th of July. I have written to Brother Coleman, and will now write to Brother Goss, also to the same effect. We have invited sundry brethren from Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio, to be present with us at said time, and hope to see yourself and lady also.

      "Expecting to see you at said time and to talk face to face, I will not, because I cannot, add much more at present. We have the great theme of eternity and immortality pressing daily its claims upon our supreme regard, in comparison with which everything on earth sinks down almost to nothing.

      "To be an heir of immortality, a joint heir with Jesus Christ in the enjoyment of the universe, is a hope, if well founded, worth more to a man than the solar system of worlds, were they all offered to us with more sincerity than Satan offered the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them to our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh for a faith and a hope commensurate with the promises of God! as broad, as high and as enduring as the throne on which the victors shall sit and reign and triumph with him for ever! We have reason to fear that while the many are called, the chosen are still few. Lord, increase our faith, our hope, our love and the [621] fruits of our righteousness, and to him be the glory, the honor and the praise for ever and ever. Amen. Remember me most affectionately to your excellent lady and my grand-children, Thomas and Caroline. Yours ever in the one hope,
      "R. Y. HENLEY. A. CAMPBELL."      

      After Mr. Campbell had completed his revision, the work was published' by the Bible Union in a quarto of two hundred and twenty-seven pages. The whole of the amount appropriated for the revision ($1000) he donated to the funds of the Bible Union, constituting several of his friends life directors.

      In the month of July, accompanied by his wife and his daughter Decima, he paid a visit to Canada, and remained a week at St. Catharine's Springs, which seemed to relieve rheumatic pains with which he had been lately afflicted, though he still continued to suffer from the debility induced by overtaxing his powers. He visited various points in Canada and formed a number of interesting acquaintances. Passing to Detroit where he sojourned with Richard Hawley, he met there with Brother and Sister Burnet, of Cincinnati, and delivered two discourses, after which he returned immediately home, feeling unable to attend the annual meeting at Warren, as he had designed.

      In the fall of this year, accompanied by Mrs. Campbell, he was induced to make another tour through Eastern Virginia, where some overtures were made for the endowment of a chair in the college. At Richmond he was happy to meet most of his old Virginia fellow-laborers, and to hear interesting addresses from Brother S. E. Shepherd, of New York. He delivered a discourse himself on the Lord's day, and an address on education on Monday, preaching again on Tuesday evening. At Charlottesville he enjoyed the hospitality [622] of the esteemed laborer, A. B. Walthall, and spoke several times, as did also Dr. Bullard, who accompanied him. Visiting Gordonsville, he heard an excellent discourse there from Brother Walthall, and went on to Louisa C. H., where he addressed the people; and after filling other appointments at Mangohick and Smyrna, he spoke also at Rappahannock and Acquinton. Visiting afterward Yorktown and Williamsburg, he returned to Richmond, where he addressed at the Athenæum a literary society on the "True Basis of Moral Science." After a trip to Caroline, he returned again to Richmond and delivered an address before the Young Men's Christian Association. Everywhere he was received with marked attention and treated with great kindness by all parties. Dr. Burroughs and Dr. Jeter called upon him, as also Drs. Ryland and Gwathney, and they had pleasant interviews. Through the liberality of the brethren and the appeals of R. L. Coleman, who accompanied him during the greater part of his journey, a considerable amount was raised for Bethany College. At Washington, on his way home, he met with the amiable J. T. Barclay, who, having returned from Jerusalem, was at this time preparing for the press his interesting work, "The City of the Great King." After preaching in Washington, Mr. Campbell spoke also at Baltimore, where he spent a pleasant evening with the Rev. J. H. Stockton, for whom he had a high regard, and then setting out on the cars on the 31st of January, reached home safely after an absence of forty-eight days.

      As he had been too much occupied with the revision of Acts and his other engagements to fulfill his intention of presenting in a distinct work a full reply to Dr. Jeter, who had by this time published a second volume, [623] a young student from Missouri, who had recently graduated (M. E. Lard), concluded to attempt a reply and thus relieve Mr. Campbell from the labor. This "Review of Campbellism Examined," forming a volume of two hundred and ninety-seven pages, appeared in 1857, with a short preface by Mr. Campbell, and was regarded generally by the Reformers as a triumphant refutation of Elder Jeter's arguments, which it dissected with unusual logical skill. Some of its expositions of Scripture, however, were considered more ingenious than correct, while the tartness and severity of its language seemed to many ill-accordant with the spirit in which religious discussion should be conducted.

      Continuing his labors as usual, Mr. Campbell in the following May made an excursion to Kentucky, where he delivered an address, by invitation, before the Henry Female Seminary on "Woman and her Mission." He also attended four of the annual meetings in Ohio, which he greatly enjoyed, and in September visited New York to attend the Bible Union Anniversary, and filled also an appointment at Danbury, in Connecticut. In October he delivered an address to a literary association in Cincinnati, where he also attended the anniversary meetings of the missionary and other societies. Meanwhile, the cause was making great advances in all parts of the country, and the most gratifying intelligence of progress was received from Australia, New South Wales and New Zealand. These cheering reports appeared regularly in the "Harbinger," in which Mr. Campbell continued to discuss the important themes of the Reformation and the religious and educational movements of the times, assisted by his co-editors, who at this time were W. K. Pendleton, A. W. Campbell, R. Milligan and R. Richardson. [624]

      About this time, Mr. Campbell received intelligence of the death of his fellow-laborer, John T. Johnson, to whom he was greatly attached. While upon a visit to Missouri, and in the midst of successful labors, he was seized with pneumonia and died on the 18th of December, at the residence of T. C. Bledsoe, of Lexington, after a few days' illness. During this illness he received the kindest attentions, and continued to exhort and admonish those around him with his usual simple earnestness. When asked whether he had any doubts or fears in reference to the future, he replied in a decided manner, "No, not the least. I have lived by Christianity and I can die by it." Sending word to his children to live godly lives and meet him in heaven, and continuing at intervals to make to those around him remarks full of hope and love, he joyfully yielded his spirit into the hands of the Redeemer, whom he had so faithfully served.

      "I presume," said Mr. Campbell, "no laborer in word and doctrine in the Valley of the Mississippi has labored more ardently, perseveringly or more successfully than has Elder John T. Johnson during the whole period of his public ministry. How many hundreds, if not thousands, of souls he has awakened from the stupor and death-like sleep of sin, and inducted into the kingdom of Jesus, the King eternal, immortal and invisible, the living know not; but we have reason to think and hope that he will have many 'for a crown of joy and rejoicing' in the day of the Lord Jesus."

      Continuing his efforts to obtain a full endowment for the college, Mr. Campbell left home February 26th on a tour South.

      "The object of this tour," he states, "was twofold--first the pleading of the cause of original Christianity, and second, as further subservient to it, the claims of Bethany College as [625] an institution of learning and science, based on the true philosophy of man as developed and taught in the Holy Bible in reference to his present and future usefulness and happiness as a citizen of the universe, and with special reference to his present development and mission as a citizen of the United States of North America in the second half of the nineteenth century."

      At Indianapolis, on the 28th of February, he addressed the Young Men's Christian Association, and, after preaching in the Christian church on the first of March, set out on the following day for Cairo, where he took passage on a New Orleans boat. His further labors will be sufficiently indicated by the following extracts and letters:

"NEW ORLEANS, March 18, 1857.      

      "MY DEAR WIFE: I have been daily resolving to write to you, but Alexander has so often written, and I have been so much engaged, and for some days since my arrival here so much indisposed, that I could not think of writing to you till I could say to you that I was better and improving, which, I am happy to say, is now the fact. I have, though quite feeble, spoken in this city some three or four times. I only failed altogether to fill one appointment, and I think I should at least not have spoken on two occasions that I did speak; one was an address to the Young Men's Christian Association. The hall was very large, the concourse large, and I had, while very feeble, to speak very loud in order to be heard. This greatly prostrated me, and I had to call for medical aid. I am, indeed, convalescing, and hope, in a few days, to be myself again. I must visit Baton Rouge on my way, to which point I start to-morrow. The governor of Louisiana has sent me an invitation to his house while I stay there. I will, of course, accept it, and as the Legislature are in session, I may do something there.

     "Your affectionate husband, A. CAMPBELL." [626]      


"NEW ORLEANS, March 19, 1857.      

      "MY DEAR WIFE: I am thinking of leaving here in the course of the day. I have had a good night's sleep, and feel somewhat better. Alexander, too, enjoys fine health, and is very good company for me. I could not get along without him. He anticipates all that I want and is very much interested in my comfort in every particular. My visit here has been, on the whole, an advantage and profit to the great cause that I plead. But this is a worldly, sensual and generally a mere fashionable theatre. Still, there is some salt here that preserves the mass from absolute sensuality. I am still more attached to home the farther I am from it. There is no place on earth to me like it. But we have no continuing city here, and should always act with that conviction. We should feel that, wherever we are and whatever we do, we are on our journey home. There is nothing beneath the home of God that can fill the human heart, and that should ever rule and guide and comfort us. There are few pure, single-eyed and single-hearted professors of the faith and the hope. It is only here and there we find a whole-hearted Christian. Like angels' visits they are few and far between, But I am again called out and must say farewell.



"BATON ROUGE, March 30, 1857.      

      "MY DEAR WIFE: Having been on the wing for eight days and without opportunity of writing, having the will but wanting the means, I have been at length relieved from the embarrassment hitherto preventing me. I never have thought more or felt more of home and its attractions than on this tour.

      "Alexander has been all attention to my comforts, and has been a great relief to my cares on my journeying. We are now waiting for a boat to descend to New Orleans. We have been the guests of the governor of Louisiana, now the third day, and feel as much at home as I could do anywhere from home. He is a descendant of the great Wickliffe, and bears his name. His wife is the daughter of Sister Dawson, [627] widow of General Dawson, whom I much esteemed. She is now on a visit here, and I much enjoy her society. She is as spiritually-minded as any one I have met with on this tour, so far as I can judge. I have had large congregations and many attentive hearers on this tour thus far. I am also succeeding measurably in obtaining subscriptions for Bethany College. I think my tour will be of very considerable advantage to the college in obtaining students, as well as in enlarging its endowment.

      "But it is a great sacrifice to my comfort in a great many respects. I do not think I will ever again undertake so large a journey or expose myself to so much labor and privation as I am now subjected to. Still, so long as I can do good at home or abroad, it is my duty to do it. I miss your company more than any other privation I have to endure. Still, where and when duty calls, it is my wish to obey and to deny myself. That same Eye that has watched over us both, and guided and guarded us through life, will, I humbly trust, guard and guide us to the end of life's weary journey. . . .

      "Remember me to my dear William; tell him I often think of him on my journey, and hope that he is growing in knowledge and learning every day. I wrote to Decima somewhere on my tour, but cannot now remember the date. Remember me to her.

      "I expect to speak in Marion, Alabama, next Lord's day. Brother Myers has been with us at Cheneyville, where we had a fine meeting, and he will accompany us to New Orleans, or will meet us there to-morrow or next day. We had a fine meeting there. One brother subscribed one thousand dollars to Bethany College. But I must close this scrawl. Remember me kindly to Brother Pendleton and family and Brother Milligan and lady. In all affection and esteem,

  "Your husband, A. CAMPBELL."      

      While in New Orleans he assisted D. P. Henderson, President Shannon and others in the reorganization of the church there, which consisted of about forty members. At Baton Rouge he found a flourishing female [628] seminary established by Brother Slosson and lady, and had the pleasure of meeting with many esteemed acquaintances, among whom he mentions the intelligent and zealous Sister Willis, of Bedford, Ohio. Subsequently, he visited some points in Alabama, and at Marion met Jacob Creath, Jr., who had been laboring successfully for some time in several of the Southern States, and who had, as early as October, 1826, first pleaded for primitive Christianity in Louisiana. At Columbus, Mississippi, he found a large attendance and many students of Bethany College assembled from considerable distances, and was treated with more than usual courtesy by the ministry of different denominations, especially the Presbyterian.

      Here, among other addresses, he delivered by special request one on Christian baptism. In this he discussed, as he says--

      "1. The action of Christian baptism. 2. The legitimate subject of Christian baptism; and 3. Its design. These are logically and evangelically the attitude in which this divine and solemn and most significant institution is placed before us in the Christian Scriptures. That a penitent believer is the only evangelical subject of this solemn and sublime institution was demonstrated by a broad appeal to the whole Christian oracles; that immersion in water into and not in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is the one only Christian ordinance called baptism, and that a formal remission of sins was and is the end and design of it. We exposed the calumny frequently employed by the opponents of a return to the ancient order of things, alias apostolic Christianity, affirming that we give to the water of baptism the virtue of the blood of Christ as cleansing the subject from the guilt and pollution of sin. They might as truthfully charge upon us the doctrine of Roman transubstantiation, because we quote the words 'this is my body' in dispensing [629] the monumental loaf and cup of Christ's own special institution. Neither wine nor water possesses any such inherent purifying power, but these may be instruments through which to communicate or to commemorate the blessings of pardon, or of a spiritual cleansing from the guilt and the pollution of sin, provided that God has so instituted and ordained them; and that we have the faith of implicit obedience to each and every divine institution that may have been clearly propounded to us, and accredited to us as of unquestionable divine authority."

      Returning again to Marion, Alabama, he proceeded to Atlanta in Georgia, where he was happy to meet with Dr. Hooke, who accompanied him to Augusta, where he was kindly received at the hospitable mansion of Mrs. Tubman, who contributed out of her own means the entire endowment of one of the chairs in Bethany College. Here he had a good hearing, and on the 29th of April set out upon his return by way of Richmond and Washington City, reaching home safely after a journey of six thousand miles.

      In the fall of that year (1857), accompanied by his wife, he made another tour in Illinois, after attending the missionary meeting in Cincinnati, before which he delivered as usual the annual address. At Paris, Illinois, he addressed a large assembly in the Methodist Episcopal meeting-house. At the close of his address the officiating minister, Mr. Crane, who was a man of liberal views, added some pertinent remarks on the importance of education, and handed Mr. Campbell a contribution as a token of his interest and good-will in the enterprise. After filling appointments in various parts of the State, and meeting with many friends and former students of the college in this liberal and rapidly-growing community, he traveled into Iowa, where, at Keokuk, he was met by Dr. S. [630] Hatch, of Canton University. After filling an appointment here, he set out for Montrose, and thence went on to Fort Madison, where he sojourned with Brother Bates, a faithful and devoted Christian, and one of the editors of the "Christian Evangelist." Visiting Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Monmouth and Rock Island, he reached Davenport, where he met with the useful and laborious J. Hartzel, formerly of Ohio, but now preaching for the church in Davenport. Here he delivered three discourses, and after filling several other appointments and meeting with many old acquaintances and friends scattered through the State, he reached Chicago on his way home on the 24th of November. Astonished at the wonderful enterprise, progress and business of this city, his only regret was that it had as yet no proper representation of the primitive gospel and its institutions. From Chicago he returned directly home, crossing the Ohio through the ice, and reaching Bethany on the 28th of November, having greatly enjoyed the trip, and expecting to visit Iowa again at a more favorable season, when birds were singing and the prairie flowers in bloom. [631]


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

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