Amos S. Hayden
History of the Disciples...
(Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1875)
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That portion of the members who maintained the sufficiency of the revealed will of God for all purposes of "faith and practice," formed a church in Mantua, January 27, 1827, "on the principle of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and obedience to him as taught in his word." It consisted at first of nine members, viz: John Rudolph, John Rudolph, Jr., Zeb Rudolph, James Rudolph, Darwin Atwater, Laura Atwater, Cleona Rudolph, Elizabeth Rudolph and Patta Blair.
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The first year eighteen members were added, including Seth Sanford, Seth Harmon, Lyman Hunt and Mrs. Judge Atwater. Sidney Rigdon was their stated, though not constant, minister. In February, 1828, soon after his great meeting in Warren, Scott visited Nelson, Hiram and Mantua, and many turned to the Lord.
In May, of this year, the church was favored with a visit from "father" Thomas Campbell. The infant cause derived great advantages from this visit. He "set in order the things that were wanting," confirmed the faith of the members, and new converts were added to the congregation. Under his counsels, brethren Zeb Rudolph and Darwin Atwater, young men of commendable gifts, studious and of blameless reputation, were chosen by the church, and set apart as "teachers." and John Rudolph Jr., and Lyman Hunt were appointed deacons. This was done Saturday, May 24, 1828. The next day, Elder Campbell preached in a barn belonging to Jotham Atwater, to a large concourse of people. Symonds Ryder, of Hiram, whose mind had been tossed with conflicting doubts, seeking to find the "right way of the Lord," heard him with fixed attention, and his difficulties being all removed, he confessed the Lord that day, and was baptized by Bro. Reuben Ferguson.
The converts increasing in Hiram and Nelson, a petition for the formation of a new church in Hiram was laid before the congregation; which, being granted, thirty-seven were dismissed for that purpose, and organized April 18, 1829. Another portion were dismissed to unite in Shalersville. Gamaliel H. Kent, and his wife Anna E. Kent, took letters to Aurora.
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The church in Mantua was thus much reduced, but her light has never gone out.
The following statement from the hand of that pillar of truth and justice, Bro. D. Atwater, just lately (May 28, 1873) laid down to rest, will be read with special interest:
MANTUA STATION, April 26, 1873.
DEAR BRO. A. S. HAYDEN:The infant church at Mantua was left small and inexperienced. I was the only one who had been accustomed to take an active public part. There were Bro. Seth Sanford, and Bro. Seth Harmon, both very young in the Christian profession, with a number of excellent sisters. In our weak state, in the midst of so much opposition, we were poorly prepared to take care of the church. March 21, 1830, I was ordained elder, (in my youth), and Bro. Seth Harmon was ordained deacon -- Adamson Bentley officiating.
At this time, Oliver Snow, an old member of the Baptist church, united with us. His talents, age and experience, ought to have been very useful to us, but they were more frequently exercised in finding fault with what we attempted to do, than in assisting us. This only increased our embarrassment. Soon after this, the great Mormon defection came on us. Sidney Rigdon preached for us, and notwithstanding his extravagantly wild freaks, he was held in high repute by many. For a few months before his professed conversion to Mormonism, it was noticed that his wild, extravagant propensities had been more marked. That he knew before of the coming of the book of Mormon is to me certain, from what he said the first of his visits at my father's, some years before. He gave a wonderful description of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America, and said that they
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must have been made by the Aborigines. He said there was a book to be published containing an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent, enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary. Though a youth then, I took him to task for expending so much enthusiasm on such a subject, instead of things of the gospel. In all my intercourse with him afterward he never spoke of antiquities, or of the wonderful book that should give account of them, till the book of Mormon really was published. He must have thought I was not the man to reveal that to.
In the admiration of Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Snow and his family shared very largely; so, when he came with his pretended humility, to lay all at the feet of Mormonism, it caused a great shock to the little church at Mantua. The force of this shock was like an earthquake, when Symonds Ryder, Ezra Booth and many others, submitted to the "New Dispensation."
Eliza Snow, afterward so noted as the "Poetess" among the Mormons, led the way. Her parents and sister, and three or four other members of the church, were finally carried away. Two of these were afterward restored.
From this shock the church slowly recovered. Bro. Ryder returned and exposed Mormonism in its true light. The Mormon character soon exposed itself.
Marcus Bosworth continued to preach for us. Symonds Ryder soon resumed his public labors with us, and regained the confidence of the community.
In the year 1834, there were several additions to the church. Its growth has never been rapid. We never had very large accessions, or very low depressions.
In 1839, we built a meeting-house at the center of Mantua, and commenced to occupy it late in the Fall. It was soon after this that you labored for us. About this time, (January 19, 1840), John Allerton and wife, from the church at Euclid, and Selah Shirtliff and wife united, from
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the church in Shalersville -- all the same day. Of the events during your labors for the church at Mantua, in 1840 and 1841, I need not write.
After much prayerful consideration, the church ordained Selah Shirtliff and John Allerton as elders, and Seth Sanford, deacon. This was done August 21, 1841. In the above, I should have mentioned that Walter Scott preached for us several times. Father Thomas Campbell a number of times. Alexander Campbell once, and Bro. Alton once. Jacob Osborne several times before our organization, and once afterward. Adamson Bentley once or more. John Henry one meeting of days. William Hayden many times. D. ATWATER.
This congregation affords an instructive example to show that the leaders of a church usually impress the strong features of their character on the membership. No community presents greater uniformity in its history. Firm, unwavering, moderately aggressive, she has maintained her ground and gradually extended her borders. Her house of worship was too small, and after some years it was enlarged. Chiefly from Mantua, came the agencies which established the church in Auburn. She has not been behind in works of benevolence, and her contributions for missionary enterprises, for the translation and circulation of the Bible, and for the support of the ministry, are a memorial to her honor. Among the earliest and strongest advocates of temperance, antislavery and kindred moralities, this brotherhood will be remembered when some communities of more pretension, but far less merit, shall pass away and fade from memory. Bro. Darwin Atwater, for more than forty-three years, was the honored teacher, elder, and counselor of the congregation.
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This church of Mantua has given to the public three educated men of much promise for ability and for a thorough training in the principles of the Christian religion. These are the three sons of the elder Atwater: O. C. Atwater, John M. Atwater, and Amzi Atwater -- the last a professor in the University of Bloomington, Ind., and a preacher; the others are proclaimers of the gospel in New England.
SKETCH OF DARWIN ATWATER.Bro. Atwater's life was in many ways remarkable. Very seldom has a man appeared, and disappeared from the scenes of life's activity with so little of cloud or fleck upon him. Finely formed, of full size, an open, frank, yet grave countenance, his presence was noble, commanding always the respect of the people.
He was the only son of Hon. Amzi Atwater, who for a time filled the position of Associate Judge, and of Sister Huldah Atwater, whose time-honored home was in Mantua. His father, the late judge, being one of the original party of surveyors to survey into townships the country called New Connecticut, or "Western Reserve," the party landed at Conneaut, the 4th of July, 1799, and proceeded to their work. This done, Amzi Atwater married Miss Huldah Sheldon, and settled on the banks of the Cuyahoga, where his son Darwin was born, September 11, 1805.
He availed himself of such facilities for learning as the country afforded. 1822-23 he spent some time in the academy in Warren. Afterward, in company with his friend, Bro. Zeb Rudolph, yet surviving, he took a course of study in language and the Bible, to fit himself for preaching.
He found a congenial companion in every good sense, and for every good purpose, in Miss Harriet Clapp, daughter
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of Judge Orris Clapp, of Mentor, whose family are known as widely as the cause of the reformation.
When the church of Mantua was formed, Bro. Atwater was appointed its elder. The history of the church from that day was the history of Bro. Atwater. Other elders there have been -- and good ones -- yet the uniformity of his life, his undeviating devotion, his high and consistent manliness and superiority of judgment, gave him an undisputed pre-eminence in the church, and wherever his noble qualities had legitimate exercise.
Few men ever lived among us who understood better the gospel of Christ. Though conducting successfully a large farm, his study of the Scripture was constant, thorough, and unremitting. In the earlier part of his life he gave considerable time to preaching, and all his life the church received much of his attention. As a speaker he was slow, but his speech was so candid and so seasoned with good sense and godly counsel that it was always profitable.
He died on Wednesday, the 28th of May; was buried Friday, the 30th. Bro. A. B. Green preached on the occasion to the largest assembly ever convened on such an occasion in the town. The preacher was much weighed down, saying to me afterward, "I felt as though I was preaching the funeral of my own father."
His first family consisted of three sons and one daughter. The sons are all preachers and holding important positions. His daughter Mary is Mrs. Neely, lately among the freedmen in Alabama, now of North Carolina. She was, through distance, denied the sad privilege of mingling her tears with the family at the burial. The others came, but some of them too late to have the coffin-lid lifted to behold his face in death.
Bro. Atwater died within twenty rods of the spot where he was born. The home virtues were pre-eminent. Such a home! And such generous hospitality! For much
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more than forty years the welcome guest has bathed at his fountain and been refreshed, equally at his table and by his Christian, hospitable welcome.
Many years ago he lost the faithful wife of his youth. Another was given to him, who let not down the standard of home virtues and comforts. He married the second daughter of the beloved Marcus Bosworth, Mrs. Betsy W. Treudley, whose children found a home and counsel invaluable to them. About eighteen years the new went on so steadily and uniformly, it seemed but the first continued--not two families; one continued, unbroken chain of affection through all.
HIRAM.The history of the church of disciples in Hiram is so intimately interwoven with that of its first and long its only elder, Bro. Symonds Ryder, that we shall follow the thread of his life in giving this history to our readers. In doing this, we shall draw freely from the biographical sermon delivered by Pres't B. A. Hinsdale, of Hiram College, on the occasion of the funeral of Mr. Ryder, August 3, 1870, slightly abridging some paragraphs. We do this with the more pleasure, as in the discourse Pres't Hinsdale gives in its true light, the "momentary tripping" of Bro. Ryder, with the correct explanation of his deviation; a circumstance, which, at the time it occurred, as I distinctly remember, created a marvel of astonishment in the minds of the disciples and of all who knew the manly consistency of his character. This discourse repeats a few facts already recorded, but in such connection that the repetition will be fresh. The length of the sermon will not be considered objectionable, in view of the valuable lessons which it impresses from the life of the man of whom it speaks.
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LIFE AND CHARACTER OF SYMONDS RYDER.
And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. Gen. xv: 15.Nothing has occurred in the history of this community for many years so fertile in suggestion, as the event which has called us together.
Here lies one who has attained to the age of nearly eighty years--who was but three years younger than the American Government. Not many men are left to us whose recollections go back to the closing years of the great life of Washington--to the time when Adams, Jefferson, and Hamilton, were in the fullness of their strength; not many who read in the newspapers the history of the wars of the French Revolution; not many are the lives that have spanned the eventful period reaching from the time when the first Napoleon was an unknown subaltern in the French army, to the time when the third Napoleon is marshaling his troops for the great struggle with Germany.
The man whom we bury to-day was an object of interest in himself. He was no ordinary man; his was no tame or common life. What he was in himself, the relation in which he so long stood to this community, and especially to this church, make the present an occasion of unusual interest and solemnity.
HIS EARLY HISTORY.SYMONDS RYDER was born in Hartford, Windsor County, Vermont, on the 20th of November, 1792. He was of
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Puritan stock, being a lineal descendant of a Ryder who came over in the Mayflower. His father, who had moved from Cape Cod to Vermont, was a man of considerable influence and property. The decay of his father's fortune threw young Symonds wholly upon his own resources. At the age of fifteen he entered the service of Elijah Mason, the father of Carnot and John Mason, long citizens of this town; the father, also, of Mrs. Charles Raymond and Mrs. Zeb Rudolph, who are present with us to-day. So soon as he had attained his majority, having served Mason six years, Ryder started for the West. His entire property consisted of the clothes he wore, the horse he rode, and a little money in pocket--all together amounting to one hundred and thirty-three dollars. It is worth remarking that he passed through the village of Buffalo on the 28th of December, 1813, the evening before it was burned by the British. The next day the fleeing population overtook him, while yet in sight of their burning homes. He arrived in Hiram, January 6, 1814. He purchased some land, and set to work to create a home in the forest. In the winter of 1814-15, he returned to Vermont.
Gathering the family about him, he started a second time for the West; now to plant his father and mother, brothers and sisters, in the new home which he had partially prepared for them. Here, in due time, the Ryder family found themselves in Hiram, surrounded by the wilderness, surrounded too, by old acquaintances; for Hiram was a Vermont colony.
In his efforts to restore the fortunes of his family, he was supported by his younger brother, Jason, long a deacon of the church.
In 1818, he married Mehetabel Loomis, who struggled up the rugged steeps of life side by side with him for more than fifty years; who survives her husband, and is here to-day to weep over his bier.
In the early history of Hiram, he was, perhaps, the
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best educated man in the township, and was, of course, well fitted for the public duties which his townsmen called him to discharge.
HIS RELIGIOUS LIFE.His early teachings and impressions of religion were of the severe puritanical sort which prevailed in New England during the last century. His nature was susceptible to religious ideas, and he recognized the necessity of religion as a conservative influence on society.
One of the oldest churches of the Mahoning Association was the Church of Bethesda, in Nelson, Portage County, founded in 1808. The reformed views effected a lodgment among the members of this church early in 1824, and after a series of struggles to reconcile differences of opinion on the question of creeds, and on some points of doctrine, seventeen members were excommunicated for heresy. The heretics represented the largest share of the intelligence and piety of the Bethesda Church; moreover, but eight votes were cast for the exscinding resolution. They were citizens of Nelson, Hiram, and Mantua; and being devoted to the Bible and the religion of the New Testament, they met successively for worship on Lord's days in these townships. In those meetings they studied the Word, and strengthened each other by prayer and exhortation. There was at first no man among them of sufficient age and experience in public speaking to warrant his election to the office of Elder or Overseer. But Darwin Atwater, John Rudolph and his two sons, John and Zeb, (and we have reason for gratulation that the first one and last two are with us to-day), were leading members. The little band continued to meet and increase in numbers, though without any regular and formal organization. They were occasionally visited by evangelists and preachers, who had adopted the advanced views of Campbell and Scott, whose preaching, together with the reading of
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the "Christian Baptist," kept them informed of the progress of the new movement.
In June, 1828, Bosworth preached in Hiram. Symonds Ryder heard the sermon, and at its conclusion, called Zeb Rudolph aside, and asked his opinion of the views submitted. The subject was briefly talked over, and they agreed to meet on the following Saturday to consider the matter further. It is worth remarking, however, that at this interview he expressed himself as being better satisfied with this presentation of the gospel than with any other that he had heard. Suffice it to say, it presented something tangible to the hearer, and appealed powerfully to the objective mind.
On the Saturday appointed, it so happened that Thomas Campbell was to preach in Mantua, and on his way to the meeting Rudolph called on his friend Ryder early in the morning. He found him with the New Testament in his hand, studying the theme of Bosworth's discourse. On the following day Ryder went to hear Mr. Campbell, who preached in the barn of Jotham Atwater. The venerable preacher read the two first chapters of Genesis and the last chapter of Revelations -- chapters which give the history of the creation of man, and an account of the New Jerusalem. He, then remarked -- holding the intervening portion of the Bible between his thin hands -- that had it not been for sin there would have been no need for any other revelation than the three chapters he had read; all the rest was to unfold the scheme of redemption. He said that in his earlier years he had often wished he had lived in the days of the Jews, that he might offer his sacrifice at the altar, and know by the direct assurance of God that his offering was accepted. Then, quoting from the sixth of Jeremiah, the words: "Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls," he proceeded to unfold the law of Pardon as taught in the
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gospel, and concluded with an invitation to sinners to obey. Before the first line of the hymn was sung through, Symonds Ryder went forward to confess his Master, and the same day was baptized in the Cuyahoga River by Reuben Ferguson, of Windham.
The accession to the cause of a man of Symonds Ryder's age, influence, and force of character was the signal for a more systematic organization; and before one year had elapsed, the hitherto floating band of worshipers was divided into two churches. One of these was the Mantua church, at Mantua; the other the Hiram-Nelson, at Hiram. Of the Hiram church, Bro. Ryder was chosen and ordained the first overseer. This church continued to maintain its joint character till 1835, when the Nelson element withdrew and formed a separate organization at Garrettsville. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the Mantua and Hiram-Nelson churches were the first which were established in this part of the Western Reserve distinctly and avowedly on the basis of the Bible alone.
From the moment Bro. Ryder obeyed the gospel, he expressed himself satisfied with the views taught by the Disciples on all points save one. He read in the New Testament of the gift of the Holy Spirit; and, in his mind, it was in some way associated with the laying on of hands, and with some special spiritual illumination. The words, "These signs shall follow them that believe," seemed to him not yet to have been comprehended or realized. For years, this mystery of the Word was the subject of frequent thought and conversation. I have been careful to state this fact, because it furnishes the key to a remarkable episode in his life.
In the latter part of 1830, the founders of Mormonism began to effect a lodgment in northern Ohio. Sidney Rigdon, a preacher among the Disciples, of great eloquence and power, had joined them, and commenced preaching their doctrine. Whatever we may say of the
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moral character of the author of Mormonism, it can not be denied that Joseph Smith was a man of remarkable power -- over others. Added to the stupendous claim of supernatural power, conferred by the direct gift of God, he exercised an almost magnetic power -- an irresistible fascination -- over those with whom he came in contact. Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview, the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, "Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on the earth to cure her?" A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: "Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole," and immediately left the room.
The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock -- I know not how better to explain the well attested fact -- electrified the rheumatic arm -- Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain.
In addition to this striking occurrence the Mormon Bible professed to be a continuation of the revelations which God had made to the Jews and their descendants. Two
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questions of great historic interest, which appealed strongly to the imagination of all students of sacred and profane history, it professedly solved. It gave a history of the lost tribes of Israel; and it accounted for the red men of the new world, the mound-builders of Mexico, and of the great valley of the Mississippi. The revelations made to these wandering Israelites, it was claimed, had been preserved for the saints of the latter day, who should inhabit the new wilderness of the West, and upon whom God would pour out his Spirit in fullness and power. Ezra Booth became a convert and an elder, May, 1831. Coming to Hiram in the same month, he attended church, and at the conclusion of Elder Ryder's sermon, sought and obtained permission to make an address, in which he stated in the strong, clear language of impassioned enthusiasm, the ground of his new faith, and the inspiring hopes which it gave him. A deep impression was made upon the minds of many who heard him. Elder Ryder was himself staggered; and "lest haply he should be found even to fight against God," he sat in silence, neither approving nor disapproving. Determined, however, to know the truth and follow it wherever it might lead, he made a journey to Kirtland, and heard for himself. On his return, he seemed for a short time to have rejected the claims of Mormonism; but in the month of June, he read in a newspaper an account of the destruction of Pekin, in China, and he remembered that six weeks before, a young Mormon girl had predicted the destruction of that city. Shortly after this, he openly professed his adhesion to the Mormon faith; but he and Ezra Booth, who were most intimate friends, promised that they would faithfully aid each other in discerning the truth or the falsity of the new doctrine.
Booth was soon commissioned to go to Missouri to explore the new land of promise, and lay the foundations of the new Zion. Ryder was informed, that by special
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revelation he had been appointed and commissioned an elder of the Mormon church. His commission came, and he found his name misspelled. Was the Holy Spirit so fallible as to fail even in orthography? Beginning with this challenge, his strong, incisive mind and honest heart were brought to the task of re-examining the ground on which he stood. His friend Booth had been passing through a similar experience, on his pilgrimage to Missouri, and, when they met about the 1st of September, 1831, the first question which sprang from the lips of each was -- "How is your faith?" and the first look into each other's faces, gave answer that the spell of enchantment was broken, and the delusion was ended. They turned from the dreams they had followed for a few months, and found more than ever before, that the religion of the New Testament was "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." A large number of the citizens of Hiram had given in their adhesion to the doctrines of Smith and Rigdon, but the efforts of Ryder and Booth went far to stay the tide, and lead back those who had been swept away on its current.
It may seem strange that a man of Father Ryder's strong mind and honest heart, could even temporarily have fallen into the Mormon delusion. Let us not fail to remember, however, that Mormonism in northern Ohio, in 1831, was a very different thing from Mormonism in Utah, in 1870. It then gave no sign of the moral abomination which is now its most prominent characteristic. Besides, it was a formative period in religious history: new ideas were fermenting in the minds of men; and, considering the facts before stated, it is not inexplicable that so strong a nature should have given way to the fanaticism. It is greatly to his credit that he so soon discovered its true character, and had the honesty to say to the community that he had been deluded. He did not, like so many others who found that their faith had been
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trifled with, renounce religion. He immediately returned to the church, but in contrition and meekness. His conduct showed plainly that he felt he had in some degree forfeited the confidence of the brethren. Had he been repelled as an apostate, his heart might have broken, or he might have drifted off into godlessness. But the brethren treated him kindly -- he regained confidence, took his old place in the church, and labored for its welfare with increased energy. Counting from the date of his election as overseer, for a full third of a century he was the strong tower of the church--its defender, teacher, preacher, and, till 1852, its only elder. In addition to his work in Hiram, he labored extensively in other fields. He was well known to most of the churches in north-eastern Ohio.
HIS LATER LIFE AND RELATIONS TO THE HIRAM CHURCH.Here the facts are less striking, and they must be passed over in silence. They are familiar to many of you. You remember the giving way of his constitution -- his retirement from public duty -- his confinement at home -- his terrible suffering from disease -- his happy faith -- his triumphant and blessed death.
Here I should speak more particularly of Father Ryder's relations to the church, especially with reference to one point. As he was an influential citizen at the time of his conversion, he was justly regarded as an important acquisition to the cause. He took from the beginning, the leading position. The brethren were few in number, and poor in goods. He served the church, as was his duty, with little or no reward. The more the church grew, the more it seemed to need him. He was first the eldest brother, then the father, finally the patriarch. What followed was natural: he did too much for the church; the church did too little for themselves. Their sense of satisfied dependence, together with his thrifty maxims, led
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to illiberal contributions for the support of the gospel, and to inefficient business management. A mistake was made, into which almost all the old churches fell: no suitable provision was made for a new and different age. The church failed to discern the signs of the times. He, too, failed to discern them; or discerning them, gave no warning; or, the warning being given, it was not heeded. At all events, the church was not educated up to the wants of the coming time, and its force is weakened, and its usefulness impaired to this hour.
HIS CHARACTER.I pass on to present a hastily prepared analysis of his character. I shall seek to speak of him as he was. This is the only course he would approve if he could be consulted; for he was of the Cromwellian class, whose motto is, "Paint me as I am."
First of all, his physical constitution.
His large frame, powerful muscular organization, and great power of endurance, furnished the physical basis of his long and laborious life. If this were, as is sometimes falsely charged, an age of physical degeneracy, it were the more worth remarking that Father Ryder never could have done his work as a citizen and a Christian without his great vital power. The picture of him that I shall carry through life is the one which he stamped upon my mind when he was about sixty years of age. I was then a young student, and he alternated with the principal of the school in the preaching. I remember him as he stood in this pulpit -- rather in the pulpit in the midst of whose ashes this pulpit was reared -- hale of body and vigorous of mind, scourging popular errors and follies, and exhorting to righteousness, temperance, and preparation for the judgment to come. It seemed that nature had stored up in his strong body force enough to supply the vital mechanism for a century. He lived, indeed, to a
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good old age. Nevertheless, I find myself asking, why did he not attain to the age of one hundred years? Two facts are a sufficient answer to the question. He was one of the most laborious men of that generation which bore off upon its broad shoulders, as Sampson did the gates of Gaza, the heavy forest which covered this land -- the generation that made possible that home in which we live to-day -- the generation which performed the most wonderful work of the kind that history has witnessed; for in no age, and in no country, has the face of nature been so suddenly transformed as in the Northern States of the American Union. He was also identified with a religious work, somewhat akin to the other, and no whit less laborious. To this he gave his time, his energy, and, no doubt several years of natural expectancy of life. If the pioneers gave us the homes in which we dwell, no less did these pioneers of religious reform give us the churches in which we worship.
In the second place, his mental characteristics.
Father Ryder's mind, also, was organized on a large plan. He lacked only the discipline of study and the culture of the schools, to fit him for prominence in any community where the fortunes of life might have called him. I say he lacked only these; for his logical cast of mind, great common sense, and simplicity of character would have fortified him against the warpings and effeminacy which the schools sometimes engender. I have mentioned his logical cast of mind. Every thing was brought to the test of reason and common sense. His own life was ruled by his judgment, not by his sentiments or emotions. Besides, his mind was eminently honest and practical. He followed the convictions of his reason; he brought things to the test of utility.
He had no confidence in sensational religion, or in sensational preaching. He feared the influence on the church of high religious excitement." Let us have no
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excitement here!" he cried, almost in the tone of command, when in a great congregation that throbbed with religious feeling, one of his sons came to confess Christ. "Let us have no excitement here," and the tension of his own frame, and the tears that coursed down his cheeks, showed how deeply he was himself moved. If he allowed the logical faculty to reign too absolutely in the realm of religion--as was no doubt true -- it must be remembered that this was a natural result of his own mental constitution, and of his early religious training. The practical character of his mind was also seen in his preaching. In his preaching he was in the habit of dealing with a class of themes that receive too little attention in the pulpit. He brought religion into the store, the shop, the field, the granary, and the kitchen. He thought it had something to do with the manufacture of wagons, the weighing of sugar, the measuring of grain, the cording of wood. Industry, economy, honest dealing, the obligation to pay debts when due--those old-fashioned virtues formed the theme of constant discourse. A very competent judge has expressed the opinion that the marked honesty and thrift of the citizens of Hiram are largely due to his teachings and example: Here again, in his later years, he no doubt committed some excesses. His mind revolted at the exhibition of what he thought the extravagance, wastefulness, indolence, and recklessness of the new generation, and his honest nature poured itself out in warning and rebuke. No doubt he exaggerated the vices of the new time; but much of his admonition was called for, and the remainder can be pardoned when we remember that it is a rare occurrence for one to see and understand two generations.
In the third place, his moral and religious character.
The basis of his moral character was integrity. So far as known to me, no man has ever charged him with a deflection from the strict line of right. He never had a lawsuit
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in his life; dying, he leaves no enemy. This was largely owing to the fact that he always so regulated his life that he could be straightforward and honest. He never allowed the situation to become his master. He was so careful in making contracts; so wary of promising when it was questionable whether he could perform; so prompt in meeting his engagements, that it was always easy for him to be upright and honest. He understood thoroughly that it is possible for a man to commit himself to a logic of events that is sure to embarrass and perhaps destroy him. A fact will illustrate this characteristic: For several years he was the Treasurer of the College. For a man in his circumstances at that time, this was a very considerable responsibility. He carried the institution money in one end of a wallet, his own in the other. He never used the College-funds in his own business; never changed a large bill in one end for smaller ones of equal value in the other. Most men will smile at this refinement of scrupulousness; but let me say to all -- especially to the young men present -- this sort of men never become unknown debtors to the money-drawers of their employers, or defaulters to the public treasury.
To sum up in a few words, Symonds Ryder had character. He did not drift on the current; he set currents in motion. He did not rest on the sentiment of the community; he formed sentiment for the community. He was not the creature of circumstances; he made them bow to him. As a citizen and a Christian, he had root in himself. Of course he had a will; a man of his stamp always has; without it, character is impossible. His will may have run into excess; no doubt it did; but it was the inevitable play of a powerful and indispensable faculty. A man who was never firm even to obstinacy, never plain even to severity, never truthful even to unkindness, could not have done his work.
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THE LESSON OF HIS LIFE .There is one lesson still to be gleaned. So long a life has a sermon in itself: The duty of living for old age.
History teaches us that the average of human life is lengthening. Nor are we left in doubt as to the reason: fevers are becoming less frequent and less murderous; plagues do not desolate cities as in the middle ages; men wear better clothing, live in better houses, eat better food; in a word, they live more as God intended they should live. In the Bible an abundance of old men is made an evidence of peace and prosperity -- a sign of God's presence with his people. "There shall yet old men dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age." This language points to contentment, peace, and godliness. "Behold the days come . . . . . that there shalt not be an old man in thine house forever." This points to scenes of violence, bloodshed, and sin. Intemperance, lust, ungoverned passion, consume the oil that should fill the lamp of life; industry, temperance, godliness, feed the flame. "The fear of the Lord prolongeth days; but the years of the wicked are shortened." "For as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands." Accordingly, "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come." Hence the relative number of old men in any community is a good measure of that community's physical, mental, and moral health.
"The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." This is a description of the old age of the father whom to-day we commit to his rest. We do not weep or shed unnecessary tears; we rejoice that he lived so long, and lived so well. His usefulness was past. The age was calling for a different type of men, when increasing infirmities compelled him to retire
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from the field. We judge him by his generation -- not by ours. He has gone to his father's in peace; he is buried in a good old age. He has come to his grave in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season. God grant that we may do our work as well as he did his; then we may go to our graves in equal peace.
This church has never been subject to much acceleration or retardation in its movements, another example of the leading authority in a community governing and moderating the tendencies of the people. Constantly and faithfully supplied with home talent, it has suffered few fluctuations. The brethren here have received accessions to their numbers at various times, from the labors of most or all the preachers who for a period of thirty years were the stay of the churches. In the founding of the Eclectic Institute, the church and community in Hiram proffered a larger donation for establishing it than was offered by any other of the seven contestants for the location; nearly every dollar of which was paid. And during the twenty-four years of its life, this community has responded liberally from time to time to its necessities.
Soon after the Institute was established, A. S. Hayden was elected co-elder with Bro. Ryder, and preached in alternation with him during the seven years of his connection with the Institute. Since that time brethren Perry Reno and Hartwell Ryder have presided as elders. Bro. E. H. Hawley served the church one year as elder and pastor. At present, Bro. B. A. Hinsdale, is employed as elder and preacher. Brethren Jason Ryder and Erastus Young
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have long served as the faithful deacons of the church.
THE CHURCH IN GARRETTSVILLE.In 1835, the members increasing, a new church arose in Garrettsville. The veteran "Father Rudolph" and his family, Bro. Hunt, Isaac Mead, and the brethren Noah were principal members. John Henry and William Hayden were early helpers. In July, 1838, a meeting was conducted by J. Hartzel and M. Bosworth, which imparted great strength to the cause, and added eleven souls. The church flourished for several years under the charge of Bro. Zeb Rudolph, with John Rudolph, Jr. and Michael Pifer as deacons. Bro. H. Brockett held some meetings with marked success; also Allerton, Hubbard, Moss, Green, and most of the proclaimers of the Word.
The brethren built a good house for meetings, which was formally dedicated by Bro. J. Hartzel and A. S. Hayden.
The congregation prospered for about twenty years; till by removals and death it was so reduced that the meetings were closed, and the meeting-house eventually was sold.
ORIGIN AND ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ECLECTIC INSTITUTE.Hiram College flourished seventeen years under the title of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute.
In tracing the earliest impulses in which the school arose, it may be sufficient to state that several men seemed to be impressed nearly simultaneously with
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the necessity for it. A. S. Hayden had been for years corresponding with leading members of the church in North-eastern Ohio, on the advantages to the cause of Christ of such a work; fixing his thought, however, on a school for qualifying preachers of the gospel for their duties. His brother, Wm. Hayden, entered fully into his views, and promised liberal pecuniary assistance.
The first direct practical suggestion for realizing these views, is due to the late A. L. Soule, Esq., then of Russell. At the yearly meeting in Russell, June, 1849, he proposed that the matter be stated publicly, and a call be made for all who were interested to meet at his residence on Monday morning of the meeting, to take the subject under consideration. It was agreed that A. S. Hayden should make the statement and present the call for this meeting.
On Monday morning, June 12th, at eight o'clock, there was a full meeting of the councillors of the church. There were present: A. Bentley, Wm. Hayden, A. L. Soule, Myron Soule, Benj. Soule, Anson Matthews, Zeb Rudolph, A. S. Hayden, W. A. Lillie, Alanson Baldwin, E. Williams, F. Williams, E. B. Violl, M. J. Streator, W. A. Belding, A. B. Green, and many others. A. L. Soule was appointed chairman, and A. S. Hayden, secretary. The movement was unanimously approved, and a resolution was passed to take steps immediately for founding such a school as was in contemplation. The secretary was instructed to prepare and send to the churches an address stating the object in view, and inviting delegates to a future meeting in which the views of the people might be fully ascertained.
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At this meeting, which was held in Bloomfield at the yearly meeting, the last of August, the same year, the response of the people was unanimous and decided in favor of the project; and a call was issued for delegates to meet at Ravenna the next October, for maturing plans to accomplish it.
This adjourned meeting assembled in Ravenna, Wednesday, October 3, 1849. Dr. J. P. Robison was chosen chairman, and A. S. Hayden, secretary. It was found that there was a general interest in the enterprise. The delegates discussed various questions relating to it, one of which was the grade or rank of the contemplated institution. Two classes of views were represented there. Some proposed the founding of a college, asserting our ability to create an institution of that grade; others were in favor of establishing a school of high grade, but not to clothe it at first with collegiate powers. Those latter views prevailed, and the sense of the convention was expressed nearly unanimously in a resolution to that effect.
This meeting appointed five of its members a delegation to visit all places which solicited the location of the school, to investigate and compare the grounds of their respective claims, and to report at the next delegate meeting, when the question of location was to be decided. This delegation consisted of Aaron Davis, Zeb Rudolph, B. F. Perky, Wm. Richards, and ------ ------.
No fewer than seven towns came in as petitioners for it, viz.: North Bloomfield, Newton Falls, Hiram, Shalersville, Aurora, Russell, and Bedford. The members of the delegation were sound and discerning
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men. They performed their duty faithfully, and prepared an able report. Much interest was awakened on the question of location, and many awaited with anxious expectation the decision of that question. The next convention met in Aurora, Tuesday, November 7th. Thirty-one, delegates from as many churches were in attendance; also many other friends of the enterprise, whose presence testified their great interest in the subject. The meeting organized by appointing Dr. J. P. Robison, chairman, (J. G. Coleman presiding part of the time,) and A. S. Hayden, secretary.
The whole day was spent in hearing and discussing the report of the visiting delegation, and in settling the plan of procedure. The balloting occupied much of the night. After thirteen ballotings, the choice resulted in favor of Hiram. The last vote stood ten for Russell and seventeen for Hiram, four delegates having returned home before the final vote was taken.
The convention adjourned to meet in Hiram, December 20th.
This meeting at Hiram was the last delegate assembly. It elected a board of twelve trustees, viz.: George Pow, Samuel Church, Aaron Davis, Isaac Errett, Carnot Mason, Zeb Rudolph, Symonds Ryder, J. A. Ford, Kimball Porter, William Hayden, Frederick Williams, and A. S. Hayden; and appointed Charles Brown, Isaac Errett, and A. S. Hayden, a committee to draft a charter for the school. This committee, with the assistance of Judge King, of Warren, prepared the charter, which, with a few slight changes, received the approval of the Board.
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The name of the institution, WESTERN RESERVE ECLECTIC INSTITUTE, was suggested, by Isaac Errett. The provision in the charter that the Holy Scriptures shall forever be taught in the institution as the foundation of all true liberty, and of all moral obligation, was inserted on motion of Wm. Hayden. He strongly urged that this must ever be the characteristic dignity of this institution, the perpetual safeguard of social happiness, benign government, and religious freedom. The charter was forwarded by A. Udall, Esq., to the hands of Hon. George Sheldon, of Mantua, who then represented Portage County in the legislature, through whom it received the sanction of legislative enactment, March 1, 1851.
The corporators met in Hiram the same month, and, in anticipation of the confirmation of the charter, they appointed the following gentlemen a building committee, viz.: Jason Ryder, Carnot Mason, Alvah Udall, Zeb Rudolph, and Pelatiah Allyn, Jr. At the same time Wm. Hayden was appointed a soliciting agent to procure funds for the building. They also purchased of Thos. F. Young, Esq., grounds for the school, at the center of Hiram. In the midst of that beautiful plateau of about eight acres the edifice of the Eclectic Institute was erected.
On the 27th of November, which had been announced as the day for opening -- a full suite of rooms was ready for the reception students.
At the first meeting of the Board of Trustees the position of Principal was unanimously tendered to A. S. Hayden, of East Cleveland. He accepted the position for five years, not doubting that in that time
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the institution would be firmly established, and permit him to return to his chosen life work of preaching the gospel. This period of five years was extended to seven, when his original purpose to retire was fulfilled in his resignation, June, 1857. At the same meeting the Board unanimously elected Thos. Munnell, an honorable graduate of Bethany College, to the chair of ancient languages. Mrs. Phebe Drake was called to be Principal of the primary department. With these teachers, on the 27th of November, 1850, the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute commenced its career. Eighty-four students were enrolled the first day.
The natal day of the Eclectic was celebrated by a meeting of the trustees, friends of the institution from abroad, and of the citizens of Hiram, held in the meeting-house. Able addresses were delivered by Wm. Hayden, A. B. Green, J. H. Jones, and others, upon the principles and objects of the school. The speakers proclaimed it the completion of long cherished purposes, the realization of many anxieties and hopes. It was the accomplishment of a fact which would centralize our labors, quicken our hopes, and animate our pleadings for the gospel. This hill, it was predicted, would yet become a Minerva, a center and source of light, of literature, and of refinement. From this place would go forth men of ample moral and mental growth, to fill stations of honor and usefulness in all departments of social life. The churches would send young men to gain here the skill and power to plead the gospel, and to lift up the cause of human redemption.
The students increased so rapidly that the
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curators were obliged to call, during the first term, the assistance of C. D. Wilber who had just gone to complete his course of study in Bethany College. A few weeks after, Miss Almeda A. Booth was added to the corps of instructors. The next term the influx of patronage justified the Board in electing Norman Dunshee to the chair of mathematics and modern languages.
From this period the Institute has been before the eyes of the public, and its history is in the hearts of thousands of admiring students, who have from time to time enjoyed the benefits of its moral instruction and intellectual culture.
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the spread of these new doctrines; but these brethren plead for the justice of a fair hearing of them, before they should be condemned. Hugh McCleery went to Warren for Bentley and Scott, who were soon on the ground, and who preached in Sharon the same gospel which began in Jerusalem eighteen hundred years ago. The same results followed; for "those who gladly received the word were baptized;" and had the church been the same as that at Jerusalem, it might have been said, "and the same day they were added" to the church. But the church utterly refused them admittance, because they had not come before the members, told a "Christian experience," and been accepted by a vote of the church. Bentley had already gone, and Scott left them immediately after these conversions. Elder Thomas Campbell then came, but all his influence for reconciliation was unavailing. He wrote to the church a very conciliatory letter, deprecating division, and beseeching them to shelter the lambs. The reply was a stern refusal. Meanwhile, the time arrived for the "June meeting" of the Baptists, to assemble in Sharon. Scott and Bentley had returned, but the hostility was now so bitter that these three excellent and venerable ministers, as also all who sympathized with them, were expressly refused admittance into their meeting-house. The excitement in the community was running high, and Daniel Budd, Esq., a reputable gentleman, fitted up his barn and opened it to the reformers, where, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, they proclaimed, to a multitude of people, the ancient gospel, which had filled the Roman Empire with its conquests before any of the modern sects arose. On Monday, the
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fourth one in June, 1829, on the bank of the river, after the baptism of some converts, was formed the church of Christ in Sharon. They were forced to this step, after much persevering effort to prevent a separation. Seventeen of the Baptist members united then, and more soon afterward. About thirty were that day enrolled with devout invocations by these three brethren, for blessings upon them from the Head of the church. George Bentley, Bashara Hull, with their families, and the McCleery family, were in the newly organized church.
The declared policy of the old church was non-intercourse. A resolution was passed excluding the wives of Benjamin Reno and James Morford, for breaking the loaf with the disciples. The former, who was a deacon, arose and protested against such an unchristian act, and announced his withdrawal from their fellowship. Morford, a deacon and clerk, laid down his pen, his office and his membership, refusing to be a party to such a proceeding. Both became pillars in the new organization. The church, by resolution, excluded all who united with the disciples.
The new church had considerable talent in its members; and they were firm, zealous and united. Converts were multiplied. Hayden came often among them, as did Henry also, and the persuasive Bosworth. Applegate was near, and was quick to help. Allerton visited them and brought in a large number. And "having obtained help from God" through the hands of many of his servants, they continue a prosperous brotherhood in Christ.
These brethren have done much for Christ. Two
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ministers have arisen among them, Prof. Amaziah Hull, of Oscaloosa, Iowa, and J. B. McCleery, of Kansas. Many of great usefulness in the West were trained for their work in Sharon.
The association was appointed to meet in this (Baptist) church in Sharon, August, 1829, little anticipating the revolution which was to take place in it before that time. When that body convened, it found a new church, just organized on purely gospel grounds, all alive and strong in faith, ready to give it welcome. A very large and joyful meeting was the result. It was attended by T. Campbell, Scott, Bentley, Hayden, Henry, Bosworth, Applegate, McCleery, and many others. It kept no records; nor did the great one at Warren transmit any account of its transactions. This was doubtless an error and a misfortune.
The reports from all parts of the field were highly encouraging, and the association felt called upon to send out more reapers into the ripening fields. It selected four brethren, Scott, of Canfield; Hayden, of Austintown; Bentley of Warren; and Bosworth of Braceville; all of Trumbull County; and sent them out under the seal of her sanction and authority to go forth "to preach and teach Jesus Christ."
A SYSTEM OF ITINERANCY.These four proclaimers formed for themselves, and followed during the greater part of the years 1829-30, a very complete and simple plan. It was understood to be chiefly the work of William Hayden. The writer of these notes, from an original sketch put into his hands by him, prepared a copy of it for each of the evangelists.
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A circuit was established, including sixteen stations at convenient distances apart. It was arranged that four of the places should have preaching every Lord's day; and also, that in the course of a month each of the sixteen places would be favored with a Lord's day service. The other days of the week being also employed, all of these posts had frequent preaching.
Several advantages resulted from this arrangement:
1. As the preachers followed one another in a regular and fixed order, the churches always knew who was coming;
2. They had regular times for the preaching and knew when to expect it;
3. Each preacher knew, at any time, where each one of the others was;
4. It afforded a profitable variety of talent and instruction, giving to each community the benefit of all the talents;
5. It removed any grounds of dissatisfaction arising from the practice of limiting the more brilliant speakers to the stronger communities, leaving to the weaker places the less eligible gifts; a practice which has caused many a well begun opening to wither, and forced many an honest and earnest worker out of the field.
This scheme of "circuit preaching" pleased as long as it lasted. But there was no general manager who, as openings were made beyond these limits, could "send forth more laborers into the vineyard." Moreover, the "laborers were few;" consequently, as the Macedonian cry came up from all quarters, by letters and by messengers, it became impossible to confine these evangelists. They could not resist these appeals.
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Scott, somewhat erratic, distanced all bounds. He was moved at beholding the whole country a prey to sectarianism, and having the jewel of the "ancient gospel" in his possession, he was confident it would soon turn the whole mutilated and dismembered profession of Christianity back to the original apostolic unity. So, like a hero dismantled of arrangements which he felt to be an encumbrance, he flew where the finger of God directed, and stirred the land with the tidings of the gospel.
The others maintained their course for awhile. But one after another they yielded to calls for help, and so fell this first attempt at systematic order in preaching the gospel.
THE CHURCH IN HUBBARD.Jesse Hall, for more than fifteen years, had been a member of the Baptist church in Sharon, Pa., and though living about six miles distant he was a regular attendant. He was a man of unblemished character, of broad sense, zealous, and given to hospitality. Such a man could scarcely fail to gather Christian people around him. In the year 1820 a church, of the same name and order, was formed at his residence in Hubbard, in which himself, A. K. Cramer, Archibald Price, James Price, Walter Clark and Silas Burnett, with their families, were prominent members. Jesse Hall was, by far, the most influential man in this organization, and as deacon, he was the leader, councillor and chief manager. For a considerable time it was the "church in his house." He was just the man to welcome the "Christian Baptist; "and though he was very firm in purpose, the floods of
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light poured upon the world by that work revealed to his penetrating mind, a Bible basis for the Church of God not yet fully discovered by the rival sects of Christendom. In 1828, when Walter Scott came among them, as the evangelist of the association, most of the members were prepared to receive him warmly. His forcible preaching compelled a crisis, and the whole church, eight or ten only excepted, discarded the creed and the name of the party, and adopted the New Covenant as the divinely appointed basis of the church, with only such names as the New Testament writers employ to describe the people of God.
The church thus newly formed had about forty members. Jesse Hall and John Applegate were appointed the overseers. They served with great fidelity for about twenty-five years. Their successors were Oliver Hart and Warren Burton. Orenous Hart and David Waldruff have served the church in the same capacity. And now, James Struble, H. Green and A. K. Cramer, Jr., are the acting elders.
Under the efficient management of her officers the church grew in grace and in numbers. The zeal of the brotherhood knew no bounds. Applegate, under the judicious counsels of his able co-elder, soon became a preacher who, while he traveled much abroad, served his own church in public instruction for at least twenty years. But they were not stinted in their views, and in the earlier days Hubbard gained great renown for the victories in behalf of the truth through their own prayers and activities, and the co-operative labors of Scott, Bentley, Hayden, Henry, Hartzel, Alton, Saunders, and both the Bosworths;
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and a little later, of John T. Smith, Brockett and Perky. Bro. J. W. Lanphear is cherished for his able defenses of the truth in that place. In after times, W. T. Horner, William S. Winfield, Willard Goodrich, Matthias Christy, Harmon Reeves, C. C. Smith and J. A. Thayer have co-operated in extending and building up the church.
In August, 1837, the yearly meeting for Trumbull County met in Hubbard. It was one of the largest assemblies ever gathered on the Reserve. Preachers and people came from far in those days, creating great enthusiasm. To this one came Campbell, Bentley, the Bosworths, Henry, Hartzel, G. W. Lucy, Applegate, Clapp, Rudolph, J. J. Moss, and A. S. Hayden; nearly all of whom preached, exhorted, and held evening meetings during the great occasion. There were thirteen converts.
Two years later, this church had an accession of several members during a meeting in Youngstown, conducted by A. Campbell. Among them were Jesse Hall, Jr., Aaron Smith, James Struble, Moses Cole and Jesse Hougland.
The growth of the church has been gradual. No root of bitterness has ever sprung up to cause a division. They began without any church property. For a few years, they held meetings in a building rather useful than costly, owned by the elder Jesse Hall, and which he finally deeded to the trustees, with the grounds belonging to it. Subsequently, they erected on eligible grounds a permanent and valuable edifice; and with a present living membership of one hundred and seventy five, the church in Hubbard seems likely to pass from the present into
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the hands of the next generation, a light and a blessing to that whole country.
SKETCH OF JOHN APPLEGATE."Tell us the story of the earlier times. Describe the men who lived in them, and relate to us their deeds." So cry out thousands, to whom the stirring events and the struggles which made and marked our early history have come down in mere fragments of information. It is not mere curiosity which prompts the call for this knowledge. It is a just and laudable desire for a knowledge of the causes and conditions which originated this great work, the effort to recover the Christian institution, in all its parts, from the mixture and corruptions of the long, dark day of papal superstition. Gratitude, doubtless, also mingles in the demand, that due honor may be rendered to the moral heroes to whom this generation is greatly indebted for their prompt espousal of the truth, then freshly brought out from the sacred Scriptures, and for their able, untiring, and self-sacrificing advocacy of it amid fearful struggles and against formidable foes.
Beloved among these memorable men, and distinguished in the circle of his labors, was Bro. John Applegate. He was born May 13, 1797, in Bordentown, N. J. Cradled in the lap of frugal industry, he early saw the practical side of life, from the necessity imposed on him to contribute to the wants of the family. Ohio, at the time of his removal into it, had been only five years a member of the Federal Union. Its fertile soil was the El Dorado of hope to the working people in the States of the sea-board. The Western Reserve, in particular, was receiving large accessions to its young population by immigration from New England and other portions of the East. To this inviting land came the Applegate family, when John, the subject of this
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sketch, was only ten years of age. They settled in Hubbard, Trumbull County.
Through his father he inherited the Baptist faith. His another was a pure-minded, conscientious adherent of the Quaker doctrine. John, very early in life, was the subject of deep and pungent religious convictions. From about the fifteenth year of his age up to his twenty-first year, the tempests of religious conviction, with all their harassing doubts, despondencies, and dimly gleaming hopes, swept across his breast. The gospel of his day was moulded in the most rigid school of Calvinism. Its doctrines resounded in thundering tones in groves, under forest trees, and in school-houses, by the Knox-like preachers of that early time.
No sweet voice from Calvary came to his terrified conscience. He languished for relief. Sometimes he quite resolved to abandon hope, and yield; to sink down among the eternally lost. Then from this vortex he fled, shuddering at the horrible despair. He saw Calvary, and the meek sufferer there, "but, oh! for the elect alone he suffers there and bleeds. Oh! that I could but know it was for me! 'Come,' he says, 'come unto me-you shall find rest.' But, then," his soul in anguish cried, "that blessed voice is for the elect alone; I may not be one; I dare not stir to go." If some earnest comforter spoke of the loving Jesus, and of his invitation to sinners -- "Yes, but I know not the way -- I can do nothing but wait; if I am to be lost, I can but fulfill my destined doom. A "genuine" experience it was, according to the standards of that day. Much of it ever remained a blessed memorial in his humble and truly Christian heart. Yet how much of needless torture might have been saved him; how much earlier he might have found "peace in believing," had the plain gospel plan of salvation been pointed out to him in the hour when he was seeking to "flee from the wrath to come!"
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At length the "darkened cloud" withdrew, and peace shone in on his soul. He gave in his experience, was received by the vote of the church, and was baptized in a stream in the vicinity of his residence, in the month of March, 1818, by Elder West. He was then in his twenty-first year.
About the same time he was married to Miss Fanny Cramer, a woman worthy of his affections, and who, with even step and equal hand, bore her full share of the hardships incident to her position. Abounding in the domestic virtues, she managed her household with great prudence and discretion, and lived his faithful companion in all his life-work till very near his own departure.
Immediately after his conversion, he began to "exercise" in meetings. He was a rapid and ready talker. His articulation was very distinct and complete. He commanded a good voice, penetrating, and very agreeable to the ear. He was a singer of more than common excellence. He soon filled his soul, and the meetings, too, with the songs of joy in which he expressed the peace and hope, and love of a new-born soul.
He continued to work among the Baptists for six or seven years, distinguished for great activity and a burning zeal. Wherever a word could be spoken for the Master, his diffidence yielded to the pressing sense of duty and the earnest impulses of his warm Christian heart.
The churches and ministers in all North-eastern Ohio were beginning to be agitated by certain views -- by some, looked upon as dangerous, by all regarded as novel and bold -- of the Campbell's, father and son. In the year 1826, Applegate heard these gifted men in Warren. His free mind was, by his own reading of the word of God, partially prepared to receive some modifications of those rigid views which had caused so much trouble in his own experience, and he went with the determination to hear fearlessly, and give due weight to all he heard. But he
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was cautious; and on returning, he received the faithful chidings and reprimands of the older brethren for giving heed to new things.
Soon after this, Walter Scott came to Austintown. He was producing there a great stir among the people. This was the spring of 1828. All the way from Hubbard to Austintown came Applegate to hear Scott. He was afraid of him. Bentley, from Warren, and Schooley, from Salem, were also there. After the hearing, Applegate drew the sword and joined in battle. The method of enlisting converts was too quick. Genuine conversion could not be so short a work. Faith, "with all the heart," in Jesus was not enough to prepare for baptism, without relating an experience, such as the fathers and mothers in Israel could approve. So went the investigation. He thought he "whipped them all out;" and, reiterating the ancient cry, "To your tents, O Israel," he took leave of them and departed. Riding on a few miles, his horse went slower, as he thought over what he had heard. At length he halted, and resolved to return and give these brethren a farther hearing. This he did, and on leaving them a second time, Scott and Bentley sent by him an appointment for Hubbard.
He addressed himself with new zeal, with deep and prayerful interest, to the study of the word of God, resolved to be fully prepared to meet and discomfit them. But this reading partially disarmed him. He decided to "let them alone," lest he might be fighting against the truth.
The winter of 1829-30 saw the full consummation of these changes in his views. Bolder now became his testimony. He read the Word of Life to the people, and testified publicly every-where. Authorized by the church, he went to other places to teach the way of life; and without any direct intention on his part, and before he was aware of it, Applegate "was among the preachers." He visited
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Brookfield, Hartford, Fowler, Bazetta, and many other places, exhorting the brethren; and wherever he went he revived the spirits of the fainting, and poured the oil of joy into the souls of the Lord's people.
Few men were ever more patient, persevering, or enduring of privation and toil, in fulfilling the duties of the Christian ministry. Unpaid, yet uncomplaining, he traveled on horseback, often afoot, over the rough roads of a country yet new, never failing to meet his appointments. Impelled by a lofty and sacred sense of duty, he denied himself the happiness of a home, whose limited store of earthly wealth was sweetened by the endearments of pure, genial and religious affection, that he might teach sinners in the great congregation the plain way of the Gospel of God's salvation. In those days preaching "paid" poorly in the pocket. Nor was fame reaped from it. Surely the long-continued toils and hardships of the preachers of that early day of the Reformation vindicate them from all imputations of selfishness, and stamp them with a lofty zeal and heroic chivalry worthy of all admiration.
Among all our early preachers no one had less of vain ambition. Without guile and without envy, he was happy when others preached. If any surpassed him in apparent public usefulness, or won more rapidly the favor of the people, his joy at the success of the Master's work suffered no abatement through envy. He esteemed other preachers better than himself, and voluntarily chose the lower seat at the great spiritual feasts when many proclaimers of the gospel and multitudes of souls assembled at the great yearly meetings of North-eastern Ohio. Yet was he not the less esteemed, and the greetings of the people testified the depth and sincerity of their affection for him.
In the spring of the year 1866, he removed from Hubbard, so long his home, to Iowa, to reside with his youngest son Charles, near Monticello, Jones County. Two years after his removal came the time of his mourning for
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the death of his wife. During their long pilgrimage, so complete had been their union in life, so like a stream without a ripple--or an eddy had flowed their mutual affection, that her death was a shock almost insupportable. Five or six months after this event, in the fall of 1868, he returned to Ohio, visited well-remembered friends, and extended his journey to his original home in the State of New Jersey. In the spring of 1870 he returned again to Iowa, and made his home with his sons, James and Charles. Though age was now on him, and the "outer man" beginning to show signs of decay, he still preached almost every Lord's day. A peace-maker still, as in all his life, he labored to reconcile differences among brethren, some instances of which, among the very last acts of his life, are cherished with gratitude by the brethren where these ministrations of mercy were performed. He preached his last sermon at Nugent's Grove, Linn County. Overexertion and a sudden change of weather caused a severe cold. Typhoid fever followed, from which he never recovered. Nearly eight weeks he languished under this terrible scourge. His love of singing continued to the last. Frequently during his sickness he raised his feeble voice in melodious praise.
Near the closing scene he was visited by Rev. ______ Wilson, a Presbyterian minister, who asked him if he knew him. By a nod of the head he gave the affirmative reply. Mr. Wilson then repeated a part of the twenty-third Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." The dying hero waved another response, and soon the vessel of clay alone remained.
Thus died, on the 17th day of February, 1871, in Scotch Grove, Jones County, Iowa, at the residence of his son James, Elder John Applegate, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, having been a preacher of the gospel over forty years.
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BAZETTA -- BACONSBURG.The Baptist church here was formed January 22, 1820--eight members. James and Dorcas Bowen, William and Anna Davis, Samuel and Rachel Hoadley, and Samuel and Elizabeth Bacon, were dismissed from the church in Warren for that purpose. These, with Asher and Esther Coburn, Samuel B. Tanner and Anna Tanner, Martin Daniels and a few others, composed the church. Four persons, baptized the day previous, of whom Eben R. Coburn and John F. Coburn were two, were received that day. Bro. Bentley officiated. Asher Coburn and Samuel Hoadley were the first deacons. No bishops were appointed, the Baptist order recognizing no such officers apart from the preachers.
This church continued till the "times of reformation." Her highest reported number, at any time, was forty-four. Bro. Edward Scofield, one of their number, was an earnest Christian, a man of liberal views. Being a good exhorter, he was very useful. He got hold of the "Christian Baptist." Its editor, in his triumphant vindication of the scriptural baptism in his debates with Walker and McCalla, had made a highly favorable impression on the Baptists every-where. He had thus gained their confidence, which gave a wide circulation to this his first periodical. The reformation for which he plead was not a negation. It consisted in a well matured effort to introduce Bible views, and to establish New Testament Christianity. Such views, so clearly propounded, and so well sustained by argument and Scripture, created a commotion every-where -- some
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advocating, some opposing them. The brethren in Bazetta were not behind in these investigations. The traditions of less favored times were losing their hold on the people. The great stir in Warren, in January, 1828, shook the church in Bazetta like the heavings of an earthquake. Indeed, its impulse spread like a tidal wave over the country. It was a time of Bible research, such as had not been known. The emancipation from the traditions of the church was complete -- deference to the teachings of God's word was equally complete. The "lively oracles" were accepted as meaning what they said. This grand principle brought all parties face to face on the Bible. People studied it as they never had before. It was customary to keep a copy at hand, on the desk, or the counter, that every-where, and on all occasions, the appeal to it could be instant, and its decision was final. The disciples were becoming strong in the faith; many of them able to teach others: The church divided on these principles -- the greater part moving on under the leadership of the apostles, a small minority adhering to the received standards.
Among the converts in Scott's meeting, in Warren, were Enos Bacon and Daniel Faunce. At their invitation, Scott and Bentley came to Bazetta in May, and added a number more; who, taking membership in the existing church, were counted as Baptists. In the fall Thomas Campbell came and organized the present Church of Christ in Bazetta. Bro. Aaron Davis writes: "He had to fight every inch of ground. There was division in the ranks of the Baptist church, but most of the members fell in with the 'new doctrines,' as they were called. This stirred the ire of
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Elder Woodworth, the pastor. The contest was sharp for awhile, as he said he would have a fair fight in an open field. And surely it was sharp for a time, but he was soon vanquished; and most of the church fell in with the 'new doctrine.'"
The church numbered twenty-eight at the beginning. They found in the Scriptures that, under the apostles' teaching, there were elders in every church. Proceeding, to organize on the divine model, they elected Samuel Bacon, Samuel Hoadley and Asher Coburn, bishops or elders; and James Bowen and Asher W. Coburn, deacons. This was done in Father Bacon's barn, the only place they could get for their meetings. In the fall, when cool weather came, they repaired to his house. Finally a school-house was obtained, which served, for a few years, till a meeting-house was erected. During this period, and for many years, they had no regular preaching. They were served in occasional appointments, and two days' meetings, by the preachers then in the field; and, later, by Green, Jones, Brockett, Phillips, James Calvin, Gates, Henselman, Dr. T. Hillock and I. A. Thayer.
Several churches arose from this one. West Bazetta, Fowler, Mecca and Greene, started with members from this hive. In respect to its officers, fewer changes have been made than in many churches. After Samuel Hoadley, one of the first overseers, John Sanders was appointed. He served a few years. After him Aaron Davis, who has stood as an elder about thirty-eight years. In the place of Samuel Bacon, Calvin Smith was chosen. In the place of Asher Coburn, the lamented Daniel Faunce was
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elected overseer. At his demise, Otis Coburn. Then, after him, Seth Hulse, who serves now with Davis. The present number is about one hundred and eighty. A good house, and Bro. R. T. Davis for settled preacher.
Several preachers have arisen from this church. The wise and excellent James Hadsel, of Indiana, arose in this church. John T. Phillips began here, though he was not sent out by this congregation. Here Harvey Brockett--the sainted Brockett--was helped on his feet. They found him in Farmington, showing zeal and ability in exhortation, which gave promise of a bright future. They moved his family to Bazetta, and with some help from abroad, they purchased and gave him thirty-five acres of land for a home. And Calvin Smith, famous above his associates.
The church in Bazetta has long been generous in sustaining the yearly meetings of the county; one held in August, 1841, is spoken of with much interest. It was attended by Henry, Lanphear, S. Church, Green, Jones, Dr. Robison, Winfield, Brockett and others. There were thirty-nine conversions; Bro. John T. Phillips was one of that number.
BIOGRAPHY OF CALVIN SMITH.Among the unchronicled dead, whose labors will be held in perpetual remembrance, is the name of Calvin Smith. He lives in the affectionate remembrance of the many whom he turned to righteousness. Very many churches throughout North-eastern Ohio, with some in the East, to New York and New England, and in the West to Wisconsin and Iowa, will never cease to cherish the memory of this remarkable man.
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Calvin Smith was born October 30th, 1813, in the township of Vernon, Trumbull County, Ohio. His father died when he was between five and six years old. He continued to live in poverty, with his mother, until he was eleven years of age, when he went to live with Ezekiel Beach, of the same town. When he was nearly fourteen, his mother was married again to Isaac Meecham, of Kinsman. He chose his step-father for his guardian, who bound him out to learn the blacksmith trade. During the six years he remained at this business, he was employed less at the anvil than at the desk, as an accountant. But other impulses fired his soul. His quick discernment and penetrating mind surveyed the wide domains of our intellectual nature, and he longed to enter, possess, and cultivate that prolific soil. During the time of his apprenticeship, he omitted no opportunity to read and study. With a temperament immensely active, with a keen and quick discernment and a most retentive memory, he gathered knowledge as the miser gathers gold. At twenty he bought his time and commenced teaching school, still employing every available opportunity to advance in education.
March 1901, 1835, in his twenty-second year, he was married to Miss Maria Meecham, whose tastes and intellectual endowments were in perfect coincidence with his own. This proved to be one of the happiest of unions. With views, aims and purposes the same, and both possessed of great energy, and abounding in hope, they accumulated a competence, founded a house, and established a name which will long survive their own generation. For two or three years he taught winters, and summers gave his energies to the clearing of his forest farm.
But, though ambitious, his purposes of life had not been lifted above the attainment of a comfortable home and an honorable position in society. His heart was yet unblessed with the light and truth of the gospel. I quote here his journal: "I was wild and unconcerned about Christianity
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most of the time. When I was about nineteen, I attended a meeting or two held by Foot, a revivalist of the Presbyterian order, and did all they told me to do, but did not get an evidence of pardon, and was afterwards rather skeptical. I occasionally heard the Disciples preach, and on the 28th of May, 1837, I was immersed by John Henry, and united with the church."
It is of special interest to pause and note the workings of his mind, and the disposing causes which acted in this happy and eventful change in his heart and life. In him existed that rare and admirable adjustment of the moral and the rational natures by which faith is sought, but which refuses to believe without rational evidence. He longed for "religion." He sought for "grace." But though he eagerly and earnestly sought, human promises and expedients failed to satisfy his strong mind, which desired a firm foundation on which his soul could lean so important a trust. Hence his disappointment; and hence his relapse into skepticism--a dark and dismal despondency from which a rare man and mighty power alone could lift him. In the guidings of a good Providence, such a man came. In this state of his heart, John Henry, whose name is a synonym for peerless power, came to "the Burgh," in Bazetta, to preach the gospel. When Henry preached all men heard. Smith came, heard, learned, and believed. Such preaching he could understand. It was the word of the Lord, instead of the word of man. The men were much alike in mental activities and social life: It was David and Jonathan. Each kindled life in the other, and both were greater men.
From this time forward, Calvin Smith was a new man; but his great work of life had not yet commenced. June 26, 1839, he was chosen Justice of the Peace by the suffrages of his townsmen. This office he filled for nearly eight years, and discharged its duties with fidelity and popularity. "During this period," he says, "I paid more
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attention to the law than the gospel." In truth, he was rising into acquaintance and esteem with the business men and leading citizens of the county. The difficult and trying duties of his office he managed with skill in some important legal cases which came before him; and, young as he was, he manifested no ordinary talent in that position. He won the confidence of the members of the legal profession, and he began to be talked of as a candidate for the legislature.
But other honors awaited him, and another destiny was before him. "Before honor goes humility." The applause of the world is not the praise of God. In the midst of all his duties now rapidly accumulating, he never wavered in his faith in the Lord Jesus, nor in his walk with the church. The church was much enlivened and edified by his zeal. He preached occasionally for them till, December 19, 1844, the church gave him letters as an evangelist. This widened his sphere of usefulness. He visited other churches, preaching on the Lord's day, and contributed very much to their growth in grace and knowledge. About four years he spent in this manner, dividing his time between preaching and the labors of his farm. At length the time came for him to cut the cable and launch upon the sea.
November 30, 1848, commenced his first protracted meeting. He was now thirty-five years old. It was not far from his own home, a place on the line between the townships of Champion and Bazetta. No church was there, and every thing seemed discouraging. Storms swept along the sky and over the earth, so that the meeting, which was opened with a fair attendance, dwindled down to eight persons. A noble opportunity to prove the sterling qualities of character, which won the victory for him on many a hard contested field! On the sixth night, only eighteen auditors, and four of them yielded to the gospel appeal and confessed the Lord. This meeting resulted in
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twenty-seven conversions, and the establishment of a new church of thirty-five members, which has continued in existence ever since. Before this time, however, he had seen souls awakened and converted through his ministry. In the summer of 1848, in company with Bro. James Hadsell, he held a meeting in Johnson, in his own township, with sixteen conversions.
From this time may be dated the commencement of that brilliant career in the gospel which has made the name of Calvin Smith so widely known, and so dear to thousands. His active and energetic labors spread over a period of about ten years; but as his health was very poor during the last two years, only about eight years can be assigned for the achievements of Herculean labors which are a source of amazement. Wherever he went crowds gathered, and seldom did he quit the field without many captives for Christ. Often a single discourse in a place would bring several souls to repentance. His travels included most of the counties in North-eastern Ohio, and extended to the mountains in Pennsylvania, to New England, New York, and beyond the Mississippi in the West. The labors of a long life were condensed into these eight or nine years.
In his trip to New England he was accompanied by Bro. J. T. Phillips, of New Castle, Pa. They started in November, 1853, and spent about two months. The chief object of this visit was not so much immediate conversions, as the sowing of seed to ripen into a harvest for others to reap; still there were a number brought to Christ during the trip. He made a trip to Eastern New York, and conducted a meeting in Poestenkill, December, 1855.
His longest trip abroad was one of five months, the utmost terminus of which was Dubuque, Iowa. He started on this tour August 14, 1855, and arrived at home January 30, 1856. He intended to visit his particular friends, the Soules, and the Robinsons, late of Russell, Ohio, and hold a meeting at their present residence in Iona County,
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Michigan; but finding sickness among them, he tarried a few days, and proceeded westward to Wisconsin, and made a stand at Hazle Green. Here he preached twelve days and visited fifty-three families to converse with them on the gospel.
He went to Lancaster and to Platteville. At the latter place, sect prejudice raged so violently that the Methodist and Presbyterian meeting-houses were both shut against him. He began in a school-house, but after a few days this also was closed. The citizens then rallied, obtained a hall, fitted it up commodiously, and the meeting went on without the interruption of a day. The meeting was a great success in teaching the people and in gathering souls into the kingdom. January 4th, 1856, he commenced a meeting in Dubuque, Iowa, and continued it twenty-three days, closing on the 27th of the month. The interest arose to a great height. There were seventeen additions. The cold was intense, the thermometer some days 30 below zero.
This was his last meeting for a year; and, indeed he never recuperated from the overpowering drafts on his physical energies. He preached during that meeting every day -- yet he spit blood daily, and was constantly taking medicine. From this time to the close of his life he was able to preach but little. The last of his preaching was in his own church in Bazetta, February, 1867, of one week preparatory to a meeting held there by the writer of these sketches; and one in Lordstown of a few days, to which he went while I was yet in Bazetta. I well remember him as he was then, emaciate and frail, but abiding in faith, and abounding in zeal, as when health was his in fullest measure. It is a touching remembrance to call to mind how we endeavored to dissuade him from going to Lordstown, and his replies from a voice once so ringing and clear, now so consumptive and plaintive: "I shall live only a little time," he said, "and I may do some good by going."
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He went. Let his own hand tell the rest, in a note written by him two months afterward:
"Came home, had an attack of lung fever; sick a long time, and from this sickness I shall never recover. It is now December 15, 1858, and I have not been able to speak a discourse or do any labor; and now I am confined to the house, and will ere long die with consumption. When I die, I hope some one will record my death, and I will leave the record for those interested in it."
This is his last written note of his life. The next lines are by another hand:
"Died on the 13th of January, 1859, Calvin Smith, in the 45th year of his age, of consumption. His work is done, and he is entered into rest. He lived and died a Christian--labored for the good of man--stood up for Jesus, and went home to heaven.
"Keep us, O Lord, that we may meet him at thy right hand."
A few weeks before his death he gave his Bible to Bro. Edwin Wakefield, with a request that he preach his funeral from the following words: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them." Rev. xiv: 13. This solemn duty was ably performed in the presence of a large and weeping assembly. His widowed companion, six daughters and an only living son, followed him, and "beheld where they laid him."
"Alas! alas! my brother," wrote Bro. William Hayden, who visited him a short time before his death, "how was my spirit crushed in parting with thee! How sweet was thy spirit! How true was thy devotion to that gospel which pours floods of light and immortality on death's dark hour! Thou hast obtained the true ambition. On thy tombstone it should be written: 'He died at his post;' and in heaven it will be said, 'He turned many to righteousness.'
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How blest the righteous when he dies! How good to be embalmed in the affections of the pure in heart! May my memory be blest as thine, and my last hours be like thine, my brother."
It would be impossible to convey in words an adequate conception of his state of mind at departing. So calm, so serene, so strong in faith, so cheerful in hope! Most tenderly devoted to his family, he heard no murmur or sigh. His religion was not a mere sentiment nor a passion. It was a faith which actualizes the "things hoped for"--a faith which saw the things invisible. What a heaven was that home for weeks before his departure! Few visitors could be admitted, but it was all the better; he was all the more sacred to his dear companion, who would have died with him, and to his children, to whom, in the serene blessedness of these most hallowed scenes, he was illustrating the faith in Jesus which he had so extensively preached to the world.
The hour came, and he slept; slept sweetly and in peace. Aged 45 years, 2 months, 14 days.
Though short the time of his ministry, fifteen hundred and thirty-six souls were by him turned to God, and baptized into the Lord Jesus, besides over three hundred who united with the churches during and under his labors. He was an early and decided friend of the Missionary cause. He saw in this effort to associate the brethren in a great evangelical enterprise, a coming hope for the churches, to lead them into a closer unity and a better order. A large proportion of his great and successful labors was under the auspices of the Missionary Society.
Bro. Smith was, in person, of full medium height, in weight about one hundred and fifty. His eye was the picture of quickness and ready discernment; his countenance was highly engaging and agreeable. He was a ready talker, blunt and rapid in speech, exhaustless in illustration and anecdote. There was a fine flowing vein of humor in his
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heart, which, with his hopeful and cheerful temperament, made him a most animated, social, and instructive companion. His intuitive perception of character was a marked trait of his mental capacities. He was seldom mistaken in his man.
It is needless to say that a nature so decided and marked in peculiar features, carried itself into his audiences, and under the animation of the force and enthusiasm with which he commonly moved on in his sermons, he bore the delighted hearers along with him to the conclusions which he sought to impress.
In this place it would be wrong to omit mention of some of the causes of his marvelous effectiveness in his work. Among these, his habit of visiting the people wherever he went, should be prominently mentioned. He was an untiring and most industrious visitor. He always visited; went every-where; made religious calls among the people, in their houses, at their workshops, on their farms. Wherever they were, he found them, talked with them, and often prayed where prayers were never before heard. These were not dull, dry, demure visitations. He was a man of the people, with the people. They saw this. He could tell them about common things, and showed himself a man with them in the experiences and knowledges of common life. His abounding sympathies went to the house and home of poverty, and cheered into life and hope hearts that never felt their blessed warmth before. It was nothing uncommon for him to visit thirty, forty and sixty and seventy families during a single meeting. The highest number I see recorded in his journal is one hundred and six during a single meeting. In these labors from house to house he omitted none, of whatever rank, or condition, or creed. He broke through all barriers, nor allowed either prejudice or religious belief to prevent his getting to the people. Christ died for them,
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and his it was to reach all, teach all, convert all it was possible to gain.
Be sure -- ye indolent, ease-loving sermon makers, that the people are God's great militia; they are his army. And the man who interests himself in the people, will find the people interested in him and his message to them.
His style of speech was plain, clear, pointed and forcible. Though rapid in utterance, his enunciation was perfectly intelligible. The words came full and rounded from his tongue. He had no pedantry nor artistic airs. His illustrations, always pertinent and pointed, were from common things. They were so clear and appropriate, the people felt in them the force of demonstration.
He believed what he preached. The intense earnestness of his faith carried its convictions to every mind. None doubted his sincerity. All saw his earnestness. The subordinate arts of embellishment were nothing to him. "I believed, therefore have I spoken." The word of God was true; he knew, he felt it true, and he made the people feel it too. The grand realities of heaven, of hell, life, death, eternity and a judgment to come, were no toys in his hand.
"When the son of man cometh, shall he find faith in the earth?" Much of the preaching of this age can scarcely be called even a solemn farce! So vapid and volatile, trope, phrase, and dignity in relief; Christ, sin and salvation shaded in the background!
I am conscious this sketch will, by some, be regarded as long drawn out. But to thousands, it will be felt to be far too meager, while to one precious circle, where he was vastly more than king, it will seem all imperfection. I dare not say how much I loved him. Let this and a thousand other precious memories be as seed sown, to spring up into a full harvest of joy and holy fellowships when the saints arise in the likeness of Jesus, who is our life and our everlasting hope.
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CHURCHES FOUNDED BY HIM.1. Between Champion and Bazetta, 35 members, December, 1848.
2. Fowler, 33 members, March, 1851.
3. Mecca, 23 members, March, 1851.
4. Auburn, De Kalb County, Iowa, June, 1852.
5. Jackson, 50 members, September, 1852.
6. Russell, 23 members, October, 1852.
7. Elmore, March, 1853.
8. Bristol, 32 members, May, 1853.
9. LaGrange, September, 1853.
10. Chester, October, 1852.
11. West Arlington, Vt., January, 1854.
12. Kenton, Hardin County, 26 members, Feb.,1854.
13. Hartsgrove, 33 members, November, 1854.
14. Rome, 60 members, February, 1855.
15. New Lyme, 18 members, March, 1855.
16. Jefferson, 28 members, August, 1855.
The flowers of Eden round thee blooming,
And on thine ear the murmurs blest
Of Siloa's waters softly flowing
Beneath the tree of life, which gives
To all the earth its healing leaves,
In the white robe of angels clad
And wandering by that sacred rivet
Whose streams of holiness make glad
The city of our God forever!
Oh! for the death the righteous die!
An end, like autumn's day declining,
On human hearts, as on the sky,
With holier, tenderer beauty shining;
As to the parting soul were given
The radiance of an opening heaven!
As if that pure and blessed light
From off the eternal altar flowing,
Were bathing, in its upward flight,
The spirit to its worship going."
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The meeting opened with salutations, songs, exhortations, and reports. The next day Henry stepped up quickly into the pulpit where were sitting the older preachers, and said in a low but energetic tone, "I charge you to look out what you are about to do here; we want nothing here which the word of the Lord will not sanction." They smiled at his bold
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independence as he returned to his seat. His meaning was apparent when he arose, soon after, and moved that the association, as an advisory council, be now dissolved. The resolution was offered, put and passed so quickly, that few paused to consider the propriety or effect of it. The most seemed pleased; but not all. The more thoughtful regretted it as a hasty proceeding. Mr. Campbell arose and said: "Brethren, what now are you going to do? are you never going to meet again?" This fell upon us like a clap of thunder, and caused a speedy change of feelings. Many had come forty or fifty miles, in big wagons even, so eager to enjoy this feast of love. Never meet again! For a little time joy gave place to gloom. Campbell saw there was no use in stemming the tide and pleading for the continuance of the association, even in a modified form. The voice of the reformation, at this juncture, was for demolition, and Scott was thought to favor the motion. Mr. Campbell then proposed that the brethren meet annually hereafter for preaching the gospel, for mutual edification, and for hearing reports of the progress of the cause of Christ. This was unanimously approved. Thus ended the association, and this was the origin of the yearly-meeting system among us.
As this action and this occasion became a turning point in our history, a few remarks upon it are demanded:
1. For three years of unparalleled success we had organic unity of the churches, and harmony of action among the preachers. At New Lisbon one evangelist was sent out; at Warren, two; at Sharon, four:
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the association in this acting as a delegate body only for evangelical purposes.
2. At the dissolution of the association the system of evangelization under the auspices and direction of the brotherhood ceased and perished. No one was sent out by that body, as it ceased to be; nor by the yearly meeting, for no such power was then assumed by the "yearly meeting," nor has been since.
3. Then perished the principle of concert of action among us for evangelical purposes; and it lay dormant for years.
4. Therefore we have been, in this respect, in a state of apostasy from our first principles.
5. Due discrimination was not made between the evangelical, which was right, useful, and not liable to dangerous results; and the ecclesiastical, against which the opposition was directed; and that in the overturn of the one, which was, perhaps, liable to objections, the other was destroyed, which was the true principle, and ought to have been carefully preserved, guarded, and, perhaps, improved.
6. Efforts, unavailing, were often made in our yearly meetings afterwards, to revive the evangelic feature of the lost association; pleaded for by our own example and history, and by the increasing testimony of our experience.
7. Wise men saw the evil, and deplored the result at the time and afterwards; as Benajah Austin, William Hayden, whose persistent appeals for its resuscitation provoked many, and by Mr. Campbell, who writes thus in the Millennial Harbinger for 1849, p. 272:
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"I have before intimated my approval of the Baptist associational formulas, pruned of certain redundancies and encroachments upon faith, piety and humanity. I was present on the occasion of the dissolution of the 'Mahoning Baptist Association' in 1828,1 on the Western Reserve, State of Ohio. With the exception of one obsolete preacher, the whole association, preachers and people, embraced the current reformation. I confess I was alarmed at the hasty and impassioned manner in which the association was, in a few minutes, dissolved. I then, and since, contemplated that scene as a striking proof of the power of enthusiasm and of excitement, and as dangerous, too, even in ecclesiastical as well as in political affairs. Counsel and caution, argument and remonstrance, were wholly in vain in such a crisis of affairs. It would have been an imprudent sacrifice of influence to have done more than make a single remonstrance. But that remonstrance was quashed by the previous question, and the regular Baptist Mahoning Association died of a moral apoplexy in a quarter of an hour.
"Reformation and annihilation are not with me now, as formerly, convertible or identical terms. We want occasional, if not stated, deliberative meetings on questions of expediency in adaptation to the ever-changing fortune and character of society."
There occurred at this meeting a passage at arms between Mr. Campbell and Mr. Rigdon. It was only about two months previous to the fall of that star from heaven. On Saturday, Rigdon introduced an argument to show that our pretension to follow the apostles in all their New Testament teachings, required
* As it relates to forms and reports of its doings, it ceased at Warren, 1828. But the resolution for its disolution was passed at Austintown, 1830. Bro. Campbell was present on both occasions.
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a community of goods; that as they established this order in the model church at Jerusalem, we were bound to imitate their example. The sagacious mind of Mr. Campbell saw at once the confusion and ruin that would result from such doctrines plausibly presented before a large, eager multitude, many of whom were new converts. He arose and offered a correction of the mistake. This did not satisfy the zealous Rigdon. He rejoined. Mr. Campbell felt the necessity of settling the matter, and in a half hour's speech he set forth the following points:
1. The "community system," in the second of Acts,a was formed not to make property, but to consume it, under the special circumstances attending that case.
2. The matter about Ananias and Sapphira put an end to it.
3. Sundry passages in Corinthians and elsewhere, calling for contributions for benevolent objects, show that no such system prevailed in the primitive churches.
This put an end to it. Rigdon finding himself foiled in his cherished purpose of ingrafting on the reformation his new community scheme, went away from the meeting at its close, chafed and chagrined, and never met with the Disciples in a general meeting afterward. On his way he stopped at Bro. Austin's, in Warren, to whom he vented his spleen, saying; "I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or Scott, and yet they get all the honor of it!"
On Lord's day, from a stage prepared in a grove
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the addresses were delivered to an immense concourse. Mr. Campbell's discourse was based on the language, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus carne into the world to save sinners." 1 Tim. i: 15. Two propositions, he affirmed, are in the passage: 1. That the gospel is true; 2. That it is good. Taking the first proposition, he delivered a sermon of great power on the evidences of Christianity.
About a thousand conversions in the previous year were reported; over forty united on that occasion. For many years this meeting was referred to as conspicuous among the joyous religious festivities so numerous on the Western Reserve.
NORTH BLOOMFIELD.BENJAMIN ALTON was born February 22, 1799. His early life was spent in Genesee County, New York. At the age of eighteen, he was a zealous exhorter among the Methodists. Falling in with Elder Wm. True, of the "Christian Connection," he was baptized by him, and continued to preach the gospel as he understood it. About the year 1827, he moved to North Bloomfield, Trumbull County. He was a man of marked abilities, full size, finely formed, and possessed most winning manner and tender speech. He had been very successful as a revivalist among the "New Lights" or "Christians." In the process of his ministry he became convinced that something was radically wrong in the exhibition of the gospel in these times, as no case is to be found in all the history of the apostles' preaching of penitent sinners mourning for days and nights, and sighing for undiscovered pardon. The sensitive heart of the sympathetic Alton was overwhelmed, as he saw many souls weeping under conviction for sin, crying out to know what they
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should do, while the only answer ever given was to continue in that very condition of agony, and that relief some time and in some way might be expected. Disgusted and discouraged, he resolved to hide himself away in a "lodge" in the wilderness, and there in quietness and seclusion, to live for his family and heaven. He settled on lands in the dense forests of Bloomfield. He had traveled much, and witnessed with grief and shame the sectarianisms of the day; and, moreover, he thought it a great mistake that the gospel contained no express provision by which a repenting sinner might be assured at once of the forgiveness of his sins. He was fast tending to skepticism, and might have been swept into the vortex of infidelity, but for an incident which called him forth to the light and to great usefulness.
About the year 1829, the good people of Bloomfield called a public meeting, and resolved to unite in raising a fund to support preaching, and all go to meeting together. It was an effort, after its kind, to form a union for religious purposes; a union out of diversity. But the union not arising out of previously existing unity -- the only condition of a permanent union -- it proved of short duration. Yet they entered into the enterprise in good heart, with good intentions, and good omens. As the Presbyterians were the most numerous, they were to have the house half the time; the Baptists and the Methodists one quarter, and the Unitarians the other quarter. Squire Brown, a prominent citizen, was to secure the Unitarian minister. By some of the more rigid in sentiment he was thought to be skeptical; but he entered heartily into the arrangement as a means of the moral improvement of the town. By him Benjamin Alton was engaged. Alton, thus called from his coveted retreat, consented to gird himself again in the panoply of the gospel. He came regularly to his appointments. He would sit quite a while in the pulpit, and then, rising, proceed to preach
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without singing or prayer. He usually preached on the prophecies, and many became interested in his sermons.
About this time William Hayden preached at the center of Bloomfield, and staying over night with Alton, these two Bible men spent much of the night searching the Scriptures in relation to the ancient gospel, particularly as it relates to the manner in which the apostles preached it, and brought convicted sinners into the light and peace of pardon. In the course of the same year, Alton heard Thomas Campbell. In that discourse he saw the scriptural plan of salvation. The darkness, which like a cloud had rested on the Bible, cleared away, and he discovered, to his great joy, that God had not left us ignorant of what to do to be saved. Like Saul, when the scales fell from his eyes, he forthwith preached the gospel after the models found in the sermons of the apostles.
The alarm was sounded at once. The people had never agreed to hear a "Campbellite." The union exploded and went to the four winds. The people called another meeting, dissolved the covenant, and each party agreed to support its own meeting.
Alton kept up his appointments. Four or five were baptized this season. In 1830-1, some others were converted. In 1832, Bro. Alton preached half the time, and began to attend regularly to the Lord's Supper. They were now meeting in a school-house, where they continued several years, during which time they were growing strong and more numerous, under the visits of Hayden, Henry, the Bosworths, Applegate, and others.
In 1836, Bro. Alton moved to De Kalb County, Indiana. There he displayed the same zeal which had always warmed his own heart, and melted the hearts of hundreds. Suffering all the hardships of pioneer life in a densely wooded country, contending with marsh and miasm, he still found time to preach the gospel and plant churches. With a numerous family, little money in the country, and
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nothing to sell to procure any, his fare was the plainest, and his costume any thing but clerical. Sometimes with out a coat--but a wrapper instead--a shoe on one foot, the other honored with a boot, he traveled afoot to his appointments. His genial disposition, manly form, sweetness of countenance, and earnest, convincing pathos, full of Scripture withal, brought many from far to hear his sermons, and many turned to righteousness. Some of the churches planted by him in that wilderness, are yet standing and flourishing.
As illustrative of the straightened condition of those days, a young man wished Elder Alton to perform for him the marriage ceremony. Unable to pay money for the service, he stipulated to compensate him with pumpkins! The service was rendered cheerfully, to the satisfaction of the happy bridegroom, and the next day he brought a large load of selected "fruit of vine," and delivered them to the very needy and equally gratified parson.
Exhaustive toil, and the malaria of the rich opening soil, undermined his naturally hardy constitution. He sank gradually to a feeble state from which he could not rally. His wife, the faithful sharer of his life and fortunes, sank with him and before him. She died March 24, 1847. He survived thirteen days longer, and fell asleep, April 7th, aged only a little over forty-eight years. He was universally lamented. His talents commanded the respect of the people, who sought to put him on the ticket for political fame. But he chose to suffer reproach with the people of God. Like all men who move men for God, he was a most devoted Bible student. It is said he had the whole New Testament by heart. His family are religions, and his youngest son, Cyrus Alton, is devotedly engaged in the ministry of the gospel.
The little band in Bloomfield had organized as a worshiping assembly with eleven members. Among
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them were Nelson Works, Bro. Netterfield and his wife, Mary Sager, Polly Green, and Mehitabel Thayer. Bro. Works was appointed to take the lead of the meetings. Bro. Alton's removal left them much discouraged; but they were not cast down nor forsaken. In October, 1836, Marcus Bosworth visited them, and learning the condition of the church, thought it necessary to take steps to complete their organization, their number being now considerably increased. This was done the nineteenth of that month. The following new names were taken at this time, viz.: Zephaniah Luse, Ruhama Luse, Wm. M. Bellows, Benjamin Bellows, Josiah Bellows, Rachel Bellows, Mary Ann Bellows, Henry G. Neal, Clarissa Neal, Wm. Parker, Charles Thayer, Clarissa Wilder, Candace Green, Nancy Green, Anna Sager, Rebecca Sager, Miriam Smith.
The church has never lost its identity. It was assisted by the preaching brethren of the time; the brethren Hayden, Henry, Hartzel, Applegate, Cyrus and Marcus Bosworth, Clapp, Collins; and a little later by Lucy, Brockett, Perky, Calvin Smith; and later still by Edwin Wakefield, W. A. Belding, C. C. Foote, and H. Reeves.
In the winter of 1848, Bro. Isaac Errett held a meeting in the Congregational church at the center of the town. Bro. Charles Brown made every arrangement to secure for him a favorable hearing. The church was doubled in numbers, and the cause of religious reformation lifted up to the notice of a large number of the people in the township. Their place of meeting in the school-houses was too small for the assemblies, and in 1849, the meeting-house
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at the center was built, and Bro. Errett moving there in October, that year, he became the first pastor of the church. He remained two years, adding numbers and strength to the congregation, preaching also in other communities, so that the principles of this religious reformation were established in various places. The church in Green was formed chiefly under his ministry.
April 19, 1840, Nelson Works and Ha G. Neal were appointed Elders. William Parker served also awhile in that capacity. In 1842, John Sager was elected deacon. These, and others after them, performed the duties of their respective offices without ordination. Some new officers having been selected, the church set apart April 19, 1854, for the purpose of ordaining them after the scriptural example. On that day Bro. Edwin Wakefield was, by imposition of hands, with prayer and fasting, set apart to the "work of an evangelist;" brethren Nelson Works and Charles Brown were, in like manner, ordained as elders; and John Sager, David Snyder, Chester Howard, and N. B. Ferry were ordained deacons. Brethren Cyrus Bosworth, M. S. Clapp, Isaac Errett and B. F. Perky were the officiating ministers.
This church owes much to the unwavering faithfulness of her time-honored elder, Nelson Works. Through all her trials he has held firmly the standard, its honored flag unfurled and aloft. Around it, with supporting encouragement, a number of the sisters, whose names are in the book of life, have as faithfully rallied, displaying a zeal, constancy, and devotion worthy of special commendation. In this connection also, the godly zeal and cheering voice of
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Brockett comes to remembrance. In the darkest days he would cheer the little company of believers with assurances that the gospel would yet triumph in Bloomfield. And when at length the day dawned, and such an ingathering attended the labors of Bro. Errett, "he is but reaping," said the sincere Brockett, "the fruits of the sowing of others."
THE CAUSE IN FARMINGTON.Like most of the churches the congregation in Farmington is an example of Christians coming together in gospel order from different "orders," so called. In 1818, Abijah Lee came into that town with his family. He was a Baptist. His son, Isaac Lee, who had embraced religion among the Methodists, went after a few years to Kirtland. There in the great reformatory movement under Bentley and Rigdon, in 1828, he saw the great difference between Christianity as a unity, as contained in the Holy Scriptures, and an organized "branch" of the church. He dropped the terms and title of schismatic party, and stood for uniting Christians in Christ Jesus. He returned to Farmington in the spring of 1829, and found a young man, Harvey Brockett, much awakened on the subject of religion. Lee found little trouble in teaching him the "obedience of faith" as now re-proclaimed by the disciples. He received the truth "with all readiness of mind" and was baptized by his friend Isaac Lee. Meantime Father Abijah Lee, his family and others there, were reading the "Christian Baptist." The powerful stimulus of that revolutionary periodical awakened inquiry in the minds of many. Soon Benjamin
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Alton was on the ground, and to full houses announced the call to the Bible -- to Pentecost -- to Christ. A local Methodist preacher confronted him, but God in his truth was mightier than man in his ignorance of it; and the people "heard him gladly." In 1830, a church was formed, with Abijah Lee as leader, which met every Lord's day according to the commandment, to keep the ordinances as they were delivered to the church by the apostles. With no chart but the unerring Word, they launched on the ocean under the pilotage of the Captain of salvation.
They numbered at the beginning about twenty. The Baptists gave them Abijah Lee and wife, and Daniel Davidson and his wife. Isaac Lee, for a little with the Methodists, and Harvey Brockett also now rallied with them and the new converts around the "ensign" lifted up for all nations on the day of Pentecost, A. D. 33.
Alton did not forsake them, nor were they wanting in zeal nor gifts among themselves. They lost no opportunity to teach the people; and they were constant in mutual edification. The sincere Applegate, the tender Bosworth, the rapid Henry, and the energetic Hayden, labored among them early and with much success; as did also Collins, Clapp, and Hartzel.
SKETCH OF HARVEY BROCKETT.All honor to the church that could produce a Brockett! He was a man of attractions. Few men in so short a career have left so lasting results to witness for their devotion to Christ. He was born April 13, 1806, in Onondaga County, New York. In 1821, he came with his parents to Farmington. When he was ten years old, his mother, a devoted Christian, gave her son to God, and
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bidding him follow her, she left him, and was borne to her grave amid plentiful tears. From that day, heaven was to him a dear place. The Savior was precious; the Bible was sacred; but confused by the teaching of the day he found no peace, till in his twenty-third year he obeyed the Lord Jesus Christ. His way was now clear, and the young disciple and future preacher of righteousness studied diligently the Holy Scriptures, and began to exhort sinners to turn to God. He rose rapidly. His whole nature was aglow. Gifted with great copiousness of language, and fluency of speech, his natural timidity yielded to his mastering zeal, and he was heard gladly wherever he went. The church of Bazetta caught hold of the hand of this young Timothy, gave him a home among them, and helped him on his way.
For about twelve years he was among the churches. And who shall describe the swell of holy enthusiasm which every-where attended his labors? Converts came like the dew-drops of the morning. In his hands the gospel was luminous and tender, melting the heart, and convincing the judgment with such a power, and an array of evidences so abundant and pungent, that all who heard admired, and many yielded to his trumpet call to repentance. He preached twice a day, sometimes thrice, sung much, was a great talker, and not having, like Paul, a Silas or Timotheus to baptize his converts, his personal administrations of that sacred ordinance were almost daily.
He was cheerful, but never trifling, serious, and most earnest, with a voice of good compass and charming tone. His pathos excelled his logic, in which, however, he was not deficient. His sermons were long, closing up with exhortations of warmth and power. He overworked; his constitution lost its iron, and he became a prey to frailty and fever. On the 12th of September, 1848, his most active and useful life closed at his home in Sharon, Pennsylvania. He was twice married; the last time to Mrs.
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Margaret McCleery, relict of Hugh McCleery, of Sharon. She was much respected for her benevolence and steadfastness in the faith, and has recently joined him in the promised rest.
THE CHURCH IN GREEN FOUNDED.The church in Green, Trumbull County, was organized the first Sunday in January, 1851, by Isaac Errett and C. Bosworth. The following eleven persons were the members: Walter Bartlett and Prudence Bartlett, Wm. D. Morris and Mary A. Morris, Edwin Wakefield and Mary Wakefield, Eldad Barton and California Barton, Austin Dean, Deborah Curtis, and Polly Smith. Walter Bartlett was chosen overseer, and Wm. D. Morris, deacon. There were twenty additions during the year; ten in a meeting held by Calvin Smith in November after this organization.
Bro. Edwin Wakefield, widely and favorably known for his success in the gospel, was baptized here in the spring of 1845, by the able Perky, in a meeting held there by him. Bro. Bartlett has from the beginning held a leading position. He was born 1801, and came to Mecca with his parents in 1818. In 1821, he heard Mr. Campbell deliver two discourses in Warren, which were "nails driven in sure places" with him. He united with the F. W. Baptists, and preached among that people a few years. His associations and reading opened his mind to the plea and principles of the disciples; and as he earnestly sought only to know and teach the truth, he sometimes proclaimed sentiments not in the theological system of that sect. He was arraigned in the quarterly meeting for heresy, and after various hearings, they refused to renew his license. They granted him a letter, and as the brethren in Bazetta had been kind
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to him, He presented to them his letter, was received, and after due time was ordained an elder in the congregation. This was in 1836. Though no church was established in Green till the year 1851, as above related, Bro. Bartlett's tongue was not silent, nor his light under a cover. There was occasional preaching there by Alton, Brockett, Perky, Hartzel, and Bosworth. Wm. Hayden and Elder T. Campbell explored the land as early as 1828.
The church numbers about eighty members. Bro. E. Wakefield has long been a "captain of hundreds" among them, and his son, E. B. Wakefield, is rising to usefulness as a proclaimer of the gospel. Bro. A. C. Bartlett, son of Bro. W. Bartlett, for many years before the public, is a gift to the cause from this church.
Bro. W. Bartlett writes: "It is wonderful to see what great results sometimes spring from small causes. I can not doubt that my hearing A. Campbell in 1821, was the cause of my withdrawing from the F. W. Baptists and uniting with the Disciples; and this led me to labor for an organization in Green, which, through the blessing of God, I have seen accomplished. The seed, after passing through more than one crucible, and occasionally watered, not only brought forth the blade in 1836, but the full ear in 1851, and has produced fruit ever since. How little did I think when I was listening to those sermons that they were to have an influence on me through all my life! But I now know that this has been the case. It has taught me to sow the seed of the kingdom wherever I could, for I knew not how much might fall on good ground, and bring forth fruit in the salvation of souls."
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July 1, 1817, he married Miss Mary McGowan, whose father was an early emigrant from Maryland. After raising eight children, and filling faithfully the duties of domestic and social life, she fell peacefully asleep, October 13, 1839. Hubbard was re-married to Miss Jerusha Reed, and is enjoying life at eighty-three.
The Methodists pre-empted Deerfield. The Hubbards gave assent to their assumed claim, all except Ephraim. He held membership with them about four years, but he openly protested against the creed and discipline as a direct challenge of the rights
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of the King. He felt relieved, however, of responsibility on the subject, as he had been cordially received with expressed opposition to it as an unauthorized usurpation of the place of the Word of God in the government of his church.
About this time a Methodist class was formed in Smith Township, under the leadership of Gideon Hoadley. This class solicited Hubbard to unite and assist them. To this he consented on condition that he should not be required to assent to the "discipline." This band of Christians, acting on their inherent rights, and, in this act, setting aside the rules of the Methodist church, unanimously agreed to his terms. Accordingly, himself and his wife, who was a Baptist, became members the same day. With the same noble sentiments, his brother-in-law, Samuel McGowan, a Baptist, and his wife, a Presbyterian, offered themselves for membership. Some demurred, alleging that the rules of the church should be enforced. Bro. Hubbard asked them to delay a decision for two weeks, and to search the Word of God for authority to guide their action. To this they assented; and at the end of that time, no precedent or other authority for a period of probation being found, McGowan and his wife were cordially received.
As soon as this was known by the authorities of that church, Presiding Elder Swaize came with the circuit rider, Rev. Mr. Taylor, denounced these whole proceedings as a violation of the rules of the discipline, and declared the class dissolved.
But this was not the last of it. The most of the class were so dissatisfied with this invasion of their rights as men and Christians, that they held themselves
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aloof from any farther union with the M. E. Church, and stood ready for the coming light, which was soon to result in a practical and permanent union of these and many others on New Testament grounds. The leader of the class, Bro. Hoadley, being one of this number.
As the history of a religious movement is identical with that of its chief actors, I insert some notice and experiences of Bro. Jonas Hartzel, associated with the origin of this church, and long identified with it.
He was born October 19, 1803, in North Hampton County, Pa., In 1805, his parents settled, with several other families of the same name and kindred, in Deerfield, then quite an unbroken wilderness. Now let his own pen continue the recital:
"On the second day of June, 1825, the marriage contract between myself and Miss Alice Wallahan was consummated. In religious profession we were divided; but in religious tendencies, industrial habits, domestic economy, and love of home, we were happily united.
"Soon after this my mind became more seriously affected with my religious condition. My wife being a Methodist, we occasionally attended Methodist preaching. This brought before me the complications of Calvinism and Arminianism. Sovereign grace put on the more orthodox face, but free grace wore the more pleasant smile. But the effect was uncertainty and doubt, and this was followed by skepticism in the current religion of the times. Meanwhile I said nothing in relation to my troubles, until in an evil hour I communicated the state of my mind to my father. It was, as we then called it, a sacramental occasion. I attended all the sessions until Monday morning.
"My father saw from my movements that I did not
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intend to go to meeting. He came to where I was at work, and asked: 'Jonas, an't you going to meeting to-day?' To which I said: 'Father, you know my business is urgent, and going to meeting is doing me no good; I go to our meeting, and our preacher preaches unconditional election and reprobation; I go to Methodist meeting, and the preacher will preach an opposite doctrine from the same text. Father, there is something wrong. We all say we are influenced by the same spirit; we are all reading the same Bible; we are all traveling the same road to the same heaven. The different parties acknowledge each other to be Christians, but each party says my way is the right way, and I can not tell which way is the right one.' To this my father made no reply, but as he turned away, I saw the falling tear. My regret for this freedom was bitter. I threw down my tools, and I was in the meeting-house as soon as himself.
"Not long after this a new trouble sprang up. Having returned from meeting, and dinner over, my wife asked: 'What evidence is there for infant baptism?' This question, coming from this source, produced strange emotions. Knowing that the subject of baptism was not under discussion in our respective families or neighborhood, added no little to my surprise. 'Alice,' I said; 'why do you ask me this question?' 'If there is any evidence in the Bible for infant baptism, I want it, for I never had any confidence in my baptism,' was her reply. 'Well,' I replied, 'I can satisfy your mind.'
"I took down the Scriptures, and read those passages upon which I had always relied for defense. I read them, but the reading was of no avail. I must draw inferences. The Lord only knew the deep mortification I suffered. My witnesses were against me. I saved appearances as best I could, laid up the book, and said we would talk upon this subject at another time. I now saw the difference between the controversialist and the impartial instructor.
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I could no more mislead my dear wife, than my own soul. Before this, I saw infant baptism in 'Suffer little children to come unto me,' in the baptism of Cornelius, Lydia, the jailer, Stephanas, and their households; and when hard pressed by an opponent I could find it in circumcision, but under these new circumstances it had departed, given up the ghost without a struggle or a groan, and left me in mourning.
"Between denominational pride and conviction there was a fierce contest for a short time. But I finally resolved to be true to my convictions, and I made an honest surrender. I said, 'My dear wife, I can give you no Bible evidence for infant baptism, for there is none. I am now convinced that it is a human device; and neither we, nor so much as one of our extensive family connections are in the church of Christ, according to the law of the Lord.'
"I now became more confirmed in the conviction, that there was something wrong in the denominational exhibitions of Christianity. I had been misled by wise and good men. I also discovered that I had never read the Scriptures, to form sentiments for myself. My religion consisted in opinions, rather than faith. I had been acting upon the credit system, and I was determined to abandon it at once. This led us to the only reliable source of knowledge. We now began to read the Bible as we had never read it before. The question of infant baptism was now disposed of, and we regarded ourselves as unbaptized. Then we examined the specific passages in the New Testament on faith. This was the subject of my greatest trouble. Sometimes I thought I had a hope, and again I doubted. I knew I had never felt and experienced what others said they had, and I attributed my darkness to unbelief. Yet I knew I did believe. But, in our classification at that time, there were four kinds of faith -- speculative, historical, dead, and saving faith -- the latter only was of saving
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value. This faith I supposed I had not, and had no means of obtaining. The first three might be the result of the Scriptures, and were of no avail; while saving faith was the direct gift of God. This gift was the burden of my daily prayer. In our course of reading we came to this Scripture: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.' John xx: 30, 31.
"I exclaimed! 'This faith I have had from my childhood!'
"I said, adopting the language of David, 'The Lord has brought me into a large place.' This discovery came like a flood of light. The gospel in all its facts and phases assumed new and lovely aspects. The gospel appeared intelligible, and its promised blessings accessible. This was to us the beginning of a new life and new joys. We had new incentives to read the Bible."
Samuel McGowan was a devout man, possessed of solid mind, with great power of analysis. One day he met Jonas Hartzel, his brother-in-law, and said: "I fear Alexander Campbell has fallen into a grievous error." "What is it?" "In the last number of the 'Christian Baptist' he maintains that baptism, preceded by faith and repentance, is for the remission of sins." Hartzel replied: "I have advocated that for some months past myself. In defending anti-pedobaptist views with other folds, I referred to Acts ii: 38; where it says, 'Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.' I found this to be a new and unanswerable argument against infant baptism."
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"Well," said McGowan, "I guess you'll read the 'Christian Baptist' now!"
Thus the investigations ran, till the Hartzels, Hubbards, McGowans, Finch, and others agreed to form a society for the investigation of Scripture subjects. They were fully awake to the sad condition of the Christian churches, so called, divided, alienated, contradictory in doctrine and work, and that this state of things was not only unauthorized by the word of God, but contrary to it. And they were equally convinced both of the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and the unity of their teaching on all practical subjects. This noble band of men and women bound themselves together to find out that truth, and to walk together in it. They resolved to meet weekly, and semi-weekly when convenient. This was in March, 1827. Bro. Hartzel's pen may proceed with the story:
"There were in this little band the following persons: Cornelius P. Finch, a Methodist preacher, and his wife; Ephraim B. Hubbard and his wife, he an active Methodist and his wife a Baptist; Samuel McGowan and wife, he a Baptist and his wife a Presbyterian; Peter Hartzel and wife, he a Presbyterian and his wife a Baptist; myself and wife, myself a Presbyterian, but not a communicant, and my wife a Methodist. There were a few others. The first three named were our chief speakers. We assumed that the Christian religion, in its fullness and perfectness, was recorded in the New Testament, and what could not be there found, or what could not be read from this book was no part of Christianity. We also assumed that this was an intelligible document, for, if not adapted to the common intelligence of mankind, it could not be received
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as a revelation from God to man. In these predicates we agreed.
"Our work was now before us, and we had a will to do it. But little did we know of the magnitude or the difficulties of the work to which we had committed ourselves. Our meetings increased. Some came in from feelings of opposition, others from motives of curiosity. Stephen M. Hubbard, a Methodist preacher and a worthy man, attended occasionally, and participated freely and affectionately in our discussions. Our number at one time, I think, was twenty-two. The three most popular church parties were all represented among us, both in number and intelligence; therefore our discussions took a wide range. Sometimes we discussed the intelligibility of the Scriptures, their all-sufficiency for the purposes of enlightenment, conversion, Christian perfection, church government. Then the 'special call' to the ministry; how does faith come; how many kinds of faith; which is first in order -- faith or repentance; can a sinner believe and obey the gospel, acceptably and savingly, without some superadded spiritual influence from above; should an unbeliever pray for faith; is the gospel a dead letter, or does it possess inherent, quickening power; when, where, and by whom was the gospel first preached. The difference between the first and second commission which Christ gave to his apostles; apostolic succession; the abrogation of the Mosaic dispensation; the subjects, mode, and design of baptism; should a sinner be baptized on the confession of his faith in Christ, or on an approved experience. All these subjects were under earnest discussion for about one year.
"These were great questions, and on account of our old theologies, they were exceedingly perplexing.
"No doctrinal standard was appealed to. All human authorities were ignored. The Bible was our book; Jesus Christ and his apostles were our umpire; and our work
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was personal in its object. We were sick of denominationalism. All save Bro. Finch and his wife, had a religious opponent in his or her own bosom. Primarily our objects were to save our souls from sin, and to sweeten our domestic enjoyments by a return to that gospel which was from the beginning. We had but two alternatives between which to choose; either to transmit religious partyism, with all its bitter fruits, to our rising families, and live and die in that state of doubt and uncertainty, vascillating between hope and fear, the inevitable result of a mixed profession, or to find relief by going back to the old record, to 'look up the old paths and walk therein.'
"Now for the practical results. In the month of May, 1828, we determined to enter into church relations. The question of baptism came up. It was suggested by one of the senior brethren who had been immersed, that those of our number who did not yet see their way clear, might come into membership on their former baptism, until such time as they might see their duty more clearly. To which I replied, that myself and wife had been desirous to be baptized for some months past, but were waiting an opportunity; and we would not stand out-door and do in-door work. This at once settled the question to favor of immersion as a condition of membership.
"Immediately brethren Hubbard and Finch were requested by the meeting to visit Adamson Bentley and Marcus Bosworth, to obtain their attendance to preach for us, and administer baptism, and assist in a formal church organization on the New Testament basis. On Saturday, preceding the second Lord's day in June, 1828, these brethren came. Before preaching, a few were baptized, and more on the day following. Then thirteen 'gave themselves to the Lord and to one another.'
"The test to which our investigations conducted us was a rigid one. To abandon long cherished opinions, and to dissolve endeared church relations, requires strong
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faith and great conscientiousness. Especially is this true in the case now before us. One profession may be exchanged for another, one creed for another, and one party name for another without much sacrifice or loss of reputation. But to abjure party, creed, and name, and espouse the simple gospel, involves reputation, and, in the case of ministers, standing, character, and support.
"....This congregation grew in favor with all who gave us a candid hearing. In less than six months our number was about sixty. Seven of these were strong men, and did more or less evangelical work in the region round about, and the Deerfield church became a radiating point, a center of Christian influence."
November 7, 1828, Walter Scott first preached in Deerfield. His reputation had preceded him, and expectation was high. The house was filled densely at an early hour. His victories in other fields plumed his hopes, and prepared him for the occasion. It is to be spoken of that remarkable man that he seldom came into an assembly unprepared. Though attentive to all that was about him, his theme absorbed him, and it was matured. I have often seen him with his face bowed almost to his knees as he sat waiting the moment for opening, with his hands covering it, evidently lifting his soul like Jacob for a blessing. On this occasion the people were on his heart, and each soul was a kingdom to be won for Christ. His first sentence commanded every ear. "The world has been wrong three times, it has been well nigh ruined a fourth." Proceeding through the Patriarchal, the Jewish and Christian dispensations, he shed on each such a flood of light, that the whole Bible seemed luminous. The sermon lasted three
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hours. At the end of his discourse on the Patriarchal dispensation he paused, and turning to Sister Jane Davis, a sister from Wales, of fine musical powers, he said: "Sister Jane, sing us one of your songs." Then resuming, he opened the Jewish age to their understanding. "Sister Davis, another of your beautiful songs." Then gathering up his strength he presented the Christian institution, the full and complete development of God's mercy to lost man.
The effect was perceptible every-where. Eleven souls accepted the offered mercy. Capt. Amos Allerton and Capt. Horace Rogers were of the number.
Capt. Allerton was an influential citizen, of fine social qualities, good intellectual abilities, high toned, generous, sensitive, quick of discernment, and frank, almost to a fault. Tall, heavy frame, not muscular, but of immense physical power. Yet this fine ship carried no faith. Having heard of Scott and his doings, that he baptized people and promised them heaven, sometimes taking them by force into baptismal floods, he went to the meeting fully intent on seeing fair play, and not permitting such performances in Deerfield. And he was just the man for such a venture, had there been a call for it. How was he taken aback when he beheld a small man, of gentlemanly manners equaled by few, delicate in build, with every evidence in lineament, and form, and speech of the gentlest and the noblest of natures! He was disarmed of all his useless purposes, and he resolved to hear him carefully and candidly. He caught his first word and his last. As the great dispensations moved on before him in that grand
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discourse, like panoramic illuminations, he saw what he never saw before -- order, system, plan, arrangement, and development in the Bible history of human redemption. As the eloquent preacher approached the conclusion, Allerton's skepticism had vanished, and he felt his heart moved, as never before, by the view of the Savior, suffering on the cross for the sins of the whole world, opening there the fountain where all must come, and wash and be clean.
As the preacher said, "Clear the way and let the people come and confess their faith in Jesus Christ and be pardoned," Allerton started with a decision so quick, and a step so prompt, that Scott felt alarmed at seeing him crowding so resolutely along. No sooner was he seated than Scott's fears subsided, and he felt as Ananias after the Lord had said to him "Behold, he prayeth!"
This community presents a favorable example of steady and continued growth. Her elders, C. P. Finch and E. B. Hubbard were men of distinction as speakers. Bro. Finch had been a circuit rider among the Methodists. With the frankness of character for which he was distinguished, he quickly saw, and promptly embraced the principles of this appeal for a restoration of primitive Christianity. "Ye may all prophesy, one by one, that all may learn, and all be comforted," (1 Cor. xii: 31.) No church better exemplified this Scripture. Thus the church was able to "edify itself in love;" and moreover from them "sounded out the word into every place." All the churches within a radius of thirty miles felt the power of this congregation. Many became highly competent teachers, as Peter Hartzel, Samuel
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McGowan, Alex. Hubbard; and several rose to eminence, such as E. B. Hubbard, J. Hartzel, A. Allerton, C. P. Finch, and John Schaeffer. From her came the Laughlins -- Milo Laughlin, of Missouri, and A. J. Laughlin, of Indiana. While depending on their regular steady meetings, they have enjoyed the labors of most of the preachers--Henry, Hayden, Bosworth, Brockett, Lanphear, Perky, the Erretts, Belding, M. L. Wilcox, Streator. And time would fail to tell of their glorious work in Christ. From her have gone, besides those named, W. W. Hayden, W. L. Hayden, and M. P. Hayden, the three sons of Daniel Hayden, all fully educated, and all giving themselves to the ministry.
It should be recorded in honor of the power of woman, too frequently left in the shade, that to the influence of one female in their number is largely and justly due this early Christian enterprise. The firmness of character needed to support faltering resolution was found in the inflexible purpose of heart of Mrs. Polly Hubbard, the wife of Bro. E. B. Hubbard. To her devotion to truth, to her clearness of perception of it as taught in the gospel, to her marked and consistent evenness of character and firmness of mind, her husband was greatly indebted for encouraging support in many an hour of fierce trial, to which their position and principles were subjected in those times of conflict and debate.
The same honorable mention should be made of several others, the wives of men whose names have won renown. To their prudence, firmness, and cheerful devotion to the cause, and endurance of toil and reproach, equal to their husbands, is to be credited
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credited a full measure of the success of the gospel in Deerfield.
In the year 1834, there was an accession to the reformation from the ranks of Lutheranism of one of their ministers. The recital of his change of views presents so much information, that it can not rightfully be withheld from the reader. We refer to the case of Rev. John Schaeffer, of Columbiana County. We are thankful that we can give it from Bro. Schaeffer's own candid and careful pen:
"DEAR BRO. HAYDEN:
"By your request I will give you a brief history of my life, exclusively on those points you suggest.
"1. The place of my nativity is Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. My religious training was that of the most ultra order of the Lutherans. Being of poor parentage, I did not enjoy the advantage of a collegiate education. At the age of twenty, I was placed under the theological instruction of Rev. John Wagenhals, a fine scholar from Germany, and a gentleman in the true sense of that word. I studied the theology of the Lutheran church one year, after which, by his influence I obtained, when examined, a license to preach, sprinkle infants, catechize, and solemnize marriage contracts; but denied the right of administering the Lord's Supper, and a voice in the synodical and ministerial sessions. This was to assist me in the prosecution of my studies for another year. After which I obtained license after being examined in theology, by which I was clothed with all the ministerial functions, save a voice in the ministerial session, which privilege was consequent upon ordination; and by this license I was constituted a candidate for ordination, and put on probation in the ministry for three years; after which term, upon examination of my orthodoxy in the Lutheran faith, I
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was ordained, by the imposition of the hands of the ministerium, to the office of pastor. I remained with the society but one year in the capacity of a pastor. My entire stay with that religious order was five years, save two months; viz.: one year as catechist, three years as candidate on probation, and one year as ordained minister or pastor.
"2. The agencies that led me to reform in many of my religious views were, briefly, these: While yet on probation, on a visit to my father-in-law's house, I had an introduction to Bro. Jonas Hartzel by his sister, who, after a few months, became my companion for life. Our conversation soon turned on the subject of religion, which was the common topic of those days, and in the course of our interview he propounded this question: 'Which in the order of salvation stands first, faith or repentance?' I answered in all the honesty of my soul as I was taught, and as I was teaching, not suspecting, in the least, the possibility of a negative to my answer, 'Repentance precedes true and evangelical, or saving faith.' Bro. Hartzel replied: 'Do you hold that repentance is pleasing to God?' 'Most certainly, else he never would have commanded it.' Bro. Hartzel replied: 'The apostle Paul says, Hebrews eleventh chapter: Without faith it is impossible to please God.' This was enough for me on that subject. I confessed my error, and from henceforth I no more preached repentance before faith, nor justification by faith alone.
"This was the first time my confidence in Lutheranism was ever in the least shaken. I felt the very platform on which I stood tremble beneath me. My mind became much agitated. The idea of being wrong on this cardinal point, prompted the inquiry, may we not be in error in others also? Moreover, the whole religious world was arrayed before me, in all their diversified views and opinions on religion. They all lay equal claims to divine
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truth and right. I was forced to lay aside all my former prejudices, and come to the charitable conclusion that we are all alike but sects and parties, and all wrong, being in opposition to each other. With me it was a settled logical fact, that two opposites can not both be right; it is possible that both may be wrong, but impossible for both to be right.
"From these reflections I came to the conclusion, that Lutheranism may be as rich in error as any other ism. Hence the word of God was my only refuge; for all regard the word of God infallibly true.
"After I became connected with the Hartzel family I was brought into frequent contact with Bro. J. Hartzel. The main difficulties in my way were the questions relating to infant church membership, predicated on the perpetuity of the church state, which received its visible form when Abraham was ninety years old, and received the covenant of circumcision. These were the topics discussed when we met. Our debates were warm and animated, and I thought that neither of us had much to boast when we laid our armor off. His sister, my wife, who was a Disciple sentimentally, long before we were married, also greatly aided in revolutionizing my views on these subjects, by propounding questions, and leaving me to struggle under their weight to work out a solution, without ever attempting a vindication of her questions. This prudential course had its desired effect. I never had any difficulty respecting the action of baptism. I well understood before I completed my theological studies, that pouring and sprinkling were substituted for baptism by the authority with which the ministers professed to be clothed; believing themselves to be the successors of the apostles in office, embassadors of Christ, having the keys of the kingdom of heaven committed to them. Believing all this, I was fully satisfied that I was doing God service in sprinkling a little water on the face of an innocent babe
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in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Bro. Hartzel and I engaged in a written debate on these subjects, during which time I availed myself of all the aids in my power, both from books and from my preaching brethren. I did this in disguise, not wishing that the secret workings of my mind should be made manifest. It was customary with the ministers when they met on a visit, in order to pass the time more pleasantly and profitably to themselves, to take up a debatable question and discuss it. On one occasion I took the negative of infant baptism with the pastor of the German Reformed Church of New Lisbon. He being a scholar, and a man of experience, I discussed it with a good degree of energy, paying due deference to his age and superiority. He frankly confessed that infant baptism could not be positively sustained from the New Testament, and closed the debate with this remark: 'It is a good old practice, and I would have my children baptized if the whole world should repudiate the practice.' On another occasion, with the pastor of the Lutheran church in Carrollton, I took the negative of the same proposition. He made the same concession as the former, but his concluding remark differed, viz.: 'So we believe and so we preach.' I will refer to one more case: Conversing with the pastor of the Lutheran church in Canton, he discovered in me what I did not so fully realize myself, and thought my sentiments ran in the direction of my arguments. When we gave each other the parting hand he said: 'I fear the next time I shall hear from you, it will be John the Baptist' -- my name being John. So the aid I sought against my opponent, made me weaker.
"In the meantime I had in charge about thirty catechumens, instructing them in the religion of our fathers, qualifying them for the act of confirmation, in which act they voluntarily assume their baptismal vows made in their infancy by their sponsors or god-parents. The time
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had arrived when it became my duty to ascertain whether they were all baptized. After asking several in the class and receiving an affirmative answer, the following colloquy ensued: A young lady whom I asked, Are you baptized? answered, 'I do not know!'
"Ques. 'Do you not know that you were baptized?'
"Ques.'Did your parents never tell you that you were baptized?'
"Ans. 'My parents told me that I was sprinkled when I was a baby, but I know nothing at all about it.'
"The argument was overwhelming. A personal duty changed into an item of faith, robbing the believing penitent of one of the greatest privileges, to know that he has put on Christ in baptism through faith in him. It clinched the nail Bro. Hartzel had so skillfully driven. I immediately dismissed my class, returned home, and said to my wife, 'I shall never sprinkle another infant while I live.' She congratulated me on my resolution, expressed her gratitude and joy, and remarked; 'I never believed you would remain a pedobaptist many years.' This resolution of mine soon became public. On the night of the same day, Mr. Stewart, one of the deacons, called on me to come and baptize an infant of his brother's, which lay at the point of death. I informed him I could not comply without a divine warrant; I am fully convinced that heretofore when I sprinkled infants I did it in ignorance, on human authority. I gave him my reasons. The effect this announcement had on his feelings could not easily be described. He left. The child died that night. It was buried the next day, and I was not called upon to conduct the funeral services. In a very few days it was published throughout all my congregations that I had refused to discharge the ministerial obligations I was under to the Lutheran church.
"I wrote a letter to Bro. Hartzel, informing him of
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my full conviction of the truth, and desired him to send an appointment and baptize me. This brought our debate to a close. He cheerfully responded to my call, sent an appointment to the Phillips congregation, filled it in company with Bro. E. B. Hubbard; preached on a subject adapted to the occasion, after which my happy wife and myself were immersed by Bro. Hubbard, in the presence of a goodly number of my Lutheran brethren and sisters, March, 1834.
"In the month of June following the Synod convened in New Lisbon. I addressed a letter to their honorable body, presenting it by the hands of Bro. Benj. Pritchard. The proposition for a hearing was discussed, and when a vote was called, the nays had it by a good majority of the preachers. Thus I was excluded from their fellowship as a heretic, greatly to the dissatisfaction of many of the laity, who judged that I ought to have had a hearing, and the right of self-defense. Thus ended forever my religious connection with the Lutheran church.
"You ask me to relate some of my struggles and privations connected with this part of my history. I will answer you briefly: When this religious tie was sundered I was left in a very destitute condition. My salary at the time was four hundred dollars, which, added to marriage fees and other perquisites came to near five hundred dollars. My year was expired within two months when I came out from among them. My convictions of truth did not allow me to dissemble, and preach, and practice error two months longer for the salary. Neither did I ever receive a farthing of it, though it was collected in several of my congregations, and ready for delivery.
"I had thirty acres of land, less than half paid for, without team or means to cultivate it. I was without money; forsaken of fathers and mothers. But my friends did not all forsake me. The Lord reserved to me two very wealthy men, members of the church from which I
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seceded -- Mr. Brinker and Mr. Switzer. They ever were, and they remained, my warmest friends. My departure from their doctrine only heightened their respect for me. They claimed it was the strongest evidence of my candor and honesty to leave a society that supported its ministers, and become identified with a people that repudiated salaried preachers. They both lent me generous, substantial aid, and remained my most ardent friends till their death. Some of the brethren were also benefactors to me, especially George Pow and A. Campbell. The church of Bethany presented me one hundred dollars, besides some valuable gifts.
"I preached every Lord's day, and sometimes during the week. The brethren received me kindly, heard me gladly, thanked me heartily, invited me cordially to preach for them, but never seemed to consider that I lived just like themselves, by eating and drinking, and that my time was my only means of support. Consequently I had to 'dig.' I was not ashamed to dig; but one thing I plainly discovered and felt most seriously, that my sun had forever set so far as time for suitable preparation to hold forth the word of life was concerned. One of the congregations agreed to pay me one dollar a visit every four weeks, or one-fourth of my time. This was ominous of better times. Another congregation promised me fifty dollars for one-fourth of my time. A certain brother and sister, who always appeared to have a very high regard for me, were exceedingly hurt because Bro. Schaeffer was receiving a salary for preaching. I received only thirty-seven dollars of the amount, and unwilling to give further offense, I never asked for the balance.
"I am glad that a change has been effected in this particular. Ministers are now cared for as justice and equity demand.
"In reflecting on the past and the present, my losses
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and privations, I always come to the conclusion that I was the gainer. The exchange of error for truth, I esteem a great gain. When my spirit has been almost crushed, and my physical nature almost exhausted by hard work, the consideration that I have found the light of the gospel has always revived and strengthened me.
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piquant speeches of Scott provoked some of the people. One man, who had been on bad terms with his neighbors, objected to Scott's preaching, saying "I want to see more heart religion in it." "Aye," said Scott, "and I want to see a man not keep all his religion in his heart, but let some of it come out so his neighbors can see it!" A Methodist lady retorted upon him: "You have to sing our songs!" "We ought to, madam," he replied; "we get your converts!"
A church soon arose, formed of the new converts and a large proportion of the old members. Britton Fisher and Iliff Garrison were appointed the overseers of it. Robert Calvin, Marvin Gilbert, George and Nicholas Simons, William Shakspear and E. Fisher, with their wives, were among the early members. It was established in 1828.
They received help from the brethren who founded the congregation, especially from William Hayden. John Henry helped them much also, as did the brethren in Deerfield--Allerton, Hubbard, Finch, Hartzel and McGowan; A. B. Green also, with Brockett, Reeves, and M. J. Streator. Dr. Robison is remembered for valuable help. In September, 1840, A. B. Green and A. S. Hayden conducted a meeting in Palmyra. A wide hearing was gained, and seventeen converts came in. The church then counted a membership of seventy-four persons.
Like all churches unsupported by pastoral labor, their course has been fluctuating. The lamp has nearly ceased to burn at different times; but much of the true salt is yet to be found in the church,
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which to this present day meets every Lord's day to keep the ordinances as they were delivered.
A church was started in the south part of Palmyra almost as early as that in the north. Elijah Canfield, Horace Western, and Andrew Sturdevant were the leaders. It sustained itself a number of years, but succumbed at last to the common enemies of embodied societies -- emigration, death, and neglect.
THE CHURCH IN SHALERSVILLE.Some time in the fall of 1828, as William Hayden was riding through Windham he met Isaac Mead. The surprise at meeting was mutual. Mead, accosting Hayden, said: "Bro. Hayden, is that you?" "Yes, it is I." "What's the matter? I see your garments are wet!" "I preached back here last night, and a person coming to Christ, I have just been baptizing the convert; and having no opportunity of changing my garments, I am going on to find a place to preach. Do you know of any opening?" "Yes, in Shalersville; I am just from there, and there is a good opening. Go on, and call on Davis Haven, and tell him I sent you." "Good bye," said the vigorous preacher, and applying his spurred heels to his horse he was soon out of sight.
Late in the spring of 1828, Thomas Campbell and Sidney Rigdon had preached a few discourses in Shalersville, taught the people the way of life, and baptized two young men. In the summer, E. Williams delivered a number of sermons, but his former Universalian friends, incensed by his renunciation of their fruitless speculations, were not favorable to his message. But the labors of these men, and Scott's
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success in adjacent towns, had opened the public ear. So when Hayden came to plant the standard of the cross he had an audience. The ardor of his nature was equal to his powers. He double shotted every piece, and directed his artillery against skepticism and sectarianism; and in contrast with the darkness of the one and the demoralizations of the other, he vindicated the credibility of the apostles and prophets, and asserted and defended the rightful claims of Jesus Christ to the throne of the universe.
In one of his trips Scott came with him. Here it was Dr. R. Richardson, then of Pittsburgh, seeking Scott in New Lisbon, "to be baptized of him," and not finding him there, came and found his preceptor and friend in the midst of an animated meeting. Scott met him with great joy, for his soul was toward him like that of David to Jonathan. When the congratulations were over, said Scott, aside, to Hayden, "O, that the Lord would give us that young man!" not yet aware of the purpose of his visit. He had been brought up strictly in the Episcopalian order; but having his attention called by Bro. Scott; sometime previous, in a conversation with him at Pittsburgh, to the original term for baptism, his fine scholarship enabled him to investigate its meaning; and finding its current use in the Scriptures and every-where else to be immersion, he conscientiously followed the light, and sought Bro. Scott for baptism at his hands. On going to the Cuyahoga to baptize some converts, Richardson made known his wishes; when, with the others, he was buried by baptism into the death of the Lord Jesus.
Bro. A. B. Green was early in Shalersville. The
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brethren in Deerfield, also C. P. Finch, E. B. Hubbard, and A. Allerton, helped much both to sow, to water the seed, and to gather the harvest. For several years William Hayden, having planted the church, looked after it as a nursing father.
The citizens of the township having erected a good Town House, it was proposed that it should be dedicated. At the instance of prominent citizens, Hubbard and Allerton were invited to hold a meeting in it. They solicited me to accompany them. Closing up my winter school Friday night, we mounted our horses early Saturday morning, and at noon we were on the ground. The meeting was held three days; and many heard out of regard to the nature of the occasion. This was the last of February, 1834.
All this time, and for years afterward, the church had no settled minister. The preachers came among them frequently; but the church, like most of the congregations, had learned to "edify one another in love." This reliance on the talent of the church quickens the zeal and develops the abilities of the members; and if it is not depended on to the exclusion of preaching, it is a direct and powerful means of imparting strength and permanency to the churches.
At one of Bro. Green's meetings there was a Miss Langworthy among the converts. The Congregational minister, all praise for his zeal, became much excited at seeing the people so deluded and led away into error. Green had taught the converts simply to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, and to trust honestly to his gospel word of promise, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." This
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minister came in the crowd to the meeting, and knowing Miss Langworthy, he called her attention to the danger of the error she was embracing. "Why," she innocently responded, "has not the Lord told us to come and be baptized?" "O, I tell you," said the minister, "it is a most pernicious doctrine, and you are exposing yourself to the danger of being damned if you believe it." "But, the Savior said 'he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;' and now, if I believe on him with all my heart, and am baptized, will he damn me?" This was enough. The strength of "orthodoxy," so called, was weakness before the word of the Lord. Bro. Green and all around heard the conversation, but he said not a word, perceiving this child of mourning and of joy, in her tears and simplicity, was effectually defending the faith. The converts were then baptized; they were full of joy, and new songs were heard in many homes.
In 1835, the yearly meeting for Portage County was held in Shalersville, which increased the number of converts, and imparted strength to the church. Again, in 1837, the churches of the county came up here to hold their annual convocation. It was a large and impressive meeting. Many public advocates of the gospel attended it. Both the Town Hall and the Congregational church were filled to overflowing on the Lord's day.
In February, 1843, Harvey Brockett, by invitation of the elders, Milo Hoskins and Davis Haven, came to Shalersville. There was a great shaking among the people. Brockett's earnest and persuasive eloquence, with his instructive exhibitions of the gospel,
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enlightened many and brought them to Christ. An event occurred in the midst of this meeting, which brought out the whole town to hear. It was the death of William Coolman, Esq. This gentleman, unpretentious, well educated, and kind-hearted, was deservedly held in high esteem. His residence was also the home of his widowed daughter, the excellent mother of Bro. C. C. Foot. Brockett's sermon at the funeral of Bro. Coolman was all aflame with light on the resurrection and eternal judgment. Many towering imaginations were brought low, and many hearts were humbled. The seeds of this sowing came up for reaping in many subsequent harvests.
From this place Bro. Brockett went to Ravenna two weeks. Additions followed his labors there. He returned to Shalersville for one week. Exhausted and obliged to leave, Bro. M. L. Wilcox came in and finished up this extraordinary series of successes.
Eighteen months afterward, February, 1845, Brockett responded to the urgent calls of the people, and conducted another meeting. Among the souls brought into the kingdom at this time, was the youthful Charles Coolman Foot. He soon manifested inclinations for the ministry. Availing himself of all the means of education and spiritual improvement within his reach, his "profiting" began to be apparent to the church. He persevered in his preparations, and has become extensively useful in the gospel.
Bro. T. J. Newcomb grew up into religious activity in this church. He confessed the Lord Jesus, and turned his talents to build up his cause in the hearts of the people.
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In the year 1849, Bro. W. A. Belding began his labors in this church. It was much reduced, and the fine gold had become dim. He immediately began to "revive the spirit of the contrite ones." His practical addresses, enforced by an assuring confidence of the value of Christianity, by a cheerful manner, and many a sweet, enrapturing song, soon brought about a reformation. The house was filled once more. Many wanderers were brought back to the fold, and conversions were again frequent. During the seven years of his residence in Shalersville, there were one hundred and fifty additions.
Bro. Belding's labors have been very abundant and successful. He was sometime in Mentor, where the church was greatly enlarged; one hundred and seventy-seven souls being added in eighteen months. In many other places he has a grateful remembrance among the people. He is the youngest son of the late Dr. Rufus Belding, of Randolph; a gentleman of rare excellence, serenity, and dignity of character.
The church in Shalersville was long under the counsels and management of Milo Hoskins, Davis Haven, and Isaac Mead, as overseers; of E. B. Chapin, James Coit, Decalvus Root, John Haven, Chester Cooley and others, as servants of the congregation. From this community emigration has carried the message of life, and built up in other counties and other States the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Cooleys, the Havens, the Nicholls and Streators, in North Eaton, early lifted the standard, and they have, with the blessings of God upon them, established a church which is now one of the strongest on the Western Reserve. Some of the same families
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are in Bloomingdale, Mich., with a good house of worship, and a faithful and united brotherhood in Christ.
RANDOLPH.Deacon William Churchill moved into Randolph from the State of Connecticut in 1812. He died in that town August 30, 1846, at the advanced age of 81 years.
In 1819, he, with others, constituted a small Baptist church in Randolph, of which he was both deacon and clerk. When the "Christian Baptist" made its appearance Churchill obtained it, and the new light it shed on gospel themes was welcomed by this inquiring community of believers. They had come together under the name of Baptist, but their single aim was to be only Christians, and to be led only by the revealed will of God. This membership was the basis and the beginning of the large and flourishing church from which, for forty-five years, has radiated the light of the gospel. The church was formed on New Testament principles, July 20, 1828. The record reads as follows: "On this day came forward the baptized disciples of Jesus Christ our Lord, and acknowledged him to be their only Teacher and Lawgiver, and the Holy Scriptures to be their only guide, and agreed to maintain Christian worship according to the aforesaid declaration."
The following names composed the new congregation: All were previously members of the Baptist church, viz.:
William and Polly Churchill, Philo and Rosanna Beach, Calvin and Polly Rawson, Elisha and Sophia Ward, Bela Hubbard and Levi Huggins. William
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Churchill and Calvin Rawson were appointed deacons. C. P. Finch, E. B. Hubbard and Samuel McGowan were present and "gave the right hand of fellowship."
Bro. Amos Allerton, also of Deerfield, was an early and able advocate of the gospel in Randolph, contributing much to the growth of the body. Indeed, the church of Randolph was fostered by that in Deerfield, as in turn the one in Randolph became the mother of those in Mogadore, New Baltimore, Suffield and Rootstown. The latter two have dissolved. The others have never failed to meet, and have generally flourished.
Early, in their history, William Churchill was elected to fill the office of overseer, and Elisha Ward was appointed deacon. The first meeting-house was erected in 1830, and finished in 1832.
Although the trumpet call to religious reformation and return to the Jerusalem model of the church, had been sounding only four or five years, it had spread far abroad, and was echoed by hundreds of willing tongues. New churches were starting up in many quarters, and old ones were throwing aside their creeds and adopting the New Testament as their only guide. The Disciples all looked to the yearly meeting as the means of social and religious union, like as the great festivals of the Jews, even more than the uniformity of their rites and ritual, cemented their nationality. Those great anniversaries, by the acquaintances formed and the consequent interest they awakened in one another, became a real and lasting bond of union among the advocates of the "ancient order of things."
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To Randolph all eyes were directed this year (1832), for here, the last of August, was to be the annual gathering. For the first time in seven years, Mr. Campbell was not present. But the strength and hope of this cause was in its divinity and truthfulness, not in man. There was no diminution in numbers, nor enthusiasm. The freshness, ardor, and simplicity of the meetings in those days was beautiful to behold. Here assembled "the disciples," all on an equality, many of them the recruits of the past year, for edification, for fellowship in Christ, and for increase of their animating hopes.
The following public speakers were present: Symonds Ryder, William Hayden, Marcus Bosworth, Amos Allerton, E. Williams, E. B. Hubbard, C. P. Finch, Jonas Hartzel, John Henry, J. J. Moss, A. P. Jones, A. B. Green, John Applegate, A. S. Hayden and Eli Regal; some of whom were only beginning the work of preaching.
The following reporta of this meeting will be read with interest:
STREETSBOROUGH, PORTAGE CO., O., Aug. 28, 1832.DEAR BRO. CAMPBELL:
Our general meeting closed yesterday. Such love, such union, not of opinion, but of faith and Christian feeling, zeal and intelligence, I never saw but among the disciples of the ancient mold.
We met on Friday, at 1 o'clock P. M.; and though disappointed by not seeing you, we proceeded to do as well as we could. Bro. Bosworth gave the first discourse, and seven or eight other brethren spoke during the meeting in daylight. Preaching in four or five places each evening.
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On Lord's day, Bro. Ryder gave us a masterly discourse from the second chapter of 1st Timothy. His first effort was to show the fallacy of Universalism; 2nd, of Calvinism. In the third place, an exhortation to prayer; and, finally, female character and influence as Christians--and why? That as the woman was the first in sin, and has ever since been oppressed by the man; that as the female was by Christianity raised and honored with the place, privileges and influence which naturally and originally belong to her, it, by all reasons, behooves the sex to honor Christianity in turn by showing all contempt for the trifles which charm the eyes of the vain and the irreligious; that they should delight to honor the gospel with a display of benevolence, rather than of dress.
He succeeded in every point to the great satisfaction of all the disciples, especially the sisters. The discourse was followed by appropriate exhortations; and, in short, the whole day was filled up with much valuable instruction. Nineteen were immersed during the three days. On Monday our time was devoted to hearing the reports of the itinerants, and making arrangements for future operations. This was the most interesting day of any, and probably more profitable for the interest of truth than all the rest together.
It appeared from the reports, which, from personal knowledge I know to be correct, that the apostolic gospel and order of things are gradually and regularly gaining influence among us; and, although in many things we are quite in the rear of Christian perfection, yet one good sign is that all see it, and all unitedly urge an advance. The present reformation is in this different from all the Protestant reformations, whose leaders, when they had taken a few steps from their former ground, halted, and determined the people of God should learn and do no more of the Lord's will than they had already attained to. The teaching brethren understood Christianity better.
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Public opinion is turning rapidly in favor of the ancient gospel and order; and I think there is a growing liberality among the brethren.
The subject of itinerancy was spoken of with warmth and an unanimity of judgment and feeling never before equaled among us. The whole community, teachers and taught, were much affected with the great responsibility we are under to present to the world the ancient religion of Christ. It was proposed the itinerants should go two and two; but when we beat for volunteers, it was found there were but two whose circumstances would permit them at present to make it their sole employ to proclaim the word. These two, Bro. Moss and myself, are to go together wherever a door opens and labor is most needed, and not to neglect the churches. The brethren and sisters most honorably signified their approbation of these laborers, and gave good evidence of their readiness to assist them in all things necessary. Besides these two, brethren Allerton, Williams, Henry, Hartzel, Bosworth and Applegate, expressed themselves willing and able to devote a share of their time--some of them the greater part; and from their known gifts, were assured by the disciples present of their willingness to sustain them. After these matters were dispensed with, an invitation was tendered to any who wished to obey the Lord, when six or seven came forward. We went to the water, and continued instructing and exhorting until eighteen were immersed, making in all thirty-seven.
Yours, as ever,
Among the converts at this meeting was Bro. W. A. Belding, who has since become widely known as an able minister of the gospel.
For many years this church moved on in great harmony, receiving increase of members almost
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constantly. In 1845, the withering blight of "Come-outerism" fell upon it, causing alienations, dissension, and division. Its advocates were infidels. While pleading for the abolition of slavery and for temperance, they hurled their deadliest daggers at the churches and gloried in the demolition of the organized Christianity of the land. Many excellent men were caught in their snare. Many here and elsewhere went out with them. This wild impulse became a sore trial to the faith and patience of the churches. Brethren Moss, Perky, and others came to the defense of the congregations. They met the fiercest advocates boldly in debate, and mended the breaches these assailants had made in the walls. Most of the disciples who were shaken for a time, returned into peace and order.
Since that period the church, like a well-manned ship, has held steadily to its course. It outgrew its discouragements in a few years, and established itself more firmly than ever. In 1860, the brethren built, at the center of the town, a new and much better house of worship. In 1871, the record showed sixty-two members. In the winter of that year, there was a great ingathering, under the labors of Bro. F. M. Green; within a few weeks sixty-seven were converted, forty-one of whom were heads of families. Bro. W. H. Bettes is now the overseer.
This church owes much to the prompt, manly zeal of Bro. Bela Hubbard, who, with his family, gave no uncertain support to the cause at the start. Also, the families of the Churchills, the Rawsons, the Wards, the Beldings and many others, hold a high place in the grateful memory of the people.
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There was soon a large increase of members, embracing the following and other names: David Dodge, Rufus Neff, ----- Rose, Shubal Lincoln, Elisha Colton, Levi S. and Eliza Parmly, Eleazor and Ann M. Parmly, Lewis, Lewis B. Levi, S. and Otis M. Wood, with the families of Sinclair and Call.
Among the causes which brought the reformation into the Baptist church in Perry, was the liberty taken by one of its members to "commune" with Christians who were not of their "faith and order;" though they were "baptized believers," in the Baptist sense of that term. David Parmly, a correct and zealous Baptist, having heard of the great revival in Mentor, went over from Perry to hear the advocates of the "new" doctrine, as it was called. Pleased with the preaching, and finding the spirit of the Lord among them, he ventured to "commune" with the Disciples.
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News of this act came quickly to Perry. It was too much; David Parmly was an offender, and a "labor" was taken up with him. Bro. Parmly plead his right as a free man in the Lord, to hold Christian fellowship with brethren who are believers in Christ, and who, as well as themselves had been "buried by baptism into his death." His plea was of no avail. A church meeting was called to try him on the following charge of heresy: "Bro. Parmly is charged with communing with the Campbellites, and believing in the doctrines of Alexander Campbell." He admitted the act of communing with Christ's people, and that he believed in the Lord Jesus, in all he teaches in his word, and declared his willingness to be subject to his brethren in all things, only "in the Lord." No defense was admitted. This warm-hearted Christian of unblemished reputation, was declared guilty of the charge of "heresy." While the trial was proceeding Parmly asked to read, without remark, a few portions of the word of God. This was refused. When the act of exclusion was accomplished, he walked out of the house, Bible in hand, and taking his position under the shade of a goodly tree, he read the word of life to many people, who followed him with eager interest.
The exclusion of Parmly hastened matters to a crisis. Rigdon soon was there, and a church was formed, bringing into it a large number of the Baptist members, who saw too clearly the spirit of the inquisition, in the exclusion of an upright Christian man for no other crime than holding fellowship with the people of God.
Before the organization of the church, the five
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Parmlys -- David, Levi, Eleazor, Jehiel, and Samuel W. -- erected a comfortable meeting-house on the lake shore, which was afterward moved to the place where it now stands, and formally opened for worship, August 22, 1841, at which time the church was reorganized with David Parmly, Asa S. Turney, and Lewis Wood, overseers; and Jehiel Parmly and Otis M. Wood, deacons. It counted about fifty members.
In December 8, 1850, the brethren who had been meeting on the "Dock Road," in Madison, united with the church in Perry, which swelled the number to about one hundred.
During many years of its earlier history this church had the labors of all the earlier preachers. A little later came Jones and Green. But Bro. Clapp stood by them as a chief dependence, and Bro. Violl also. Rodney Veits and Abram Saunders, especially the former, preached much there. For two years they located among them Edward H. Webb, from Huron County. This noble young brother, possessed of many promising gifts, went to his reward early in life, just as he was ripening into extensive usefulness. Bro. Turney stood by them many years as a leader and counselor.
This church has maintained an unbroken testimony for a period of over forty-five years. Her later history, like her beginning, has been marked by joyful ingatherings of souls into Christ's kingdom. A meeting, conducted by Bro. W. A. Belding, in 1855, resulted in many conversions. Afterward Bro. John Encell and M. S. Clapp brought a large number into the faith. Bro. R. G. White, five years their efficient pastor, will long be held in grateful remembrance.
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Bro. W. O. Moore succeeded him as minister in the church.
PAINESVILLE.This town felt the impulse of the great movement which began in Mentor early in 1828. A. P. Jones, a young man then in the printing office, heard to profit, turned to Christ, and became extensively useful. This beginning was followed up by brethren Clapp, Collins, Hayden, and Moss, who occasionally preached in this town. A "meeting of days" was conducted in the village by Wm. Hayden and his brother, in November, 1842. A few converts were gained at that time, as there had been by others before. Bro. Joseph Curtis, moving with his upright family into the environs of that thriving town, a more formal occupancy of the ground was decided upon. A meeting was held in the month of January, 1843, by E. Williams and Abram Saunders, of Saybrook; and on the twenty-ninth of that month, under the counsels of these brethren, the church was established. As overseers, brethren Joseph Curtis and William Harrison were unanimously selected; as deacons, Thomas Smith and Lyman Durand. There were thirty-six members.
From the beginning the church has maintained a uniform and consistent policy. Brethren Williams, Clapp, Collins, and Violl aided to keep the fires burning on the altar. Protracted meetings have enlarged their borders from time to time, conducted by W. Hayden, Isaac Errett, J. Encell, H. W. Everest, K. Shaw, and others. As pastors, Bro. E. H. Hawley served them from 1855 to 1859. Bro. John Encell
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settled with them about two years, followed by his brother, James G. Encell. After these, Bro. L. Cooley about three years, closing in 1866. Then came Bro. J. B. Knowles. Bro. L. F. Bittle labored there from 1868 till 1870, when they secured Bro. J. W. Ingram for three years. Bro. F. H. Moore, the present pastor, began in 1873.
With all encroachments on their numbers they still have about one hundred and eighty. The church was incorporated in 1851, and their present comfortable meeting-house, in a very good site, was completed and dedicated in the summer of 1853, Bro. Collins officiating on the occasion.
This church has mourned the loss of some of her noblest men: Her first elder, whose enterprise contributed much to found the church, Bro. Curtis; and more recently the first deacon, the lamented and upright Lyman Durand; Bro. Tuttle likewise, one of the oldest members, sleeps in the hope. And the venerable brother, Jehiel Parmly, full of days and hope.
With the Parmlys, A. Teachout, Dr. Stebbins, Dr. Pancoast, and the others who stand with them, the church has a fast hold on society.
EAGLEVILLE.This church came into existence amidst a "great fight of afflictions." Here, as in many other places, the cardinal principle of Protestantism, the right of private judgment, was the ground of the agitation which resulted in the dismemberment of the Baptist church, and the formation of a religious community on New Testament principles.
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As early as 1825-6, the "Christian Baptist" had many readers and many admirers in that Baptist community. But toleration toward it was of short duration. The pastor, Silas Barnes, a man of narrow views, supported by others equally opposed to progress in religious light, determined to purge the church of this leaven.
On the 21st of January, 1833, members of the Baptist church met to consult on the dangers to be feared from the new doctrines, and to devise methods to remove the evil. For six months or more the church had innumerable "covenant" meetings, church meetings, and councils. Sometimes they met three times a week. Early in the course of the proceedings the following resolution was passed: "Resolved, That we do not fellowship the doctrines and sentiments published and advocated by Alexander Campbell and his associates. Neither will we fellowship as members in our church those who patronize or make a practice of reading his periodical publications, or those who are in any way trammeled with his doctrines or his sentiments."
The church, having passed a law to fit the assumed case, a law conveniently vague, was now prepared for victims. John D. Foot was cut asunder with the long knife of excommunication. Martin Mills was next cited; but he returned such answers to the committee, that the church forgave his temerity, and removed from him her censures.
Not so the chief offender. This was Bro. Eben A. Mills. He was a man of good abilities, firm, earnest in his purposes, of quick and correct discernment, and a devoted Bible student. He was the quartz, with
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pure gold in every vein. With a Christian wife, morally and intellectually his equal, both blessed with admirable good nature, he carried public sympathy with him in the trying difficulties through which he was about to pass. He sought no rupture in the church. A sincere adherent of the "faith and order" of the Baptists, he contributed more by his zeal and tireless activity to build up that "Zion" than any other private member. As clerk of the church, he had charge of her records. Devoted to music and an adept in that charming accomplishment, he and Mrs. Mills seemed inseparable from the life of the church. But "orthodoxy" had no mercy, and quite as little wisdom; and it came to Mr. Mills requiring him to desist reading Mr. Campbell's "Millennial Harbinger," to put away the new translation, and abjure the alleged heresies.
He plead: 1. His liberties as a Christian to "prove all things" by the infallible standard of the Word of God, and to "hold fast that which was good;" and 2. His rights and liberties as an American citizen to the unmolested use of all things which tended to the injury of no one, or the restraint of no other person's privileges.
It is needless to detail all the proceedings which make this a marked case. It was prolonged till the church almost to a man had become enlisted. No charge was hinted against the character of Mr. Mills. It was a case, pure and simple, of creed--orthodoxy in array against liberty of conscience. The following note of his exclusion is copied from the church record: "March 2, 1833. It was then motioned and seconded that, as Bro. E. A. Mills will not
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consent to abandon the reading of Mr. Campbell's 'Millennial Harbinger,' which we think is leading him from the gospel and the faith of the regular Baptists, we withdraw, from him the hand of fellowship. The vote was then tried and carried by a considerable majority. The office of clerk being now vacant, Cornelius Udall was unanimously chosen clerk."
The new clerk, some time afterward, embraced the sentiments for which Mills was excluded. But he suffered less persecution -- a new class of men having come into power.
Pending the motion for the exclusion of Mills, he made a most manly appeal, and an able defense of Mr. Campbell and his work. It was printed and circulated, but it could not avert the premeditated blow.
This act of exclusion was a heavy stroke to many of the members. A remonstrance was prepared and sent in to the church, signed by eighteen names. It was mild and respectful; yet, strange to say, it was the death-knell of every one of them. They were all, without exception, and without any other offense, excluded from the church.
This declaration of exclusion was signed by nine names, and was silently acquiesced in as the action of the church without approval or demur. Thus nine members excluded eighteen, the number who had signed the remonstrance; the rest of the church, eighty members, taking no active or recorded part in the proceedings.
These rejected members, cast down, but not forsaken, could not let the light within them become darkness. Hearing of a church in Mentor, meeting just as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ,
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they sent an invitation for a man to visit them. Bro. M. S. Clapp came, preached, and organized a church of seven members, with Bro. E. A. Mills, elder, or bishop, and Michael Webster, deacon. This took place October 5, 1833. Bro. Webster was soon associated as overseer. A. J. Hall and Alfred Mills were chosen deacons.
Thus originated the church of Christ in Eagleville, which for forty years has continued to hold the ground under great discouragements, and to send forth the light of the gospel into other towns in Ashtabula County.
The preachers for the first few years were Alton, Saunders, Collins, Hayden, Henry, Hartzell, Clapp, Brockett, Smith, and others. But Bro. Mills was their reliance for years, in the absence of other aid. He preached, sung, visited, and entertained the preachers who visited them. His hospitality was unstinted. He paid freely to sustain the cause in all things; was an example to the flock, till broken in health, and partly in fortune, he went West, and ended his days in the unfading hope of immortality.
Bro. Jacob Bartholomew was called to preach for them in 1846. For many years he has been the minister of the word among them
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About this time Tillinghast Vaughan, a young Methodist preacher of considerable ability, falling in with Mr. Campbell in Virginia, was baptized by him, and returned to the Western Reserve. He preached in Middlebury about a year. But he forsook the faith, and embraced some scheme of Universalian skepticism, and drew away a number from the gospel.
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Vaughan's defection disheartened many; yet though cast down the cause was not destroyed. The well instructed disciples never wavered, nor for an hour doubted the triumphs of the scriptural principles they had embraced. Bro. A. B. Green was often with them, whose clear presentations of the gospel aided in building up confidence. Bro. M. L. Wilcox moved into Middlebury, and while "working with his own hands," he also gave a strong impulse to the struggling cause by his able and eloquent defense of it. A litigious preacher of the M. E. church, by the name of Thomas Graham, sought a discussion with Wilcox. The young mechanic shrunk not from this public appeal to defend the faith. The preacher plumed himself in high feather, expecting certain victory, and to gain the coveted mead of public applause for crushing the noxious heresy, as he assumed to call the ancient gospel. But "the race was not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." Wilcox was panoplied in the armor of light. He brought such a compact array of Bible truth, enforced with an argumentative eloquence and brilliant original wit, against his clerical assailant as to compel him to forsake the line of serious investigation, and resort to ridicule. Rising in full figure, in his dignity he assured his audience that it was beyond all reason to expect that a common laboring man should understand theological subjects, as did one whose whole life had been devoted to such studies. "It is absurd to suppose that a mechanic, who makes barrels for a living, however respectable his talents, or sincere his intentions, should be skilled in the profound themes of theology." Wilcox
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bore the jibe with undisturbed equanimity. In reply, he awarded his opponent even more than his arrogance claimed, of learned preparation for the occasion, and skill gained by many encounters. "I am a mechanic. I claim to be nothing above a common laboring man--an honest cooper. And yet my trade may be of use in this discussion; for if my opponent swells much more I may have to hoop him!" This sally of wit "brought down the house." "Hoop him!" cried one. "Hoop him, Wilcox, hoop him!" shouted others. The crowd became almost hilarious. Graham tried to rally. But it was useless. He was whipped by the half-suppressed "hoop him!" from all sides. His feathers drooped, and he retired from the contest.
As may be well supposed the result of the few evenings spent in this investigation turned decidedly in favor of the original gospel.
In the year 1834, Mr. T. H. Botsford came to Middlebury. Mrs. Botsford was a firm disciple. With a clear perception of the principles of the reformation, and with unbounded confidence in their truthfulness and power, she could not remain quiet and see the disciples scattered, and the cause prostrate. She found another whose heart was as her own, in the burden that lay upon them to arouse the members to the work of the Lord. This person was Mrs. Eliza Parker, consort of Dr. Parker. She was a lady of intelligence, accomplished in her manners, good conversational ability, and, like Mrs. Botsford, had consecrated herself wholly to the Lord. These Christian women visited personally all the disciples in Middlebury, Akron, and the township of Coventry,
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inviting there to Mr. Botsford's own house to revive the meetings. At the first there was no brother to read, sing, or pray. With trembling heart, but unfaltering purpose, the worship was conducted by the sisters. No breaking of bread yet. That altar was not yet rebuilt. These appointments continued. Brethren Samuel and Elisha Bangs and Dan Moulton came over from Akron and gave them aid. A. B. Green, Wm. Hayden, A. Allerton, and others, threw in appointments. Bro. Green was employed for a considerable time. William Hayden came frequently during the year 1836. The audiences increased, and the ordinances of the house of the Lord were again regularly observed.
These were the days of heart-songs and heaven-reaching prayers. And the preaching! It was hail mingled with rain! The prolonged hour flitted away unconsciously. The group of disciples tarried, exhorted each other, sung warmly and feelingly a parting hymn, and with a final, earnest supplication they commended one another to the Good Shepherd, and separated. But they were unspeakably happy! Poor pay the servant of the Lord received for his pocket, but he saw such eagerness to hear; such evidences that his ministrations were thankfully appreciated; such proof that he had resolved a doubt, confirmed a soul, lifted a heart into new light and comfort, that he went on his way rejoicing in a labor which was reducing him every week into straitness and want. Such was the experience in all parts, but in no region more than in the district of country of which Akron was the center.
This effort by the sisters to revive the church,
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which constituted the second stage of its history, was made early in the year 1836. In the course of three years considerable accessions had been made to their numbers, and a new organization was demanded. Bro. Bentley and Bro. Bosworth were called, who confirmed them in the faith, and appointed Levi Allen and Samuel Bangs, overseers, and W. B. Storer and Jonah Allen, deacons. Their number was then thirty-two. This was in 1839. The year 1843 is memorable in the annals of that congregation. It was the year of expectation. The attention of the people of the whole country, from New England to the western prairies, was arrested by the bold position of the sincere, ardent, but mistaken William Miller, of Low Hampton, New York, that the coming of the Lord and end of the world would occur in that year. Great religious awakenings pervaded the country. Multitudes, who had no sympathy with Mr. Miller on the time of the Lord's advent, drank into the spirit of revivalism which stirred all churches. Preachers were stimulated to extraordinary activity, by the calls for meetings, and the many doors opening to them, and their labors gathered in converts every-where.
The church in Middlebury sent for Bros. J. H. Jones and Dr. J. P. Robison, who were wholly devoted to preaching, and whose meetings were crowned with many conversions. These brethren were engaged in Pittsburg. Conferring with Bro. Samuel Church, they sent John Cochrane to answer the call. Bro. John Taffe being there at the time, he accompanied Cochrane to Middlebury. The meeting arose to high interest, conversions were taking place
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daily, and the brethren finding more help needed, sent an express call for Bro. John Henry. That mighty man, "quick to hear," but not "slow to speak," received the word Saturday night. He preached three times Sunday at home, and at 1 o'clock Monday, he was at Middlebury, a distance of over forty miles. He dismounted only once on the way. His movements were like an electric flash. Before the hour for evening meeting the community were all apprised of his presence, and he began his sermons with no diminution of the crowd. There were forty-nine conversions, and one other addition.
Henry's horse was like his rider, gay with life, eager for the track. The morning of starting home, the moment his bit was released from the hand that held him, he was galloping away, while Henry's long surtout streamed back on the wind, presenting an amusing spectacle to the people along the street.
Early in 1845, Dr. Wm. F. Pool moved into Akron. With the healing art, which was his profession, he united the diviner art of healing the souls of the people, and during his residence he was a great support to the church. In the winter of 1849-50, Bro. M. J. Streator became the pastor of the flock, and remained about ten months. The last of January, 1854, W. S. Gray commenced his labor in the church, which continued about three years. Subsequently they have had Bro. J. C. Stark, J. G. Encell, J. O. Beardslee, L. Cooley, J. F. Rowe, and R. G. White, under whose able administration the congregation has tripled its membership.
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THE CHURCH IN MOGADORE, SUMMIT COUNTY.As the leaven, so works the gospel in the hearts of men. Near Mogadore there lived a disciple from Canfield, by the name of Conrad Turner. At his invitation, E. B. Hubbard and C. P. Finch preached there one Lord's day, in the summer of 1828. Just before this, Benj. Green had put the "Christian Baptist" into the hands of William Richards, a candid man, not a professor, stumbled by the schismatic state of Christendom. To him, the preaching of Finch and Hubbard seemed rational. Hayden soon came, and made monthly visits. Seeing the interest, he returned in the spring, bringing Scott with him. They held a two days' meeting in the midst of the week, in J. Anson Bradley's new barn. The audience was large: they were on the King's business, and they "hurried the people away to the valley of decision." There was some opposition, but it turned to the advance of the truth; as the preachers, instead of giving their opinion on the points of inquiry, read the word of the Lord, which effectually silenced controversy.
The vine was planted and watered, and soon it began to bear fruit. Hubbard returned and baptized Mrs. Wm. Richards. Then, on subsequent occasions, came Mrs. J. A. Bradley, Joseph Baird Isaac Miller and his wife. In September, Wm. Richards obeyed. Then J. D. Green and his wife, Allen and his wife, and J. Anson Bradley. There were now thirteen of them. They naturally, in much opposition, came together for encouragement and sympathy. The aged Bro. Churchill, of Randolph, came
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among them, and under his counsels these new converts stood up before all the people, and entered solemnly into the holy obligations of a church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The organization took place in the year 1832, in the school-house near Mr. Asa Young's residence.
They chose Wm. Richards with one voice as their leader, and Benjamin Green as deacon. It was a day of great responsibility; and so felt each one of that little fraternity. The opposition was violent, if not formidable, and this was to all of them all untried step. Many pronounced in anticipation a failure of the attempt to gather disciples, and regulate the affairs of a church without rules written out and adopted by which to be governed. But this was one breastwork of the battle of that day. Relying on the wisdom of the Founder of the church for the sufficiency of the rules he has left in his Word, they clasped hands and held the grip till their hearts beat in unison in the same sublime trust in God and his Word. Their opposers were false prophets. The continued success of this church in all the following years has vindicated this action of these disciples.
The church in Mogadore has borne her testimony unbroken from the beginning. In meetings and works of enterprise she has not been behind. All the preachers have gleaned sheaves in this field. In 1835, Elder T. Campbell, on a tour among the churches, came among them. His gravity, gentleness, and authority enforced his instructions on the whole community. In 1836, they erected their house of worship. For several years the brethren who planted the church kept watch of their welfare. In
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1839, Dr. M. Jewett settled there, a brother, who by the skill of W. Hayden, chiefly, had been rescued from tile wilderness of doubt, engendered by the confusion in the religious world. Uniting his influence with that of elders Richards, Baldwin, and J. D. Green the church increased. A. B. Green was then visiting them a fourth of the time. Bro. Ryder followed for two years, half the time. Robison and M. L. Wilcox gave them much help. Brockett and Philander Green are cherished in grateful memory. J. Henry held a great meeting in 1843, with forty conversions. All the brethren from Deerfield were instant in their support. Bro. Moss for a time lived among them, as did Bro. Lillie also, both adding converts. Bro. J. H. Jones has here gathered many souls for Christ.
To the faith and perseverance of the resident brethren already named, and the female members, whose names seldom appear in earthly chronicles, is mainly due the permanence and prosperity of this church. In later times the mantle has fallen on Bro. Simon Laudenslager, and the brethren Isaac and James Monroe, who, as officers and leaders, are holding well the ground. Bro. J. M. Monroe, of California, is a gift to the world from this church, and from the family of Bro. Isaac Monroe.
THE CHURCH IN WADSWORTH, WITH SKETCHES OF A. B. GREEN
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and in the midst also of the conflicts of Calvinism and Arminianism, and the resultant compound, Universalism. No wonder that, like many others, he became skeptical.
On Sunday, his father, a steady church-goer, said, "Almon, are you not going to meeting?" "No, father, I think I will stay at home and read." The "Family Testament," a new translation of the New Testament by Drs. Campbell, of Aberdeen, Macknight and Doddridge, compiled and published by Alex. Campbell, had recently made its appearance, and was attracting much attention. During the quietness of that blessed day, whose associations all are favorable to calm and candid contemplation, Green read this new and attractive book. New light came into his mind, and a new interest was awakened in his heart. He arose after hours of serious perusal of it, exclaiming aloud to himself, "No uninspired man ever wrote that book." The stormy and dangerous cape of infidelity being "doubled," he sailed rapidly past the shoals and sharp rocks of "total depravity," "final perseverance," etc., the drift and debris of theological periods, into safer channels. Reading regularly on, with interest deepening at every step, he came to Acts ii: 38; "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." He asked Elder Newcomb what this Scripture means. "It means what it says," replied the Elder, with his characteristic promptness. This reply sent the meaning deep into his heart. In a few days he sent a letter to Elder Newcomb asking for baptism at his hands, which event took place December 28, 1828.
His mouth opened in praise, and in pleading the claims of the Savior of sinners. He soon went by invitation to Chippewa, Granger, and other places. Elder Newcomb was his counselor and steady help. Moved by him, the church granted a letter of commendation to the young
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Timothy, to go forth proclaiming the glad tidings. His first mission-trip opened at Stowe, September 10, 1833. One came for baptism. This was his first baptism. His tour was about three weeks; from it he returned, his natural timidity having yielded very much to an assured confidence that God was opening the way for him into fields of extensive usefulness.
From this period he has belonged to the public. In all the counties of North-east Ohio, much in other parts of it, in other States also, and in Canada, he has "fully preached the gospel of Christ." For more than forty years he has been zealously engaged and personally identified with all the movements -- missionary, educational, and social -- tending to build up the churches, and extend the knowledge of the Redeemer's kingdom.
The church in Wadsworth arose as follows: There had been a Baptist church in the community, principally in the care of Elder Obadiah Newcomb, a very worthy man, of good gifts and excellent sense. In the fall of 1818, he came from Nova Scotia to Pittsburg, where he preached for a time, and associated with the ministers of the city. He came to Wadsworth in the spring of 1822, where he planted a Baptist church. The "Christian Baptist" appeared soon after, and Mr. Newcomb obtained and read it. Its views of New Testament truth arrested his eager attention. Too conscientious to preach the doctrines of the "creed," now that he found them not among the apostolic "traditions," he slackened in his ministry till these new and scriptural views became well formed in his mind. The church ran low. The "Elder" was nearly silent, save at funerals and special occasions. But the "Christian Baptist" was faithful in its visits. It was read by him, by his family, and by others. William Hayden came among the people about this time, and the smoldering fires burst forth in flames. There was agitation every-where. Mr. Newcomb exchanging the mien
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of a clergyman for the panoply of the gospel, lifted the sword of the Spirit and went into the battle. Green was baptized; others followed. Williams came, and in Wadsworth, where the people formally heard Universalism from his eloquent lips, they now heard the original gospel in its simplicity, as it was first told by the holy apostles.
The church of Wadsworth was formed in February, 1829. The first day there were eight members: Obadiah Newcomb; his two daughters, Statira and Matilda, recently baptized; P. Butler, Samuel Green, A. B. Green, and John and Sarah Bunnell. Bro. Newcomb was appointed elder, and John Bunnell, deacon of the new organization.
This church soon became a strong pillar. William Eyles, late judge of court, soon united with his family. Conversions were almost constant. The opposition was active, vigilant, and often virulent, but over all the gospel made steady and triumphant progress.
The first yearly meeting held in Wadsworth was in September, 1833, in a new barn belonging to Bro. William Eyles. The meeting was noted for the numbers who attended it, and for the stimulus it gave to the cause of reformation. Being quite removed from the sources and center of the work, the proclamation was new to large numbers who came a long distance to attend it. A. Campbell was present; also William Hayden, John Henry, Marcus Bosworth, E. B. Hubbard, J. J. Moss, and many others. There were many converts.
An incident occurred at this time which displays Mr. Campbell's character for discernment and candor. Aaron Pardee, a gentleman residing in the vicinity, an unbeliever in the gospel, attracted by Campbell's abilities as a reasoner, and won by his fairness in argument, resolved to obtain a private interview, and propose freely his difficulties. Mr. Campbell received him with such frankness that he opened his case at once, saying: "I discover, Mr.
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Campbell, you are well prepared in the argument and defenses of the Christian religion. I confess to you frankly there are some difficulties in my mind which prevent my believing the Bible, particularly the Old Testament." Mr. Campbell replied: "I acknowledge freely, Mr. Pardee, there are difficulties in the Bible -- difficulties not easy to explain, and some, perhaps, which in our present state of information can not be cleared up. But, my dear sir, when I consider the overwhelming testimony in their favor, so ample, complete, and satisfactory, I can not resist the conviction of their divine origin. The field of prophetic inspiration is so varied and full, and the internal evidences so conclusive, that with all the difficulties, the preponderance of evidence is overwhelmingly in their favor." This reply, so fair and so manly, and so different from the pulpit denunciation of "skeptics," "infidels," etc., to which he had been accustomed, quite disarmed him, and led him to hear the truth and its evidence in a much more rational state of mind. Within a year he became fully satisfied of the truthfulness of the Holy Scriptures, and apprehending clearly their testimony to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth as the anointed Son of God, he was prepared to yield to him the obedience of his life. At a two days' meeting held there by Bro. A. B. Green and A. S. Hayden, Mr. Pardee and four others were baptized.
Elder Newcomb being fully relieved of the irreconcilable perplexities of the Calvinistic system, was now like an eagle fresh from the moulting. His joy was unbounded, and his zeal was equal to that of a new convert. He rode horse-back sixty miles, to the great meeting in Austintown, in 1830, accompanying a full two-horse wagon, loaded with members of his own family and others, to the same meeting. He preached, visited, and talked continually. He had an element of sternness in his character. Going to the school-house early Sunday to meeting,
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he took his usual seat. He descried a young man across the room with a flashy guard-chain displayed in a conspicuous manner over his vest. He looked at his Testament, then cast a glance to the gay toy. After a few moments he closed his book, walked across the house, and without uttering a word, gathered the glittering ornament off the young man's neck, put it all down into the owner's pocket out of sight, then walked back to his seat, and quietly resumed his preparation for the meeting.
He once accompanied Bro. Green in a preaching tour to Bethany and the region round about. At a night meeting on Salt Run, Ohio, he arose before a full house, announced the hymn in usual manner, and requested some brother to "set the tune." No one starting, he repeated the first two lines, saying: "I hope some brother will raise the tune." All were silent. Closing the book he said: "The apostle James says; 'Is any merry, let him sing psalms; is any afflicted, let him pray.' I think the people here must be afflicted -- let us pray!"
This excellent man passed away universally respected. He died October 4, 1847, aged seventy-four years.
The congregation in Wadsworth has been a light to all the region round about. It is mother of churches, and mother of preachers. The following proclaimers of the gospel received their earliest aid and encouragement there, and some of them were brought forth almost exclusively by this church: A. B. Green, Wm. Moody, Holland Brown, Philander Green, B. F. Perky, and Pardee Butler. Bro. L. L. Carpenter, also, from the church in Norton, a daughter and dependency of Wadsworth, gained his guiding impulse there to his distinguished usefulness. .
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