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W. R. Warren, ed.
Centennial Convention Report (1910)


Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone and
Walter Scott

W. H. Pinkerton, Ghent, Ky.

Luna Park, Saturday Morning, October 16.

      We are not here to glory in men or the achievements of men, but to worship the God of our fathers, who raised up such men as Alexander Campbell, Barton Warren Stone and Walter Scott, wrought out in their lives his marvelous designs and spake, and still speaks, through them to the children of men.

      We are to consider Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone and Walter Scott as demonstrations of the power of God to raise up men; to unify them in his own Spirit; set at liberty their enslaved powers, and to proclaim through them the wonderful word of reconciliation and liberty.

      Alexander Campbell was a man of loftiness of human nature, whose head [378] was lifted into the heavens blue; sunlit with the clearness of perception, though like a mountain lifting high his head had, as the mountain, a broad and deep foundation in the wisdom of human thought and circumstance.

      Barton W. Stone was a man of large and sensitive intuitional nature, who felt rather than saw; made people feel rather than see; he led, possessed and controlled by the power of a loving heart and holy living, rather than by the domination of a gigantic intellectual conception and understanding.

      Walter Scott was a man utterly indifferent to the material interests of this world, craving only the gifts of God to mind and heart and spirit. No man has ever risen to such heights of eloquence, or uttered such burning, passionate words of appreciation as Walter Scott, when speaking before the multitudes concerning the spiritual gifts of God to men.

      Alexander Campbell had a rare conception of the majesty, power and authority of government. These impressions gave coloring to his philosophic conceptions of our holy religion, determining in his mind and teaching the scope of meaning to be given to those matchless words--mediation, intercession and atonement. They stand out boldly in all his utterances, touching the cause and effect of our Lord's advent, life, death, resurrection and glorification in the moral and spiritual universe.

      Barton W. Stone could see little else in all of God's dealings with men but influences from the Father's heart, which breaks on Calvary, wooing his disobedient, sinful children to home and holy living. To say that God loved us on condition that we should love him would destroy the very idea of the gospel. "We love him because he first loved us."

      Pre-eminence is given by Walter Scott to the Holy Scriptures as a revelation of God's will and purposes. His reverence for the Bible amounts to the adoration of worship, and the fact of revelation a most stupendous fact, second only to the incarnation and glorification of Jesus. Hear his apostrophe on the Bible: "O Book of God! Thou sacred temple! Thou holy place! Thou golden incense altar! Thou heavenly showbread! Thou cherubim-embroidered veil! Thou mercy-seat of beaten gold! Thou Shekinah in which the divinity is enshrined! Thou ark of the covenant! Thou new creation! Thou tree of life, whose sacred leaves heal the nations! Thou river of life whose waters cleanse and refreshen the world! Thou new Jerusalem, resplendent with gems and gold! Thou paradise of God, wherein walks the second Adam! Thou throne of God and the Lamb! Thou peace-promising bow, encircling that throne unsullied and unfallen! Image of God and his Son who sit thereon! What a
Photograph, page 379
futurity of dignity, kingly majesty and eternal glory is hidden in thee! Thou art my comfort in the house of my pilgrimage! Let the kings and counselors of the earth, and princes who have got gold and silver, build for themselves sepulchres in solitary places; but mine, oh, be it mine to die in the Lord! Then earth to earth, and dust to dust, but the great mausoleum, the word of God, be the shrine of my soul!"

      Alexander Campbell saw in the Bible the majestic system of God's government; Walter Scott, the marvelous progressive revelation of God's will and thought to men; and Barton W. Stone, the loving, patient, breaking heart of God.

      Yet these men, notwithstanding their range of scholarship and inequality of understanding, their variation in human nature, their differences in intellectual conceptions and theological utterances, were one in fellowship and one in spirit, because they were one in Christ Jesus our Lord. They were one in the truth, and were advocates of that unity in which they were having experience, and of which they were a living demonstration. To them Jesus Christ was the embodiment and expression, the power and personality of the truth; and they were one in him despite [379] all imperfections in human understanding, or variations in theoretic belief. They believed that partyism was worldliness in the church, division a sin against God and a crime against humanity.

      They received as acceptable fact the accredited authorship of "the sacred writings," and the historical part of the Bible was to them, not so much a divine domination in human visions of God, as his presence, power and guidance revealed through the narrations of eventful actions and experiences of men. Hence Mr. Campbell proclaimed starlight, moonlight and sunlight dispensations of God revealed in the history of the Bible. Their constant search was, not for dates and authors, but for the teachings of dawning truth, until in mid-day splendor it burst upon the earth in the person of the Son of God.

      We are not surprised, therefore, to hear Alexander Campbell declare: "The grandeur, sublimity and beauty of the foundation of hope, and of ecclesiastical or social union, established by the Author and Founder of Christianity, consists in this: That the belief of one fact, and upon the best evidence in the world, is all that is requisite, as far as faith goes, to salvation. The belief of this one fact, and submission to one institution, expressive of it, is all that is required of heaven to admission into the church. A Christian, not as defined by Dr. Johnson, nor any, creed-maker, but by one taught of heaven, is one who believes this one fact, and has submitted to one institution, and whose deportment accords with the morality and virtue taught by the great Prophet. The one fact is that Jesus the Nazarene is the Messiah. The one institution is baptism into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

      The truth, personality and spirit of Jesus being the dominating influence in their hearts, their thoughts, sympathies and aspirations were as boundless as the habitation of the stars; their utterances as spontaneous, as unrestrained and as varied as the blooming of the flowers; and yet their unity was as secure and harmonious as the system of planets controlled by the unifying energies of the sun.

      They were freed from the laws, forms and ceremonies of legalism, inspired or uninspired; freed from the rules, regulations and traditions of ecclesiastical origin and making; freed from scholastic dogma and precedent. To them the New Testament was not a book of law, or laws, but the revelation of God's Son. Salvation was not a legal process, but a fruitage in life, resultant from a spiritual personal influence; the ordinances and commandments thereof, upon the divine side, were the seekings of Christ for personal influence and control, and upon man's part were to be expressions of surrender and submission, affection and loyalty, adoration and worship of the person of the Christ. The law of the spirit of life in Christ, when operating in men, made them free from all forms of legalism--according to their thinking.

      The church of Jesus Christ was, to them, the grouping of obedient believers throughout the world about the person of the Christ, who alone had authority, and who gave to each and every disciple equality and liberty. To them, local organization was for the purposes of the edification of the believers of the community, the disciplining of their lives according to the teaching of Christ, the worship of God, and the utilizing of all means and energies, to the end that the community might be Christianized. State, national and world-wide organization was the concentration of all powers and energies to the great commission. They were members of Christ's church, not by virtue of organization, but by virtue of their personal relationship to Jesus, the Head of his whole body, and members with the saints everywhere who were in like manner related to the Christ. "What is the church?" asks A. Campbell in 1832. "The congregation of saints on earth and in heaven," is his answer to his own question.

      They saw all things in the glow of His personality who is the embodiment and expression of truth. Possibly no other man has ever lived who affords such an elaborate illustration of the possibility, value and glory of the liberty we have in the Christ as Alexander Campbell.

      They were ready to exclaim with the apostle, "If any man thinketh that he [380] knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." This rendered their minds sensitive to every suggestion of truth from whatever source it came. No wonder that in the teaching and preaching of these men New Testament seed thoughts yielded an abundant harvest in utterance; that old truths assumed new forms; that minimized expression flowered into manifold forms of truth and beauty as the wild rose has flowered into the many-petaled, gorgeous bloom of the American Beauty; that multitudes hung upon their words as a new revelation from God; that newness of life was quickened in the dead, decaying, dismembered body of Christ--the church--and that as a result to-day exalted manhood in every pulpit is seeking the same liberty and pleading for the same unity in the same embodiment and expression of truth. May these be as true to their message!


[CCR 378-381]

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W. R. Warren, ed.
Centennial Convention Report (1910)

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