Walter Scott The Beaver Anathema (1830)


C H R I S T I A N   B A P T I S T.


      Style no man on earth your Father; for he alone is your Father who is in heaven: and all ye are brethren. Assume not the title of Rabbi; for ye have only One Teacher; neither assume the title of Leader; for ye have only One Leader--The Messiah.

The Beaver Anathema.

      CONCERNING those four churches, said to belong to the Mahoning Association which are represented in the Beaver Minutes as having left their former connexion, because of "damnable heresy," I solicited information from brother Walter Scott, who has been the active agent of one of the most important revolutions and conversions in the present day, as far as has come to my ears. He favored me with the following hasty sketch which will threw some light upon the Beaver anathema.

ED. C. B.      

NEW LISBON, April 9th, 1830.      

      BROTHER CAMPBELL,--THE following are the particulars which I have learnt and know of the four churches.

      Youngstown Church.--About eight or nine years ago there was a revival within the bounds of the church; the acting minister was brother Woodsworth, a regular baptist. There was a great stir, and many were baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mr. West, I believe, then lived in Nelson; but some of the members conceiving a partiality for him, he was elected Minister of the Youngstown Church to the rejection and dismissal of brother Woodsworth, the successful laborer. Affairs began to put on a different aspect immediately--the church declined from that day--conversions stopped, and after the lapse of some years the meeting was embroiled in family quarrels--Mr. West himself being grossly implicated.

      When I called about two years ago, I found the church in a state of entire prostration. For four years they had not eaten the Lord's Supper; all was delinquency--a perfect web of wickedness, the like of which I never had seen. It was an involved labyrinth of personal and family quarrels.

      For about three weeks I strove to disentangle the sincere hearted, but in vain. Strife is like the lettings out of water--what is spilt is lost. When the threads and filaments of a quarrel have forced themselves like waves over the whole body ecclesiastic, that body should be dissolved.

      We accordingly looked upon this institution to be entirely lost, and began to preach the ancient gospel--the word of the Lord is a hammer and a fire. All hearts were immediately broken or burnt; and of that sinful people there have been immersed nearly one hundred and fifty individuals. These have become a church, and are walking in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, as I hope. The scriptures are their sole authority, and they have three bishops bold in the Lord Jesus, and five deacons.

      All those who could not, should not, or would not join the young converts, to the amount of about sixteen, styled themselves the Church of Youngstown, and went to the Beaver Association to aid in the framing of that enormous bull which has excommunicated our name from the list of the Baptist Associations in the United States. Be it observed, however, that nothing said here is to be construed evilly in regard to the sixteen members--I believe them to be misguided christians. They are eleven, or at most sixteen--the disciples we baptized are about one hundred and fifty.

      Palmyra Church. About a year after I had been in Youngstown, I went to Palmyra, in company with brother Hayden, a faithful laborer in Jesus Christ. Here too all was worse than decay--'twas ruin all. The Methodist class was a desolation strewed over the town--a race of backsliders. I talked with many of them, and their quondam class leader was the first person who was immersed--a man who had maintained his purity amid the general delinquency--he stood like Lot in Sodom. The Baptist meeting, like Sardis, engrossed a few names, and but a few who had not defiled themselves; but as at Youngstown, so here also, the church was filled with creeds, swellings, and personal and family quarrels.

      We forthwith read the gospel from the sacred page, and exhorted to obedience, whereupon many believing were baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We afterwards separated the young converts, and informed the old folks that so many of them as choosed to embrace the new institution, would be admitted with all pleasure; nearly all of them united, and the church now includes about one hundred names.

      They break bread every first day, have the scriptures for their sole authority, the settlement of their differences is attended to promptly, (Matt. xviii.) and not deferred till a monthly meeting--they have none--they are very lively, and have overseers and servants.

      But here again, as at Youngstown, fifteen, or at most twenty, although I suppose only eleven went off, betook themselves to their old ways of creeds, monthly meetings, &c.--called themselves Palmyra Church, of course, and joined the Beaver Association.

      Achor Church. This used to be a flourishing church. The causes of its decay are more easily conjectured than detailed. Mr. Winters used to visit it about two years ago, and aided in the ejectment of some of its best and liveliest members who have since been associated as a church in St. Clair township--since that occurred, Judge Brown, a pillar in the Achor Church, has deceased, and the remaining members have been laboring by means of divers ministers to resuscitate matters. I was told that Mr. West preached there last Lord's day, and baptized one convert. I visited the church about two years ago, but felt so much hurt by their indelicate behavior that I would not preach, and retired from their meeting house--since that I have heard but little about them.

      Salem Church. In one place where I was baptizing, just as I raised the baptized person up out of the water, I saw a great stick hanging or rather shaking over my head. On another occasion I was interrupted by a person with a sword cane--at one place they set loose my mare in the night, end at Noblestown in the midst of six Presbyterian congregations the sectarian population cut off all the hair from her tail; but in no place did I ever experience such deceitful treatment as at Salem. According to my appointment I visited this church soon after I began to ride. The brethren received me with seeming courtesy, and I began to speak. The ancient gospel had set straight in my mind things which were formerly crooked. I felt my soul enlarged; the Lord had opened my eyes, and filled my mouth with arguments. I was all transported with the gospel--its novelty, its power, its point, its glory. Accordingly I rushed upon the sinful people like an armed man--forty-one were immersed in ten days, and all seemed to rejoice with me in the victory; but we had to wait until monthly meeting before we could propose the young converts for admission. As this was two or three weeks in the future, those who were secretly or openly opposed to the proceedings had abundance of time to put into requisition all the [659] little arts which they supposed would be necessary to keep out so many of the young converts as they thought unconverted: so many of God's children as they thought had not been born aright the second time. The meeting came round and none of them were admitted, yet they were many of them their own children, and nearly all of them related either immediately or remotely with the members of the church.

      Creeds, confessions, and experiences, were sine qua nons with a few of the old folks, and particularly, with one woman, so that we separated without doing any thing but disgusting the new converts; but I had to leave the place for five weeks, there being revivals in New Lisbon, Warren, Braceville, and Windham, all at the same time. In my absence twenty-one of the converts were cajoled into the church; the rest have since been formed into a meeting three miles south of Salem, and are likely to do well. At my return to Salem I was requested to be absent for a little, until things became settled, and finally had word sent not to return. Thus a people who would have plucked out their own eyes, and given them to me, did all of a sudden turn round and separate me from their own relations and townsmen, whom under God, I had been the means of bringing back to the Lord, and to righteousness. I never spoke to all the converts again.


[CB 659-660]


      Walter Scott's "The Beaver Anathema" was first published in The Christian Baptist, Vol. VII, No. 12, July 5, 1830. The electronic version of the essay has been transcribed from the College Press (1983) reprint of The Christian Baptist, ed. Alexander Campbell (Cincinnati: D. S. Burnet, 1835), pp. 659-660.

      Pagination has been represented by placing the page number in brackets following the last complete word on the printed page. I have let stand variations and inconsistencies of the author's (or editor's) use of italics, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in the essay.

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik
373 Wilson Street
Derry, PA 15627-9770

Created 12 September 1997.

Walter Scott The Beaver Anathema (1830)

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