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W. L. Hayden
Centennial Addresses (1909)

Portrait of Walter Scott

Walter Scott, Finisher of The Great

G REAT men are the beacon lights of history. They illustrate their times and represent the living ideas which were embodied in them. Washington was the personification of civil liberty, and his life is the history of the revolutionary war and the founding of popular government in this new world. Lincoln's life is the record of the salvation of our imperiled nation. Luther was the incarnation of the vitalizing truth that the just shall live by faith and the reformation of the sixteenth century was projected into history. The intrepid monk of Wittemberg hurled thunderbolts at papal Rome, but the gentle, sweet-spirited and patient Philip Melancthon was the scholar who wrought out basal principles and secured for them a fair chance in the world. Campbell exemplified the largest religious liberty and became the matchless defender of the primitive faith and the emancipator of modern sect-enslaved Israel. But Walter Scott was the Melancthon of the great restoration. Providence prepared the man for the occasion and brought him upon the field of spiritual conflict at the nick of time fully equipped for the discovery of the first principles of the ancient gospel and the presentation of them for general acceptance.

      This eminent man of God was born in Moffat, Dunfriesshire, Scotland, October 31, 1796, of Presbyterian parentage. He was of the same ancestry as the renowned Sir Walter Scott of high literary fame in the early years of last century. He gave evidence at an early age of such decided talent that his parents decided to economize their moderate resources and give him a full collegiate course at the Edinburgh University and fit him for the ministry. Soon after completing his course in the university, at the request of a maternal uncle, George Innes, young Scott came to America, arriving in New York, July 7, 1818. After a few months spent as tutor in a classical academy on Long Island, and hearing glowing accounts of the West, the young collegian set out on foot, with light heart and purse, and traveled through forests and over mountains and arrived at Pittsburg, May 7, 1819. He found a position at once with George Forrester, a fellow countryman, as assistant in his academy.

      Both principal and assistant were deeply religious and lovers of the truth revealed in the Scriptures. They were congenial companions, though differing in their views of Bible teaching. Forrester was a [30] preacher of the Haldanean school of Baptists and the Bible was his only authority in religion. Scott was a Presbyterian and regarded the standards of his church as the true exposition and summary of Bible doctrine. Together they searched the Scriptures, sometimes far into the night, that they might know the will of God and follow Christ wherever He would lead them. The result was that Scott was convinced that human standards in religion, like their authors, are imperfect and likely to lead astray and the word of God is the only sure guide to fallible men.

      This clear conviction changed his religious views and his whole life. It was the discovery of a new world and new heavens in theology. The Bible was no longer a sealed book, except to a few favorites of God's choosing. It is a revelation of the divine will concerning men. Hence it must be understood as other books are and thus means just what it says to men of ordinary intelligence. He diligently studied the Book of God and soon found that infant baptism is without divine warrant, that baptism is a personal and not a relative duty; that there is no proxy in obedience to God. He also found that all scholars of good repute agree that the Greek word means to dip, or its equivalent, and that it does not include affusion in any form, that apostolic allusions to the ordinance are based on this ground idea of a burial, and no substitutes are authorized. Promptly rejecting substitute baptism, he accepted scriptural baptism at the hands of George Forrester and united with the small body of believers to which he ministered in Pittsburg. Here he found peace and joy after the heart-conflicts incident to so radical a change of convictions and church relations.

      Up to this time he had not the least suspicion of the great work into which Providence was leading him. The superior gifts and education of Scott made him useful to the little congregation and he was greatly beloved. His mind was now free from party creeds and sect-prejudices. He admired the simplicity of the primitive gospel. His mind was in daily contact with the divine mind through His word. He rejoiced in the increasing light and was filled with an irresistible desire to bring others to the knowledge of the truth. He had not the remotest idea of promoting a religious reformation. But in the midst of error truth is revolutionary, and the clearer the truth the greater seemed the need of its fearless advocacy.

      George Forrester gave up his school and soon thereafter was drowned in the Allegheny River. The responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the bereaved church fell upon Scott and called into activity those wonderful gifts of teaching, preaching and exhortation for which he became so distinguished a few years later. With a disciplined mind, a poetic imagination, a ready command of language, a well-modulated voice, with a charming Scotch winsomeness, and withal a heart overflowing with kindness, he rose to highest rank as a pulpit orator. Multitudes flocked to hear him and were melted by his pathos [31] in portraying the life, character and sufferings of the incarnate Son of God.

      Conscious of his expanding powers and the enlarging field of highest activity, the Holy Scriptures were his chief delight. Full of sympathy for fallen humanity, when alone at midnight he made a solemn vow that if God would grant him just and comprehensive knowledge of the gospel he would subordinate all present and future attainments to the glory of His beloved Son and His religion. Seldom was a more solemn promise made nor more faithfully kept. He devoted himself earnestly to preparation for the rescue of men from spiritual darkness and the turning of sinners to God. He supported himself by his labors in the academy and widely extended his influence with prominent and cultured patrons. He studied the word of God often until after midnight and memorized a portion each day. He was aided by books in the lamented Forrester's library. Among these books was Locke's "Reasonableness of Christianity," which gave him a firm grasp on the fundamental facts of the Christian system.

      No astronomer ever scanned the starry heavens with mounted telescope and with more burning Interest than Walter Scott felt as he looked into the brighter heavens of God's revelations through the lens of an unclouded faith. Like Copernicus, he discovered that the Sun of Righteousness is the central orb of the spiritual universe, under whose controlling power all lesser orbs of truth and ordinance revolve. He then saw the whole inspired volume in beautiful harmony and in widest adaptation to the necessities of human nature. Though supernatural in its origin and attestations, it commends itself to enlightened reason and reaches the hearts of men through their rational powers. As in nature, so in the gospel, there is order, harmony and proper relation and dependence. Nothing seemed more reasonable to the mind of Scott than that precepts set forth duties, promises furnish motives and blessings follow and reward obedience. He found this order had been lost sight of to the confusion of men seeking salvation. Ordinance was administered without knowledge in the subject. The elements of the gospel were strangely perverted and their order was transposed into a jumble of ideas. The result was mysticism, confusion, doubt and often despair. God is not the author of confusion, but of order in the spiritual realm as in the natural kingdom. The gospel is not a variable jargon, but all its parts bear a fixed and definite relation to each other and to the minds of its subjects.

      Walter Scott first met A. Campbell in the winter of 1821-22. They were not unknown to each other, but both had been independent of each other in reaching their conclusions and convictions on religious themes. Many things were common to these extraordinary men. Both were Scotch Presbyterians; they had passed through radical changes in views and ecclesiastical relations; they had been brought into contact with the Haldanean reformation and adopted its governing principle, viz.: The Bible alone is the rule of faith and practice. They had [33] started in the same direction, were walking in the same light in searching for the old paths. They were pleased to learn they stood on common ground. They deplored party strifes and divisions and accepted the same remedy for these evils, viz.: a return to the primitive peace and unity of the church of God. They had discovered the new continent of a reunited church and were destined to jointly seek for its treasures and blessings. From that meeting Campbell and Scott were true yoke-fellows in mutual attachment and were complementary to each other in their life work. Both these eminent men were great in the sight of the Lord. Each surpassed the other in some elements of power. Both attained world-wide fame. Campbell excelled in skill and coolness under fire in hotly-contested battle. Scott excelled in dramatic description and persuasive appeal. If the former had greater power to convince the judgment, the latter exceeded him in winning hearts. The brilliant career of Scott should not be eclipsed by the monumental achievements of his illustrious associate. The generations that enjoy the light and liberty of the gospel through the self-sacrificing labors of Scott should not allow the brightness of his fame to be dimmed by the concentration of their commemoration upon Campbell in this centennial year.

      In 1826 Scott closed his academy in Pittsburg and moved to Steubenville, Ohio, and opened a school in that city. In August the next year, 1827, A. Campbell stopped at Steubenville on his way to New Lisbon, Ohio, to attend the Mahoning Baptist Association, and persuaded his co-laborer to accompany him. A field was in preparation for the harvest and a laborer was thus invited to the reaping. The church in Braceville, Ohio, had raised the question "if it would be a possible thing for an evangelical preacher to be employed to travel and teach among the churches that a blessing might follow." This question was referred to the preachers present "to nominate a man to travel and labor among the churches." Walter Scott was named as a suitable person for the task and the association concurred in his appointment and provided for his support.

      This action was remarkable. Scott was not a member of that body. He was a new man and little known. There were other good men there who were well known and popular preachers, yet it was a unanimous call by the spirit-filled men in that body and the Holy Spirit sealed their choice by the rich fruitage of his labors. Thus Walter Scott was called of God "as was Aaron" to be the evangelist of the great restoration. Neither he nor they had the remotest idea of the result which quickly followed.

      He gave up his school at once and in two weeks he was on the ground and began his labors on September 16, 1827, at Braceville, Ohio. The occasion was the first quarterly meeting of the new associational year. Walter Scott, Adamson Bentley, Jacob Osborne and Marcus Bosworth were the preachers in attendance. A. Bentley preached for the first time within the bounds of that association that "in the new [34] institution baptism in the name of Jesus Christ was ordained by Him for bringing the believer, penitent for his sins, into this new relation and for giving him the knowledge of pardon by the promises of the new covenant." This announcement was new and startling to Scott, but he was reserved and thoughtful.

      Then Jacob Osborne preached, and in his sermon on the Holy Spirit he said "that no one had a right to expect the Holy Spirit till after baptism," basing his declaration on Acts 2:38, as did Bentley his teaching as to remission. Scott said to Osborne: "You are the boldest man I ever saw"--so new and amazing was the doctrine of both these preachers. But they both protested, "I do not see how we are to avoid the conclusion with the Bible in our hands." Scott was a genius, sometimes eccentric, but profoundly meditative. In analysis and combination he had marvelous powers. He classified the primary elements of the gospel bearing on the conversion of sinners in the following definite, rational and scriptural order, viz.: 1. Faith in Christ. 2. Repentance from sins. 3. Baptism in the name of Christ. 4. Remission of sins. 5. Gift of the Holy Spirit. 6. Eternal life by patient continuance in well-doing. Or summarized: 1. Three facts to be believed. 2. Three commands to be obeyed. 3. Three promises to be enjoyed. This was called the ancient order of things as to conversion. This is so plain, so manifestly in harmony with the apostolic teaching and sound reason and in accord with correct psychology that Scott was transported with the discovery which cleared away the mists of popular theories and let the light shine into dark places. It was the glorious restoration of the primitive gospel in its elementary principles. As a generalization it is of great practical value, but is liable to abuse by men of untrained and legalistic minds.

      To appreciate the greatness of this revolutionary discovery the state of the religious mind at that time must be known. The followers of Christ were separated by creed walls and it was thought the stronger and higher the walls the better neighbors Christians will be. Sects were said to be the normal condition of the church: since men cannot think alike they must divide. The Bible was called "a dead letter" and reliance was placed on frames and feelings and "the inner light" of the individual soul, which were made superior to the word of God. Conflicting systems of theological opinion produced confusion, doubt and indifference in the popular mind and conversion was regarded as a mystery, a miracle of grace and an instantaneous act of God in answer to the prayers of the saints. Hence the altar of prayer was the chief means of salvation, where God was entreated to be reconciled to the world instead of beseeching the world to be reconciled to God as the apostles did. Thus anxiety, doubt, darkness, conflict, strife and mystery brooded over the minds of honest seekers everywhere, and those into whose souls the light of divine acceptance was flashed were considered as the elect of God. They had sought and got religion. [35]

      With the coming of Walter Scott a new era for the gospel dawned. The true evangelism was restored to the world. Faith without evidence, repentance without motive, ordinance without knowledge, salvation without obedience and Christian experience without Christ relationship were some absurdities of the modern reversals of gospel order.

      The great work of Walter Scott was the restoration of the simplicity of the gospel and the bringing men into the clear white light of God's truth, proclaimed by Spirit-endowed apostles. Scott felt that the evangelical part of Christ's commission had fallen into decay or disuse. His soul was burdened with the tremendous responsibility of restoring the apostolic evangelism. He resolved to try the novel experiment of its adoption. It was, to his hearers, a new religion. They regarded the preacher as an amiable but deluded enthusiast. They looked at him in blank astonishment, not knowing what was meant. Scott was discouraged and bowed himself in prayer. He pleaded with God as did Moses for his people. As John Knox prayed in the stillness of the night, "Give me Scotland or I die," so Scott prayed for souls lest he die. He believed God, accepted His word, and claimed His promise of help. His prayers melted all hearts. The great man of faith said: "It is Christ's own gospel, blessed by Himself at first for conversion and to be blessed by Him for the same purpose to the end of time, for He said, 'Lo, I am with you always.' I believe His word. I will preach it again." With the joy of the offers of salvation to all sinners whomsoever will still flaming in his heart, though tempered with fear and trembling, he resolved to return to New Lisbon and repeat his novel appeal.

      The evangelist was at his best. His faith was equal to the occasion. His theme was wisely chosen, based on Matt. 16:13-20. He stood on the everlasting rock. He began cautiously. He fortified his position with the word of God. As he advanced he became inspired and inspiring, forceful and convincing. His audience were entranced by his majestic march and brilliant demonstration of the Spirit and power. His themes were old as the apostles, but new and astonishing to his audience. His conclusion flashed upon his hearers as the light from the glorified Jesus upon Saul of Tarsus. It come from the Spirit utterance on Pentecost, Acts 2:38. At any hour when a sinner yields and obeys the Lord Jesus that same hour the Lord will receive him into favor and forgive his sins; pardon is offered in His name on the terms of faith and obedience and whosoever believes on Him with all his heart and obeys Him in his own appointment shall be pardoned through His blood and the promise of Christ is his assurance of acceptance in His sight.

      As the preacher was reaching this conclusion of his exposition and application of his theme a stranger entered the house and stood at the door. When the invitation was given to persons to come forward, confess Christ, take Him at His word and be baptized, calling upon the name of the Lord for the remission of sins, this stranger was [36] the only one of the crowded assembly who responded, to the astonishment of both audience and preacher. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that his name was William Amend, one of the best men in the community, an orderly member of the Presbyterian Church. That such a man responded to an invitation to sinners was a mystery. A letter of inquiry from Scott some years after contains the satisfactory explanation. The story in brief is this: He says: "I was baptized on November 18, 1827. A few days before that date I had read the second chapter of Acts when I expressed myself to my wife as follows: 'Oh, this is the gospel; this is the thing we wish--the remission of sins. Oh, that I could hear the gospel in these same words as Peter preached it! I hope I shall some day hear it, and the first man I meet who will preach the gospel thus, I will go with him.' So when you (Scott) cried, 'The Scripture shall no longer be a sealed book. God means what He says. Is there any man present who will take God at His word and be baptized for the remission of sins?' at that moment my feelings were such that I could have cried out, 'Glory to God! I have found the man I have long sought for.'" Memoirs of A. C., Vol. 2, p. 214.

      Thus success crowned his appeal. It was a divine attestation of his method and the truth proclaimed was clearly warranted by the Holy Scriptures. Here is convincing proof that devout men with unbiased minds can understand the word of God alike. Candid men will become one in Christ through the apostles' word when the doctrines and commandments of men are laid aside.

      This was the great and notable day of the great restoration. The directing wisdom of God may be seen all through it. Note the following points:

      1. The evangelist was raised up who discovered and arranged the ancient order of the gospel.

      2. The evangelist was led step by step through failure, humiliation and prayer to the place of beginning to await the Lord's time to preach repentance and remission of sins in His name.

      3. The day came and a multitude of expectant hearers were eager for the divine message, though they comprehended it not when the light flashed upon them.

      4. God had prepared the man for the occasion without any man to guide him and brought him to the preacher just at the right moment to step out and illustrate the pentecostal message.

      With this divine seal to his ministry, Scott waxed bold and pressed his invincible plea with almost resistless power. The whole community was aroused. All were amazed, some doubted, some opposed, while others, hearing, believed, gladly received the word and were baptized as in the primitive days. The divine method of conversion thus illustrated presented a striking contrast with popular usages. Modern practice led convicted sinners to look inward and to base hope of pardon on certain frames and feelings. The ancient order led the mind [37] outward to rest on Christ's promise through the obedience of faith. The return to the primitive gospel was a revolution in the basis of the soul's trust, from fitful feelings to Christ's faithful promise. A new day had arisen in the world's evangelization. The keys of the kingdom that opened the door of faith in the beginning are no less effective now in opening the way into the peace and joy of acceptance with God.

      Scott went rapidly forward into fields already white for the harvest. Great zeal and activity prevailed in the churches of the Mahoning Association and the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. What had been crooked was made straight and the plan of salvation was presented in a charming simplicity. When the practical application of this restored view of baptism was first made by Walter Scott nothing in the whole range of his labors aroused more opposition and called forth more ridicule than this putting baptism in its proper place in the gospel plan of salvation.

      All sects have the same teaching in their creeds, but do not practice it. The practice of their own teaching and the rejection of all substitutes for it was the sole ground of their opposition and they supposed it to be the sole item of what they regarded as the new heresy. Yet Charles G. Finney, president of Oberlin College, said about the same time, "The church has always felt it necessary to have something to bring the mind up to the point of action. In the days of the apostles baptism answered this purpose. The gospel was preached to the people and then all who were willing to be on the side of Christ were called on to be baptized. It held the precise place that the anxious seat does now as a public manifestation of this determination to be Christians."

      This being true, Scott was confessedly right in rejecting this modern substitute for a divine ordinance. With the believing acceptance in baptism of the sin-offering of Christ upon the altar of His own obedience unto death for its he invited penitent sinners to call upon the name of the Lord for the remission of sins in a perfect trust in Him as the Savior of the world.

      All aflame with zeal, he passed like a meteor throughout the Western Reserve. The country was filled with strange rumors of both his doings and his doctrines. Some of these reports came to A. Campbell. He began to fear that Scott had been betrayed into prejudicial indiscretions by his impulsive precipitance. Upon consultation with his father it was decided that Thomas Campbell should visit the Western Reserve and personally examine the progress of the new, though old, evangelism. He came, he saw, he was convinced and confessed in his letter to his son Alexander from New Lisbon, Ohio, April 9, 1828. He wrote as follows: "I perceive that theory and practice in religion as well as in other things are matters of distinct consideration. We have spoken and published many things correctly concerning the ancient gospel * * * for the benign purpose of its immediate relief and [38] complete salvation; but I must confess that, in respect of the direct exhibition and application of it for that blessed purpose. I am at present, for the first time, upon the ground where the thing has appeared to be practically exhibited to the proper purpose."

      This was the seal of the approval of the Campbells upon Scott's method and ministry and a confession by both father and son that Walter Scott was the first to make a practical exhibition of the gospel restored to its proper purpose "in its simplicity and perfect adaptation to the present state of mankind."

      The plea for restoration may be briefly stated in Scott's own words, embracing the following points:

      "1. It restored the creed of our religion to its proper place and eminence, offering a person not a doctrine or fact to the faith and love of men.
      "2. It introduced faith on evidence.
      "3. It secured repentance on motive.
      "4. It demanded obedience on authority.
      "5. It brought remission to all true seekers.
      "6. It promised the Holy Spirit to obedient believers.
      "7. It harmonized experience with duty.
      "8. It freed the gospel from pompous but human words.
      "9. It excluded human creeds and exalted the divine word the rule of life."

      Such was the great restoration, of which Walter Scott was the pre-eminent restorer and soul-winner. It was a God-wrought deliverance of men from false, delusive feelings and distressing doubts and uncertainties. It was the enthronement of Christ in the soul, the commendation of the Prince of Life to rational faith, the flash of heavenly light upon the way of salvation and the filling of the saved "with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit." It was a powerful accession of new moral forces to the church. It gave to this age the forceful evangelism that is marching on to the conquest of the world for the Christ. This humble but mighty servant of God was our greatest pioneer evangelist. He illustrated the highest ideal of this service. His themes were found in the memoirs of our Lord. He went back to Christ when preaching to sinners. He tells us that at one time he preached twice a week for twenty-two months from the gospel of Matthew alone. He said: "The writings of these evangelists form the groundwork of our faith in Christianity. They contain the immediate evidence of its divine origin; they are the pillars and gateway of the holy temple; they are the bulwarks of the new institution and citadel of the Christian religion." "If any mail would work faith in his audience, let him give his days and nights and WEEKS and YEARS to the study of the evangelists." Here is the secret of his success and thousands of converts attest the correctness of his view and method. He brought the heavenly Evangel--the life of Christ on earth--into the lives of his hearers as a regnant force in their lives. [39]

      He thus reared a monument to his memory whose base is the hearts of thousands whom he brought into the light of a Savior's love and millions who have been blessed by the restoration movement which he labored so earnestly to promote. Its summit pierces the cloud of glory which received our Lord from mortal sight. In the galaxy of the world's greatest reformers that shine as stars in the constellations of the new heavens he wears a crown of fadeless brightness, shining as the sun. Let all coming generations cherish his precious memory, proclaim the eternal principles which he rescued from the ecclesiastical rubbish of past ages and brought to the light for the coming centuries. While time endures let not his worthy name pass out of the grateful remembrance of the living who have entered into his abundant labors. [40]

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[CA 30-40]

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Centennial Addresses (1909)

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