Amos S. Hayden
History of the Disciples...
(Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1875)
WESTERN RESERVE, OHIO;
Biographical Sketches of the Principal Agents in their
A. S. HAYDEN.
CHASE & HALL, PUBLISHERS.
[ ii ]
[ iii ]
THE beginning of the second quarter of the nineteenth century is memorable as the period when a new and powerful religious awakening began in North-eastern Ohio. The Western Reserve was the principal theater of this benign work. In recording the history of this revival, it will be necessary to trace the origin of the movement; to describe its character, its spirit, and its aims; to note the principal events which attended its origin and progress; and, in turn, to consider this remarkable outburst of Christian zeal and activity in its relation to the future, as the direct and potent cause of succeeding developments in the kingdom of Christ.
This movement was so unexpected, so rapid, so general, and accompanied by many incidents and events so peculiar, as to stamp the phenomenon with the clearest indications of a providential visitation of great mercy to the world. Many of its first advocates were plain, unpretending men, called unexpectedly to the front, and urged forward by the resistless impulses of the work itself. Some of these men exhibited fine oratorial powers. They have left their impress durably on a wide and growing society. Brief biographical sketches of the principal early actors in the scenes to pass before the reader can not fail to be interesting to him. They will also constitute an important part of the record of the times.
Great care has been bestowed on the accuracy of every statement, both of date and incident; a branch of duty
often laborious, requiring the collation of many documents, and the reconciliation of conflicting testimonies.
Many persons yet remaining of the generation herein chiefly described, will find in these pages events with which they are personally familiar. The young will discover in the same pages the planting and establishment of principles of religious reform which are now providentially committed to their trust, and which, in their faithful hands, are yet, we hope, to be developed into yet fairer symmetry and greater perfection of individual Christian character, and higher Church order and activity.
As far as possible the whole work has been brought within the following plan:
1. A sketch of the condition of religious society at the opening of the work.
2. A short account of the agencies by which it was accomplished.
3. A history of the work itself.
4. Biographical notices of the principal actors.
A. S. H.
[ v ]
13 WESTERN RESERVE HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
CHAPTER I.18 Preliminary agencies -- Debate between A. Campbell and John Walker -- Discussion with W. L. McCalla -- The Christian Baptist. -- Visit of Bentley and Rigdon -- The Mahoning Association: its constitution and its creed -- The Association in Canfield, 1826 -- Eminent preachers -- Notable sermon by A. Campbell -- Sketch of Elder Thomas Campbell -- Biography of A. Campbell
CHAPTER II.54 The Association in New Lisbon, 1827 -- Call for an evangelist -- Ministers of the Christian Connection -- Walter Scott chosen -- Biography of Scott -- Among the churches -- Quarterly meeting in Braceville -- Ministers consulting on momentous questions
CHAPTER III.72 The plea opened in New Lisbon: struggles and success -- The first convert -- Co-operating agencies -- John Secrest, Joseph Gaston -- Wm. Schooley -- Death of Gaston -- John Whitacre
CHAPTER IV.91 Origin of the Baptist Church in Warren -- Biography of A. Bentley -- The "Siege of Warren" -- J. G. Mitchell -- Stirring events -- Sketch of Cyrus Bosworth -- East Fairfield -- Quarterly Meeting -- Death of Mitchell -- The Church in Lordstown
vi C O N T E N T S.
CHAPTER V.116 The reformation in Salem -- Opposition on the alert -- A division -- Origin of the "Phillips" Church -- Rise of the Baptist Church in North-west Canfield -- The transition -- Anecdotes -- Myron Sacket -- Austintown -- The remnant of "Zoar" -- Notice of, by Scott -- Visit by Bentley; conversion of John Henry -- Great success -- A. Raines and the Universalists -- Formation of the church -- Sketch of Henry -- Origin of the church in Braceville and Newton Falls -- Ministers' meetings -- Biography of Marcus Bosworth -- Church on New Testament principles -- Life of Jacob Osborne
CHAPTER VI.142 Success of Scott in Windham -- The church founded -- Elder T. Campbell's visit to the Western Reserve -- Biographies of A. Raines and E. Williams, and history of their conversion -- A church planted in Freedom
CHAPTER VII.161 The Association in Warren, 1828 -- Great expectations -- Wisdom of Mr. Campbell in the introductory sermon -- Discussion on the reception of Raines -- Excitement -- Principles of union settled -- Scott's circular -- He is reappointed -- Wm. Hayden selected as his associate -- Biography of Hayden -- Expectation of the Millennium
CHAPTER VIII.191 The church in Mentor -- Of Baptist origin -- Great overturn under Bentley and Rigdon -- The first convert -- The work extends to Kirtland and Painesville -- Progresses into Waite Hill -- Biography of M. S. Clapp -- Sketch of Violl, Miller, Dexter Otis -- Alvin Waite -- R. Storm -- Church on the plains -- The cause established in the town of Willoughby
CHAPTER IX.209 The advent of Mormonism
C O N T E N T S. vii
CHAPTER X.223 The principles of reform in Chardon -- Origin of the Baptist Church -- Bible investigation -- Calvinistic theory of conversion -- Nathan Porter -- William Collins, biography of -- Church established on King Street -- Early preachers -- Moved to the "Square" -- Pastors -- Rise of the church in Munson -- Labors of Collins, Hartzel, and others -- Great success of Dr. Robison -- Notice of O. Gates -- J. G. Coleman, Allen Harper -- Firm home guards -- The cause established in Burton
CHAPTER XI.237 Origin of the churches in Mantua, Hiram, and Garrettsville -- J. Rudolph, Sr. -- Labors of Elder T. Campbell -- Symonds Rider -- Conflicts with Mormonism -- Ordination of D. Atwater and Z. Rudolph -- Sketch of the church in Mantua -- Obituary of Darwin Atwater -- Biography of Rider -- Sermon by President Hinsdale, with sketch of the church in Hiram -- Church in Garrettsville -- Successes -- Origin and establishment of the Eclectic Institute
CHAPTER XII.267 The Association in Sharon, 1829 -- Founding of the church by T. Campbell, Scott, and Bentley -- Four evangelists chosen: Scott, Hayden, Bentley, and Bosworth -- System of evangelizing -- Hubbard Baptist Church in transition -- Jesse Hall -- Sketch of John Applegate -- A living church -- Bezetta on Baptist principles -- The ground contested -- The reformation wins -- Labors of Elder T. Campbell -- Edward Scofield -- Yearly Meeting -- John T. Phillips -- The evangelic Smith: biography of him
CHAPTER XIII.295 Great meeting in Austintown, 1830 -- The Association dissolved -- Origin of the Yearly Meeting system -- North Bloomfield -- The union experiment -- Benj. Alton -- Church formed -- Reorganized -- Successes under Isaac Errett -- Ministers following -- Farmington: church formed by Alton -- Harvey Brockett, conversion and biography -- Other helps -- Church in Green -- W. Bartlett -- E. Wakefield
viii C O N T E N T S.
CHAPTER XIV.311 Primitive Christianity in Deerfield -- Investigations -- Light breaking in -- Sketch of E. B. Hubbard -- Experience of Jonas Hartzel -- The Disciples uniting on New Testament principles -- Visit of Bentley and Bosworth -- Scott arrives -- Great Sermon -- Captains Allerton and Rogers -- Allerton's labors -- Ground of stability -- Experiences of Rev. John Schaeffer -- He accepts the union principles and abandons Lutheranism
CHAPTER XV.332 Palmyra: spiritual declension -- Church formed by Scott and Hayden -- Shalersville -- Opening found -- Occupied by Hayden -- The Disciples called together -- Yearly Meetings -- Anecdotes -- Brockett's work -- C. C. Foot -- T. J. Newcomb -- Labors of A. B. Green and W. A. Belding -- Randolph -- Deacon Churchill -- Church raised up -- Great Yearly Meeting, 1832 -- Report of it by Hayden
CHAPTER XVI.346 The awakening in Perry -- Charge of heresy -- D. Parmly the victim -- Rigdon's zeal -- The Church built on the Rock -- A. Saunders -- R. Veits -- E. H. Webb -- Other helps -- Painesville -- Preparatory work -- Church organized by E. Williams and A. Saunders -- Wise builders -- Pastors -- A good record -- Pillars fallen
CHAPTER XVII.355 Middlebury and Akron -- The plea begun by Hubbard and Hayden -- Bosworth comes -- Opposition and debate -- M. L. Wilcox and Graham -- Vaughan's defection -- The work revived by two sisters -- Struggles -- "Millerism" -- The church re-established -- Great meeting by Henry -- Anecdote -- Laborers in the vineyard -- A new organization in Middlebury -- Mogadore -- Heralds of the glad tiding -- Church arises -- Opposition and method of silencing it -- Yearly Meetings -- Good example -- Wadsworth -- Elder O. Newcomb -- A. B. Green -- Hayden's visits -- Church springs up -- Great Meeting in Esquire Eyles' Barn -- Mr. Campbell's candor and success -- Advance movements -- Yearly Meeting, 1835 -- Anecdotes -- Opposition: how met -- A mother of preachers
C O N T E N T S. ix
CHAPTER XVIII.369 Prelude of the reformation in Ravenna -- Conversion of E. Williams -- Bosworth comes -- Hayden follows, and forms the church -- Helps -- Self-reliance of the members -- Infidelity abounding -- Arrival of Campbell -- Court adjourns to hear him -- Demonstrative Sermon -- Anecdotes -- F. Williams -- Chas. Judd -- The church established in the village -- Succession of pastors -- Obituary of S. McBride -- Aurora -- The ground pre-empted for Christ -- Bold Invasion -- Concurring helps of Bosworth, Bentley, and Henry -- The Converts collected -- A grove meeting -- Mr. Campbell's Eloquence -- Yearly Meeting in 1834 -- C. Forward -- Incidents -- House burned and rebuilt -- Preachers aiding -- Anecdotes -- The campaign begins in Stowe -- Opposition -- It stimulates the defense -- The work extending to Franklin and Hudson
CHAPTER XIX.387 Origin of the church in Bedford -- Gaining Strength -- First Yearly Meeting, 1839 -- Memorable sermon by A. Campbell -- Other great assemblies -- Henry and Jones -- Dr. J. P. Robison -- Correspondence -- Chas. F. Bartlett, obituary -- Preachers who arose in Bedford -- J. O. Beardslee -- Headquarters of the Board of Managers of the Ch. Missionary Society -- Succession of helpers -- The light dawning on Newburg -- E. Williams' success -- Church formed by Hayden -- Interesting conversions -- Grove meeting on Col. Wightman's farm, 1835 -- Exciting incidents -- Church reorganized by Hartzell -- Succeeding labors of J. D. Benedict and J. H. Jones -- A flourishing Sunday -- school -- Incidents of the Yearly Meeting of 1835 -- Anecdote
x C O N T E N T S.
CHAPTER XX.408 Euclid (Collamer) -- Door opened -- Luther Dille and Mrs. Clarissa Dille -- A. P. Jones -- Rigdon comes -- And Collins -- The happy deacon -- Church organized by Elder T. Campbell -- J. J. Moss -- W. O'Connor -- Immense Yearly Meeting, 1837 -- Coming of Henry -- The captains captured -- Centralizing in Collamer -- A. S. Hayden among them -- Subsequent history -- Cleveland -- How Hayden came, and who invited him -- The young preachers -- The old academy -- A. Campbell in the court -- house -- He silences the infidels -- The way opened for Henry -- His success, and formation of the church -- Other helpers -- Jones, Robison, Collins, Hayden -- Change of location -- Succession of pastors -- East Cleveland -- A Fourth-of-July meeting -- Dr. N. H. Finney a convert -- Chief supports -- New church edifice -- Success -- Pastors
CHAPTER XXI.424 Royalton -- John B. Stewart -- Edward Scofield -- Light from the " Christian Baptist " -- E. Leonard brings Wm. Hayden -- The "church" closed, and the blacksmith-shop opened -- Charter members -- Anecdotes -- Intense interest -- Co-operating agents -- Wm. Moody -- His experience and adoption of the principles of Christian union -- Raises up a church in Lafayette -- A pleasing conversion -- Continued prosperity of the church in Royalton -- The Gospel brought into Granger and Ghent -- Hayden, Wilcox, and P. Green -- Obituary of Wilcox -- The church in Pompey Street, Brunswick -- Sketch of J. W. Lanphear -- The church established at Hamilton Corners
CHAPTER XXII.438 Arrival of Bentley in the vicinity of Chagrin Falls -- The church arises -- First officers -- Hayden preaches on the hay-scales -- The church located in Chagrin Falls -- Opposition arising -- A debate -- Excitement and results -- Strength in the local members -- Lectures by Isaac Errett -- Infidelity defiant -- Discussion, Garfield and Denton -- Favorable result -- Yearly meetings -- Succession of overseers, deacons, and preachers -- The sainted dead -- A call from North Eaton -- The church planted by M. J. Streator -- Incidents -- L. Cooley -- Opposition -- Colony in Bloomingdale, Michigan -- Dedications -- Three great meetings -- The church in Youngstown -- Early agencies -- Discussions: Hartzel, Waldo, and Stedman -- Mr. Campbell's interview with Rev. Boardman -- Corrects public prejudice -- Lanphear, first pastor -- Great yearly meeting, 1843 -- Prof. Anthon's testimony, in correspondence with Dr. E. Parmly -- Succeeding helps -- Prosperity -- A new church edifice
C O N T E N T S. xi
CHAPTER XXIII.454 LESSONS OF OUR FORTY YEARS' EXPERIENCE. Position stated -- Its clearness and strength -- Purpose explained -- The Second Lesson stated, the due adjustment of the Evangelical and Pastoral work -- The Third Lesson, from planting too many small churches -- The cause of the weakness and decay of some -- Illustration from Episcopacy -- Our experience points to better methods -- The Fourth Lesson, the want of Records -- Extremes of some Reformers -- The Fifth Lesson, the importance of union of effort -- Character of the Yearly Meeting system -- Efforts for concert of action, and their failure -- Illustration from the Eclectic Institute -- The final Lesson, "Preach the Word"
CHAPTER XXIV.465 An abbreviated account of churches omitted, or recently organized -- Alliance -- Auburn -- Bazetta, West -- Birmingham -- Brookfield -- Bristol, North -- Camden -- Chester -- Denmark -- Edinburg -- Elyria -- Fairfield, North -- Fowler -- Footeville -- Geneva -- Hamden -- Huntsburg -- Hamilton's Corners -- Hartsgrove -- Hartford -- Hinkley -- Jackson, North -- Little Mountain -- Middlebury -- Montville -- Morgan -- Niles -- Norton -- Orange, North -- Orange, South -- Russell -- Solon -- Southington -- Thompson -- Trumbull, East -- Warrensville
[ xii ]
The following resolutions, moved by Pres't. B. A. Hinsdale, were passed unanimously by the Western Reserve Christian Preachers' Association, held in Ravenna, Portage Co., Nov. 7, 8, and 9, 1871. There were twenty-two preachers present:
WHEREAS, It is greatly to be desired that the chronicles of the Western Reserve churches should be written: and
WHEREAS, Bro. A. S. Hayden is preeminently the man to write them: therefore,
Resolved, That we affectionately request Bro. Hayden to undertake this work; and in case he consents, we urgently press upon him the desirability of its being undertaken as speedily, and prosecuted as rapidly, as his other engagements may permit.
Resolved, That we pledge to Bro. Hayden, who has for years been collecting material for such a work, our united cooperation and moral support in his undertaking.
A. B. GREEN, Pres't. of the Association.
H. J. WHITE, Sec.
[ 13 ]
AS we shall have frequent occasion to refer to the Western Reserve in the course of the following work, we give here a brief description and historic account of it. This notice is collected from several sources, and presented somewhat abridged.
This district of country, also called Connecticut Western Reserve, and New Connecticut, is situated in the north-east part of the State of Ohio. It is bounded on the north by Lake Erie, east by Pennsylvania, south by the 41st parallel of north latitude, and on the west by Sandusky and Seneca counties. It extends 120 miles from east to west, and averages about 50 from north to south. Its greatest breadth is at the east end, extending on the Pennsylvania line 68 miles. The area includes about 3,000,000 acres. It embraces the following counties, viz.: Ashtabula, Trumbull, north part of Mahoning, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Cuyahoga, Summit, Medina, Lorain, Erie, and Huron.
Connecticut became possessed of the land in question in the following manner: King Charles II. of England, pursuing the example of other sovereigns, granted to the colony of Connecticut, in 1662, a charter-right to all lands in the new world included within certain specified limits. But as the geographical
14 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESknowledge of Europeans concerning America was very limited and confused, patents for lands often interfered with each other, and many of them, by their express terms, extended to the Pacific Ocean, or mythical "South Sea," which the Pacific Ocean was thought to be. Among the rest, that for Connecticut embraced all lands contained between the 41st and 42d parallels of north latitude, and from Providence Plantations on the east to the Pacific Ocean west, with the exception of the colonies of New York and Pennsylvania; and, indeed, pretensions to these were not finally relinquished without considerable altercation. When the colonies, as the result of the Revolutionary War, became a united and independent nation, these interfering claims occasioned much collision between the Federal Government and several of the States; with no one more than Connecticut. Negotiations were pending for several years before a compromise was finally effected. In September, 1786, the State of Connecticut ceded to the United States her claim, both of soil and jurisdiction, to all her charter-lands lying west of the present western limits of the "Western Reserve." On the 30th of May, 1801, she also ceded her jurisdictional claims to all the territory called the "Western Reserve of Connecticut," when, in fulfillment of the compact then formed, the President conveyed, by patent, the fee of the soil to the Governor of the State of Connecticut, for the use of grantees and purchasers claiming under her. This tract, including the "Fire Lands," by a proclamation by Gov. St. Clair, September 22, 1800, was all erected into one county, and named Trumbull, in honor of two
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 15
successive governors of Connecticut. Of this mammoth county Warren was the seat of justice.
In May, 1795, the Legislature of Connecticut appointed a commission to issue proposals and make sale of the lands she had "reserved" in the Northwest Territory, afterward Ohio. This committee sold the lands to sundry citizens of that State and of other States. In September of that year the title was confirmed to the purchasers by deeds of conveyance. The purchasers proceeded to survey into townships, of five miles square, the whole of this tract lying east of the Cuyahoga, the Indians still asserting their claims to the portion of it lying west of that river. By a treaty with them at Fort Industry, near Sandusky, in 1805, their claim was finally extinguished in favor of the grantees of Connecticut.
The State of Connecticut sold out the lands to the contractors at 40 cents per acre, receiving for the sale one million two hundred thousand dollars. This money, permanently invested, constitutes her school fund. The State gave only a quit-claim deed transferring only such title as she possessed, and leaving all the Indian titles of the "Reserve" to be extinguished by the purchasers.
On the 4th of July, 1796, the first surveying party of the Western Reserve landed at the mouth of Conneaut Creek -- the Plymouth of the Western Reserve. Patriotic sons of revolutionary sires, and some, themselves, the participants in that immortal struggle, they prepared to give "to the day its due, and to patriotism its awards." With their tin cups dipping from the broad lake the crystal waters with
16 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES"A cabin was erected on the bank of Conneaut Creek, and in honor of the commissary of the expedition, was called 'Stowe Castle.' At this time the whole inhabitants west of the Genesee River and along the coasts of the lakes, were as follows: The garrison at Niagara, two families at Lewiston, one at Buffalo, one at Cleveland, and one at Sandusky. There were no other families east of Detroit, and with the exception of a few adventurers at the 'Salt Springs' of the Mahoning, the interior of New Connecticut was an unbroken wilderness.
"The work of surveying was commenced at once. One party went southward on the Pennsylvania line to find the 41st parallel, and began to survey; another, under Gen. Cleaveland, coasted along the lake to the mouth of the Cuyahoga, which they reached on the 22d of July, and there laid the foundation of the chief city of the Western Reserve. A large portion of the survey was made during that season, and the work was completed the following year."
The surveying party numbered fifty-two persons, among whom were two females and one child. As these individuals were the advance of after millions of population, their names become worthy of record, and are therefore given, viz.: Moses Cleaveland, agent of the company; Augustus Porter, principal surveyor; Seth Pease, astronomer and surveyor; Moses Warren, Amos Spafford, Milton Hawley,
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 17
Richard M. Stoddard, surveyors; Joshua Stowe, commissary; Theodore Shepard, physician; Joseph Tinker, principal boatman; Joseph McIntyre, George Proudfoot, Francis Gay, Samuel Forbes, Elijah Gunn, wife and child, Amos Sawten, Stephen Benton, Amos Barber, Samuel Hungerford, William B. Hall, Samuel Davenport, Asa Mason, Amzi Atwater, Michael Coffin, Elisha Ayres, Thomas Harris, Norman Wilcox, Timothy Dunham, George Goodwin, Shadrach Benham, Samuel Agnew, Warham Shepard, David Beard, John Bryant, Titus V. Munson, Joseph Landon, Job V. Stiles and wife, Charles Parker, Ezekiel Hawley, Nathaniel Doan, Luke Hanchet, James Hasket, James Hamilton, Olney F. Rice, John Locke, and four others whose names are not mentioned.
18 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES
Mahoning Association -- Creed and Constitution -- Memorable
Sermon by A. Campbell -- Biographies of Elder Thomas Campbell,
and of A. Campbell.
In the month of June, 1820, a discussion was held in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, between A. Campbell, founder and principal of the Buffalo Academy, Va., and Rev. John Walker, a minister of acknowledged ability among the Seceders. The discussion, taken down and published, was a marked event of the times. Mr. Campbell had already considerable reputation for scholarship and ability, and for his advocacy of the Christian religion as unfolded in the Bible, as distinguished from its embodiment in the creeds and denominationalism of the day. Some of the more cautious of the Baptist ministers, with whom he then had a standing, were startled by the boldness and novelty of some of his views, especially in respect to the nature and claims of the Law of Moses, as propounded in his famous sermon on that subject before the Redstone Association in 1816. A large majority,
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 19
however, listened to his views and reasonings with instructed approbation.
Among the more liberal in sentiment was Adamson Bentley, pastor of the Baptist church in Warren, Ohio. He had read the debate with Walker. Forming a high estimate of Mr. Campbell's powers, and rightly judging that God had raised him up for a great work, he resolved at the earliest opportunity to make his personal acquaintance.
A providential opportunity soon came for him to fulfill his purpose. Called into Kentucky on a mission for the churches, he returned by Mr. Campbell's residence. Sidney Rigdon was with him. The following is Mr. Campbell's account of their interview:
"After tea in the evening, we commenced and prolonged our discourse till the next morning. Beginning with the baptism that John preached, we went back to Adam, and forward to the judgment. The dispensations or covenants -- Adamic, Abrahamic, Jewish and Christian -- passed and repassed before us. Mount Sinai in Arabia, Mount Zion, Mount Calvary, Mount Tabor, the Red Sea and the Jordan, the Passovers and the Pentecosts, the Law and the Gospel -- but especially the ancient order of things and the modern -- occasionally commanded and engaged our attention.
"On parting the next day, Sidney Rigdon, with all apparent candor, said, if he had within the last year taught and promulgated from the pulpit one error he had a thousand. At that time he was the great orator of the Mahoning Association -- though in authority with the people second always to Adamson Bentley. I found it expedient to caution them not to begin to pull down any thing they had builded, until they had reviewed, again and again, what they had heard; nor even then rashly and without
20 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESmuch consideration. Fearing that they might undo their influence with the people, I felt constrained to restrain, rather than urge them forward in the work of reformation.
"With many an invitation to visit the Western Reserve, and with many an assurance of a full and candid hearing on the part of the uncommitted community, and an immediate access to the ears of the Baptist churches within the sphere of their influence, we took the parting hand. They went on their way rejoicing, and in the course of a single year prepared the whole association to hear us with earnestness and candor."
Investigations of Bible truth led to liberality of views among the people, and especially in the Baptist churches. The Mahoning Association was founded on the Philadelphia Confession of Faith as its organic law. But this system of doctrine did not receive the cordial consent of all. Discussions were common among the ministry and the members on the law as a rule of life for Christians -- whether it was ever binding on Gentiles -- the nature of faith -- and the necessity for any other rules of faith or church articles besides the Holy Scriptures. As the light came apace, many became convinced that much reformation was needed to bring the churches up to the New Testament models.
It is probably illogical to refer this movement toward reform, so wide and so active, to any one leading impulse. As in all similar general movements which have become permanent, it is probably more correct to assign the result to several concurrent causes. The peculiar character of the population of the Western Reserve, mostly from New England, with a liberal intermingling of people from
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 21
other States, resulting in comparisons, often in collisions of views, was a powerful stimulus to investigation. Yet history would not be faithful to omit, as among the most direct evident causes and guides in this increasing demand for a restoration of the divinely established order of the Gospel, the writings and personal labors of Alexander Campbell. His debate with Rev. John Walker, published in 1821, and that with Rev. W. L. McCalla, which appeared in 1824, distinguished by freedom from conventional forms of belief, and by their boldness and clearness of exposition of Scripture, served in some sort as a warrant to others equally inclined but less bold to burst the denominational shell in which they felt themselves confined.
Added to these the "Christian Baptist," to which the preface was written the 4th of July, 1823, went forth monthly to advocate definitely and distinctively the restoration of the apostolic teaching and practice in all things; in faith, conversion, baptism, the office of the Holy Spirit, church order, and, summarily, every thing authorized by Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of the Christian religion.
Many were prepared to welcome the "Christian Baptist" when it first appeared. In the winter of 1822-3, Elder Bentley discoursed frequently on such themes as "The Law," "The Scriptures a Sufficient Guide," etc. Jacob Osborne, though young, was active and influential in promoting this search of the word for "things new and old." Sidney Rigdon added the persuasions of a very commanding and popular eloquence. Joseph Freeman, a promising young Baptist minister, who had spent some time in
22 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESMr. Campbell's seminary, made a tour of preaching in the winter of 1823-4, helping forward the tide now setting in toward Jerusalem. His worthy father also, the pious Elder Rufus Freeman, though never fully committed to follow the Apostles whithersoever they go, yet took the liberal side in frequent discourses: Nor should the name of Edward Scofield be omitted as one of the same class. Besides these, many of less public note, as Deacon Rudolph, of Garrettsville; Jesse Hall, of Hubbard; Benjamin Ross, of Youngstown; David Hays and William Dean, of Canfield, with many others whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life, were hoping and laboring for a better day.
This was especially true of the younger class of preachers, whose intellectual and religious activities were more ready for the coming investigations; such men as Marcus Bosworth, William Hayden, Darwin Atwater, Zeb Rudolph, John Applegate, Nathan Porter, and William Collins.
The disallegiance to creeds and confessions, and confidence in the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, gained steady advancement. The Baptist church of Nelson, organized in 1808, by Elder Thos. G. Jones, was composed of members scattered over the territory of Nelson, Hiram, and a part of Mantua. So thoroughly satisfied had many of its members become of the detriment of the Confession of Faith to mature Christian manhood, that at a meeting of this church, held August 24, 1824, a resolution was passed, nearly unanimously, "to remove the Philadelphia Confession of Faith and the Church Articles, and to take the Word of God for our Rule of
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 23
Faith and Practice." The two classes of views on the step thus taken were on the alert to maintain their ground. The brethren leading on this reform were Deacon John Rudolph, his two sons John and Zeb, and Darwin Atwater. The opposition was led by Mrs. Garrett, whose skill in fencing, shrewdness, and determination, united with piety and talent, put her forward without an effort of hers, as the counselor and manager of the cause of the dissidents. She was a lady of culture and intelligence, well skilled in the "doctrines of grace" and the methods of their defense. She was a daughter of Rev. Dr. Jones, a Baptist minister, who held a chaplaincy under General Washington in the Revolutionary War. She lived to a great age. She was a prodigy of memory, displaying to the last the most accurate retention of names, dates, and events.
The meeting of the association came close after this action of the church in Nelson. The church appointed Elder Rufus Freeman, its pastor; James Rudolph and Darwin Atwater as her messengers to that body. As no counteraction could be taken by the opposing members with any show of authority, Mrs. Garrett wrote a letter warning the association not to receive these messengers. No notice was taken of her letter, and the messengers were received. The next year, 1825, the association convened in Palmyra. Both parts of the church sent messengers, and all were received. For the reforming brethren they were: Jacob Osborne, ordained minister, John Rudolph and John Rudolph, Jr. In behalf of those holding the "Articles," Joshua Maxon, Martin Manly, and Joseph Tinker.
24 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESIt will be readily seen in these movements of the churches, the origin of the queries which were sent to the association at Hubbard. They were received, entered on record, but held under advisement a whole year. In the minutes of its meeting in Palmyra, 1825, the answers are given. The questions and answers are put together here. This was Mr. Campbell's first appearance in the Mahoning Association:
"Answers to the queries from the church at Nelson.
"Query 1. Will this association hold in its connection a church which acknowledges no other rule of faith and practice than the Scriptures?
"Ans. Yes. On satisfactory evidence that they walk according to this rule.
"Query 2. In what manner were members received into the churches that were set in order by the Apostles?
"Ans. Those who believed and were baptized were added to the church.
"Query 3. How were members excluded from those churches?
"Ans. By a vote of the brethren.
"Answer to the query from New Lisbon.
"Query. Is it scriptural to license a brother to administer the word, and not the ordinances?
"Ans. We have no such custom taught in the scriptures.
"Answer to the query from Randolph, viz.:
Can associations in their present modifications find their model in the New Testament?
"Ans. Not exactly."
The tendency of religious inquiry is here clearly exhibited. The source also of some of the answers
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 25
is discernible. The answer to the last one at least is authoritatively attributed to Mr. Campbell. The wisdom of it, admitting the need of a scriptural reformation, yet carefully avoiding direct collision with the tenacious elders, was commented on at the time as evidence of his prudence in counsel.
THE MAHONING ASSOCIATION,
The Mahoning Association was formed on Wednesday, the 30th of August, 1820. There is something curious, if not significant, in the fact that in those days the associations took their names from rivers: Thus we had the Beaver Association, the Grand River Association; one bears the name of Huron, another is called Stillwater; and the Mahoning River is equally honored.
Another circumstance: Baptist churches were in the habit of assuming names having a sentimental or historical import. Thus the church of Warren was called "Concord;" that in Nelson "Bethesda" -- probably in allusion to John v: 2, and the
26 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLEShealing of the helpless by the compassionate Redeemer. The church in Youngstown took the name "Zoar," significantly reminding its members that when the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, Lot found safety by fleeing from destruction, and entering into Zoar. Gen. xix: 23, 24. A church on the Sandy was known as the "Valley of Achor," teaching us that admission into it was entrance into a "door of hope." Hosea ii: 15. The church in Hubbard was "Mount Hope." "Bethel" is met with in several associations.
These and others are found on the records of their history. It is important to know them, not only as showing a habit of that people, but as explanatory of some things in the history.
The constitution of the "Mahoning Baptist Association" declares:
"It is our object to glorify God. This we would endeavor to do by urging the importance of the doctrine and precepts of the gospel in their moral and evangelical nature, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God; not pretending to have authority over any man's [conscience,] nor over the churches, whose representatives form this association. But we act as an advisory counsel only, disclaiming all superiority, jurisdiction, coercive right and infallibility; and acknowledging the independence of every church; which has received authority from Christ to perform all duties enjoined respecting the government of his church in this world."
If ecclesiastical authority was vested in the association, it will be seen that it existed in a very mild form. It was not constituted as a court of appeal.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 27
It assumed no judicial nor executive powers over the churches. It existed as an "advisory council" merely, and for the custodial charge of "the doctrine" and "the precepts" of the gospel. What the association meant by "the doctrine" and "the precepts" of the gospel will be apparent a little further on when we give its "creed," for the conservation of which the framers of its constitution deemed it important to compact the churches into this union. It is safe to say that of all the forms of modern ecclesiasticism, the association was the least liable to complaint, as it contained the greatest liberty with the least "coercive" restraint upon the conscience. It is to be lamented that all bodies are liable to transcend their constitutional limits, and in some States the association has been made an engine of usurpation and tyranny, of which the "Star Chamber" in its healthiest day might have been emulous. The "Beaver Anathema," the "Appomattox and Dover Decrees" of Pennsylvania and of Virginia, are ample confirmations of the truth of this statement, as also the tortuous and vindictive policy of the Redstone Association. But those outbursts of clerical intolerance were spasmodic and unauthorized, resulting in far greater damage to the actors in those scenes of persecution, than to the disciples against whom their fulminations of power were directed.
The creed of the association is thus set forth in its constitution:
"The doctrine of this association is as follows:
"1. Three persons in the Godhead--the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. 1 John v: 7.
28 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES"2. Eternal and personal election to holiness, and the adoption of children by Jesus Christ the Redeemer. Eph. i: 4, 5.
"3. The condemnation of all mankind in consequence of Adam's transgression. Rom. v: 16, 18.
"4. The depravity of all mankind, in all the faculties of the soul, the understanding, will, and affections. Col. 1:18; Acts xxvi: 18; Eph. iv. 18, 23; John v: 40; Rom. viii. 7.
"5. Particular redemption by the blood of Jesus Christ. Rom. v: 9; Isa. xxxv. 10; John vi: 37, 39.
"6. Pardon of all sin through the merits of Christ's blood to all true believers. 1 John i: 7; Col. i: 14; Acts x: 43.
"7. Free justification by the righteousness of Christ imputed to all true believers. Jer. xxxiii: 6; 1 Cor. 1: 30; Rom. ix: 5, 18, 19.
"8. The irresistible power of the Holy Ghost in regeneration. Eph. ii: 1; John i: 13.
"9. The perseverance of the saints in grace, by the power of God unto eternal life. John x: 27, 28, 29; Col. iii: 3, 9; John x: 29.
"10. Water baptism, by immersion of the whole body of the party, so as to be buried with Christ by baptism; and not by sprinkling or pouring, as the manner of some is. Mark i: 9, 10; John iii: 23; Acts viii: 38, 39; Rom. vi: 4; Col. ii: 12; Heb. x: 22.
"11. The subjects of baptism: those who repent of their sins and believe in Christ, and openly confess faith in the Son of God. Matt. iii: 8; Acts viii: 37; x: 47.
"12. The everlasting punishment of the finally impenitent in as unlimited sense as the happiness of the righteous. Matt. xxv: 41-46; Mark iii: 29; Rev. xiv: 11.
"13. We believe that the first day of the week is the
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 29
Lord's day, and that it ought to be held sacred to the memory of Christ's glorious resurrection, and devoted in a special manner to the duties of religion.
"Finally, we believe the Holy Scriptures to be the only certain rule of faith and practice."
The Mahoning Association was formed from the Beaver, and in this statement of its faith it copied, without change, that of the Beaver Association.
It is remarkable that while the association declared fully its creed in its constitution, each church was at liberty to form its own creed, only provided its declaration of doctrine agreed in sentiment with that of the association. It seemed to be much trouble to "fix" this business. A creed mania prevailed, and the churches vied with each other in fencing out heresy, and fencing in their orthodoxy with walls broad and high, built of the "soundest" material of Christendom. Their Calvinism was the diamond of "purest ray serene." They sought to eliminate all gaseous and volatile elements from the mixture. They aimed to form a compound of belief so pure, doctrinally, and so translucent, that it should resist the action of the elements and never more be subject to corrosion or decay.
Alas! for all human hope! Revolution stops not to unbuild. It often sweeps the foundation of many a massive structure, and with it its admired turret, cope, and dome. When it became apparent that these belabored theories of divine grace and of human regeneration were not the gospel delivered over to the Holy Twelve, it mattered little how sound, or firm, or beautiful. They were in the way. They were "stumbling blocks" in the way of the
30 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESunion of the Lord's people. Remove them, saith the prophet. Isa. lvii: 14.
As a specimen of the orthodox belief which could pass the gate unchallenged, I append two articles of the creed of one of the strong churches of the association. It is the articles of belief of the Church of Youngstown, called "Zoar." This creed was copied by several other churches, evidently because the tone of its ring showed it to be pure metal. The whole creed of this church is elaborated in thirteen articles of great length and precision:
"8. We believe that the work of regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and belief is not an act of man's free will and power, but of the mighty, efficacious, and irresistible grace of God.
"9. We believe that all those who are chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and sanctified by the Spirit, shall certainly and finally persevere; so that not one of them shall ever perish, but shall have everlasting life."
Does the reader weary under its length and ponderous terms? What think you, then, of the patience of the saints of those days, who, four times a year, sat uncovered and reverent to hear it all; nay, whose pity is not awakened for the new converts, the lambs, who must hear it over, and profess belief in each and every item of it! When Philip said to the eunuch "If thou believest with all thy heart thou mayest" -- as he had never seen and mastered this confession, nor any other of modern orthodoxy -- it is certain he simply called for the convert's faith in Jesus Christ as alone sufficient for obedience and all the demands of a new life.
It is cheering to know that ever since the great
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 31
Saxon sounded the note of liberty of conscience, every new body is more and more liberal, approaching gradually to the primitive order of the gospel of Christ. The Mahoning Association was no exception. It was far more tolerant than its ecclesiastical ancestors, the Redstone and the Wooster Associations. As proof, in 1824, she admitted the church of Wellsburg, Virginia, with a statement of belief containing not one hint of the "doctrines of grace," commonly known as Calvinism! In that year the church of Wellsburg was formed, the members having been dismissed for that purpose from the church of Brush Run, and it sought admission into the Mahoning Association. It appointed A. Campbell, John Brown, and George Young its messengers to carry the church letter and to ask admission.
The statement of belief which these messengers bore to the association, was written by Mr. Campbell, who himself did not attend its meeting, wishing to be present at the Redstone Association, where a coalition was forming against him on account of his published views of reformation.
The statement of belief here follows, copied from the records of the association, which met that year in Hubbard:
"A BELIEF OF THE WELLSBURG CHURCH."We have agreed to walk together in obedience to the authority and institution of our Lord and King, as exposed in the form of sound words delivered unto us by the apostles, evangelists, and prophets of the Savior, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures of the volume called the New Testament. Our views of this volume are briefly
32 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESthese: -- We believe that the whole Christian religion is fully and explicitly developed in it, and that nothing is ever to be added thereto, either by any new revelations of the Spirit, or by any doctrines or commandments of men; but that it is, as presented to us, perfectly adapted to all the wise and holy ends of its all-wise and benevolent Author.
"From this volume, with the Old Testament Scripture, which we also receive as of divine inspiration and authority, we learn every thing necessary to be known of God, his works of creation, providence and redemption; and considering the Old Testament as containing the Jew's religion as fully as the New contains the Christian, we avail ourselves of both as containing every thing profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness, to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work. But we adhere to the New, as containing the whole Christian religion. The New teaches us -- and we solemnly declare our belief of it -- that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, the Savior, which was to come into the world; that died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high; that after his ascension he sent down the Holy Spirit to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, by giving testimony of the Savior, and by confirming the word of the apostles by signs, and miracles, and spiritual gifts; that every one that believeth by means of the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and the power of God, is born of God, and overcometh the world, and hath eternal life abiding in him; that such persons; so born of the Spirit, are to receive the washing of water as well as the renewal of the Holy Spirit in order to admission into the Church of the living God.
"And that such being the natural darkness and enmity
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 33
of the children of men, and their hearts so alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them and by their wicked works, none can enter into this kingdom of heaven but in consequence of the regeneration or renewal of the Holy Spirit. For it is now, as it ever was, that only to as many as received Him, who are born not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, but of God, does He give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name. For we are born again not of corruptible seed, but by the incorruptible seed of the word of God, which abideth forever.
"Our views of the Church of God are also derived from the same source, and from it we are taught that it is a society of those who have believed the record that God gave of His Son: that this record is their bond of union; that after a public profession of this faith, and immersion into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they are to be received and acknowledged as brethren for whom Christ died. That such a society has a right to appoint its own bishops and deacons, and to do all and every thing belonging to a church of Christ, independent of any authority under heaven."
This document is especially noticeable for --
Its manly independence;
Its freedom from technicality and creed verbiage;
Its comprehension of the whole matter of faith and obedience to Christ;
Its marked exaltation of the Holy Scriptures;
Its assertion of their absolute sufficiency for all Christian purposes;
Its discrimination between the Jewish and Christian portions of the Bible;
Its declaration of the necessity of personal regeneration;
34 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESIts recognition of the Holy Spirit as the agent of that change;
Its affirmation of the power of the gospel as the means of faith and conversion;
Its repudiation of all human authority over the churches;
Finally, that it contains the germs of the religious reformation about being initiated, and which has since spread so wonderfully in the world.
In August, 1826, the Mahoning Baptist Association was held in Canfield, then in Trumbull County. It convened in a barn belonging to David Hays, who was a pillar in the church. Adamson Bentley was the moderator, and Joab Gaskill, clerk.
Among the ministers in attendance were A. Bentley; Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell, of Virginia; Walter Scott, of Pittsburgh; Sidney Rigdon, Thomas Miller, William West, Corbly Martini, and Jacob Osborne.
It was customary in the association to have preaching for the public while the messengers were transacting business. A. Campbell preached on Saturday. Disapproving of all priestly style, either in language, mien, or garb, he was dressed in a plain suit of drab. He stood up as a man--a Christian man--rather than as a "minister," to teach the Christian religion as he read it in the Scriptures. His manner impressed even youth with his superiority. He was somewhat emaciated, suffering from dyspepsia. His subject was the 7th chapter of Romans: a deep subject, but his exhibition of it was so lucid and instructive that he riveted attention to the close.
The meeting, Saturday, ended with a baptism.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 35
The congregation retired over a lawn of velvet and green to a stream near by, flowing among rocks, and skirted by a grove. They proceeded to the water singing, and returned in the same manner.
The Congregational meeting-house, at the center of the town, was procured for Sunday. At a very early hour it was filled, and many around it endeavored to hear. Rigdon and Scott preached in the morning. Some having heard the eloquent preacher from Pittsburgh, left the meeting, supposing they had heard Mr. Campbell, whose name had already become famous. Mr. Campbell followed after a brief recess. He founded his discourse on Malachi iv: 2: "Unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." He announced his theme, "The Progress of revealed Light." His discourse abounded in thoughts so fresh, he made his theme so luminous and instructive, that the most rapt attention followed him throughout the delivery.
Seizing on the evident analogy between light and knowledge, and using the former, as the Scripture every-where does, as a metaphor for the latter, the eloquent preacher exhibited the gradual and progressive unfolding of divine revelation under four successive periods of development, which he characterized as, 1st, The Starlight Age; 2d, The Moonlight Age; 3d, The Twilight Age; 4th, The Sunlight Age; and employed these respectively to explain, 1st, The Patriarchal; 2d, The Jewish Dispensation; 3d, The ministry of John the Baptist, with the personal ministry of the Lord on the earth; and, 4th, The full glory of the perfect system of salvation
36 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESunder the apostles when the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, after the ascension and coronation of Jesus as Lord of all. Under his remarks, and applications of his theme, the whole Bible became luminous with a light it never before seemed to possess. The scope of the whole book appeared clear and intelligible; its parts were so shown to be in harmony with each other, and with the whole, that the exhibition of the subject seemed little else to many than a new revelation, like a "second sun risen on mid-noon," shedding a flood of light on a book hitherto looked upon as dark and mysterious. The style of the preacher was plain, common sense, manly. His argumentation was sweeping, powerful, and convincing; and above all, and better, his manner of preaching formed so pleasing and instructive a contrast with the customary style of taking a text merely, or of sermonizing, in which mystery prevailed and the "darkness" became "visible," that the assembly listened to the last of a long address scarcely conscious of the lapse of time. At the conclusion of the sermon, after dwelling with earnest and thrilling eloquence on the glory of the gospel dispensation, the consummation of all the revelations of God, the Sun of righteousness "now risen with healing in his wings," putting an end to the moonlight and starlight ages, he proceeded:
"The day of light, so illustrious in its beginning, became cloudy. The Papacy arose and darkened the heavens for a long period, obscuring the brightness of the risen glory of the Sun of righteousness so that men groped in darkness. By the reformation of the 17th century that dark cloud was broken in fragments; and though the
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 37
heavens of gospel light are still obscured by many clouds -- the sects of various names -- the promise is that 'at evening-time it shall be light.' The primitive gospel, in its effulgence and power, is yet to shine out in its original splendor to regenerate the world."
That discourse was never forgotten. It never will be. It formed an era in respect to the gospel on the Western Reserve. The shell of sect-sermons was broken. The Bible was a new book; its meaning could be comprehended; its language could be understood.
Early in August, 1823, was issued from Buffalo Creek, Va., (now Bethany), the first number of the "Christian Baptist." It was edited by Alex. Campbell. It was a monthly, devoted to the promulgation, exposition and defense of the Christian religion as it is expressly revealed in the New Testament. Its bold exposition of prevailing errors, and uncompromising defense of the "faith once delivered to the saints," will be at once perceived by the Scripture motto which stood at the head of every monthly number for the whole seven years it continued to be published:
"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:" instructions of the Lord Messiah, in Matth. xxiii: 8, 9.
The sentiments and positions of the "Christian Baptist" were so fresh, so free from the shackles of doctrinal form peculiar to any sect, so rational, manifestly so scriptural, and enforced by abilities so varied, and commanding, that the work increased its
38 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLEScirculation every year. It paid no deference to reigning customs. Following its motto, it owned no master, no leader, but Christ. Its editor was unsparing in his denunciations of the clergy, who, as he averred, had usurped the thrones of the Holy Twelve. The exclusive right of the inspired apostles to the twelve thrones, of Christendom, was asserted and vindicated with great power. It was the peculiar feature of the "Christian Baptist" that it put forth no doctrinal basis on which to unite the disciples of Christ, except what the apostles proclaimed at the beginning.
The boldness of its bugle-blast of reform startled the slumbering camps of the half-sleeping Israel. Gideon's cake, which smote the tent and laid it all along in ruins, was not more significant nor decisive in its portent of the issues of the coming contest.
Mr. Campbell's visits to the Western Reserve, not only at the annual gatherings of the associations, but at the ministers' meetings also, gave great impulse to the views of reform propounded in his periodical, and thus prepared the way for a mighty breaking up in things ecclesiastic, and the revolution soon to follow. These ministers' meetings among the Baptist preachers were much the same as the preachers' associations more recently established among the Disciples. It seems, from best obtainable information, that Elder Adamson Bentley was chiefly instrumental in establishing them. Being himself a gentleman of culture, possessed of more than the average education and reading existing among the Baptist clergymen of that day -- having, with other advantages, had the benefits of association with the celebrated Dr. Stoughton of Philadelphia -- he felt the need of
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 39
elevating the standard of ministerial qualification among his Baptist brethren. He accordingly encouraged them to meet statedly for mutual improvement.
In June, 1821, the ministers' meeting was held in Warren. Mr. Campbell attended, and this was probably his first visit to the Western Reserve. His reputation had preceded him. William Hayden and many others came to the meeting, desiring to hear him and make his acquaintance.
When Hayden entered the house, Mr. Campbell was speaking. He had never seen him, but was familiar with his name and his history. "Who is that?" he said to himself -- "so tall and straight, with such piercing eyes! What a shrill, penetrating voice! That must be Campbell." So he thought and so it was. He was far in advance of the preachers present in learning, ability, and acquaintance with the Christian institution, yet he declined asserting any superiority among them, leaving them the fullest liberty of discourse and investigation.
Some one propounded the question "Whether the apostolic preaching and mode of establishing churches is an example binding on us?" "Certainly," responded Mr. Campbell in his turn, "in all cases possible." The subject of election, a doctrine held by all the Baptist ministry, came up for remark, as one of the sermons was under review. Mr. Campbell affirmed "that preaching the doctrine of election never converted a single sinner to God." "Astonishing!" retorted Elder Freeman, "Astonishing!" "Where, are they?" inquired Mr. Campbell. Mr. Freeman replied, "all around you!" "I very much
40 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESdoubt it," responded Mr. Campbell; adding, "you have preached election, foreordination, effectual calling and perseverance; and along with it you have held up the love of God to lost sinners, the death of Christ for their salvation, his resurrection for their justification, the final judgment and eternal glory: sinners were converted, and you have attributed it to the Calvinistic 'doctrines of grace.'"
The right interpretation of the Scriptures; that they were to be understood; that the same rules of interpretation were to be applied to them, as to other writings; that no new rules were to be coined for their benefit; that they were not to be applied to the building up of any sect; that the word of God, rightly interpreted and applied, would put an end to religious controversy, and restore the primitive union of the church; these, and kindred themes, as novel to many as they were convincing, came up in statement and illustration.
It is necessary in opening this history to present a short biography of some of the men through whose instrumentality God led his people into a clearer knowledge of his "ancient paths." They were men of no mean abilities, and descended from a race not unknown in history. The Campbell clan of Scotland and the North of Ireland was once the most numerous and among the most powerful of the races which in feudal times disputed for the mastery of Scotland. Inheriting the high, ambitious, and cherished traditional honors of such an ancestry, when the heroic Knox rescued that mountain land from the grasp of Romanism, and established there the Genevan reformation, they enlisted in the defense of
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 41
Presbyterianism with all the enthusiasm which, in former times, distinguished the tournament and the profession of arms; and even when that form of religion was shattered by the shock of religious strife, and riven into fragmentary sects, the world witnessed, on another theater, a display of the characteristic qualities of this race of noble men:
BIOGRAPHY OF T. CAMPBELLTHOMAS CAMPBELL, * father of Alexander Campbell, descended from the Campbells of Argyleshire. He was born in County Down, near Newry, Ireland, February 1, 1763. He was the oldest of four sons. His father, Archibald Campbell, who served as a soldier in the British Army under General Wolfe, and who was at the capture of Quebec, gave him and his three brothers, James, Archibald, and Enos, the advantages of culture and an English education in a military academy.
Thomas Campbell began in early life to exhibit the serious and meditative dispositions of heart which in all his life were so manifest to all who knew him. The rigid formalities of the Episcopal Church, of which his father was a strict member, failed to satisfy the deeply religious feelings, which were early awakened in him. He fled to the gospels. He found more congenial, spiritual aliment among the warm-hearted and zealous Seceders. Among this people -- a branch of the Presbyterian Church, a secession from the Kirk of Scotland -- he became deeply anxious for his soul's salvation. He passed through mental struggles of indescribable anguish. The coveted peace at length dawned on his soul, and in the raptures of gratitude
* For the materials of this sketch of this excellent man, I am chiefly indebted to Prof. Richardson's learned and admirable work, "Memoirs of A. Campbell;" to which the reader is referred forfuller information
42 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESfor so great a deliverance, he resolved to consecrate himself to the public service of the blessed Redeemer, to whom his soul now clung with the ardors of a most devoted love. He was soon rapidly on the road to the ministry. Being an excellent English scholar, he engaged for awhile in teaching. In the University of Glasgow he completed the usual classical studies, and also a course in medicine and lectures in law. He next completed the theological course in Divinity Hall, under Archibald Bruce, D.D., a master of profound abilities, and was commissioned, under the rigid and thorough examinations of the Scotch Seceder Church, with the full credentials of the Christian ministry.
In June, 1787, he was united in marriage to Miss Jane Corneigle, whose ancestors were of the French Huguenots, the Protestant reformers who were driven out of France by the bloody persecutions of the papacy under Louis XIV. She was a lady of equal dignity and gentleness, with mental and moral endowments fitted to be a queen. With this superior Christian woman, the faithful companion of all his cares and toils, Elder Thomas Campbell spent the greater part of his laborious and useful life. She was the mother of eight children, four sons and four daughters--one son dying young--and lived to impress her own virtues upon all.
Mr. Campbell served for some time as a pastor of a church near the city of Armagh. His habits in that capacity were ordered by the same rules of exactness, thoroughness, and affectionate kindness which marked all his course in life. He visited, conversed, taught the people privately the duties of social life, prayed with them, relieved them, in which benefaction his wife was ever his cheerful assistant, and in many ways labored for the increase of the piety and the personal improvement of the people under his charge.
He cultivated early and ever that deep reverence for
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 43
the Bible which made him so familiar with its meaning and its language, and, which, by exalting the word of God into such incomparable pre-eminence above all human compositions, laid the foundations for the attempt to discard all human creeds as bonds of union, and to unite all the true followers of Christ into the 'unity of the spirit and the bond of peace.' His faith was equal to any demands upon it from that infallible, divine authority. Simple trusting reliance on the Lord, and childlike obedience to all his known requirements constituted the whole of his religion practically viewed.
An anecdote related of him by Professor Richardson, so strikingly illustrates this admirable trait of his religious life, and displays so well his calm self-possession, that I do not withhold it.
During the political agitations, embittered by the heated antipathies of Catholics and Protestants, by which society was rent and life made insecure, "Mr. Campbell was one day preaching to a congregation, when the house was suddenly surrounded by a troop of Welsh Horse, notorious for their severities and outrages on those they conceived to be rebels. The captain, conceiving that in this remote place he had come upon a meeting of the rebels, dismounted, and in a threatening manner marched into the church. It was a moment of awful suspense. The audience were panic-stricken, expecting every moment to be subjected to the fury of the soldiers. Just at this moment, as the captain stalked up the aisle, casting fierce glances on all sides, a venerable elder sitting near Mr. Campbell called to him solemnly: 'Pray, sir!' Whereupon, in response to the call, and in a deep, unfaltering voice, he began in the language of the forty-sixth Psalm: 'Thou, O God, art our refuge and strength: a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the depths of the sea.' No sooner was the
44 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESfirst verse uttered, then the captain paused, and, apparently impressed, bent his head, listened to the close, then bowed, and retracing his steps, mounted his horse and dashed away with his entire troop."
Under the united duties of the care of the church, and the work of teaching, his health was impaired. A sea voyage was resolved upon as the necessary means of recovery. Accordingly on the 8th of April, 1807, after bidding an affectionate farewell to his congregation, and leaving his school in the hands of his oldest son, Alexander, he commended his family tenderly to God, and sailed out of harbor in a vessel bound for Philadelphia, into which port he entered after a prosperous voyage of thirty-five days.
In the emigration then flowing from the old world to the shores of the United States, many of Mr. Campbell's intimate friends had preceded him to this country, and some of them, as the Hodgens and the Fosters, came soon after. Among these, Mr. Campbell found the most hospitable welcome. He began at once to urge the claims of the gospel -- the undivided gospel of God upon the people. His charitable spirit, with his able expositions of Scripture, drew around him the pious of different church communions. As no reason appeared for their separation, but rather many for their union in worship and work on Bible principles, they agreed to form an association of Christians, to meet statedly for personal advancement in knowledge and duty. They soon felt the importance of diffusing for the good of others those principles which they found so congenial to the word of God, and such an enlargement of their own hearts. Thus come into being the "Christian Association," of Washington, Pa., which issued the very first document of this reformation, which now girdles the globe, and holds a membership of five or six hundred thousand souls! That document written by Elder Thomas Campbell, is a pamphlet of 56 pages, titled
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 45
"Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington, Pa." It is a remarkable production--for its catholicity, its supreme exaltation of the word of God, its clear, unequivocal statement of the true and only practical ground of union, and its enunciation of all the principles of this rising religious movement. It came from the press in the autumn of 1809.
In the same fall he was joined by his family. For more than forty years he plead for the religion of Christ among men. He traveled extensively, and was every-where listened to with marked attention for his distinguished abilities, and for the dignity and urbanity of his manners. He died at the age of ninety-one, honored of all.
BIOGRAPHY OF A. CAMPBELL."ALEXANDER CAMPBELL was born September 12th, 1788, in the County of Antrim, Ireland. But though born in reland, his ancestors were, on one side, of Scotch origin, and on the other, descended from the Huguenots, in France. Inheriting a vigorous and well-balanced physical and mental constitution, and trained from his earliest years, by his learned and accomplished father, to habits of severe application, he grew up to manhood a constant and laborious student -- completing his course of education in the University of Glasgow. Blessed with an exceedingly intellectual and pious parentage, and reared in one of the strictest schools of Presbyterianism, he early formed and cultivated habits of piety and a taste for theological studies, which gave shape to his entire life. A profound reverence for the Word of God, was a marked feature of the character alike of the boy and of the man.
"Coming to this country in 1809, and settling in Western Pennsylvania -- whither his father had preceded him --
* This biography of Bro. Campbell was published in the first issue of the "Christian Standard," for which it was written, by the editor, Isaac Errett.
46 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLEShe closely scanned the condition of religious society. Both father and son became deeply impressed with a conviction of the evils and inherent sinfulness of sectarianism. Their first movement, as reformers, was the repudiation of human creeds as tests of fellowship, and a proposal to unite all the disciples of Jesus in one church, with the Bible as the only authoritative standard of faith and practice. Pursuing the study of the Scriptures, as free as possible from party bias, they, and those in association with them, were soon convinced that infant membership in the church, and sprinkling, were unauthorized of God. They were accordingly immersed, on a confession of faith in the Son of God, and united with the regular Baptists -- stipulating, however, that they should not be required to subscribe to any creed or articles of faith other than the Bible. The prejudice and passion of some excitable and intolerant men who then held a leading influence in the Redstone Association, rendered it prudent for Mr. Campbell to withdraw, after a few years, from that connection. Against his own wishes, he was compelled by the force of ecclesiastical opposition, to act separately from the Baptists, seeking fellowship only with those who were willing to be governed by the Bible alone. Thus cut loose from his former connections, and with a fierce opposition stirred up against him, he gave himself supremely to the advocacy and defense of his plea for a return to primitive Christianity. For half a century he gave his strength to this work, making tributary to it all his treasures of learning and eloquence. For forty years -- from 1823 to 1863 -- he never failed to publish, monthly, a religious magazine, laden with varied information, rich thought, keen argument, and pious sentiment. This was published, the first seven years, under the name of The Christian Baptist. In 1830, it appeared in enlarged form, under the title of The Millennial Harbinger. These publications, although enriched with contributions from many gifted pens, were principally occupied with editorial
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 47
essays; and on this mainly depended their popularity and power. The earlier years of his editorial career were distinguished by lively and earnest controversy--the arguments and criticisms of his opponents being given in full on his pages, and the replies exhibiting a completeness of information on the topics discussed, ripeness of judgment, strength of argument, keenness of retort, and withering exposures of sophistry, that render them admirable models of polemical theology. Seldom is such playfulness of wit and keenness of satire joined with such gentlemanly dignity and logical power. We have always regarded the correspondence with Bishop Semple as one of the finest specimens of the epistolary style of discussion, anywhere to be found.
"Afterwards, when the heat of controversy had somewhat abated, there is traceable, in his journalism, a gentleness and mellowness which, while admitting of no compromise with error, dealt more forbearingly with opposition, and delighted more in the sweetness of piety, and in the practical aspects of Bible doctrine. Seldom, however, even in the hottest of the strife, were sentences written unworthy of the dignity and benevolence of the religion of Jesus. We doubt, in going over these forty volumes, and noting the wide range of subjects--doctrinal, critical, ethical, historical, and literary--whether the same amount and variety of writing can be found in any controversial author with less, which when dying, he would wish to erase.
"In addition to these forty volumes, Mr. Campbell published several other works: A Translation of the New Testament, by G. Campbell, Doddridge and Macknight, with Prefaces, Emendations and Critical Notes of his own; the Christian System; Infidelity refuted by Infidels; Baptism, its Antecedents and Consequents; a volume of Literary Addresses; a life of his father, Thomas Campbell, etc. He also held several public discussions, which were
48 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESreported and published: A debate on baptism in 1820, with Rev. John Walker; one on the same subject in 1823, with Rev. W. L. McCalla; one on the Evidences of Christianity in 1829, with Robert Owen; one on Roman Catholicism in 1837, with Bishop (now Archbishop) Purcell; and one on the points in dispute between Presbyterians and Reformers, in 1843, with Rev. N. L. Rice. This last discussion occupied eighteen days. He had also a written discussion with Dr. Skinner, on Universalism. In all these he maintained a high reputation for learning, dignity, and logical and critical acumen.
"He was not less laborious as a speaker than as a writer. During all these years, he traveled extensively, traversing most of the States of the Union, and visiting Great Britain and Ireland; discoursing every-where to crowded audiences, on the great themes that occupied his heart, and coming into contact with many of the best minds of the age, from whom whatever their difference of sentiment, he constantly challenged respect and admiration. His discourses were extemporaneous, often exceeding two hours in length, but were so clear in statement, cogent in argument, rich in diction, and forcible in illustration, as to hold his auditors in rapt attention to the close. His was not the highest style of oratory. Indeed he rather despised oratory as an art, relying on the inherent attractiveness of the truths he uttered. We have known him, in his prime, stand for two hours leaning on a cane, and talk in true conversational style, with scarce a gesture in the entire discourse. But to a fine personal appearance and dignity of manner, he added a clearness of statement, a force of reasoning, a parity and sometimes a pomp of diction, a wealth of learning, a splendor of imagination, and an earnestness often rising into impassioned utterance, which clothed his pulpit efforts with a high degree of oratorical excellence. His habit of extemporaneous speaking never caused him to degenerate into
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 49
slovenliness of style, but sometimes led to endue diffusiveness and discursiveness.
"In conversation, he expended, perhaps more time and strength than in pulpit discourse. Possessed of a strong social nature, and gifted with rare conversational powers, his delighted visitors hung for hours on the wisdom and eloquence of his lips. We do not compare him with Johnson or Coleridge, who, as conversationists won so great a fame. Mr. Campbell conversed on different themes, and to a widely different circle of hearers. But we doubt if any of his age excelled him in capacity to charm and instruct in the social circle. Perhaps more prejudice was dissipated, and more adherents were gained, in these daily conversations, than in his best pulpit efforts.
"It is not designed to enter here on a consideration of the peculiar features of Mr. Campbell's teaching. Briefly, they may be sketched thus:
"Christ, the only Master: involving a rejection of all human names and leaderships in religion. The Bible, the only authoritative book: necessitating a denial of the authority of all human creeds. The Church of Christ, as founded by him, and built by the apostles, for a habitation of the Spirit, the only divine institution for spiritual ends: logically leading to the repudiation of all sects in religion as unscriptural and dishonoring to the head of the church. Faith in Jesus, as the Christ, the Son of God, and repentance toward God, the only scriptural prerequisites to baptism and consequent church-membership; thus dismissing all doctrinal speculation and all theological dogmata, whether true or false, as unworthy to be urged as tests of fitness for membership in the church of Christ. Obedience to the divine commandments, and not correctness of opinion, the test of Christian standing. The gospel the essential channel of spiritual influence in conversion; thus ignoring all reliance on abstract and immediate influence of the Holy Spirit, and calling the attention
50 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESof inquirers away from dreams, visions, and impressions, which are so liable to deceive, to the living and powerful truths of the gospel, which are reliable, immutable, and eternal. The truth of the gospel, to enlighten; the love of God in the gospel, to persuade; the ordinances of the gospel, as tests of submission to the divine will: the promises of the gospel, as the evidence of pardon and acceptance; and the Holy Spirit, in and through all these, accomplishing his work of enlightening, convincing of sin, guiding the penitent soul to pardon, and bearing witness to the obedient believer, of his adoption into the family of God.
"He was intensely Protestant, steadily cherishing through his life the cardinal principles of what is called evangelical faith and piety -- the divinity of Christ, his sacrificial death, as a sin-offering, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers. A Trinitarian in sentiment, he repudiated the unscriptural technicalities of Trinitarian theology, as involving a mischievous strife of words. A devout believer in the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God, he would not teach, as gospel, any theory of atonement. A stout advocate of spiritual influence and special providence, he was the enemy of all theories of abstract spiritual power, as tending to ignore the word of God, and leading to a deceptive trust in psychological peculiarities as the voice of the Spirit of God. Sternly opposed to baptismal regeneration, he still insisted on the baptism of the believing penitent "for the remission of sins." Educated in Calvinism and always inclining to that school, he was so fearful of the tendency of all speculative theology, that it is difficult to trace his own proclivities on these questions anywhere in his voluminous writings. Deeply sympathizing with evangelical Protestantism, in its grand ideas and principles, he nevertheless looked on its present divided and distracted state as evidence that Protestants are only partially rescued from the great
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 51
apostasy; regarded the enforcement of speculative doctrines and creed authority as the tap-root of sectarianism; and insisted, through half a century, on the abandonment of party names, leaders, and symbols, to prepare the way for the union of all believers in one body; arguing that thus only leave we a right to expect the conversion of the world. He suffered much unjust reproach for a plea which, just as he was passing away, he saw rising into exceeding interest among all evangelical parties.
"As an educator, he is entitled to the honor of successfully instituting a college course, with the Bible as a textbook, and as the basis of the entire curriculum of study. He gave the ripest years of his life to the erection and endowment of Bethany College, from which hundreds of young men have gone forth, bearing the impress of his spirit, and the molding influence of his noble Christian life.
"In estimating the character of this illustrious man, it ought not to be forgotten that he possessed eminently practical talents. He was no recluse, shut out from sympathy with the activities of life. He was diligent in business as well as fervent in spirit, seeking to serve the Lord in the former as religiously as in the latter. He had splendid business capacity, and employed it to great advantage; so that, while traveling and preaching at his own expense, entertaining generously the throngs that gathered at Bethany, and meeting the constant demands on his purse which every public man of generous nature is plied with, he was still enabled to accumulate considerable wealth. He once told us of his standing at an early day on the site of the present city of Cleveland, when engaged with his father-in-law in locating lands. His quick perceptions took in at a glance the advantages of this site, and he urged the propriety of purchasing in a locality which it was evident would one day be a great commercial
52 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLEScenter. His father-in-law did not readily accept the prophecy, and their lands were selected in Holmes County.
"Once only did he venture on the stormy sea of politics. In 1829, at the earnest solicitation of the people of West Virginia, and with a special pledge from his friends that he should not be required to take the stump, he consented to be a candidate for a seat in the Virginia Constitutional Convention. He was elected. He bore a prominent part in the proceedings of that convention, acting on the judiciary Committee with Chief Justice Marshall, on intimate terms with ex-President Madison, and coming into conflict with John Randolph and other leading minds of Eastern Virginia, in his advocacy of the interests of the western portion of the State. In all this, he never for a moment forfeited the dignity of his character as a Christian minister.
"His reputation was without spot. His bitterest enemies failed to find a flaw in his character for truth, integrity, and goodness. But to those who knew him well, he was most cheerful, gentle, genial, just, and devout; and as dearly beloved for his goodness as he was venerated for his greatness. It will ever be remembered to his honor, that with an almost unbounded personal influence over a religious community numbering hundreds of thousands, he never sought the least ecclesiastical control. Although the telegram from Wheeling announcing his death spoke of him as "Bishop Campbell," it will surprise many to learn that he was merely one of the bishops of the congregation meeting in Bethany, and that outside of this, he never sought and never exercised, the least ecclesiastical authority.
"For many years he was possessed of the conviction that the year 1866 would exhaust many prophetic dates, and witness great changes in ecclesiastical and spiritual affairs. It is not unpleasant to think that this has become to him the year of years, and to his ransomed spirit will
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 53
unseal many of the mysteries of apocalyptic visions which, here, even his piercing intellect failed to penetrate.
"He passed away on the Lord's day -- the day in which he so much delighted, to the peace and bliss of an eternal Sabbath. In his later years, the personal dignity and official relations of the Son of God, was his constant theme of discourse. Who can imagine the reverence and rapture that shall fill his spirit when beholding the glory of Immanuel, whom, unseen, he loved so well, and at whose feet he laid, adoringly, the gifts of his nature, and the toils of his life!
"He fell asleep in Jesus, on the 4th of March, 1866, near midnight, at his home in Bethany, West Virginia.
"It was an event not unexpected. Coming 'in a good old age,' when his work was done, and his tired faculties craved rest from the incessant anxiety and toil of half a century; coming slowly, attended with but little suffering, allowing his last years to be spent pleasantly in the scenes he loved best, and his last hours to be cheered and soothed by the fondest ministrations of conjugal and filial affection, death appeared in a milder form, and granted a gentler descent to the tomb, than is often permitted."
54 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES
Biography of Walter Scott -- Scott among the churches.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 55
association in religious life were objected to as improper, and rejected as misleading.
CALL FOR AN EVANGELIST..As the Calvinistic theory of conversion began to yield, and it was seen that sinners have something to do in hearing the gospel, that they may believe and be saved, and, also, that the church has in her hands the work of preaching it, the feeling began to take definite form that the time had come to take this responsibility which was devolved upon her by the Lord Jesus, to convert the world through the proclamation of the glad tidings. It was apparent, no less in the wants of the people than in the light of the Sacred Scriptures, that a suitable person should be selected to travel among the churches, to preach the gospel, and to set things in order according to the teachings of the primitive church. So evident had it become that this long neglected duty must be resumed, that a petition to this end was sent to the Mahoning Association from the church in Braceville. It was understood that the church in Nelson was consulted, and that it concurred in the movement. Mr. Campbell came to this association with the same purpose in his heart. Passing through Steubenville, he called on Walter Scott, principal of the academy in that place, and persuaded him to come to New Lisbon, with the intention of securing his appointment as the evangelist of the association.
On this occasion, memorable in history, the association met by regular appointment in New Lisbon, Columbiana County, August 23, 1827. Jacob Osborne was moderator, and John Rudolph, Jr., clerk.
56 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES
The churches and delegates composing the association, were as follows:
Besides these accredited messengers, the following preachers were present, who, by a resolution of the
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 57
association, were invited to a seat in its counsels: Walter Scott, Samuel Holmes, William West, and Sidney Rigdon.
There were present, also, J. Merrill, John Secrest, and Joseph Gaston, advocates of the gospel among the "Christian" fraternity. These brethren were, by resolution, made equally welcome to the sittings of the association.
The following petition from the church in Braceville, Trumbull County, sent by the hand of Bro. Osborne, was received and entertained:
"We wish that this association may take into serious consideration the peculiar situation of the churches of the association, and if it would be a possible thing for an evangelical preacher to be employed to travel and teach among the churches, we think that a blessing would follow."
The action of this convention of churches in relation to this subject, is reported as follows:
"Voted, That all the teachers of Christianity present, be a committee to nominate a person to travel and labor among the churches, and to suggest a plan for the support of the person so appointed."
The preachers present composing this committee, were the following: Adamson Bentley, Joab Gaskill, Jacob Osborne, A. Campbell, Abijah Sturdevant, Walter Scott, Samuel Holmes, William West, Sidney Rigdon, J. Merrill, John Secrest, Joseph Gaston -- twelve; besides, Darwin Atwater, Zeb. Rudolph, and John Jackman, who soon after became prominent as teachers of the gospel. Let us now hear their unanimous report:
"The committee, to which was referred the nomination
58 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESof a person to labor among the churches, and to recommend a plan for his support, reported as follows:
"1. That Bro. Walter Scott is a suitable person for the task, and that he is willing, provided the association concur in his appointment, to devote his whole energies to the work.
"2. That voluntary and liberal contributions be recommended to the churches for creating a fund for his support.
"3. That at the discretion of Bro. Scott, as far as respects time and place, four quarterly meetings for public worship, be held in the bounds of the association this year; and at these meetings such contributions as have been made, in the churches in those vicinities, be handed over to Bro. Scott, and an account be kept of the same to be produced at the next association; also, that at any time and in any church, when and where Bro. Scott may be laboring, any contributions made to him shall be accounted for to the next association.
"Voted, That the above report, in all its items, be adopted."
These men were devoutly in earnest in their purpose. An extract from the records is instructive on this point:
"Met Lord's day at sunrise, in the Baptist meeting-house, for prayer and praise, and continued till eight o'clock."
They were not sleepy drones. The morning sun, at his rising, found them assembled in prayer. Three hours and more they lifted to the Mercy-seat their suppliant appeals, while praises went to the third heaven from souls all dewy with the morning grace, which came plentifully upon them. Great and glorious epochs in the kingdom are the birth of great prayer.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 59
"Met again in the Presbyterian meeting-house, Lisbon, where, after public worship, Bro. Jacob Osborne delivered a discourse, Heb. 1st chapter. He was followed by Bro. A. Campbell, who delivered a discourse on Good Works, predicated upon the last paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount, and the conclusion of Matt. 25th chapter.
"After a recess of a few minutes, and the immersion of some disciples in the creek, the brethren met at the Baptist meeting house and broke bread, after which they dispersed, much comforted and edified by the exercises of the day."
This association deserves much more than a passing notice. It was the first ecclesiastical body in modern times, which, transcending the limits of its own constitutional prerogatives, initiated a movement exactly conformed to the word of God, and utterly disentangled from all sectarian restraints. Let us pause to consider its action:
1. The association threw open its doors, and brought in, as a composite element, disciples of Christ, ministers of another ecclesiastical connection, making these ministers fully equal in its action; thus setting aside its denominational character, and standing on the broad, firm charter of the Christian religion alone. These men were of the "Christian connection," and the most that was known of either party respecting the other was that each respectively was zealously, and conscientiously engaged in preaching the gospel as he best understood it. Here was a practical exhibition of the union of Christians for a common purpose.
2. Here was the appointment of an evangelist in the pure New Testament idea of that official minister,
60 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESby the concurrent action of the ministry of a given district of country. In this it took upon itself the new duty of establishing and regulating an evangelical agency, or ministry.
3. This association, like all others, had restricted its action to sundry ecclesiastical matters, making no provision for evangelical operations. Its duty was mainly the care of churches, responding to questions, and hearing cases of appeal; affairs which churches can manage more successfully at home. This association assumed a new power, and with this higher prerogative, entered upon the discharge of a far higher and wider responsibility. And what was it? Simply to revive the work laid by divine authority upon its hand at the beginning, to "preach the gospel to every creature." This pure, simple, most significant act was here for the first time performed by a body of churches assembled in delegate capacity. The selection of an evangelist to travel among the congregations of a given district, clothing him with power to set things in order, to preach the gospel, and by every means to promote the work of Christ, deserves the clearest and most emphatic statement as a direct, practical measure in restoring the apostolic order to the world.
4. No one church assumed the grave responsibility of selecting, authorizing, and sending forth an evangelist. The suggestion for such an appointment, while coming from one of the churches, at the instance of a wise preacher among them, was, by the association, wisely and properly referred to the ministers of the gospel for full consideration and final action. And their action in the premises, duly taken and declared,
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 61
received the cordial indorsement and acquiescence of all the churches represented.
5. But, further, the association bound its evangelist by no doctrinal restrictions or limitations. No creed basis, no confession of doctrines, no articles of belief: he was simply to "preach the word."
This was a bold and untried step. It was a long step toward Mount Zion. But it was a safe step, as the Scriptures can lead no one astray; and, also, it was the only method of bringing about the restoration of original Christianity in fact, in faith, and in form, in letter, in spirit, and in practice.
BIOGRAPHY OF WALTER SCOTT.Walter Scott was born in Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, October 31, 1796. His father, John Scott, a gentleman of fine culture, was a professor of music. His mother, Mary Innes Scott, was a person of most pure life, and eminently religious. They had ten children, five sons and five daughters; Walter was the sixth child.
A remarkable providence is related as occurring in connection with the death of his parents. His father went to the town of Annan on business of his profession, and died there suddenly. Mrs. Scott was so deeply affected by the intelligence of his demise, that she died immediately, and was buried with him in the same grave.
He had a maternal uncle in the custom-house, in the city of New York, who held his situation for thirty years under all the changes of administration. The death of this man was also remarkable. He died on his knees while in prayer.
The Scott family were all strict members of the Kirk of Scotland. Walter Scott early displayed the fine qualities of character for which he afterwards became conspicuous.
62 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESHe was intellectual, sensitive, tender-hearted, and pious. He was educated in the University of Edinburgh.
A characteristic incident is related concerning him which occurred while he was pursuing his collegiate studies. When about sixteen he walked out one evening into the city, and not returning as soon as his parents expected, at a late hour they sent his older brother James in search of him. James explored the city diligently, but failed to find him till long after midnight. He found him in the midst of a crowd singing the popular Scottish airs, collecting money in this way for a poor blind beggar. When accosted by his brother, he seemed not aware of the lateness of the hour, so completely was his young and benevolent heart interested in procuring relief for the needy man.
On invitation of his uncle in New York, George Innes, Esq., he crossed the ocean. He resided awhile in his uncle's family, and also, for a time, taught a classical school on Long Island. With the spirit of adventure, common to the young, he came to Pittsburgh, crossing the mountains afoot in company with a young companion. He soon made the acquaintance of a fellow-countryman, Mr. George Forrester, in whose family he found a welcome and for considerable time a home. Mr. Forrester was a preacher of the Haldanean school, who had prepared for the ministry in the institution established in Scotland by the celebrated Robert and James Alexander Haldane, for educating young men for the preaching of the gospel. He was conducting a school, and also preaching to a small membership whom he had collected together. The friendly hearts of these men, as well as the tie of nationality, created a warm attachment between them. Mr. Scott was here invited to the examination of the claims of pedobaptism, in which he had been trained up. He had too much reverence for the authority of God's Word to resist its teaching; so after a full search for scriptural authority for this practice of his church, and finding none, he abandoned it as a defenseless relic of the
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 63
Papacy; and, accordingly was immersed by his friend Mr. Forrester.
The new views which presented themselves to him by this new search of the Holy Scriptures, and the fresh interest awakened by them in a mind naturally inquisitive and greatly devoted to religious pursuits, give him a powerful impulse to farther scriptural investigations. He rapidly outstripped his teachers. He was not long in acquiring a wonderful store of knowledge of the Christian religion. He opened a classical and English high school; but the duties of that profession, a profession in which he was eminently successful, did not interfere with his assiduous prosecution of the systematic study of the Bible.
About this time, at one of Mr. Campbell's visits to the city of Pittsburgh, he and Mr. Scott became personally acquainted. By reputation they were not strangers. These men discovered in each other so many admirable and brilliant qualities of character, intellectual and social, that a lasting friendship was formed between them. This coalescence of feeling, however, was quite as much the result of the coincidence of their conclusions on great scriptural themes; their agreement in the power of the gospel to recover Christendom from its numberless sects and divisions; and to restore the unity of the "faith once delivered to the saints." From that day they were mutual co-operants in the common cause of re-proclaiming to the world the gospel as it began in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the Lord's ascension.
Mr. Campbell, at the time of his introduction to Scott, was about issuing a monthly, designed to develop the truth of the gospel, and to plead for the union of Christians on Bible grounds. Mr. Scott fell in with the proposition, and espoused the scheme. Mr. Campbell proposed the name "The Christian," as a suitable title for his new periodical. Mr. Scott thought "The Christian Baptist" would be a title more likely to win an immediate hearing. This
64 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESwas agreed upon. And in the very beginning of that masterly work, the grand triumvirate, Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott appeared side by side as contributors to its pages. The appearance of that periodical, August, 1823, forms a marked epoch in the public announcement of the principles of a much-needed reformation. Mr. Scott remained yet a few years in Pittsburgh, where he became acquainted, and for a time associated, with Sidney Rigdon, then pastor of a small Baptist church in the city. The two communions, that under Rigdon and the company to whom Scott preached, united together and became one body.
Early in 1827 we find him in Steubenville, established in the academy, as already related. He had issued a prospectus, and was on the eve of commencing the publication of the "Millennial Herald," to be devoted to the statement and defense of the gospel, and to the publication of views of the millennium, in which he had become much interested.
"The heart of man deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps." A foreseeing providence was preparing a far different theater for the display of his remarkable talents, and was at the same time preparing him for that field. This was the work of an evangelist opened for him in New Lisbon; which, after some persuasion, he accepted with all his heart. His great powers were now plumed for great purposes. Here was scope and comprehension for his gifts of oratory, of argumentation, and persuasion. All his talents for analysis and classification were here to find amplest scope and fullest display. Many and glorious events were born the day that the arrangement was completed to send Scott forth to preach the gospel; the gospel long thought to be a mystery, but soon to come as a revelation to the people.
The history of this extraordinary man is in the pages that follow; rather, in the mighty revolution in religious society in America, which, like a majestic stream, is widening
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 65
and deepening in its flow; a revolution to which he has contributed very much by his discoveries in Bible truth, and by his powers of eloquence and argument in presenting and defending it before the people.
His style was chaste and classical. He was a man of great faith, and of a most lovable and gentle spirit. In discourse he was often bold as a lion; yet he as often played among lambs. He came before the world with a mission on his soul; the restoration of the gospel plea, the "advocacy," as he termed it. He affirmed that the gospel contains an advocacy for converting sinners to Christ. This appeal, with its appointed conditions of pardon, constituted Scott's special mission to the men of this generation. Long and faithfully did he conduct the high argument; and many thousands of his beloved Master's children will rise up and bless his memory.
He fell asleep, full of faith and hope, at his residence in Mayslick, Ky., Tuesday evening, April 23, 1861, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
SCOTT AMONG THE CHURCHESAfter his appointment Scott lost no time in preparation for his new duty. Giving up both his paper and his academy, and leaving his family in Steubenville, he was almost immediately on the territory he was to traverse. Great hopes were entertained of the results of his labors. Yet no man, himself not excepted, had any adequate conception of the great and unparalleled blessings which were in store for the people within that year.
The first of the quarterly meetings recommended in the report of the committee at New Lisbon, was held in Braceville, then the residence of Jacob Osborne, the brother who moved the association to appoint
66 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESan "evangelical preacher." Bro. Marcus Bosworth also resided in Braceville, a young preacher of warm heart and of sweet and winning speech. It was Lord's day, September 16, 1827. It was largely attended, and was prolific in important results. The principal preachers were Scott, Bentley, and Osborne. Darwin Atwater, whose clear, personal recollections avouch this record, was also present, with others from abroad. The principles of reform were making constant and sure progress in many places, though they were yet encumbered and delayed by the cautious prudence of some, and by the opposition of others. The leading steps of its march are susceptible of historic record. The first distinctive position assumed was the plea for the union of Christians on apostolic ground. This, as a consequence, directed an enfilading fire against the works in which the creed power was intrenched. Creeds, confessions of faith as terms of membership and communion, articles of church government separate from the New Testament, and distinctive of the sect, with all that pertained to them, were gradually losing ground; while at the same time, as a correlative part of the plea, the fullness, sufficiency, plainness, and authority of the word of God for all the purposes of faith and practice, were urged with a great variety of argument, illustration, and Scripture testimony.
Closely allied to this came, secondly, the whole subject of conversion, regeneration, and evidence of pardon. The theory of metaphysical regeneration, brought into the church by St. Augustine, in the fourth century, formed into system by the equally illustrious Calvin, of the sixteenth century, and lingering
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 67
in most of the modern standards of orthodoxy, was put to the most rigid test of the word of God. This involved the whole subject of spiritual influence and illumination. And while the reformers maintained, on Scripture grounds, a firm belief in the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and his actual presence in the hearts of Christians, they asserted that the work of conversion was wrought through the knowledge and belief of the gospel. As the Holy Scriptures were the only guide, practices untaught therein were repudiated as of human origin, and dangerous to the peace and purity of the church. On this ground, infant church-membership was delivered back to the papacy, whence it originated, with "confirmation," its consequent and complement, sponsorship, and whatever depended upon this postscript to the apostolic gospel. Conversion without faith is impossible; but faith comes of testimony -- divine testimony, the word of God. Rom. x: 17. But this must be preached; and so it is the preaching of the gospel which produces faith in Jesus Christ.
A link was yet wanting to complete the theory of salvation. That the sufferings of Christ are the procuring cause of pardon, was clearly asserted. Faith, involving a personal trust in Jesus Christ, was becoming equally clear and well established in the widening plea. But what is the evidence of pardon? the "witness," the assurance of the penitent sinner's acceptance? "Experience!" Yes; but experiences are both variable, as different persons "experience a hope" at different places and by different processes, and fallible as these experiences are formed according
68 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESto the models of teaching under which the convert has been trained. Cases are numerous and painful in which after years of agonizing self-abasement, the load of conscious sins still lies on the heart. A large number of professing Christians are subject to conflicting doubt, and harassed with distressing uncertainty of their acceptance; very many "seek" on in silent, despairing darkness; not a few throw themselves into the vortex of infidelity, while some lose their reason in the fruitless search for the evidence that God has spoken peace to their souls.
Has the gospel, perfect in all its provisions, complete in all its appointments for salvation, left this one point without a testimony -- without a provided assurance? Does God in his gospel show sinners their danger, arouse them by faith to flee from "the wrath to come," lead them to repentance by the sufferings of his Son, and when they come crying for mercy, is this same gospel unfurnished with a provision special to this very need, which shall uniformly and unfailingly meet them with the needed assurance of pardon?
The divine testimony had not been explored in vain touching this point. In essays, in debate, in conversations, the unequivocal declaration of the new Institution had been brought out to view, that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ was ordained by him, for bringing the actual believer in him, penitent for his sins, into this new relation, and for giving him the knowledge of pardon by the promises of the new covenant. This had been ably set forth from the commission, from Acts ii: 38, and many other New Testament authorities.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 69
Yet who in those days, having discovered this established scriptural connection, had ventured to apply this truth to the relief of mourning sinners?
Theory before practice: yet practice is often tardy and tremulous. It is well; let it be cautious, and walk only on solid rocks, like the priests who stood on rocks in the midst of Jordan, while Israel all passed by into the promised land. A new light was dawning, and a farther glimpse into the light of the gospel was obtained at this meeting in Braceville.
After the services of the day were over, Scott, Bentley, Osborne, and Atwater walked out together. Conversation turned on this subject. Bentley had preached on it. He urged that it was intended to bring penitent sinners to the immediate relief they sought, by bringing them into the new covenant, whose immediate and distinguishing blessing was the actual pardon of all past sins. Osborne, turning to Scott, asked him "if he had ever thought that baptism in the name of the Lord was for the remission of sins?" Holding himself somewhat in reserve, he intimated a desire for Osborne to proceed. "It is," said he, "certainly established for that purpose. It holds the same place under the gospel in relation to pardon, that the positive institution of the altar held to forgiveness under the law of Moses; under that dispensation the sinner offered the prescribed victim on the altar and was acquitted, pardoned through the merits of the sacrifice of Christ, of which his offering was a type. So under the gospel age, the sinner comes to the death of Christ, the meritorious ground of his salvation, through baptism, which is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
70 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESChrist." "Very well," replied Scott, whose thoughts were very deeply engaged revolving the whole subject, "it is evidently so."
After a little, Mr. Osborne remarked to Elder Bentley, "you have christened baptism to-day." "How so?" "You termed it a remitting ordinance." * Bentley replied, "I do not see how we are to avoid the conclusion with the Bible in our hands."
The second chapter of Acts of Apostles, it will be seen, was under constant and close scrutiny of investigation. It contains evidence of the coronation in heaven of the King of kings, with his royal proclamation of mercy, and terms of pardon to his rebellious subjects.
These three preachers were again together soon after the events narrated above, when Bro. Osborne again introduced the design of baptism in public discourse, and remarked in the connection that the gift of the Holy Spirit is after conversion and baptism, and consequent upon them, citing the inspired words of the apostle Peter in Acts ii: 38, as proof: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
After the meeting, Scott said to Osborne, "You are the boldest man I ever saw! Do n't you think so, Bro. Bentley?" "How so?" said Bentley. "Why he said in his sermon that no one had a right to expect the Holy Spirit till after baptism." Scott was a genius; often eccentric, often profoundly meditative. It may not be necessary, as perhaps it would
* Words were sometimes used in those days with less accuracy than in later times.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 71
be impossible to tell, whether Mr. Scott was leading them, or they him, in those views. It is certain, however, that he had now premises sufficient for a generalization, which was soon to produce the most brilliant and unexpected results. In the powers of analysis and combination, he has rarely been equaled. Under his classification, the great elements of the gospel bearing on the conversion of sinners, assumed the following definite, rational, and scriptural order: (1) Faith; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism; (4) Remission of sins; (5) The Holy Spirit; (6) Eternal life, through a patient continuance in well doing.
This arrangement of these themes was so plain, so manifestly in harmony with soundest reason, and so clearly correct in a metaphysical point of view, as well as sustained by the Holy Scriptures, that Scott was transported with the discovery. The key of knowledge was now in his possession. The points which before were dark or mysterious, were now luminous. It cleared away the mist, and let in the day just where all had struggled for ages, and many had stranded. The whole Scripture sorted itself into a plain and intelligible system in illustration and proof of this elementary order of the gospel. The darkened cloud withdrew. A new era for the gospel had dawned.
So reasoned Scott. Moreover this discovery was most opportune as a preparation for his mission to which the association had called him, of preaching the gospel within its bounds.
72 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES
EVENTS were were rapidly culminating for the work of conversion to open under new and peculiar conditions of success. The preachers were astir holding meetings in many places; not "protracted meetings," for the day for such meetings had not yet come. Many incidents of rare interest are connected with the stirring reformatory movement of the years from 1826 to 1832; but none, perhaps, more noteworthy than the opening of the great work in New Lisbon, in November, 1827. Bro. Scott felt that the evangelical part of the great commission had fallen into decay, and his soul was burdened with a great weight of duty to revive the apostolic method of preaching the gospel. After the discovery of the system of the gospel items already mentioned, he went to a community where he endeavored to impress the people with its truth; but he failed to enlist any souls for Christ. He felt the discouragement, and went on his knees to Jesus. He plead as did the lawgiver of Israel for his people. He was most earnest in prayer. He believed God. He believed his word; his promise of help. No man more sincerely, humbly, pleadingly, ever lay prostrate before God in supplications. His prayers in public, from a tender heart, melted all hearts around him.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 73
his meditation ran -- Christ's own gospel, blessed by him at first for conversion, and to be blessed by him for that purpose to the end of time. "Lo! I am with you, world without end." Then he will be with his servants still. "This is thy word; I am thy servant." So "cast down, but not destroyed," he cried; and, again, with the prophet, "I believed, therefore have I spoken. I am greatly afflicted. I believe his word, and I will preach it again!"
It seemed a blessed providence which permitted the first trial to be a defeat. God had him under farther discipline for a higher work. If he threw him on his back in discomfiture, it was that he might fall on his face in conscious need of Christ's own help for Christ's own work; that his gospel might be re-announced to the world in self-abasement, in weakness, and with the consciousness of the Lord's presence to aid in his work. He had been in ecstasy with the novelty and grandeur of the newly discovered truth, and with the thought of bringing sinners once more, and at once, through faith and obedience into the joys of salvation; with no less of joy in the gospel as it now flamed upon his heart, but perhaps tempered with fear and trembling, a state of feeling he often experienced, he resolved to go to New Lisbon.
The old Baptist meeting-house, in which two months before he received the appointment of the association, was honored as the place for the opening of this grand appeal; a plea which was to shake society throughout the land. Scott was in his highest key. He realized the peril of the experiment, should it, on the one hand, not meet with an encouraging response; and on the other, the results to follow if he
74 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESshould be sustained in this bold advance step; but his faith was equal to the occasion. He had examined the firmness of the ground, on which, in his new work he was to take his stand. He opened the plea with circumspection. He fortified his positions with clear and unanswerable arguments from the Word of God. As he advanced he became more inspired, forcible, and convincing. His audience were entranced. He moved on in eloquent demonstration. He was handling old themes, but he was bringing out a new and startling proposition--old as the apostles, but new in this age--that at any hour when a sinner yields and obeys the Lord Jesus, that same hour will the Lord receive him into favor and forgive his sins; that pardon is offered in the gospel on the terms of faith and obedience, and whoever believes on him with all his heart and obeys him, shall be pardoned through his blood; and that the promise of the gospel is his evidence and assurance of this salvation. A new era dawned when this was urged upon the people, as it was by the preacher on that occasion, for their immediate acceptance.
When the preacher was drawing toward a conclusion of this scriptural exposition of the apostolic plan of salvation, he noticed a stranger enter the door. This man was a highly respectable citizen, and a worthy member of the Presbyterian Church. He was a diligent and pious student of the gospel; and had long been convinced that the Savior's command to convert the world was not now obeyed as it was preached by the apostles. He spoke frequently to his wife on the subject, and was so engaged that he sometimes read and conversed to a late hour at night.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 75
She said on one of these occasions, "William, you will never find any one that will agree with you on that subject." He replied, "When I find any person preaching, as did the apostle Peter in the second chapter of Acts, I shall offer myself for obedience and go with him." This man was "waiting for the consolation of Israel."
Having prepared the way by showing from the Scriptures that the Kingdom of Christ was to be opened on Pentecost, and from Matt. xvi: 18, that the apostle Peter had the keys to open the door of it, or to proclaim the terms of admission into it, Scott was bringing his subject to a conclusion. Mr. Amend, having entered from the Presbyterian prayer-meeting, heard enough to see his drift, and to appreciate him when he repeated the language of inspiration, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts ii: 38, 39. He was standing on his feet listening with fixed attention. The preacher, all alive to his subject, called out for any of his audience who believed God and would take him at his word, to come forward and confess the Lord Jesus, and be baptized in his name for the remission of sins.
"The time has come at last," said Amend; "God has accepted my condition; he has sent a man to preach as the New Testament reads; shall I fail to fulfill my pledge of obedience?" All this passed through his mind with instantaneous rapidity. "My pledge is on high; my prayer is answered; I will not confer with flesh and blood." With a promptness which astonished both the audience and the preacher,
76 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLEShe came to the seat assigned to converts. "Who is this man?" whispered the astonished preacher, who had seen him enter and had scanned his movement. "The best man in the community; an orderly member of the Presbyterian Church."
It was enough. Success sanctioned the appeal. Mr. Scott looked upon it as a divine attestation of the correctness of his method; the Scriptures being his warrant for the truth of the things proclaimed. Here is a case in proof that the Word of God can be understood alike by all who study it with unbiased mind. This devout Presbyterian loved the truth as it is in Jesus. The doctrine of party is nothing to such men. The testimony of the apostles will have the same effect on all candid men when the doctrines and commandments of men are laid aside. From that day, with this seal to his ministry, he was stronger than Ajax. To borrow one of his own expressions, "he rushed in upon the people like an armed man!" Within a few days seventeen souls "hearing, believed and were baptized." There was great joy in New Lisbon. The whole town was aroused; some spoke against this way, others were amazed at the new things brought to their ears. The novelty and boldness of the movement broke up entirely the monotony of the customary process of "waiting," "seeking," tarrying at the pool till an angel of grace should trouble the waters of salvation.
The contrast between the process of conversion, as generally taught, which led the soul through "much tribulation" of darkness and uncertainty, to a faint and flickering hope -- and this the apostolic method -- was so direct and palpable, that the conflict was immediately
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 77
initiated and strongly marked. The one led the sinner up through states of mind and frames of feeling, and upon the genuineness of these was based his hope of peace. The other brings him, with the same conscious conviction of his sins, to trust the mercy of Jesus, and to rely on Christ's promise of forgiveness, which he approaches and secures through the obedience of faith.
It was singular, and indeed inexplicable to Mr. Scott, that the first person to respond to his call, and come forth to obey the gospel, should be a man who had not heard his sermon. If he had heard his premises, and had been enlightened by his argument, the case would have presented no cause of marvel. He had heard only his conclusion. He came. It was a mystery.
Mr. Scott was restless under it. Several years afterward he addressed to Mr. Amend a note of inquiry in regard to it, and received in reply the following explanation:
"I will answer your questions. I was baptized on the 18th of Nov., 1827, and will relate to you a circumstance which occurred 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 our sins! Oh, that I could hear the gospel in those same words as Peter preached it! I hope I shall some day hear, and the first man I meet who will preach the gospel thus, with him will I go. So, my brother, on the day you saw me come into the meeting-house, my heart was open to receive the word of God, and when you 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
78 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESthe remission of sins,' -- at that moment my feelings were such, that I could have cried out, 'Glory to God! I have found the man whom I have long sought for.' So I entered the kingdom, when I readily laid hold of the hope set before me.
It is no easy task, now that the position then assumed by Mr. Scott has won the victory, and become a distinguishing practice of many hundred thousand Christians, to appreciate the nature or the magnitude of the difficulties which environed him. When we consider his natural timidity; that he was not emboldened by the presence, or encouraged by the example, of any one in modern times; that the whole land, and, indeed, the whole world had been for ages silent as the grave respecting this peculiar and special idea, the surprise grows into wonder and amazement, and the event takes on the most evident tokens of the hand of God in it.
It is true the "Christian Baptist," in the first volume, had taught the scriptural connection between baptism and remission, in an essay by the elder Campbell; also in A. Campbell's Debate with Mr. McCalla the same truth was distinctly set forth. But it remained among the theories. Sinners still languished in despairing doubt, awaiting some light, emotion, or sensation on which they might settle as the "white stone" of elective grace, specially imparted to assure them they were of the elect for whom Christ died. Besides, all the prominent creeds of Christendom contain the doctrine of baptism as a pledge of remission, as an item of dogmatic belief. But not one of the sects built upon them carries out its creed, in this particular, into practical result, and
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 79
tells the awakened sinner, as did Peter on the first Pentecost after the ascension: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins."
This practical use and application of the gospel to bring convicted sinners into the immediate enjoyment of the forgiveness of sins, through the pardoning mercy of God in Christ, constitutes an epoch of grand significance in the return of the disciples from the great apostasy back to Jerusalem, to its gospel and its glory. It had been taught and accepted as a doctrine; now it became an advocacy. It was a truth acknowledged in theory; it was now a duty demanding practice. Now restored as a practical truth, it was destined to become, in the hands of the proclaimers of the gospel, the means of revolutionizing the practice of the church as it relates to the reception of converts to Christ, by restoring to the ministry the method established by the holy apostles under the great commission.
"The Lord gave the word, great was the company of them that published it." This re-announcement of the gospel was soon noised abroad. There were many Simeons and Annas, too, as well as Josephs, who were waiting for this consolation of Israel. There was, besides the preachers of the Mahoning Association, a class of preachers of ardent zeal and great influence with the people, who had come by a different path to the point in the process of conversion, at which the newly restored manner of presenting the gospel commended itself to them as a necessity, and as the only missing link in the chain of gospel agencies. These were known as "Christians,"
80 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES"Bible Christians," or, sometimes, "New Lights." This last appellation they steadily repudiated. James Hughes, Lewis Hamrick, Lewis Comer, and John Secrest, all from Kentucky, coadjutors with the celebrated and godly B. W. Stone, came through Belmont and Columbiana counties, converting many, and planting churches according to the light of the gospel so far as they had attained to it. They repudiated all creeds, contended for the Bible alone, were sticklers for the name "Christian," and being full of zeal and gifted in exhortation, they gained many converts. They pursued the method known as the "mourning-bench system," completing the process of conversion and reception by giving to the convert publicly the "right hand of fellowship," when he was regarded as a member of the church. One of these, John Secrest, a man of mark in person, with glossy dark hair and black eyes, grave in manner, with powerful voice and persuasive address, came to William Mitchell's, in Belmont County, whose three sons, James G., Nathan J., and David G. Mitchell, afterward became men of much note and great usefulness in the reformation. These were all youths at the visit of Secrest.
In conversation, Secrest said:
"Bro. Mitchell, I have just been at Bethany, Va., to see Alexander Campbell. He edits a monthly called the 'Christian Baptist.' He is a man of great talent, a scholar, and he has got forty years ahead of this generation, and whether they ever catch up I have my doubts. He has waged war with the clergy, and he will bring them all down on his head, the Baptists in particular; and if he carries the thing through as he has commenced, he will
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 81
revolutionize the whole Protestant world, for his foundation can never be shaken. He has with him a man by the name of Scott, to whom I was introduced. He asked me these questions: 'Bro. Secrest, do you baptize a good many persons?' I told him I baptized quite a number. 'Then,' said he, 'into what do you baptize them?' This was a new thought, and it perplexed me. I tell you, Bro. Mitchell, the apostles baptized persons into Christ; not into the Baptist Church, or any other, but into Christ; and baptism is more than a mere outward ordinance; it has a greater significance than most people are aware of. In it we become related to Christ."
The "Christian Baptist" became a regular guest in that family.
Of this wing of the reformation came such men as John Whitacre, of Minerva; William Schooley, of Salem, both having birthright in the Quaker fraternity; John Flick also, and Joseph Gaston, with others of reputation among the churches. It was John Secrest and Joseph Gaston who appeared, and were welcomed among the Baptist ministry in the New Lisbon Association.
All these men, upon examination, accepted the order of the gospel as presented by Scott, adopted it, and spent their lives in its defense. Thus was afforded another case illustrating the manner in which the union of Christians is to be effected; by the knowledge, belief, and practice of the apostolic teaching; not by orders in council, not by conventional decrees, nor by some ethereal liberalism of sentiment without basis or bounds.
Scott and Joseph Gaston became greatly devoted to each other, traveling and laboring much together.
82 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESThey were as David and Jonathan. Gaston was charmed and instructed by the manly, intellectual eloquence of Scott, who, in turn, equally admired and loved the piety, simplicity, and pathos of Gaston. This brother hath a history -- brief, sad, and lovely. He was the son of James and Mary Gaston, born on Peter's Creek, Washington County, Pa., March 25, 1801. When he was twenty years of age, his mother, then a widow, moved to Augusta, Carroll County, Ohio. Attending a prayer meeting, and showing some levity inconsistent in such a place, a Miss Walton, a member of the family where the meeting was held, fell upon her knees, and so earnestly commended his soul to Jesus, as to plant impressions there never to be effaced. Soon after, at a meeting held in Minerva by John Secrest, he confessed the Lord and was baptized. In the exercises of prayer and of exhortation, public and private, his heart and mouth were immediately opened. Many felt the power of religion under his earnest and impassioned appeals. Falling in with Bro. Scott, and learning more perfectly of "this way," he was carried up to new heights of wonder at the perfection of the knowledge of God, and of enthusiasm in pleading for sinners to be reconciled to God. The oil of Joseph's lamp burned brightly, but it was destined soon to burn out. He was afflicted with hemorrhage of the lungs. The violence of his labors brought on a crisis; and on the 6th of December, 1834, closed his most triumphant course. For twenty minutes immediately before his death, he exhorted those about him with great strength of voice, and almost angelic fervor; then he fell asleep as peacefully
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 83
as when an infant is hushed to its gentle slumbers.
He was led to clearer views of the gospel in the following manner, as related by Bro. Scott:
"I had appointed a certain day in which to break bread with the Baptist Church at Salem. Bro. Gaston was a resident of Columbiana County, and was at that time in the vicinity of Salem. The Baptist brethren regarded him as a good man and a true disciple; but he was a Christian or New Light, and contended for open communion--things which they greatly disliked. Before meeting, the principal brethren requested me to converse with him on the subject, saying they were sure I could convert him.
"Accordingly I took him out in presence of them all; but he gave me no time, being as impatient and undoubting on open communion as they were on close communion. I told him, however, that the brethren had commissioned me to convert him to their opinions, and smiled. He said he had come to convert me to his.
"I then set before him the terms of the ancient gospel as I had arranged them, and told him that their dispute about communion was silly and unprofitable. He heard me with delight. I appealed to the Scriptures, and he smiled; and soon, with a laugh, he exclaimed, 'It is all true! and I believe every word of it, and I will take you to a Christian brother who will receive it in a moment.'
"After meeting, I accompanied him to the house of said brother, living a mile and a half from the village; and the man and his wife hearing it, and examining the Scriptures, received it with all readiness that sane night, so that on that day were brought over to the side of the gospel two excellent men, both laborers among the 'Christians.'"
The "Christian brother" alluded to above, was William Schooley, a very useful and exemplary man. He was
84 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESa pioneer of great independence; manly, and long a pillar in the cause of primitive Christianity.
He was born in Bedford County, Va., August 5, 1792. In 1802, when Ohio was yet a territory, he settled, with his parents, near the spot where the town of Salem now stands. In 1839, he removed to Maysville, Clay County, Ill. This, with the exception of a few years in Fulton County, Ill., was his continued residence till his death, which occurred Jan. 31, 1873, in the eighty-first year of his age.
He was educated among the Friends, or Quakers, and imbibed their doctrines. But maturing in mind, as in years, and seeing Christendom all given up to the idolatry of partisan faiths, he became skeptical. Yet his reverence for the Bible held him fast. He read the gospel. In it his sincere and candid heart saw beauty and truth. "I thought," he says, "if there is any thing in religion, it is as much to me as any one else." In this state of mind he went several miles to hear one Robert Hocking, a "New Light" or Bible Christian. He claimed the Bible to be sufficient, opposed creeds as foundations of religious parties, and assumed the term Christian as the distinctive name of the followers of Christ. This gained his ready assent. Soon after, Thomas Whitacre came, and held a meeting in Schooley's house. Following up his convictions, he and many others confessed the Lord, and, after the manner of that people, were received into church relation by the "right hand of fellowship."
Population was sparse, and preachers few. Bro. Schooley was soon called forth to exhort the members, and to defend the "new religion," as these simple and elementary views of the gospel began to be called. The people spoke of him as a preacher; and from that time, November, 1822, till he was past eighty, he ceased not to labor in the gospel. He was ordained March 16, 1823, by Elders John Secrest and Thomas Whitacre. His labors
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 85
were mostly in Columbiana County, though he preached in one or two counties adjoining, and traveled some in Pennsylvania and Virginia. He says: "I went to the warfare at my own expense. I do not recollect that I received more than one dollar for my labors, as it was thought among the brethren that it was wrong to pay for preaching the gospel. This idea came from the Quakers. However, it was very convenient; it cost them nothing. Yet it was a heavy burden to those that preached. I have never thought it right to sell the gospel, or to make it a matter of merchandise; but I think the members of the church ought to know their duty, and to be prudently liberal towards the laborers of the gospel." So writes this good and sound man at an advanced age.
Schooley was a large, heavy man, remarkably firm and unyielding in his conscientious convictions. He was more distinguished for sound sense, prudence in counsel, and for his clear teaching of the gospel, than for eloquence or power of appeal. Hence he was less a revivalist than many; but he yielded a far more steady and permanent support to the churches. He was a leading man in the community, profoundly respected for his thorough honesty and benevolence.
The souls of Gaston and Scott became "knit together in love." They labored together with great zeal and overwhelming success; whole churches of the "New Lights" and of the Baptists, in Salem, New Lisbon, Fast Fairfield, Green, New Garden, Hanover, and Minerva, unloading the ship of the contraband wares of human tradition, became one people in the Lord and in his word. Conversions followed their labors in all places.
Bro. Gaston was ordained among the "Bible Christians." His fervid soul knew no bounds in his efforts to save sinners. A plaintive strain of tenderness
86 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESmingled with his impassioned persuasiveness. In tears he begged the people to turn from sin and come to Christ. In the ardor of his soul he has been known to fall upon his knees that he might plead more effectively, and win the lost soul to the Savior. Once when Scott's own powers of exhortation -- a gift in which he was a great master--failed to bring the people to repentance, he turned suddenly around, exclaiming, "Bro. Joseph, you get at these people!"
As he found his lungs giving away he exclaimed, "Oh! if I had only understood the gospel when I made my start in religion! How much suffering I might have escaped, and how much more good I might have done! But now I must go down to an untimely grave, and leave this good and glorious work of publishing the gospel to others!" After some six years of a most active, laborious, self-denying and very successful ministry, this pure, devoted man gathered up his feet upon his couch and was with Jesus. He expired, in Steubenville, at the residence of his brother-in-law, Mr. Manful. His brother James leaned over his sainted brother in his departure. His breathing became heavy, his eyes closed, and while all waited the last pulse, he suddenly revived, and addressed to all about him an exhortation of wonderful power. It was delivered in a full sonorous voice, accompanied by the free use of his hands. Then the farewell to his wife and children followed, and in a few moments he entered the chariot.
It was noted that every one in the room at the time of his death, who was not already a Christian, turned to the Lord.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 87
The bright jewel of the "Ancient Gospel," as the newly discovered arrangement of its fundamental items began now to be designated, attracted universal attention. So simple, so novel, so convincingly clear, and so evidently supported by the reading of the Acts, it won friends and wrought victories wherever it was proclaimed. It spread rapidly and became the topic of excited investigation from New Lisbon to the Lakes. Mr. Scott's success in Columbiana County had so completely demonstrated the correctness of his method of the direct application of the gospel for the salvation of sinners, that his zeal knew no bounds. He was a rapid rider. Mantled in his cloak, with a small polyglot Bible in the minion type, which he constantly studied, he hurried from place to place to tell the news; to preach the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.
BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN WHITACRE.In Columbiana and adjoining counties, no man had greater influence than John Whitacre. He was born to be a leader. Though unambitious, he possessed varied abilities of a higher order which naturally gave him eminence. He was frequently solicited to stand the poll for the legislature, and for congress, but he steadily refused. He was elected to the office of County Surveyor for Stark County by a handsome majority, when the voters on the opposing ticket counted nine hundred of a majority.
He was born in Loudon County, Va., February 14, 1790. His father and mother, Edward and Martha Whitacre, were strict members of the Friends' Society; consequently, their children had a birthright among that people. They moved into Columbiana County when the Indians, and the game which they chased, abounded in the
88 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESforests. Chances for education were scanty, but he drank with avidity from all springs of knowledge, taught in the schools, became master of the art of surveying, and served as the surveyor of the county about thirty-four years. In his surveying tours he often preached the gospel with great effect. He joined the movement which originated about the beginning of this century under the labors of Stone, Hughes, O'Kane, and others; and was baptized by Robert Hawkins, of Pennsylvania. When the advocates of the newer light, or, rather, the older light of the original gospel, came to him, he met them book in hand. After a careful consideration of this plea, and a candid examination of the Scriptures, he said, "It is true; and as I have set out to follow the Bible, I can not reject it." He never wavered, but held on till the day of his death preaching the glad tidings wherever an opportunity offered. He was very zealous, and sought in every way to teach the people. He was popular as a preacher, convincing in proof, warm and persuasive in exhortation, and brought many souls to Christ. He abounded in anecdote, was ready and apt in figures, pointed and witty in retort. These qualities, with a benevolent disposition, and a manly, noble form, singled him out as a man first in society, and first before great assemblies. He was not only hospitable, but "given to hospitality." His business talents -- the owner and successful conductor of the mills at Minerva -- enabled him to gratify his generous and social dispositions, by entertaining, with great liberality, the many guests who for many years were welcome in his family mansion.
Staying over night at a hotel where were other guests, strangers to him, in the evening the conversation arose among them in regard to Christianity. A young man who had imbibed skeptical sentiments spoke up pertly: "I would not believe those old Bible stories eighteen hundred years old, nor any thing for which I had not the evidence of my senses." Whitacre, who, till now had been silent,
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 89
spoke: "Young man, I perceive you have no mind." He replied, with warmth: "Sir, I claim to have as much mind as you, or any other man." "Let me ask you a question," said Whitacre: "Did you ever see your mind, or hear it? or did you ever feel, taste, or smell your mind?" "No, sir," said the youth. "Then, according to your own assertion, you have no mind!" This "brought the house down," and the young man was afterward wiser and more modest. On another occasion, he was at a meeting where several persons were gathered at the "altar" in prayer for divine power to come down. Among them was a lady of intelligent appearance, who evidently was in deep distress. She prayed that God would "give her faith -- saving faith; that he would help her to believe in Jesus." When she closed, Whitacre spoke to her: "Madam," said he, "what would you give for faith in Mahomet?" "Nothing," was her somewhat indignant reply. "Why not?" he continued. "Because," she rejoined, "I believe him to be an impostor." "But why are you so anxious for faith in Jesus Christ?" "Because," said she, "I believe he is my only Savior." "Well," said Whitacre, "why are you praying for that which you say you have? Why not go forward and obey the gospel, and be made free from sin?" On an occasion, while out surveying, he asked a young lady in the family if she was a Christian. "No, sir, I am not." "Would you like to be?" he asked. "Yes, sir; if I only knew how, I would gladly become one." He made an appointment, and 'so preached' and taught the people that not only she, but many others turned to the Lord; and a church was founded which for many years was a blessing to the people.
He was taken sick while surveying the farm of Ira M. Allen, near Canton, and died at Mr. Allen's house. The nervous system was prostrated; the brain power gave way; the 'wheel was broken at the fountain, and the silver cord was loosed.'
90 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESHe belonged to a generation of noble men who wrought a work which no man appreciated in their day. For unflinching integrity, and a life-long devotion to truth and righteousness, it is not easy to overestimate the grandeur and excellence of his life. He died the 26th day of November, in the 77th year of his age.
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 91
Lordstown -- Biography of Bentley -- Biography of C. Bosworth
-- East Fairfield -- Death of Mitchell.
THE Baptist Church in Warren was formed September 3, 1803, by Elder Chas. B. Smith. It consisted of the following ten persons: Isaac R. Dally, Effie Dally, Jane Dally, Saml. Burnett, Nancy Burnett, John Leavitt, Jr., Caleb Jones, Mary Jones, Saml. Fortner, and Henry Fortner. Isaac R. Dally was the deacon, and John Leavitt, Jr., clerk. No elder was appointed, as the Baptist order made no provision for "ruling elders," the preachers only being eligible to that designation. May 5, 1804, they were re-inforced by five additions -- Samuel Quimby, Samuel and Sophia Hayden, residing in Youngstown, and Wm. and Martha Jackson.
From 1806 to 1810, Elder T. G. Jones preached occasionally to them. May 19, 1810, A. Bentley, then a licentiate minister, was received and ordained the same day. Some of the members residing in Youngstown, it was resolved Jan. 5, 1811, to meet alternately in that town, near Parkhurst's Mills, and in Warren. February 8, 1812, Isaac R. Dally and Saml. Hayden, after being "proved," were ordained as deacons.
This church was a parent of churches -- Youngstown, Bazetta, Lordstown, and Howland, all sprang from it. January 11, 1815, thirteen members were
92 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESdismissed on application to organize in Youngstown, viz.: Saml. and Sophia Hayden, Benj. and Elizabeth Ross, Wm. and Parthena Dean, Caleb and Mary Jones, Isaac R. Alice, Saml. Burnett, Lydia Cook, Sarah Morris, and Nancy Jones; which church was formed Lord's day the 19th of April following -- Thos. Rigdon, J. Woodworth, and A. Bentley, officiating. They took the name of "Zoar," Gen. xix: 20, 22, that is, "little;" probably in allusion to the language of Lot: "Oh, let me escape thither, and my soul shall live."
This Thomas Rigdon was a man of much prominence as a preacher, and was worthy of the distinction conferred on him. He served with acceptability a term in the Ohio Legislature. There were three brothers, Thomas, John, and Charles, all Baptist ministers. They all fully adopted the views of the reformation, and faithfully defended them. They were cousins of the famous Sidney Rigdon.
December 4, 1819, the church granted the petition of eight members in Bazetta to form a church in that town. Benajah and Olive Austin were accepted for membership, February 5, 1820, and baptized the 20th of the same month by Mr. Bentley. March 4th, following, Sidney Rigdon was received into membership, and licensed April 1st, to preach. He married Miss Phebe Brooks, and after two years moved to Pittsburgh.
The Baptist people of those times were a humble, Bible-loving brotherhood. The gospel in their hands was plead with much simplicity and pious zeal. Churches were increasing, and ministers multiplying. Warren was the leading center; as it was also for
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 93
years the seat of justice for the Western Reserve. Here in 1821, and again in 1822, were held the ministerial assemblies of which Mr. Campbell thus speaks:
"Ministers' meetings once a year in different parts of that section of Ohio, for the purpose of making discourses before the people, and then for criticising them in concione clerum, and for propounding and answering questions on the sacred Scriptures, were about this time instituted and conducted with great harmony and much advantage. I became a regular attendant, and found in them much pleasure and profit." "These meetings were not appreciated too highly, as the sequel developed, inasmuch as they disabused the minds of the Baptist ministry of the Mahoning Association of much prejudice, and prepared the way for a great change of views and practice all over those 3,000,000 acres of the nine * counties which constitute the Western Reserve."
Changes, to be safe, must be gradual. The light of day bursts not suddenly on the earth, and the earth itself, with all things upon it, came into being by a measured progress. Great principles are slow in operation. Revolutions, to be permanent, must mature as they progress. This community of churches was discussing great subjects; and as rapidly as was safe the people were preparing for the scenes which I proceed now to relate.
Late in the autumn of 1827, as Walter Scott was riding down Buffalo Creek from Bethany toward Wellsburg, Va., he met John Secrest and James G. Mitchell, on their way to visit Mr. Campbell. They sat on their horses a good while talking over the
* Eleven counties by divisions since made.
94 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESstate and prospects of the cause of Christ. Scott was soon on his favorite theme--the "ancient gospel," as he called it. He said he was sick at heart hearing people talk about their dreams and visions, but not one syllable about their obedience to Jesus Christ--not a word about what blessing the ancient gospel secured to those who submitted themselves to the Messiah of God.
Young Mitchell was charmed with his conversation, and the brogue of his native Scotch tongue. He had never met him before. Scott, turning to Secrest, asked if this young man had any gift in exhortation? He replied that he had, and that if he would keep humble he might do much good. "God bless him," said Scott. "I hope he will; he is the man I want. You meet me at Bro. Jacob Campbell's, in New Lisbon, and we will away to Warren and besiege the town ten days and nights: I will preach and you will exhort, and we will make their ears tingle with the ancient gospel."
The Mitchells were a preaching family. They were men of firmness, promptitude, untiring zeal, and abundant in labors. The three brothers -- James, Nathan, and David -- ere sons of William Mitchell, whose ancestors emigrated from England with Lord Baltimore, and settled in Maryland. William Mitchell removed to Washington County, Pa., where James was born, December 5, 1805, and Nathan, March 2, 1808. Near Morristown, Belmont County, O., in 1813, where Mr. Mitchell had moved with his family, Joseph Hughes, of saintly memory, and Lewis Hamrick, revivalists of the "Christian connection," found them, and led them, father and sons, out of the wilderness
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 95
of religious doubt and conflict into the way of the gospel as practiced by that order of people. Brought forward in "exhortation," as was their custom, James and Nathan, and eventually David also, became prominent, and they have long been in the front rank among the most active and useful preachers of the gospel.
At the time agreed on, Bro. Mitchell went to New Lisbon, where he found Bro. Scott waiting for him. They arrived at Scott's residence in Canfield that evening, and next morning they proceeded to Warren, and found a welcome in the family of Bro. Richard Brooks.
It was January, 1828. The town lay in spiritual lethargy, profoundly ignorant of the tempest of spiritual excitement about to sweep over the place. Bentley had preached well and lived well; but he held not the key to the heart, nor was he skilled to awaken the music of the soul. A new era was at hand in the religious history of Warren.
Scott came unheralded. His first appointment was attended by few. There was neither expectation nor interest sufficient to collect an audience. A group of little boys, to some of whom he had spoken along the street in his eccentric way, were attracted by curiosity to the meeting which was held in the court-house. These, with a few old people, constituted his audience. In his discourse, after addressing the old with little apparent effect, he turned playfully to the boys, related to them some anecdotes, then skillfully changing his theme and tone, he melted them with sympathy for the sufferings of Jesus. His discourse was anecdote, pathos, wit, eloquence,
96 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESand general remark, the whole intended for future rather than present effect. He announced another appointment, and dismissed. Mitchell was disgusted.
"We had not gone far," he writes, "before I asked him if that was the way he was going to pursue in besieging the town of Warren! -- and if that was his ancient gospel! If so, I have no farther business in Warren." 'Oh!' he said, 'my dear brother, there was no one there worth preaching to, and I just threw that out for a bait. Hold still, we shall have a hearing yet, and then we will pour the great truths of the gospel red hot into their ears!' I thought possibly he was strategic in his method of gaining a hearing, and concluded to wait the issue.
"He was cheerful and social all the afternoon, anxious to get a hearing. Bro. Brooks kept silent. We could learn nothing concerning the discourse from the old folks or the boys. So passed this first day of the siege.
"At the appointed time we started to the meeting. The Baptist Church was secured, doubtless through Bro. Bentley's permission. Passing up, we found it crowded to its utmost capacity, and a number on the outside. Giving me an elbow touch, 'Do you see them nibbling at the bait?' said he. 'Yes,' I told him, 'I see plenty of people present.' We pressed our way through the dense crowd to the pulpit. We sung his favorite song --
Consolation running free
From my Father's wealthy throne,
Sweeter than the honey-comb."
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 97
himself to his full height, his great chocolate eyes glistening, his whole face full of animation and earnestness. He brought his siege guns into position, and for an hour and a half the house rang with his eloquence. I shall not attempt to give an outline, for no man could do justice to that sermon. While he described the Son of God hurling the word of his Father and his God on the great adversary, and lashing his hardened soul with words that had proceeded out of the mouth of God, until his brazen face shriveled, and his countenance most brazen fell, and he left, cowed, dismayed, foiled in his attempt, and the wonderful hero of redemption master of the field, victorious in the terrible conflict, while heaven's hosts came and ministered to him--he was powerful, lofty, and sublime. I had never heard such a discourse, so touching, so telling, not only on me, for the whole audience was moved.
"The siege was now fairly commenced. Up to the next Thursday an incessant fire was kept up day and night. The ancient gospel was poured into their ears. They were astonished, amazed. They got their Bibles, and went to reading and searching for the truth. No word fell on the floor, or hit the wall--all was eagerly caught and tried by the book. They could do nothing against it; it was the simple gospel of Christ in its facts, and commands, and promises.
"After the discourse on the temptation, he said we will sing a hymn, and see who will be on the Lord's side. We sang --
"Come and taste along with me," etc."Three persons came forward. He asked them if they believed with all their heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. 'These persons,' said he, 'will be baptized to-morrow after sermon, for the remission of their sins.' We baptized every day, and sometimes the same hour of the night."
98 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESThe tide of interest was flowing high. Scott's next discourse was on Peter's confession, Matt. xvi: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," a grand theme, favorite with him, and grandly handled. Mitchell came after with a spirited and powerful exhortation to the people to come and take their stand on this durable and firm foundation which God has laid as the only hope of the world.
Baptism followed the evening meeting. Mitchell says to Scott, "Do not let the people know where we are going, and we will slip over to Bro. Jacob Harsh's and get a good night's rest, and be prepared for the labors of the next day" -- for every night the places where they put up were crowded with inquiring and anxious souls. Mitchell retired and left Bro. Scott drying his clothes. It was but a few minutes before the house was filled with awakened people. Scott said, "If you follow me to learn the ancient gospel, I will pour it into your ears as long as I can wag a word off the end of my tongue." Mitchell fell asleep, leaving Mr. Scott speaking to the people. A number were deeply penitent. Scott awoke Mitchell, and told him to come and deliver one of his pathetic exhortations. "I would be in a fine mood, Bro. Walter, to exhort the people, just aroused from sleep!" "The iron is hot; one stroke when hot is worth a dozen when it is cold!" Out came Mitchell, singing as he came an old hymn, beginning:
"Begone, unbelief! my Savior is near,
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 99
and angels; and the pure and good; lost to eternal life and all bliss. Mr. John Tait, a Presbyterian, who had been strongly opposed, but who was now deeply moved, cried out, "Young man, for mercy's sake pray for me, for my heart is as hard and unfeeling as a stone." "Bless God!" said Scott, "Tait is a converted man." They all kneeled down, and Bro. Mitchell prayed for him. He wept aloud; so did Scott. "We are," said he, "to weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice." Then, addressing Tait, Scott said, "Are you willing to follow your faith? Do you believe with all your heart in Jesus Christ the Son of God?" "Mr. Scott, I do; but my heart is so hard; I am as unfeeling as a stone." "Ah! but 'we walk by faith.' 'This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.' Let your feelings gush up from your faith in God's Son, effects which must follow the obedience of faith." "Mr. Scott, I am ready to obey my faith." "Bless God! that is the path to travel."
Once more they started for the Mahoning, singing out on the midnight air as they went,
"Come and taste along with me,
Next morning, the crowd still large, Scott asked Bro. Mitchell to proceed in the discourse; which he did from the words of Peter concerning the "lively hope." He was only well begun, when Mr. Tait cried out, "I give glory to God! my soul is full of
100 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESlove to God and man." The effect was wonderful. "Go on," said Scott to the preacher. "It is no use; the feelings of the people are too high above any effort I can make." Scott took the audience, and in a very forcible manner gave an opportunity to obey the glorious gospel and be filled with the fullness of God. A number came penitently to confess their Savior.
The next meeting closed the siege. Two such houses would not have held the people. "Too many," said Scott, "for the effect we wish to produce." The closing discourse was a recapitulation of the principal topics discoursed during the meeting. So ended the siege of Warren, with over fifty conversions.
Bro. Mitchell adds in conclusion:
"It is due Bro. Walter Scott to give him credit as among the first on the continent of America, if not the very first, who took the old field-notes of the apostles and run the original survey, beginning at Jerusalem. The first man I ever heard preach baptism in the name of Jesus, with its antecedents, for the remission of sins, and reduce it to practice. And from this period, 1827, it spread like fire on a prairie all over the country, and happy thousands have rejoiced to learn how to become disciples of Christ according to the divine arrangement and purpose of God."
Scarce a vestige remained of the church in Warren to oppose the establishment of the ancient order. Additions continued to come in under the preaching of Bentley, Osborne, and Elder Thomas Campbell, who arrived soon afterward in the place. The fires of a new religious life were kindled in neighboring communities. On the 6th of March, 1830, the brethren in Howland were dismissed to form a church in
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 101
that place. In the beginning of the year 1831, Cyrus Bosworth and Benajah Austin were chosen bishops of the church, and Richard S. Brooks, James Gibson, and Moses Haskell, deacons. The members in Lordstown, whose names were chronicled in Warren, sent a petition to be set off, to unite with the church in that town, which was granted October 21st, 1832.
Bro. Bentley having located near Chagrin Falls, the church in Warren was left to supply itself with another pastor. At their call, Bro. Jonas Hartzel came; and on the 5th of April, 1835, he was installed as preacher, and associate elder with Bro. C. Bosworth. Subsequently, the church has had J. E. Gaston, Isaac Errett, John W. Errett, and others, who, with a judicious and experienced eldership, have maintained to this day the cause of Christ in Warren.
Very early a congregation sprang up in Lordstown. The new converts -- fruits of Scott's meeting in Warren, with the members already there, and others gathered by Henry, Marcus Bosworth, and others -- gave them such strength, that on the 20th of March, 1830, forty-one came together in the order of the Scripture models. Robert Tait and Moses Haskell were overseers, and John Tait and David Lewis, deacons. The church grew to considerable strength, and few have had a more stable brotherhood. They have participated in all the enterprises by which the cause of primitive Christianity has been sustained. The present number is about fifty. They have a good house of worship, and have been favored recently with the diligent and prudent labors, as pastor and elder, of Philander Green.
102 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES
BIOGRAPHY OF ADAMSON BENTLEY.The life of a good man is a blessing to the world. As certain waters transmute to stone the perishable wood deposited in them, so communion with God turns all the actions of a man's life to immortality. Biography has its office--its mission among men. The biographic pen, like the pencil, rightly used, works out immortal things. Its rightful use is to record, in durable permanence, a useful life which floats in transient recollections, and to extend it from the family to the world.
Adamson Bentley is beloved for his work's sake, tenderly remembered for qualities of character which mark him as a rare and noble man. He was born July 4th, 1785, in Allegheny County, Pa. While he was yet young his father moved with his numerous family to Brookfield, Trumbull County, Ohio; a country not yet rescued from the dominion of the primitive forest. Here young Bentley experienced the privations common to pioneer life. He struggled through encumbering difficulties till he obtained a suitable education for the profession in life in which he was so long distinguished.
He made public confession of his faith in Christ when he was a youth, in the Baptist order. His religious guardians discovering the bent and capacity of the young Timothy, and correctly foreseeing the usefulness to which he might attain, advised him to prepare for the ministry.
He began to preach at nineteen. Holding the system of Calvinism to be the unquestionable scheme of saving grace, he taught and urged its doctrines with the most unscrupulous fidelity. The clashing between the offers of mercy to all men, and the system which denied this salvation to any but the elect, was constantly present and constantly felt. In the honest devotion of his nature he carried the system in his head, and the love of God in his
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 103
heart. And as the heart, in this behalf, was better than the head, he proclaimed the love of Christ so powerfully that many conversions followed his ministry. As no man, probably, ever believed this doctrine more sincerely; so no one ever rejoiced more fully when its scales fell from his eyes. Take the following testimony from his own lips, as the writer heard him, in his own solemn style, declare his feelings in the great yearly meeting in Hubbard, 1837:
"I used to take my little children on my knee, and look upon their as they played in harmless innocence about me, and wonder which of them was to be finally and forever lost! It can not be that God has been so good to me as to elect all my children! No, no! I am myself a miracle of mercy, and it can not be that God has been kinder to me than to all other parents. Some of these must be of the non-elect, and will be finally banished from God and all good. 'And now,' he continued, his parental heart swelling with unutterable emotions, 'if I only knew which of my children were to dwell in everlasting burnings, oh! how kind and tender would I be to them, knowing that all the comfort they would ever experience would be here in this world! But now I see the gospel admits all to salvation. Now I can have every one for eternal happiness. Now I can pray and labor for them in hope.'"
His prayers were heard: years before his departure, he enjoyed that greatest bliss of a pious parent's heart -- he saw all his children walking in the truth.
He preached about five years as a licentiate. In 1810, he settled in Warren, and on the 19th of May, that year, he was ordained. On the 4th of May, the next year, at the unanimous call of the church, he accepted the duties of pastor. For a long tine he was popular in that community. The bland dignity of his manners, and his social courtesy, won him many friends. Though his talents as a preacher were above mediocrity, and he was heard with
104 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESdelight and profit by numerous auditors, to his social qualities and moral excellencies, as a man and a citizen, are to be traced the sources of that extensive power which he possessed among the people. It is our fortune to be acquainted with few persons in a life-time, who wield a personal influence so supreme. Tall, manly, graceful, with a countenance radiant with good nature, affable and dignified, he would stand among dignitaries as his equals, and condescend to the lowly with a gentleness which won the attachment of every heart.
In all that constitutes home a source and fountain of hospitable generosities, his amiable companion was quite his equal. With more economy and equal social talent, she managed her household with such skill that the entertained and the entertainers seemed equally happy. In those earlier days, when social habits were not yet costumed into rigid rule, many a traveler urged his journey an hour later and a few miles further to be a guest at his broad hearth-fires. None knew better than the gratefully remembered mistress of that hospitable home, how to "welcome the coming and speed the going guest."
As may well be supposed, on a limited salary, the increasing expenses of his family had not a sufficient foundation. He therefore for a time resorted to merchandise, merely as subsidiary, however, for he never neglected the preaching of the gospel.
In the course of his ministry he traveled extensively. He visited Kentucky, and labored a considerable time among the brethren in that State, and made many friends. The governor of that State received him into his mansion, and showed him marked attentions. He traveled much in Pennsylvania. He crossed the mountains in his saddle many times. At a time when population was sparse, and the mountain passes were infested by robbers, he climbed the craggy cliffs of those mountain barriers to tell to the East the progress of salvation in the West, and to bear
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 105
back to the West a share of the harvests the brethren were reaping in the cities of the East. In these travels he made the acquaintance of the renowned Dr. William Stoughton. A lasting friendship grew up between the two ministers, which Bentley perpetuated by giving to his oldest son the name of his friend. Dr. Stoughton was the author of an abridgment of Dr. Gill's "Complete Body of Divinity," a work which, through Mr. Bentley's influence, found many purchasers in the West.
About the years 1820 to 1825, Mr. Bentley was visiting the Baptist Church which met near Cleveland's Mills in the corner of Youngstown. The memory of some yet living returns with speed swifter than carrier-dove to those primitive scenes of unsectarianized simplicity. The groves, "God's first temples," were spacious, and the umbrageous forests, cleared underneath, lent solemnity and impressiveness to the scene. I have seen him there with a wagon for his rostrum, and seats brought from the adjacent mills for the accommodation of the crowd which had gathered from miles around. Some leaned at the base, or sat down on the roots of the trees, whose leafy boughs interlacing, wove a sheltering protection against the sun's descending beams. When he stood up to read, all listened; when he lifted up his eyes to pray, all arose; when he announced, in devout accent, the sweet and solemn hymn, all joined to swell the chorus of praise. Those days and scenes have been celebrated in poetic lines:
Down to the grove where BENTLEY used to pray;
Where pious neighbors thronged the place around,
And stood, or leaned, or sat upon the ground.
I well remember how he used to stand,
And hold his Bible in his leftward hand;
And use his right to point out what it meant,
While lofty oaks in silence waved assent!"
106 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESbegan to make a stir, though cautious, he was one of the first to accept the principles of a scriptural reform by them so ably propounded. This appeal to primitive ground created much conflict among all the religious bodies, but especially among the Baptist churches. He made acquaintance with those eminent men, and so thoroughly had he canvassed the claims of their call for union on Bible ground, that when the bold and eloquent Walter Scott came to Warren, Bentley seconded his labors, and warmly co-operated with him on that occasion. There followed a great ingathering of souls; and the whole church, with scarcely an exception, adopted the platform of union contained in the New Testament. He continued to preach with great power and with fresh zeal, now that the new disclosures of the knowledge of the gospel had been made known, and many converts came to Christ under his ministry. In 1829, at the Association in Sharon, he was chosen along with Scott, Hayden, and Bosworth, to travel within its bounds.
At the close of the year 1831 he removed to Chagrin Falls. While laboring to establish himself in his new home, he "neglected not the gift that was in him." He preached at every opportunity, not only without regard to compensation, but rendering such help as his circumstances permitted to lay the foundations of the cause in that new community.
It will not be possible to follow minutely the active and useful life of Adamson Bentley. Such a history would make a volume of considerable dimensions. His interest in the cause of Christ, and the union of all the Israel of God on the primitive foundation, never flagged. He had great assurance of hope in the speedy dawn of the blessed day for the original union of the people of God to be perfectly restored. His great love of peace, and his ardent, hopeful temperament led him to indulge bright visions of
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 107
the speedy triumph of the pure, primitive gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Age drew on apace, and with it a gradual decrease of his ability to endure field-service under the King. Yet he never desisted. At nearly eighty, decrepitude forced him to retire. The going down of his day was gradual and beautiful, like the decline of the sun, leaving in full play the amiabilities of his fine social nature. Serenity and cheerfulness still held sway, while the eye grew dim, and the natural force abated. While lingering on the shore of the cold stream, he beheld the "shining ones," and longed to be with them. "I rely not on myself; my full and only trust is in the Rock which was cleft for me." Full of hope and full of days, he took his departure for the brighter world, November 2, 1864. He lacked only eight months of eighty full years. For sixty years he blew the trumpet, and led Israel in the glorious combat.
In personal appearance, Mr. Bentley was more than an average man in dignity and comeliness. He was tall, finely proportioned, graceful in manners, and endowed with a remarkably open and engaging countenance. His noble form never stooped, till near the close of life he bowed a little, like a sheaf well ripened for the harvest.
As a preacher, like all men who leave their impression on society, he was like no one else, and no one resembled him. He usually began slowly, with simple and plain statements of his subject, rambling not unfrequently, till warming in his theme, he broke the shackles of logic, and swept on like a swelling tide, bearing his audience along with the vehemence of his pathos and commanding oratory. On such occasions his voice became full, sonorous, and powerful. When the shower was passed, the people not caring to analyze the sermon, or to trace their emotions to logical sources, were delighted and edified, and departed with marked and decided respect for the preacher, and with far higher reverence for the adorable
108 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESSon of God, whom he preached and whom he served. He never trifled in the pulpit. His message was solemn, and seriously and earnestly did he deliver it.
A life so equable as his, so uniform in its flow, has left no abruptness or sudden dash; little that is startling to create a fund of cherished anecdote. The few that are handed down bear the impress of his character. At one time infidelity, and even atheism, made considerable headway in Warren. On a Lord's day he arose in a full assembly, and after surveying the audience in silence for a moment, exclaimed: "There is no God!" The people looked surprised, while wonder and doubt glanced around. A moment more, and he repeated it with stronger emphasis. Perceiving the hearers to be thoroughly aroused, he looked inquiringly into his Bible for a moment. "But," he continued, in a softened tone, "I have omitted a part of the sentence: 'The fool hath said in his heart there is no God!'" The discourse which followed was a clear and convincing proof of the existence and perfections of the Creator of all things.
He was one of the original trustees of Bethany College, and gave his whole influence to the missionary cause. The following notice of him appeared in the records of the missionary society for the State of Ohio, for the year 1865.
"Among the memorials of departed worth, a large space should be allotted to the late, most worthy and patriarchal brother Adamson Bentley. Since our last meeting this eminent man of God has gone to his rest and his reward. His departure, in happy consonance with the calm and cheerful dignity of his noble life, was gentle, peaceful, and blessed. No man in north-eastern Ohio possessed the weight of influence with the people that was wielded by this princely man. He came to the side of Campbell and Scott in that early day when such an endorsement of their plea and work could be appreciated only by those who witnessed
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 109
the apostolic labors and struggles which marked the early epoch of our blessed work.
"Multitudes love to linger around the memory of this good man. All respected, most loved him. Of him, as truly as of any other man, it may be said:
'Take him all in all,
BIOGRAPHY OF CYRUS BOSWORTH.CYRUS BOSWORTH, for many years a prominent citizen of Trumbull County, deserves much more than a passing notice. Few men in north-eastern Ohio have won more cordial or more durable respect. None surpassed him in enlightened views of public enterprise, in energy of character or business capacity. He was twice elected to the office of Sheriff of the county; served as Colonel of a military regiment, and filled a seat with credit in the Ohio Legislature; in all which positions he secured the confidence of the people.
He was born in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, April 12, 1791. He early acquired a good English education, especially in navigation, surveying, and such branches as would fit him for the seas. Yielding to the entreaty of friends, he gave up his inclination for a maritime life, and in 1811, at the age of twenty, he came to "New Connecticut." For a time he engaged in teaching, but the late war with Great Britain breaking out, he was employed as express messenger between Warren and Pittsburgh, and was the first to carry the news of Perry's victory to the latter place. He returned to New England, married Miss Sina Strowbridge, and in the latter part of 1813 we find him, with his parents, again at Warren. He resumed his former occupation, but soon left it for the battle of life on more stirring fields. He built the National Hotel, erected a store, and became a merchant. His election to
110 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESthe legislature was in 1822. At the expiration of that term, he accepted, at two successive polls, the office of sheriff. He settled on a large farm three miles south of Warren, where, in the more congenial pursuits of agriculture, he passed the maturer years of his active life. He lost his companion after a number of years of happy wedded life, and contracted a second marriage with Miss Sarah C. Case, sister to Leonard Case, Esq., late of Cleveland -- a partner who survived him about fourteen years.
He was religiously trained in the Baptist order. In June, 1829, in the general religious interest attending the labors of Scott, he confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus, and was baptized by Bro. Bentley. He never went through the ceremony of a formal reception into the church, insisting that, according to the Scriptures, when we are "baptized into Christ," Gal. iii: 27, we are baptized into "one body," which is the church of Christ. 1 Cor. xii: 13. He was soon called to the eldership of the congregation, and stood in that position many years. Under appointment by the church, he spent much time for several years preaching the gospel. His great weight of character and clear, cogent reasoning, gave a powerful support to the cause in its comparative infancy.
Much as he was respected in public life, to be appreciated, one must see him at home, and mingle in the scenes of the generous hospitality which for many years welcomed the coming guests to his open doors. With equal dignity and grace, he received and provided for the comfort of every one. He, too, was "given to hospitality." The social repast, well seasoned with Attic salt, where intelligence was mingled with agreeable entertainment, made the home of Bosworth known and gratefully remembered in all that region.
In his character there were qualities seldom united. A perfect hater of shams, no one was more lenient to the trivial blunders of humble merit. He could expose hypocrisy
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 111
with a terrible severity, but he showed to the erring and needy a gentleness and tenderness of heart as beautiful, as they were healing. He had some enemies in a popular sense, for "he could not bear them which were evil;" yet in asserting the cause of the injured, he was prompt and decided. He declared early and openly for emancipation, because "it was right." These elements of character marked his course as a ruler in the church. His sternness was sometimes the more apparent, but his sympathetic consideration of human weaknesses was never far in the rear. Some feared him, all respected him, the most loved him. For strength of character, force of will, and even consistency with himself, he had few equals.
His health failing, he journeyed to the milder climate of Texas and Mexico. The American Christian Missionary Society employed him to look after the weak churches while on his tour. In this work he was diligent, and proved a blessing. He assisted in the organization of some churches, and the encouragement of many. He returned from that mission in the fall of 1860, improved in health. In January following, he took a severe cold, from which he never fully recovered. Yet he was not confined to his room a day. On the 4th of April he went into his garden, and feeling ill, he turned to come in, and fell in death before any one could come to him. This was in 1861.
EAST FAIRFIELD.A quarterly meeting was held in East Fairfield, Columbiana County, beginning February 1st. Bro. Mitchell says:
"Leaving Warren, we went to our appointment in Fairfield, and put up with Bro. John Ferrall. We commenced at candle-lighting, and continued ten days, preaching the same gospel to the people that we did at Warren. The immediate result was thirty-seven additions, all new converts, beside instructing many of the old Christian order
112 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESin more scriptural views of the gospel, especially in regard to the design of baptism. At this point I parted with Bro. Scott, after enjoying his company twenty-five days, and learning many things more valuable than tens of thousands of silver and gold; sweeter than honey; more delicious than the honey-comb. Looking back over forty-four years, and remembering what was the condition of things then, and the present state of affairs, I feel satisfied that the omnipotence of truth has effected it all."
On the Western Reserve some of the churches originated in reforming Baptist communities. In Columbiana County the "Christian" element predominated. These people were themselves reformers, seeking, in the measure of their light, to return to New Testament usages; but like most of the efforts to return from spiritual Babylon to Jerusalem, they crystallized around a few items which they capitalized into undue prominence. The great matters of the ancient gospel, and ancient order of the churches, were veiled in obscurity. Earnest and zealous, their public speakers often possessing great exhortatory power, they made many converts. They had a large congregation at Fairfield, and a good meeting-house. The amiable Joseph Gaston was their preacher. Through him, Bro. Scott obtained a favorable introduction among them. These visited the people together, and talked freely on the principles of the gospel. Scott was gifted with conversational powers of great skill and scope, and being full of his subject, he won at every onset. A meeting was called which was attended by the whole church. Scott turned his subject to his master key of Peter, pentecost and pardon. The theme was new, and in his hands the
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 113
scriptural scheme of the gospel was so plain and convincing, scarcely a doubt was left in the great audience. At the close of his sermon, the proposition was made to take the sense of the church upon the overture now submitted, to assume the position of a gospel church, in accordance with the scriptural teaching they had just heard. There was almost a unanimous rising up. Only five or six refused. It was a strong church of strong men.
Not long after this, Elder James Hughes, of Kentucky, came and preached among them. Learning the clearer way of the gospel, he adopted it, saying he always thought the Scriptures connected more blessing with baptism than they had discovered. He continued to thus preach, and to practice as long as he lived.
According to the order of the "Christian" brethren, the preachers were the elders. They had deacons to perform the duties common to that class of officers. Bringing the church to the New Testament models, they now appointed William Cunningham and John Ferrall, who had been deacons, to the office of bishop, or overseer, and Dr. Amasa Fisher, and ------- -------, deacons. Joseph Gaston continued to be their minister.
About this time a colony of Methodists came into Fairfield, from Virginia. They had their preacher, Benjamin Patterson, and were prepared to attend to the matters of religion in their own way, and keep guarded against novelties and heresies. It was not long before Bro. Benjamin Saunders came, and proclaimed the gospel so clearly and powerfully, he captured their preacher, and left his flock so shaken, that
114 EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLESthey became an easy and willing prey. Every one, without an exception, embraced the teachings of the apostolic gospel, and came into the church. Patterson was baptized by Elder John Ferrall.
The subject of "weekly communion," was some time under discussion. It was new; and many thought it too great an innovation on established usages. Some argued that so great frequency would detract from its solemnity. On the other hand, it was steadily and convincingly plead that as the holy apostles, who had been charged by the Lord Jesus with establishing the customs and laws of his kingdom, had ordained that order in the beginning, it was binding still, and that it could not degenerate in solemnity when approached with the true and proper spirit. It was finally arranged, at Bro. Ferrall's suggestion, that the subject should be a matter of forbearance; those who regarded it a duty to show forth the Lord's death every Lord's day, to be permitted to do so; granting the unmolested right to others to come to the table of the Lord at longer intervals, as they had been accustomed to. To this all acceded; and all was harmony. Very soon all the members were a unit in this practice. Would that all differences in religious matters could be settled as amicably and permanently.
The church of East Fairfield has a noble record, and has been a light to the surrounding country. It has been generous in sustaining the "yearly meetings," and all others, for the proclamation of the Word of Life. Our men of name have all preached among them from time to time, and assisted the faithful brethren in Fairfield to maintain the "unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."
IN THE WESTERN RESERVE. 115
Bro. J. G. Mitchell spent a long life in the gospel. He began when a youth, and traveled extensively in most of the north-western States. He was equally distinguished for zeal and success. He was small in stature, quick in action and speech, abundant in appropriate anecdotes, and never addressed an inattentive audience. With a kind heart, generous and high minded, few men had more friends. He settled in Danvers, McLean County, Ill., where his most useful life was terminated by a painful disease, which he bore with great patience, July 26th, 1873, in the 68th year of his age.
Continue reading on
A. S. Hayden's History of the Disciples...