Both these churches were founded under the labors of the Rev. John Sutton (Benedict vol. I:595). Mr. Sutton, who is believed to have been a native of New Jersey, received his education at the famous academy that was kept by the Rev. Isaac Eaten at Hopewell, New Jersey from 1750 to 1767 (Benedict II:449) and then appears for a brief season in the character of an itinerant minister in Nova Scotia. Shortly before the year 1770 he is found at Providence, Rhode Island, where in keeping with a widely publicized policy of some of the leading members of the General Baptist church of that place, to convert it into a Particular Baptist church, he was engaged as an assistant of the General Baptist pastor, the Rev. Samuel Winsor. Their relation did not long subsist; the General Baptist element are supposed to have been still vigorous enough to combine against Mr. Sutton and to (get quit of him) at the close of a six month engagement (Benedict I:479).
On being released from his position at Providence, Mr. Sutton next
made his way southward to the Jerseys (Benedict I:479), whence he shortly afterwards drifted into Western Penn. (Benedict I:598) and laid the foundation of the Redstone fraternity. Towards the close of his life he appears in Kentucky, and takes a part in the Emancipation movement that for a season was rife among the Baptists of that State (Benedict II:516.fn.).
The Rev. John Corbley, a native of Ireland, who had been brought into the Baptist church under the ministrations of the Rev. James Ireland in Virginia,
was also a partaker with Mr. Sutton in these early labors in Western Pennsylvania (Benedict I:598).
It will be apparent from the above historical survey, that Baptist views must have become familiar to the people of this section of the country, by the time that Sidney Rigdon came upon the scene of action. The church at Peter's Creek had continued to enjoy a measure of prosperity under the oversight of the Rev. David Phillips, a native of Wales, who removing to this country in his childhood, had resided in Chester county, Penn. until he attained middle life when he went to reside on Peter's Creek in Allegheny county, and took charge of the church (Benedict I:601).
The Redstone Association, which at this time embraced a considerable area of territory, was of "Regular Baptist" affinities, adhering to the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, and displaying small sympathy for those who in the contemporary parlance of the denomination, were designated "Separate Baptists." In the year 1809 the number of churches belonging to it is given as 33, of which the greater portion were in Pennsylvania, though a few were from Virginia and several from Ohio (Benedict I:516). Seven years later, in the year 1816, there were 32 names on the list of churches, two of which had only recently entered the organization. The First Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, which had been organized in 1812, is set down among the rest with only 8 members. Sidney Rigdon was destined to assume the pastoral care of that small interest, then grown to larger dimensions, in January, 1822. The Brush Run church, under Alexander Campbell, had sought and gained entrance to the Association in the year 1813 (Rich., Memoirs of A. Campbell, Phila., 1868, vol. I:438). It is found in the catalogue of the year 1816 and credited with 23 communicants (Richardson, v. I:469-70).
Mr. Philips, who presided at Peter's Creek church, was now well advanced in years. So highly were his virtues in esteem that he was called "Father Philips" through out the country-side.
A fair proportion of respectable and, for that community, influential people were found among his parishioners. The Estep family were in good repute, as also the McCrearys. The Rigdons, who for reasons already suggested were possibly in their turn included among his constituents are believed to have occupied a decent social position.
360 acre Wm. Rigdon farm on Piney Fork, in the S. W. corner of Mifflin twp.
The map is from 1826, just after Sidney sold his inheritance (yellow portion)
View Rigdon property location transposed to 1876 area map
this time, or whether the accession of Sidney was in consequence of the ordinary ministrations of the pastor. Revival occasions were not in the least uncommon in the various religious communities of that portion of the country, and it is possible that in connection with one of these he was induced to embrace religion. The intensity of his experience of religious truth would appear to favor the conclusion suggested. It was intimated, and perhaps Rigdon himself believed, that there was an extraordinary process in his case. Indeed there was such a prominent display of what were conceived to be the miraculous features of his conversion that it is claimed the suspicions of his pastor were excited and "serious doubts were entertained in regard to the genuineness of the work" (Patterson, p. 13).
Whether the suspicions of Mr. Philips were communicated to the church, or rested quietly in his own bosom, is a point that has not been made clear. It is, however most likely that these were never publicly mooted until afterwards, when the object of them had for other reasons become unwelcome to his pastor and to the congregation.
It is every way worth while to take account of the intensity of this earliest religious demonstration on the part of Rigdon. It supplies an explanation of his character, and an index to much of his subsequent conduct. He was capable of the most
extreme paroxysms of religious fervor, in the progress of which his bearing was highly singular, if not offensive. On the other hand his zeal was not commonly steady and continuous. If it had possessed this quality in addition, there can be small question that it would have speedily consumed his health and closed his life. His native inertia -- what his neighbors plumply denounced as "laziness" -- could always be relied upon to appear for the relief of his too highly strained faculties.
it is frequently undertaken by persons who possess no suitable qualifications for the task. Certainly, those who assumed to put forward Mr. Rigdon could not have been distinguished as judicious counselors.
On the other hand it must be remembered that Sidney required a very trivial amount of encouragement. He was of a temper that may fairly be stated irrepressible. There was perhaps, no authority and no power in the constitution of a Baptist church that would have availed to keep him quiet. The suspicions of the venerable pastor, however, had likely by this time become so decided as to affect the plans and wishes of the ardent young convert. It is customary for the church which he chances to be a communicant to issue a person in Rigdon's position a license to "exercise his gifts" in the gospel; but this formality seems to have been neglected in the present instance. There is no record of his obtaining any license from his brethren at Peter's Creek. Even if he had applied for such a favor in that quarter, it is possible that the request would have been denied (Patterson, pp. 9 & 3).
It could not have been a great while after Rigdon commenced to exercise his capacities for public address before he conceived the project of supplanting Mr. Philips in the pastoral charge of the church. Under the circumstances this would appear to have been a very serious enterprise, but the burning zeal and the impassioned preaching of the younger man were of a style to captivate the fancy of a considerable portion of the community, and he was not far from carrying his point. The taste for ascendancy was likewise one of his most clearly pronounced peculiarities. It will often come to view in the subsequent portions of his history.
The friends of Mr. Philips, while they might not have been so numerous as those who applauded the effort of Rigdon, were of superior influence and standing. These were speedily allied to the support of their long tried spiritual guide, and the intruder was put to flight (Patterson, p. 13).
The occurrences hitherto described bring down our narrative as far as the winter of 1818-19. Having been defeated in his attack against the position and the peace of his pastor, Rigdon now decides that it will no longer be agreeable to his feelings to keep his residence in the vicinity of Peter's Creek.
With this plan in view he resorted to the instructions of the Rev. Mr. Clark, a Baptist minister of the adjoining county of Beaver, (Patterson, p. 3). This gentleman was (considered) one of the leading preachers of the Beaver Association of Baptists, a body which had been constituted in the year 1809 (Benedict, History the Baptists, N.Y. 1856 ?, p. 618), of churches that were situated partly in the state of Pennsylvania and partly in Ohio. In Pennsylvania its boundaries embraced the counties of Beaver, Mercer and Butler. It was near the approach of winter when he made his entry into Beaver county, where it is likely that he was received as an inmate of the family of his preceptor (Patterson, p. 9). His studious mood was of brief duration, hardly as long as the winter of 1818-19. The amount of advantage he obtained from it must have been small in every other respect except in the access of conceit, a commodity of which Sidney already possessed a sufficient store.
The spring of 1814 finds him at Sharon, Mercer county, where the Baptist church was under the pastoral care of Rev. Thomas G. Jones. Here he succeeds in obtaining a license to enter upon the work of the ministry (Patterson, pp. 8-9). Joseph Smith affirms that the license was issued in March, 1819 (Tullidge, p. 102). From this point it was an easy matter for him to drift across the line of Pennsylvania into the State of Ohio. During the month of May, 1819 he appears at Warren the county seat of Trumbull county in the latter state (Tullidge, Life of Joseph Smith, Plano Illinois, 1880, p. 102).
Accordingly in the early summer of 1819 Sidney goes to try his fortune in Ohio. In Warren, where was one of the churches of the Beaver Association, he would naturally be accorded a kindly welcome. The church bore the name of Concord (Hayden, p. 25) and was presided over by the well known Adamson Bentley, with whom as a leader of Baptist interests in that part of the world (and as a native of his own county of Allegheny in Penn.) he would enjoy a measure of acquaintance. His services were probably in
good request, since he was an orator of the Boanerges type; it is possible that means were taken to have it known that he was fresh from a course of lucubrations in theology. In his newly attained capacity as an expert in theology he would be welcome to Adamson Bentley, who had induced the preachers of the various Baptist churches in that section of the country to unite in holding annually a minister's meeting, for the purpose of conversing upon the scriptures and their own religious progress, and for mutual improvement by criticisms upon each others' sermons (Richardson II:44).
The intimacy which by this means arose between the couple was soon to ripen into a more important result. Bentley, who resided in Warren since 1810, where he was also engaged in mercantile pursuits (Richardson I:217), had married there a daughter of a prominent citizen named Richard Brooks, a member of the Baptist church, whose house was always open to the preachers (Hayden pp. 95-6). His wife had a sister who was just then in the bloom of her beauty and loveliness. Miss Phoebe Brooks was born on the 3rd of May 1800 (Rigdon family Bible), and was in every sense a person of weight and worth of character. Esteeming Mr. Rigdon as a prodigy of learning and eloquence and satisfied both from an extended acquaintance with his cousin, the Rev. Thomas Rigdon, who was pastor of the New Lisbon church which was at that time connected with the Beaver Association, and from his own early knowledge of them in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, that the Rigdon family was of good report, he probably conceived the
notion of trying to secure the future happiness of his beautiful sister-in-law by bringing about her marriage with the engaging visitor from his own former home. Sidney lingered very contentedly among his friends in the vicinity of Warren, where he had easily assumed a leading position in the pulpit and was far and near esteemed and admired. During the progress of the winter of 1819-20, in the rush of his other engagements, he was at pains to cultivate the affections of Miss Brooks. This occupation was in no sense irksome, and perhaps with the countenance and the councils of Bentley, it was also not expressly difficult. The spring found him far on the way to success. On Monday the 12th of June, 1820 the day of his triumph dawned, and he was permitted to call Miss Phoebe his bride (Rigdon family Bible).
The circumstance that the nuptials were celebrated on Monday, a day that is not usually chosen for festivities of this kind, might give rise to the conjecture that Mr. Brooks could not be persuaded to give his consent to the step that his daughter was taking, and that the couple were thereby constrained to resort to the expedient of an elopement. However that may be, Mr. Bentley, who it is possible was privy to the proceedings, and may have performed the ceremony, was on good terms with his new brother-in-law, and apparently full of lively hopes that success would attend the path of the wedded pair.
It was perhaps a piece of good fortune for Mr. Bentley that he was in a situation to confer upon Mr. Rigdon such binding obligations. Otherwise his consuming passion for conflict and ascendancy might have given as serious annoyance to the pastor of Concord church in Warren as they had recently brought to the venerable Welshman who had been so long established at Peter's Creek. Rigdon's vulgar penchant to try conclusions with any person who might be the least in his way was one of the prominent features of his life, his vanity often consumed his peace. To his thinking the honors of supremacy and control belonged of right to his own merits.
It was likewise a happy circumstance that Mr. Bentley or some other person was skillful to excite his interest for the struggles of an infant church which had been organized in the township of Bazetta, within the limits of Trumbull county, on the 22nd of January 1820. (Hayden, History of the Disciples on the Western Reserve, Cincinnati, 1876, p. 281). On the 4th of March, 1820 Rigdon was received into membership at Bazetta (Hayden, p. 93), possibly by this act transferring his membership from the church of Bentley in Warren. If his residence was at the same time established in the vicinity of the Bazetta church he would be further removed from opportunities for intrigue. Hayden states in addition that he was licensed to preach at Bazetta on the 1st of April, 1820. It is possible
a stricter examination might show that this was the date and place of Sidney's ordination to the full work of the ministry. The authority on which Patterson, as cited above, assigns the event of his licensure to Sharon, in Pennsylvania, would appear to be reasonably trustworthy.
(Rich., II:34). in the early part of the year 1821 (Hayden, p. 21).
At this period the sentiment of the opposition between different religious denominations was not so decided as it has now become. There was a comfortable extent of Christian union, which later events have availed to reduce to a far narrower compass consequently, the breach of Christian union which was implied and also occasioned by the public encounter of these two champions was the topic of remark in many quarters. At present, when public debates are a part of the established order in many sections of the country, a transaction like that at Mount Pleasant would scarcely be observed beyond the narrow limits of the community where it might befall. It would only be regarded in the light of another addition to an almost endless series of battles, which as they (are) being waged almost every day, do not require to be noted in detail.
The debate between Campbell and Walker, however, was not in this way neglected. It was something new and sensational. Tidings concerning it were heralded to every corner of the adjacent States, and the details of it were devoured with eagerness. Mr. Campbell's book had scarcely left the press when it fell into the hands of Adamson Bentley at Warren. He was delighted with its defense of the biblical origin of the rite of immersion, and was
greatly drawn towards the author of it. Doubtless Mr. Rigdon was equally attracted by the ability of this champion of an ancient and honored observance, and may have perused the debate with the same degree of interest as Bentley had displayed.
The latter, having heard of the tribulations of Mr. Campbell, in the Redstone Baptist Association of which he was a member, resolved to make him a visit at the earliest opportunity, to express his thanks for what he had accomplished and to give him cheer in the trials to which he was exposed (Rich., II:44). It was natural that the youthful and ardent Rigdon should sympathize with the more experienced pastor of the Warren church in this purpose, and that he should desire to be of the party on the pilgrimage to Bethany, the home of the newly risen light.
But before the printed records of the Mount Pleasant debate could be given to the public, there was an important change in the posture of Baptist interests in which Rigdon must have borne a leading part. The ministers' meeting whose direction was chiefly in the hands of Adamson Bentley, was regularly held in the month of June of each year (Hayden p. 39). It is possible that the nuptials of Sidney and Miss Brooks were performed in connection with its session in the month of June 1820.
In this same meeting a resolution was passed which shortly resulted in the separation from the Beaver association of all the churches which had their seats in the State of Ohio. The body agreed that these churches should write to form an association of their own on the 30th day of August, 1820. The project was duly effected, and at the date suggested the Mahoning Association was brought into existence. Here Adamson Bentley would be the prevailing influence, but Rigdon stood only next below him being recognized as "the great orator of the Mahoning Association" (Rich., II:45).
It was much in vogue at that period for Baptist ministers and those of other denominations also to go upon lengthy evangelizing at their own charges, which were commonly very slight, since the people to whom they chanced to preach were glad to supply their wants and bring them on their journey. After organizing the Mahoning Association in August 1820, Bentley and Rigdon set themselves to plan a progress of this kind. They were not able to carry out their wishes, however, until the Spring of 1821, at which date they made a lengthy circuit, passing quite across the State of Ohio, probably touching at Cincinnati, and also entering the State of Kentucky. As they were returning from this protracted visit they resolved to embrace an occasion they had sometime desired to make the acquaintance of Mr. Campbell at his place of residence (Hayden, p. 19 & 104 cf. Rich., II:44).
Both Rigdon and Bentley had been brought up within the bounds of the Redstone Baptist Association in Penn. The former, however had come from his early home in Allegheny county much more recently than the latter. It was possible, therefore, that Bentley got all the special information he had regarding the opposition which was there felt against Mr. Campbell, from the relations given forth by Rigdon himself. Sidney may have been from the outset favorably disposed towards Campbell, by reason of the circumstance that he was already the occasion of partisan division in the Association, where numbers inclined to favor him and others held the professed reformer in no esteem.
Still it does not appear that Rigdon had previously enjoyed the honor of an intimate personal acquaintance with Mr. Campbell. That gentleman was a pretty diligent attendant at the sessions of the Redstone (Association, however and) he was a prominent figure at the meeting that occurred at Peter's Creek in August 1817 (Rich., II:47), and was appointed its secretary for the meeting in August 1818 (Benedict, 2nd ed. p. 615), more than a year after Sidney had become a communicant among the Baptists; but Rigdon was likely at that early time not in the custom of giving strict attention to the proceedings of the body.
The two companions in travel arrived at the house of Mr. Campbell somewhere about the first of July 1821 (Rich., II:46), and, after passing a night under his roof, where they were hospitably refreshed, they pursued their way to their home in Warren. For both of them this visit was an important event. Though they remained in outward fellowship with the Baptist
church for a season after it befell, they were each estranged from the Baptist faith by what they had learned from their host. To show the process and the completeness of this conversion it may be well to bring forward the account which Mr. Campbell himself gives of the affair, about 27 years after it was enacted. Writing in the "Millennial Harbinger" for 1848 (See also (Rich., II:44-46). Mr. Campbell says:
In the summer of 1821, while sitting in my portico after dinner, two gentlemen in the costume of clergymen, as then technically called, appeared in my yard, advancing to the house. The elder of them, on approaching me, first introduced himself, saying, 'My name, sir, is Adamson Bentley, this is Elder Sidney Rigdon, both of Warren, Ohio.' On entering my house and being introduced to my family, after some refreshment, Elder Bentley said, 'Having just read your debate with Mr. John Walker of the State of Ohio, with considerable interest, and having been deputed by the Mahoning Association last year to ordain some elders and to set some churches in order, which brought us within little more than a day's ride of you, we concluded to make a special visit, to inquire of you particularly on sundry matters of much interest to us set forth in the debate, and would be glad, when perfectly at your leisure, to have an opportunity to do so. I replied that, as soon as the afternoon duties of my seminary were discharged I would take pleasure in hearing from them fully on such matters.
After tea, in the evening, we commenced and prolonged our discourse till the next morning. Beginning with the baptism that John preached we went back to Adam and forward to the final judgment. The dispensations -- Adamic, Abrahamic, Jewish and Christian -- passed and repassed before us. Mount Sinai in Arabia, Mount Zion, Mount Tabor, the Red Sea and the Jordan, the Passovers and the Pentacosts, the Law and the Gospel, but especially the ancient order of things and the modern, occasionally engaged our attention.
hand. They went on their way rejoicing, and in the course of a single year prepared their whole Association to bear us with earnestness and candor.
The above lively representation seems to be tolerably correct except in what it says relating to the special circumstances under which the journey was performed to the residence of Mr. Campbell. In this respect it has been considered preferable to be guided by the information of Hayden who it is suggested enjoyed better means of information than the editor of the "Millennial Harbinger," concerning the details of Bentley's history.
(Skip Campbellite roots section and continue with Sidney Rigdon material)
[ 026a - this section removed from original manuscript
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by this means she had lost the right to be styled a Church of Christ.
In order to meet the objections of these adversaries, Mr. Glas resolved to investigate the whole question of national covenanting in the light of the Scriptures. The issue of these researches was different from anything he had anticipated. By means of them he not only withdrew the foundation of strict biblical precept from beneath the feet of the Cameronians, but the support upon which his own Church was established were, in his judgment, likewise destroyed. These covenants, whether in their ancient or their modern observation, proceeded all alike upon the supposition that a connection between Church and State is in accordance with the teachings of the Sacred Word. (Glas's Narrative, pp. 1-25, also p. 139.)
On his attaining to the conviction that a union of this nature was not provided for in the New Testament, Mr. Glas became displeased with his own position in the Established Church, as well as with the representations of the Cameronians. He was more than ever confirmed in the resolution "to make himself no other rule but the word of God."
His reflections upon that Word now speedily made him aware that the rite of communion, as it was observed in his own and other parishes, was not strictly in accordance with the pattern of the apostolic churches. Many persons of the weakest pretensions to pious living, and many more who made no claims to any special renewal by the Spirit of
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holiness were entitled, in virtue of their birthright, to the benefits of a position at the table of the Lord. This posture of circumstances had become unendurable to him.
Accordingly, on the 13th of July 1725, he sought to relieve his conscience by organizing a coventicle within the boundaries of his parish, composed of those only who he believed had experienced a complete change of heart. (Memoranda of John Glas and Robert Sandeman, collected from MS notes of the late James Scott, member of the church in Dundee; in, Letters and Discourses of Robert Sandeman, Dundee, 1851, p. 118. Compare also Glas's Narrative, pp. 103 and 113.)
When the literalistic tendency of Mr. Glas had resulted in this ecclesiola in ecclesia, it became the means of directing public attention to his proceedings. A communion occasion at Strathmartine, on the 6th of August, 1726, served to bring him face to face with the opposition that was gathering head against him. Echoes of the rising strife were also heard in the Presbytery of Dundee, at its session on the 7th of September following. The affair likewise came to discussion, after an informal fashion, in the Synod of Augus and Mearns when it convened in October 1726.
Nothing of consequence was done in the premises until the 17th of October 1727, at which date the Synod of Augus and Mearns laid upon the Presbytery if Dundee, to which the parish of Tealing
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belonged, the duty of bringing Mr. Glas to trial at a special session which they should convene for that purpose; and ordered that these in turn should bring the results of their investigations before the Synod, at its next session at Brechin in April 1728. This mandate was observed; and after due deliberation was had, the Synod of Augus and Mearns, on the 18th of April 1728, pronounced a sentence of suspension from the ministry against Mr. Glas, for promulgating sentiments hostile to the National Covenants and to the union of Church and State in any form. An appeal was taken to the General Assembly, which convened about a fortnight later, on the 2d of May, which, however, confirmed the action of the Synod. Meanwhile, Mr. Glas having laid himself liable to the charge of contumacy by continuing to preach the obnoxious doctrine after his suspension from office, a sentence of deposition was passed against him by the Synod in October 1728. An appeal being taken against this new sentence, it was likewise confirmed by decision of the Commission of the Assembly, at a meeting appointed to consider the case, on the 12th of March 1730. (The above facts are taken from, Glas's Narrative, as cited on a preceding page.)
The brief outlines which have just been given will avail, in some sort, to bring before the reader a view of the special occasion that induced Mr. Glas to rebel against the Kirk of Scotland, and of the main indictments of the process that was thereupon entered against him. His own reflections concerning the
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teachings of the Scriptures had brought him to embrace the position of the English Independents in relation to the question concerning the proper church order, while the action of the constituted authorities had already destroyed his sympathy for the National Establishment.
Though his followers and himself were in the custom of designating themselves, and the churches they subsequently organized, by the name of "Independents" (Glas, Narrative, p. 110; also Memoir of Mr. John Glas, prefixed to the Narrative, p. xvii), or some times Congregationalists (Memoir of Mr. John Glas, prefixed to the Narrative, p. xxvi), yet they made no effort to form relations with the people who in England bear those names. On the contrary, they stood wholly aloof; and guided by the Scriptures, they resolved to work out from this source, alone and without any assistance, the more minute details of the constitution, life, worship, and discipline of the churches of the New Testament period. The passion they had acquired for contradicting the usages and the doctrines of the "popular clergy" was so keen that they were soon driven into excesses; and before they progressed very far there had arisen so large a variety of convictions and useages, that many of the individual bodies differed from each other in regard to a number of particulars, while each single item, though never so insignificant in appearances, was likely to become an occasion of separation.
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The tithing of mint anise and cummin, it has been suggested, became the principal concern of Mr. Glas and his believers. The work was begun only a few months after the sentence of deposition from the Kirk of Scotland had been confirmed. Mr. Glas had in uncommon amount of confidence in the capacity of the poorest of the brethren to divine the truth of God from the biblical word, and often boasted that he got hints from them which served to open and explain many things which he had not previously understood. During the summer of 1730, while he was absent in the Highlands for the benefit of his health, these humble people raised a scruple in the church over which he now presided in Dundee, regarding the ruling elders, which, as former Presbyterians, they had adopted from the constitution of the Established Church. The pastor was speedily fetched from his summer retreat for the purpose of adjusting the difficulty. This enterprise was accomplished by abolishing the office of ruling elders, and substituting in their stead a plurality of elders, whose duty it should be both to preach and to teach, (Memoranda of John
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Glas and Robert Sandeman, as found in the Letters and Discourses of Robert Sandeman, pp. 118-119.) The fashion of employing a plurality of elders is likewise found among the Disciples of America,
To an aged member of the church, also presumably one of the poorest of the people, is due the innovation of weekly communion in the Lord's Supper. The conventicle which Mr. Glas had gathered around him was at first in the habit of monthly celebrating the Lord's Supper. The person referred to suggested the inquiry why they should meet every mouth for that purpose, and not once or twice in the year, as the churches of the Establishment were in the custom of doing. A debate was held regarding the business, by means of which it was concluded that both of these practices were without example in the New Testament; and therefore the weekly service was enjoined. (Memoranda of John Glas and Robert Sandeman in the place above cited, p. 119.) The Disciples also observe this usage.
In the beginning of the movement it was expected that the elders of whom there were indispensably two or three in every church, should sustain themselves, by their own exertions in some trade or profession outside of the ministry. This peculiarity has been retained, with considerable tenacity, in some of the Sandemanian churches (An Account of the Christian Practices of the Church in Barnsbury Grove, Barnsbury, London. 1878, p. 10.) The early Disciples in their turn, laid much stress upon this point
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(Christian Baptist, edit. 6, p. 91, pp. 8, 29, 43, 37, 46); but of late they are becoming less strenuous regarding it.
Seeing that he was now fairly launched upon a career of literalism, Mr. Glas would soon perceive that it was impossible to find in the New Testament writings any documents like the Longer and Shorter Catechisms of the Kirk of Scotland. Accordingly, in the year 1736, he published a pamphlet under the title of "The Usefulness of Catechisms Considered," and takes the occasion to discourage the employment of them by his followers. The Confession of Faith, in its turn, was abolished. Besides the fact that there was directly no Divine command enjoining its existence, the Westminster Confession had been, in some sort, the occasion of his displacement from the perish at Tealing.
The attention of the party was soon directed to the love-feast which prevailed in the early Christian Church; and, with the courage of their convictions, this observance was also added as an indispensable mark of a genuine Church of Christ. Their successors in England are quite as stringent as were the Sandemanians of the eighteenth century in requiring the presence of each and every member on these occasions. (Barnsbury Grove, as above, p. 10.) Mr. Campbell the founder of the Disciples, seriously considered this matter; but, while he allowed that the custom was of biblical authority, and might be "found useful when the ancient order of things is restored"
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(Christian Baptist, edit. 6, pp. 283-284), he yet lacked a sufficient amount of courage to enjoin the observation of it. On the other hand, he was fully as clear as the Sandemanians in his denunciations of church catechisms, creeds and confessions of faith,
The Sandemanians were easily able to discover that the kiss of charity was several times enjoined in the apostolical letters, and hence this observance was frequently found among them. Mr. Campbell's courage and devotion to the distinct commands of the word of God failed him entirely at this point. (Christian Baptist, edit. 6, 224, Compare also Richardson, vol. ii. p. 129 where Mr. Campbell had an opportunity to resist this observance in a small church at Pittsburgh, which professed Sandemanian views.)
The conditions were almost the same in the case of foot-washing. This practice was also regarded by numbers of the Sandemanians as an important mark of a true Church of Christ. It is still observed by them (Barnsbury Grove, p. 8), but they do not now appear to consider it of the same binding necessity as formerly. Mr. Campbell rejected it entirely (Christian Baptist, pp. 222-223), as a church observance, though he was not adverse that it should be performed as an expression of private hospitality.
The Sandemanians early became convinced that it was an article of capital concern, that their adherents should abstain from eating blood. In this connection they insisted upon the letter of the passage at Acts xv. 20,28-29. No distinct allusion, on the part
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of the Disciples, to the binding force of this apostolical prohibition, can be remembered.
The Sandemanians laid unusual stress upon the intercessory prayer of our Lord, in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel according to John; holding that it inculcates the necessity of absolute unanimity, on the part of the various members, in every transaction by an individual church. In order to obtain this indispensable unanimity. the parties who may entertain such objections as they are unable to surrender are incontinently expelled from the communion. (Barnsbury Grove, p. 14.) The Disciples likewise insist with earnestness upon the passage in question; but they understand that it refers to the organic union of all who profess and call themselves Christians, on the basis of the plea which themselves have a charge to urge upon the attention of the religious public.
A modified type of communism prevailed, and is still professed, among the Sandemanians. (Richardson, Vol. I. p. 71.) The personal estate of a communicant could be retained by him after entering the fraternity, but always with the understanding that it was subject to the demands of the necessitous, especially those of them who chanced to be of the household of faith. Accordingly it was expected that their brethren should not lay up any further treasures on earth than such as they were possessed of at the time of their reception. (Andrew Fuller, Strictures on Sandemanism. Letter IX.) In order to prevent this from taking place, the surplus above their actual
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necessities in the way of subsistence was to be contributed to the "Fellowship," which is the name they derived from Acts ii. 42, for the collection for the poor. (Barnsbury Grove, pp. 6-7, also pp. 8-9 cf. Letters and Discourses of R. Sandeman, p. 42) The Disciples, on the contrary, have never pressed the principle of communism to the same extent; but they have adopted the nomenclature of the Sandemanians in the matter of the weekly collection (Christian Baptist, edit. 6, pp. 209,166,359) which is ordinarily designated as "the Fellowship" in their literature. (See also Christian Baptist, pp. 339,391,408,413, for other instances of the employment of this term in the writings of Sandemanian churches.)
The custom of mutual exhortation, as a regular part of religious worship, was in vogue among many of the Sandemanian fraternities. They justified this proceeding by a literal interpretation of 1 Cor. xiv. 31. It was often assigned a place in the observances of the Sabbath day; but the church of Barnsbury Grove, London, has now removed it to the Wednesday-evening meeting. (Barnsbury Grove p. 7.)
The business of exhortation was likewise attended to in the first church that was organized by the Disciples in America, as also in the kindred Sandemanian church under the charge of Walter Scott in Pittsburgh, Penn,; but so many evils grew out of it, that after a series of years Mr. Campbell became impatient of it, and succeeded in persuading his followers to surrender their liberty in this regard.
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(Richardson, Memoirs of A. Campbell, Vol. II. pp. 125-129.)
A portion of the Sandemanian fraternity were so strict in their literalism, that, because there is no direct injunction commanding the observance of family prayer, and because there is a Divine command to enter into the closet and pray in secret, they would inveigh against this practice as savoring of a tendency to proselytism. (Christian Baptist, edit. 2, Buffalo, Va., 1827, p. 76.) Others of the party discouraged the habit of family prayer, on the ground that it is "unlawful, provided any part of the family be unbelievers, seeing it is holding communion with them." (Braidwood's Letters, as cited by AndrewFuller in his Strictures on Sandemanianism, Letter IX.)
In his earlier years Mr. Campbell was influenced by this latter view of the subject, and at one time seriously proposed to his father the inquiry " whether family prayer is proper in a family composed in part of unbelievers." (Richardson, vol. i. p. 449.) Unlike the Sandemanians, however, who could find "no precept or precedent for family worship" in the biblical writings (Fuller, Strictures on Sandemanianism, Letter IX.), Mr. Campbell was fortunate enough to discover a justification of the practice in the patriarchal dispensation, which he denominated "the family worship institution" (Christian System, Bethany, Va., 1840, pp. 128-133); and, notwithstandingthe youthful scruples referred to above, he appears
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to have performed the duty with a commendable degree of diligence and spirit.
The same people who could not reconcile it to their views to pray or to enjoy any kind of religious observance in the family circle with those who mere not in communion with them at the Lord's Supper, yet had no scruples against accompanying respectable persons of whatever creed, or of no creed at all, to the theatre, or against joining with them in the dance or other social amusements which are commonly condemned by the more serious portion of the religious community, (Barnsbury-Grove, p. 9; compare Fuller's Strictures on Sandemanianism, Letter II; and Letter of John Glas to Edward Gorril, in Letters and Discourses of R. S., p. 88.)
Mr. Campbell was not guilty of this kind of extravagance; but the sentiment of the Sandemanians in the matters of theatres, dancing; and other diversions, appears to have survived in the Mormon community, who, as will be suggested later on, are connected, through the Disciples, with the Sandemanian stock.
It would he natural to expect that those who were unwilling to engage in family prayer where unbelieving members might belong to the household, should also be forward to propose objections to the presence of any but communicants at the public services of the Church. A portion of the Sandemanian Churches acceded to the demand of their peculiar logic in this particular, and were solicitous to exclude from their public worship all who might not belong to their own
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community. (Christian Baptist, edit. 6, p. 389; also a Letter from the Elders of the Church in Dundee to the Elders of the Church in Edinburgh, as found inThe Letters and Discourses of Robert Sandeman, Dundee, 1851, pp. 116-117.)
Mr. Campbell, in his turn, was much taken with this peculiarity of the Sandemanians. His biographer is our authority for the statement that the first church he organized -- at Brush Run in Pennsylvania -- did not recognize as duly prepared to partake in religious services any persons except such as had professed to put on Christ in baptism; or, in other words, those who chanced to be members of that special organization. Later in life he was persuaded to recede from this extreme position; but he appears to have always regretted his course in that regard, longing in vain for the exclusive attitude of his youthful time. (Richardson, vol. i. p. 454.)
The Sandemanians made a deal of noise over the point that the first day of the week is not properly a Sabbath, at least holding that it is not a duty incumbent upon Christian people to observe it in the same fashion us the Sabbath was observed by the Jewish nation under the Old Testament economy. They regarded the Christian Sabbath as merely designed for the celebration of divine ordinances, (Barnsbury Grove p. 4.). and did not conceive that they were engaged to sanctify the day according to the strict usage of the Scottish Kirk. When the concerns of public worship had been duly cared for, the
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balance of the day might be passed in such pleasures as would scarcely comport with the claim that it was anyway more holy than other days. (Andrew Fuller, Strictures on Sandemanianism, Letter IX.)
The Disciples likewise decline to regard the first day of the week as a Sabbath, or even to call it by that name. The fourth command of the Decalogue, they hold, is applicable to the seventh day, but it does not refer to Sunday. On this account they have now and then been charged with the crime of paying no respect to the Fourth Commandment. Claims of that nature, however, are commonly based upon a misconception. The public worship which the Disciples, like the Sandemanians, consider it their duty to observe on the Lord's day, occupies about as many hours of time and service as customarily are passed in that way by those who are willing to consider the day as a Sabbath. The only matter worthy of attention in this connection is, that the party are in the habit of proposing the same distinction regarding the subject that was urged, before their time, by the Sandemanians. (Richardson, vol. i. pp. 432-435.)
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In brief, the Sandemanians were almost always and
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everywhere in the opposition. This spirit of opposition displayed itself when, in due course of time, they found it desirable to give a portion of their attention to the doctrines which their Church should maintain, The influence of the Methodist movement was by that time beginning to be recognized in Scotland. While the Calvinistic theologians felt impelled to resist the views of Mr. Wesley at various points in the department of soteriology, it is none the less true that, through the influence of Whitefield, these had gained some degree of currency in the land of Knox. Methodist influences were very much extended in the party of Seceders, who went away from the Established Church in 1735 only a few years after the expulsion of Mr. Glas.
Mr. James Hervey, a member of Wesley'a "godly club" at Oxford, who subsequently adhered to the predestinarian views of Whitefield, in the year 1755 had published a work under the title of "Dialognes between Theron and Aspasio," that were received with much popularity. The views that were there set forth regarding the nature of justifying faith and the process of salvation were pretty strongly tinctured with Methodist sentiment, but they were not on that account any the less welcome to wide circles of his readers in Scotland.
Two years later a son-in-law of Mr. Glas's -- Mr. Robert Sandeman, who likewise had a sort of mission to contend against the "popular preachers" and "popular doctrines'- came forward with a review
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of the performance of Mr. Hervey, entitled " Letters on Theron and Aspasio." In this production he strictly combats the notion advanced by Hervey, that saving faith embraces in its contents any "real persuasion that the blessed Jesus has shed his blood for me, or has fulfilled all righteousness in my stead;" and also the position that any "appropriation of Christ is essential to faith." (Sandeman, Letters on Theron and Aspasio, New York, 1838, p. 4.) What he several times christens as "the ancient gospel" (pp. 117,297,412; Epistolary Correspondence, pp. 25,83), recognizes as "involved in the contents of justifying faith nothing else than simply believing the record, or crediting the testimony of God." (Letters, as above, p. 21.) In order to believe the record, Mr. Sandeman wholly discredits the notion that there is a necessity for the operation of the Spirit (pp. 29,30). He suggests that the Spirit "who breathes in the Scriptures never speaks a word to any man beside what he publicly speaks there; and he "will not bear to hear the living and powerful Word of God, on any pretense or under color of any distinction whatsoever, called a dead letter."
In the " Letters on Theron and Aspasio," though his tone is extremely bitter and arrogant, he is nevertheless more moderate than he exhibits himself in some of his subsequent productions. The "Epistolary Correspondence between S. P(ike) and R. S(andeman)" transcends all the previous limits which he had assigned to his passion. There he claims that
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faith is "the bare belief of the bare truth," and that it does not even imply so much as a hearty persuasion. In this bare belief he was also at pains to specify that the mind of the subject is not active, but passive; for, if the mind were active in the matter of crediting the testimony of Christ, this would be the same as to allow that we are justified by an act of the human mind.
Mr. Sandeman, who invented the phrase "ancient gospel," is likewise believed to be the inventor of the very common Disciple phrase, "the good confession," which several times occurs in the "Letters on Theron and Aspasio" (p. 487). In another part of the same work he gives himself the pains to explain what are the contents of this confession: "There is but one genuine truth that can save men. To illustrate this matter, let it he remembered that the saving truth which the apostles believed was, That Jesus is the Christ. The apostles had one uniform fixed sense to these words; and the whole New Testament is writ to ascertain to us in what sense they understood them" (Letters etc., p. 258.)
Nearly all of these peculiarities come to sight in the theology of the Disciples. Their gospel is commonly denominated "the ancient gospel." In the "Christian Baptist," of which he was the editor, may be found a series of ten different essays from the hand of Mr. Campbell, under that title. The "popular doctrine " and the "popular preachers" are as liberally denounced, and commonly with the same
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cant expressions, in the pages of that periodical, as in any of the writings of the Sandemanians.
Mr. Campbell is also as clear as his teacher was, that the root and substance of religion is found in knowledge, exclusive of approbation: "evidence alone: produces faith, or testimony is all that is necessary to faith." (Christian Baptist, edit. 6, p. 58.) In his "Dialogue between Timothy and Austin," He is believed to come near to the position of Sandeman, that the Spirit never speaks a word to any man besides what he publicly speaks in the Scriptures. Waiter Scott, one of his leading assistants, was also a diligent disciple of Sandeman's. In that character he affirms that "the body of Christ is increased by the belief of the bare truth that Jesus is the Son of God and our Saviour." (Christian Baptist, edit. 6, p. 21.)
The distinction which Mr. Sandeman acquired by means of his labors in the department of Christian doctrine was so great, that in a brief season he began to outshine Mr. Glas, who was the founder of the sect. In England and other countries where his writings were circulated, they produced a somewhat violent controversy, in which the name of Glas was but seldom heard. By degrees, therefore, it befell that the adherents of the fraternity came to be known as Sandemanians almost everywhere outside of the limits of Scotland; and even there the customary designation has come to be Glasites or Sandemanians, a circumstance which allows that the
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impression produced by Sandeman was profound and enduring.
It is not important to the purpose in hand, to lay before the reader any detailed account of the literary opponents who entered the lists against the principles that were advanced by Mr. Sandeman. The names of a few of the most prominent will be sufficient to show that he was not neglected. Mr. John Wesley was among the first to come forward with a brief essay, which he published anonymously as "A Sufficient Answer to the Author of the Letters on Theron and Aspasio." Mr. W. Cudworth, a, Dissenting minister of prominence in London, first entered into a private correspondence with Sandeman (Letters and Discourses of R. Sandeman, p. 37), and afterwards published a couple of volumes against him. The earliest of these, printed in the year 1760, at London, was entitled "A Defence of Theron and Aspasio against the Objections contained in a Late Treatise, entitled Letters on Theron and Aspasio." The next year appeared "The Polyglot, or Hope of Eternal Life according to the Various Sentiments of the Present Day."
In America, the Rev. Joseph Bellamy, D.D., took part in the conflict with a work entitled, "Theron, Paulinus, and Aspasio; or, Letters and Dialogues on the Nature of Love to God, Faith in Christ, and Assurance of a Title to Eternal Life," 1758,1759; as also in the year 1762, with "An Essay on the Nature and Glory of the Gospel; designed as a Supplement to the Letters and Dialogues."
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Mr. Isaac Backus likewise gave attention to the issues involved, in a volume published at Boston in 1767, under the title, "True Faith will Produce Good Works. A Discourse wherein are opened the Nature of Faith, and its Powerful Influence on the Heart and Life: together with the Contrary Nature and Effects of Unbelief: and Answers to Various Objections. To which are prefixed, A Brief View of the Present State of the Protestant World, with some Remarks on the Writings of Mr. Sandeman."
Some years afterwards, Mr. Andrew Fuller of England was drawn into the controversy by means of an attack upon his position, in the second edition of a work by Mr. Archibald M'Lean of Edinburgh, entitled "The Commission of Christ." In this treatise, Mr. M'Lean having set forth some objections to the views of Fuller, the latter replied in an appendix to his book called "The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation." The answer of Mr. M'Lean appeared under the tile of "A Reply to Mr. Fuller's Appendix to his Book on the Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation." This performance on the part of M'Lean subsequently called forth Fuller's "Strictures on Sandemanianism," which is, perhaps, the most satisfactory treatment of the whole subject that has yet been published on either side of the question.
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Carmichael was forthwith assigned to duty in the ranks of the sect to which he had attached his fortunes, and placed in charge of a church in Glasgow. Here it appears that he enjoyed a degree of success; at any rate, he is supposed to have been the means of perverting from his loyalty to Scottish Kirk, Mr. Archibald M'Lean, who entered the fraternity of the Sandemanian Independents in the year 1762 (Memoir of M'Lean, pp. xxii-xxiii).
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The satisfaction of the Sandemanians with their Anti-Burgher convert was of brief duration. The hand of Mr. Glas was found to be very heavy. Upon the occasion of a case of discipline in which Glas interfered (Letters and Discourses, p. 83). Carmichael became disgusted with his situation, and laid down the charge of the Independent Church in Glasgow. (Letters and Discourses, p. 44, note.) Archibald M'Lean, apparently a protege of Carmichael's, also retired from the sect on the same occasion. (Memioir, p. xxiii.)
After this pair of friends had fallen into a condition of separation from the Sandemanians, it was not singular that they should have qualms of conscience touching some of the tenets that were maintained by that fraternity. In this instance criticism was leveled against the doctrine of infant-baptism, which Mr. Glas had retained as a prominent item of the "ancient order of things." (Memoir, p. xxiii.) As a natural consequence, both of them in due season renounced the practice of infant-baptism.
Carmichael speedily removed from Glasgow to Edinburgh, where he seems to have had charge of an Independent Church that had likely seceded from the community over which Mr. Robert Sandeman was then presiding in that city; it is believed to have been composed of people who took the part of Carmichael in the controversy that he had waged with Glas and Sandeman in Glasgow. They were only seven in number, but they invited Carmichael
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from Glasgow to be their pastor. (Memoirs of M'Lean, p. xxiii.)
As he was on the point of setting out for Edinburgh, Mr. M'Lean promised his old pastor that he would compose a letter, in which should be laid down in full his views on the subject of baptism. When this document was completed, it was dated on the 2d of July, 1764. Mr. Carmichael obtained it by due course of mail; but as he was now comfortably established in Edinburgh, over a church that was still in doctrinal agreement with Mr. Sandeman, he was uncertain what might be the result in case he should suddenly profess his conversion to the views of those who opposed infant-baptism. It was more than possible that his adherents would refuse to give attention to his reasons; they might even dismiss him on the spot, and return to the community from which they had but recently taken their leave. Consequently Mr. Carmichael, who is suspected to have been devoid of any thing like stability of character, still persisted in the practice of baptizing infants. (Memoirs of M'Lean, pp. xxiii and xxiv.)
After the lapse of a twelvemonth, however, Carmichael had succeeded in convincing five of his seven parishioners of the unlawfulness, of infant- baptism, and of the propriety of immersion as the act of baptism. Apparently by their vote or consent, he was dispatched to London for the purpose of obtaining immersion at the hands of some of the Baptist miniters
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of England. He was immersed at the baptistery in the Barbican, by Dr. John Gill, on the 9th of October 1765. On his return to Edinburgh, he in his turn immersed the five persons who had consorted with him, and two others; thus laying the foundations of the Sandemanian Church of the immersion observance, who are otherwise designated by the name of "Scotch Baptists." (Memoirs, p. xxiv.) The Sandemanians of the aspersion observance, under the lead of Sandeman and Glas, were in the custom of expressing their disgust against this unwelcome conduct on the part of a portion of their adherents, by denouncing the same as Anabaptists. (Letters and Discourses of Robert Sandeman, Dundee, 1851, p. 48, note.)
After a few weeks, M'Lean drew nigh from Glasgow and caused himself to be immersed. In the month of July 1767, he went to London for the purpose of trying his fortunes as a printer (Memoirs, p. xix); but failing to meet with such a degree of encouragement as he desired, he accepted a position in Edinburgh which brought him into immediate contact with Carmichael and the immersed Sandemanians of that place. He entered Edinburgh in December 1767: in June 1768 he was raised from his station as a private member, to the dignity of fellow elder with Carmichael. (Memoirs, pp. xxiv, xxi, xxv.) Although they were only nine members in the community (Benedict, ed. 2, p. 355), Sandemanian literalism was very strenuous to re-
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quire that they should maintain a plurality of elders.
It was only a brief season before Carmichael found it convenient to quit the immersed Sandemanians, and to return to the Sandemanians of the aspersion observance; in the year 1773, he was presiding over such a church in Edinburgh. (Memoir of Mr. William Braidwood, p. xvii.) It was perhaps the same church which Robert Sandeman left behind when he came to America in the year 1764. (Biography of Sandeman, prefixed to his Discourses, Dundee, 1857, p. xi.) The founder of the so-called "Scotch Baptists" was therefore, one of the first to leave the church which he had established; it is suspected that his convictions were either not very strong or not very sincere. By the defection of Carmichael, Mr. M'Lean was immediately recognized as the undisputed leader of the immersed Sandemanians.
M'Lean had not been long installed in his position at Edinburgh before his mind was persuaded that it would be a feasible enterprise to make some improvement upon "the ancient gospel" as invented by the philosophy of Mr. Sandeman. The latter gentleman appeared to consider that he was set to oppose every prominent tenet that had come to be advocated by the Seceders or by others, who, within the limits of Scotland or elsewhere, had in any way been influenced by the progress of the Wesleyan revival. While the Westminster Confession had inculcated the doctrine of assurance of faith, it had been studious to
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avoid including that grace in the contents of saving faith. On the contrary, it expressly provides (chap. xviii. sec. 3) that "this infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it; yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto."
The Seceders and many others, including some of the more zealous pastors within the Established Church, had now begun to reckon a fixed assurance of one's personal acceptance as belonging among the invariable elements of saving faith. Sandeman naturally took umbrage against this innovation on the part of the "popular preachers;" and, in keeping with his character and position, he was soon found at the opposite extreme, not only denying that assurance is of the essence of saving faith, but also affirming that the Christian could never attain to any better estate in this world than an assurance of the possibility of his personal salvation. He understands the "ancient gospel" to be that "divine truth which affords hope to the vilest transgressor, that he may be justified, that he may escape the curse." (Letter on Theron and Aspasio, N.Y., 1838, p. 290; cf. M'Lean's Commission of Jesus Christ, Edinburgh, 1786, p. 96, footnote.) Sandeman likewise adds (p. 295) that "the simple belief of the gospel" (which, according to him,
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is all that faith implies or embraces) "leaves a man, even in the full assurance of faith, or when the truth is most present to his thoughts, entirely at the mercy of God for salvation, and leads him to the greatest reverence for, and submission to, the Divine sovereignty, without having any claim upon God whatsoever, or finding any reason why God should regard him more than those who perish."
Mr. M'Lean was not well content with this comfortless view of his master's. Accordingly, in the work on the "Commission of Jesus Christ," already mentioned, while he continues to accept Sandeman's conceit; about the nature of evangelical faith (p. 80), he demurs to the conclusion that "the bare belief of the bare truth" will do nothing more than Sandeman affirmed for the benefit of the individual subject, and assumes the ground that this bare belief is just as capable of conveying the immediate assurance of salvation as was the saving faith advocated by the most ardent Seceder. (Commission, as above pp. 90-98.)
The hyper-Calvinist opinions of Sandeman likewise no longer acceptable to M'Lean, seeing that they were employed not as ordinarily to confirm the assurance of the faithful, but on tho contrary to prevent them from cherishing any stronger faith than that which affirms a possibility that the most devout and correct of them may be justified. That was, indeed a distressing prospect which others besides M'Lean -- persons who stood much nearer to master -- were pained to accept.
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From considerations of this kind the leader of the immersed wing of the Sandemanian fraternity appears to have conceived a certain distaste for the extreme views regarding the Calvinistic system of truth, which prevailed in the opposing camp. He was, therefore, able to content himself with a somewhat moderate position in relation to questions of that nature.
Professing to hold in good esteem the bare belief by means of which Sandeman had relegated the origin of personal religion to the sphere of the intellect, excluding any right operations of the emotions or of the will, he was nevertheless, as a matter of fact, unable to obtain a very high degree of confidence in the efficacy of an agent that was so attenuated. The assurance which this mere belief might be competent to bestow was cried up, indeed, as the best article in that line which was then offered to the favor of the "professing world" but flaming commendations of this kind had long since become familiar, and they were generally estimated at their proper value.
In order, therefore, to improve his emasculated faith, -- "to make assurance double sure, and take a bond of fate"-- M'Lean resolved to provide this mere intellectual exercise with a buttress that was designed to support its weakness and secure its existence. This buttress consisted of an addition to the design of baptism, which necessarily had escaped the attention of the party which continued in the practice of infant-baptism. What mere belief could
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not do, in that it was weak, it was hoped might be performed by the immersion of believers in water. Accordingly Mr. M'Lean advances the peculiar theory of baptism for the remission of sins. (Commission of Jesus Christ, Edinburgh, 1786, pp. 129-137). Baptism was clearly asserted to be necessary to salvation (pp. 131-132); not in the way of baptismal regeneration, however, but in the way of effecting the remission of sins after the act of mere belief.
Another feature of Mr. M'Lean's teaching on the subject of baptism is found in the fact that he insisted that it should be performed, not "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," as (is) the custom of the balance of the Christian world, but on the contrary "into the name, etc." (Commission, as above, pp. 110-114). He likewise maintains (in) the same connection (p. 113), that "the Holy Spirit was not given, in a way peculiar to the gospel dispensation, during John's baptism, nor till Christ was glorified."
Each of the peculiarities above described has been reproduced by the Disciples (or Campbellites) in America. 'They reject infant-baptism; they practice immersion exclusively for baptism; they hold to the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins; urged the very same passages of Scripture, and in the same way, as Archibald M'Lean, in support of that (notion) they insist upon the propriety of baptizing "into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;" and (they) declare that the kingdom of heaven was not completely
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set up until the Day of Pentecost. If the above were not matters of common fame, it would be in order to produce citations from their literature in each case; but, as nobody will think or care to call in question the fact that these things are now customary in the ranks of the Disciples, it may not be necessary to bring forward any such special proofs of the statements here advanced.
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On the 6th of May 1797, nearly two and twenty years after the establishment of the first society of "Scotch Baptists" or immersed Sandemanians, the tongue of James Alexander Haldane was loosed. he delivered his maiden discourse to a company of colliers at the village of Gilmerton, in the vicinity of Edinburgh. His social position, combined with his previous experience of life, and his remarkable
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abilities ill the line of popular preaching, imparted a high degree of interest and importance to this event. (Memoirs of Robert and James Alexander Haldane, by Alexander Haldane, Esq., New York, 1853, pp. 140-141.)
James Alexander Haldane followed the sea in his earlier years, where he had attained the dignity of captain in the merchant marine, and only a short while previously had resigned command of the ship, "Melville Castle," that was engaged in the East-India service. (Memoirs, as above, p. 74.) After his introduction to the work of lay-preaching at Gilmerton, Mr. Haldane was suited with an unwonted degree of religious fervor and pious solicitude. A little more than two months from that date, on the 12th of July, he set forward on a missionary journey to the Highlands of Scotland, which was rewarded with so large a share of encouragement and success, that, before it was concluded on the 7th of November 1797, his name and his enterprise were the occasion of general remark.
Events now fell out with much rapidity in the progress of the revival. Instead of remaining quietly in the bosom of the Kirk, where was ample room for them, and many gave their sympathy, the Haldane brothers were soon taking steps which looked in the direction of a secession from that institution. On the 11th of January, 1798, was formed by them and such of their friends as would allow their names to be used in that relation, a "Society for Propagating the
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Gospel at Home." (Memoirs, pp. 178-179.) A single year was space enough, after this step had been performed, for the movement to develop into a church organization. In January 1799, the first Haldane society was constituted at Edinburgh, and on the 3d of February they publicly ordained James A. Haldane to be their pastor, (Memoirs, p. 217.)
The public are familiar with the marvels that were accomplished by the promoters of this enterprise in the period between the years 1797 and 1808, as likewise with the lamentable declension which then set in and almost in a day destroyed its usefulness and promise.
The causes of that unhappy catastrophe are pretty clearly suggested in the biography of the Haldanes already cited; by the aid of the light which is there supplied, it is possible to trace the operation of these causes from stage to stage in the downward course At the very beginning of the undertaking, James A Haldane chanced to be on an intimate footing with a certain Dr. Charles Stuart of Dunearn (Memoirs, p. 140). This gentleman was likewise of noble blood, of excellent learning, many attractive social qualities, and of the queerest kind of a head. He had begun life as a minister in the Established Kirk. After his accession to the parish of Cramond, near Edinburgh, he was united in marriage to a daughter of the venerable John Erskine, the leader of the evangelical wing in that in that institution (Memoirs, pp. 125-126); but he was not appointed to pursue his
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career in peace and usefulness. The biographer of the Haldanes (p. 141) declares that "in his thirst for general information and the society of good men, Mr. Stuart had gone from the Divinity Hall in Edinburgh, to some of the Dissenting Academies in London, and there imbibed notions unfavorable to the union between Church and State." Whatever may be the fact regarding his visits to London, the notions which he entertained and propagated on that topic were to be had much nearer home; they were the leading article of the Independents, or Sandemanians, and might be read any day in the "Testimony of the King of Martyrs," the principal work of Mr. John Glas It was published in Edinburgh, just under the nose of Mr. Stuart, and was kept on sale in most of the booksellers' shops of the country.
More than this, Dr. Stuart had acquired convictions against the propriety of the practice of infant-baptism and against the mode of baptism by aspersion; and at the moment when he conceived his perhaps interested admiration for James A. Haldane, he was duly numbered in the lists of the "Scotch Baptists," or Sandemanians of the immersion observance (Memoirs, pp. 141,338,511-512); and was a member of Archibald M'Lean's Church (Memoirs of William Braidwood, p. 36,note).
When James A. Haldane preached his first sermon in the evening of the 6th of May 1787, this ardent and excellent "Scotch Baptist" was present to
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applaud the effort. He seems almost upon the spot to have conceived the ambition to make a proselyte of his friend. He declared that to see him a Baptist would be the consummation of his earthly felicity. He "took much pains to inculcate Baptist views upon Haldane; attended his ministry; listened to his preaching with rapt admiration, and called on him two or three times every week to discuss the topics which were delivered from the pulpit." No art or blandishment of the determined and skillful proselytizer was neglected. It is with justice that the biographer admits (p. 141), "There is no doubt that Dr. Stuart's influence on Mr. James Haldane was considerable, as it was also on several other eminent men." In sad truth this excellent, wrong-headed gentleman was the evil genius of the Haldanes and of their cause. Had they at the outset possessed a sufficient amount of insight and foresight to have bestowed upon him a firm and enduring repulse, they might have escaped the shipwreck which shortly stranded themselves and their movement on the shallows of Sandemanian literalism.
We are given to understand that there were '"several other eminent men" over whom Dr. Stuart exerted a degree of injurious influence. Notable among these was Mr. Greville Ewing, one of the leading co-adjutors of the Haldanes. Already before the year 1795 there were possibly some relations of intimacy between Stuart and Ewing, for in that year we find the latter advocating the practice of "mutual
[ 063 ]
exhortation" from the pulpit of Lady Glenorchy's chapel in Edinburgh, where he was assistant to the Rev. Dr. Jones. (Facts and Documents respecting the Connections which have subsisted between Robert Haldane, Esq., and Greville Ewing. By Greville Ewing. Glasgow, 1809, pp,127,128, note.) Mr. Ewing likewise declares elsewhere in the same work (p. 8), that the origin of his dissatisfaction with the Church of Scotland, of which he was a minister, was the exercise of a power by church courts over ministers and congregations, which restrained the former from preaching wherever they had an opportunity, and the latter from adopting any plan for mutual edification and comfort," -- a kind of scruple which, in the latter instance, has a decided odor of Dr. Stuart and the Sandemanians.
In the year 1796, a twelvemonth before the project of the Haldanes was mooted, the celebrated; "Missionary Magazine" was commenced "under the auspices of Dr. Stuart, with Mr. Ewing as editor." (Memoirs, p. 141) A connection of this kind, in which an active and prominent minister of the Kirk allowed himself to become, in a certain sort, the spokesman, if not the creature, of a leading character among the "Scotch Baptists," could not fail to excite remark and to give offense. It was, therefore, in no way singular that Mr. Ewing's position in the Establishment should every day become more untenable. (Memoirs, p. 179.) In the progress of time and instruction, his conversion to the practices and tenets
of the immersed Sandemanians might have become as complete and extensive as that of the brothers Haldane subsequently was, if the relation with Stuart had not been early broken off by changes which will be mentioned in their place farther on. The "Missionary Magazine" was not infrequently supplied with articles which suggested that the editor was making fair advances in the doctrines of the proprietor, (Memoirs, p. 214.)
When it is brought to mind that this same "Missionary Magazine" "under the auspices of Dr. Stuart," and whose editor was, after a fashion, his disciple, became from the became from the beginning the official organ of the Haldanean enterprise, it will be apparent how large a hold the immersed wing of the Sandemanian sect had acquired upon the fortunes and the future of a promising cause. T some minds it may seem a fair conclusion that it was never possible for the new church to have attained permanent success. Too many elements which could signify no other fate than early disaster, were present at its inception. None of the least of these may be perceived in the circumstance that when, in the month of December 1798, the project of founding a church was broached, Mr. Ewing, "as being most familiar with, such matters, was requested to draw up a plan for its government" (Memoirs, p. 214.)
For a season after the inauguration of the earliest church, in January 1799, the best wishes of the Haldanes were fulfilled; but it was a sadly brief season.
[ 065 ]
The storms which they had not the wisdom and experience to forecast speedily began to gather about their heads. As soon as Mr. Ewing had seceded from the Church of Scotland, he placed himself at the service of Robert Haldane to be employed in forwarding the plans that gentleman had in mind. Mr. Haldane had made arrangements to send a class of students to Gosport, England, where they might, remain for a time under the care of the well-known Dr. Bogue, as a means of preparing them for the work of the ministry. But it was given to Mr. Ewing to persuade his friend that it would be wiser to commit these students to his own care, since there were somewhat decided objections against Dr. Bogue in Scotland, and perhaps elsewhere, on the score of his liberal politics. On the 2d of January 1799, Greville Ewing opened his seminary of theology in Edinburgh. The number of pupils at first was twenty-four, derived from various denominations, except the Congregationalists or Sandemanians; but before the course was ended one of their number affirms that they all found themselves decided and intelligent Congregationalists. (Memoirs, p. 228.) This was a marked degree of success. Few men are to be found who had a surer command of the arts of proselytizing than Mr. Ewing.
Yet there were reasons why Robert Haldane should not be highly elated by the triumphs of his subordinate. Mr. Ewing was much addicted to the writings of Glas and Sandeman; but at this particular
[ 066 ]
period of his career Mr. Haldane was less favorably inclined towards those theologians than he subsequently came to be, through the unhappy influence of Mr. Stuart upon the mind of James A. Haldane. Accordingly, when Ewing put the books that have been referred to in the hands of the students (Facts and Documents, as above, p. 79, cf. p. 82), Mr. Haldane considered he was entitled to interpose, which step he took immediately, while Ewing and the students were still in the city of Edinburgh (Facts and Documents, pp. 131,135.)This must have been the beginning of the troubles which for so many years wasted the strength and spirits of the two men, and ultimately brought calamities on the cause they had engaged to promote.
When his attention was first directed to the danger that existed in Edinburgh, Robert Haldane assumed a wise position. If he had but pressed forward vigorously in the sentiments which he then entertained, he might have rescued his interests from ruin. He was opposed even to the notions of Church order inculcated by Glas and Sandeman, as well as to their "ancient gospel" (Facts and Documents, pp. 134-135); but on this side of the subject his sentiments later underwent an unhappy modification (Facts and Documents, p. 81), and he embraced with decision, and in some cases with passion, a great many items of the desolating scheme of the Sandemanians.
There was a curious play of cross purposes in this
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business. After the unpleasantness which occurred at Edinburgh, Mr. Ewing seemed to consider it the main concern of his existence to find a place in every question which should be on the opposite side from that which Robert Haldane was led to assume. Therefore, at the moment when Haldane in his turn began to dabble considerably in the "ancient order of things" Ewing was beginning to insist on occupying the old ground. Yet, notwithstanding all the counsel which he had brought himself to accept from Glas and Sandeman in the details of Church order, Robert Haldane could never prevail upon himself to receive as true what they had inculcated regarding the nature of saving faith. Observing this peculiarity, Ewing, always in the opposition, became more and more attached to the Sandemanian notion that faith is nothing else than bare belief.
According to the legally formulated terms of an arrangement that had been fixed upon already before he was given charge of the students, Ewing removed to Glasgow at Whitsunday 1799, to take the pastoral oversight of a church which he was expected to organize in the Circus, a large building there which Robert Haldane had recently purchased for three thousand pounds, and fitted up for the purpose of religious worship. The seminary was also removed with him. Confidence between the two men being now to a large extent destroyed, it was the earnest desire of Ewing to become entirely independent of Mr. Haldane (Facts and Documents, p. 24), by
[ 068 ]
securing the Circus building for himself and for those people who should join his society. He hoped to effect this purpose by inducing Haldane to make over the house to his people in the way of a gift: but the latter was not in the least disposed to accede to that proposal. Ewing persisted for a number of years, always becoming more and more embittered and unreasonable, until at last both parties appeared before the public in volumes of abusive charges directed against each other. But the difference is believed to have started from nothing else than a contrariety of opinions regarding the merits of the Sandemanians. Except for this issue the two might have passed their whole lives without a word of conflict.
Not in the least willing to respect the wishes of Haldane, Mr. Ewing, after his removal to the West, still kept the writings of Glas and Sandeman prominently before his students. Robert Haldane was much chafed by that usage. When James A. Haldane went to Dumfries in the summer of the year 1801, being now at a distance from Edinburgh and from his brother, he wrote Ewing a letter which had possibly been suggested before he left home, warning him against the retention of these books in the seminary, and complaining of his enthusiastic manner of speaking of those frigid and bitter theologians (Memoirs, pp. 321-322). This resource which was perhaps immediately suspected, did not in the least avail: Ewing kept on his way. At last
[ 069 ]
In the year 1802, hopeless of his ability to reduce him to terms by any other means, Robert Haldane incontinently removed the seminary from Glasgow back to Edinburgh and placed it in other hands. (Memoirs, pp. 299-300.) When the institution was opened in the latter place, Mr. Haldane not only forbade the books of Glas and Sandeman in the library, but laid upon the students an express prohibition against reading them anywhere else. (Facts and Documents, p. 82.)
But the time was far past for such precautions. Sandemanian principles were already too deeply established in the minds of his people, to admit of their successful eviction by that or by any other method. Dr. Stuart, especially, was whispering them into the ear of James A. Haldane in two or three private interviews every week; and Robert Haldane himself appears after a few years, through the influence of his brother, to perform the role of an exceedingly tenacious stickler for some of the most fantastic features of the "ancient order of things." (Facts and Documents, pp. 93-95; Memoirs, pp. 322-327.) In this regard he outstripped Mr. Ewing by many degrees and sometimes sorely harassed the consciences of his adherents; but in regard to the nature of faith, Ewing was much in the lead of both the brothers.
When, in the summer of the year 1800, Mr. Ewing at length, on the occasion of a temporary truce with Haldane (Facts and Documents, pp. 58-64), got the
[ 070 ]
consent of his mind to organize a church among the people who attended upon his ministry at Glasgow he issued a handbill for the instruction of his congregation and of the public, entitled "Regulations of the Church, Jamaica Street," in which were included two items of the "ancient order;" namely, the mutual exhortation of the members of the Church, and the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper. With regard to the former of these, however, the document seems to indicate that it was to be held not on Sunday, but upon some other day of the week. It is also strict to insist upon what must have been a highly necessary provision: "that no personal remarks or injurious reports respecting character were to be allowed in the Church." (Facts and Documents, pp. 65-65.)
The custom of "mutual exhortation," the absence of which from the Scottish Kirk had given him an amount of uneasiness, had likewise been duly introduced by Mr. Ewing into the constitution of the Edinburgh society in December 1798. (Address by James A, Haldane to the Church of Christ, Leith Walk, Edinburgh, Edinburgh 1808, p. 11. This address is bound up at the back of Mr. Haldane's volume entitled "A View of the Social Worship and Ordinances of the First Christians," Edinburgh, 1806.) But the Church in Edinburgh gave no practical heed to that portion of their ecclesiastical chart until a later period, when the practice was inaugurated with a degree of success that was disgusting
[ 071 ]
even to such a stanch advocate of "primitive Christianity" as Dr. Stuart himself. (Memoirs, p. 340.) On the other hand, the custom of weekly communion was not introduced by Mr. Ewing, at the outset, into the constitution which he had drawn up for the use of the Edinburgh society, since it was for several years the habit of that body to celebrate the Lord's Supper only once in the month. (Facts and Documents, p. 129.) When, however, the improved example of the Glasgow Church became known to the disciples in Edinburgh, they likewise soon began to break the loaf every Sunday.
But the Haldanes were not prepared to stop at this point. James Haldane, being constantly in receipt of new light from Dr. Stuart and other Sandemanian sources, could not abide that his brilliancy should be concealed under a bushel. Accordingly, in the year 1805, he sent forth the first edition of his "View of the Social Worship and Ordinances," the second edition of which has just been cited above. There it is evident that he had made decided progress in the lore of the Sandemanians. Their dialect is in very fine flow upon his pen. He stands forth like a man for the "express precept or approved precedent," about which Thomas Campbell was to speak with so much pathos a few years later in the wilds of Pennsylvania. There should be no creed nor confession of faith but the Scriptures. Here was the first distinct demand for a presbytery with a plurality of elders, that had been openly uttered
[ 072 ]
in the Haldanean connection. The collection that was always customary at the Lord's Supper now became designated as "the fellowship," after the best approved Sandemanian fashion.
But what gave Mr. Ewing particular offense was the circumstance that "mutual exhortation," which he had confined to Wednesday evening, was raised by Haldane to the dignity of a divine ordinance, and assigned to a place among the regular Sunday observances of the congregation. Thereupon he began to draw back, and went so far the other way, that, in the end, he was seriously accused of entirely deserting his darling innovation. (Facts and Documents, pp. 126-129.) Matters finally got to such a pass that apparently almost the only principle upon which the two parties were heartily at one (united) related to the rejection of creeds. Though they were daily pleading for a union on the Bible, by some kind of means they were daily receding farther from each other, while each faction was accusing the other of a passion for change.
Unhappily for all concerned Robert Haldane was too much impressed by a sense of the correctness and importance of the Sandemanian notions that had been propounded in his brother's recent publication. James had not expected or desired to produce any immediate results beyond "inciting his brethren in Christ to study the Scriptures on this and every other subject, and to appeal only to the law and to the testimony." (Preface. p. vii.) But shortly after the
[ 073 ]
book left the press in June 1805, Robert Haldane and Mr. Ballantyne were on a visit to England; and, stopping on their way at Newcastle, they remained for some time practicing the views of social worship that were developed in it. Memoirs, p. 324.) Their conduct in this regard gave much offense, (Memoirs, p. 327.) Ballantyne and Haldane, while not excluding those who were not of their own party, publicly exhorted one another in the forenoons, and mutually dispensed the Lord's Supper, without directing their remarks in the least to the audience who had assembled for worship, while in the afternoons and evenings they preached to the multitudes as usual. (Facts and Documents, p. 248.)
No person was bold enough to express the dissatisfaction which many felt against the conduct of the Haldanes, until the year 1807, when Ballantyne issued a "Treatise on the Elder's Office," in which the position of James Haldane and the Sandemanians was duly enforced regarding the necessity of a plurality of these functionaries to the existence of a gospel Church. There is rarely any thing sadder to witness than the spectacle of Robert Haldane, unquestionably a splendid mind and spirit, leading the way in the puerile figures of the dance which John Glas had instructed his own followers. Mr. Haldane became, in an offensive sense, responsible for the work of Ballantyne (Facts and Documents, pp. 97-98), doing every thing that lay in his power to give it countenance and circulation.
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In answer to the challenge which he conceived had by this means been laid upon his own wing of the party, Mr. Ewing forthwith prepared and published an "Attempt towards a Statement of the Doctrine of Scripture on some disputed points respecting the Constitution, Government, Worship, and Discipline of the Church of Christ," Glasgow 1808. The breach between the factions was now first made public: it had long been incurable. The party of Ewing, which perhaps, was numerically the smaller, became henceforth practically isolated; but their sentiments on the subjects of faith, infant-baptism, the mode of baptism, the duty of weekly communion and of mutual exhortation, placed them in closer sympathy and relations with the Sandemanians of the aspersion observance. On the other hand, the Haldanes were now become, in a measure, reckless. In order that the Edinburgh Church might conform to the apostolic model in the matter of a plurality of elders, Robert was speedily ordained to occupy a place by the side of James Alexander in that function. (Memoirs, p. 341).
Possibly it was not without reference to the circumstance that Mr. Ewing was leaning far to the side of the Sandemanian Independents, that James Haldane now began to turn towards the "Scotch Baptists." The patient labors of Charles Stuart were about to be crowned with success. This consummation was promoted by the action of Mr. John Campbell, a beloved associate of the Haldanes, who
[ 075 ]
had gone over to the "Scotch Baptist" fraternity as early as the year 1803, since which time he had been pastor of a church at Kingsland, near London. (Memoirs, p. 297.) In a letter to this gentleman under date of Feb. 19, 1808, Haldane expresses strong scruples regarding the propriety of infant-baptism. (Memoirs, p. 325.) The 21st of April, 1808, was the date of another communication which announced that he had been immersed. (Memoirs, p. 325.) In a few months Robert also followed his brother in these changes.
This action did not result in any kind of organic union between the Haldaneans and the party that was led by Mr. Archibald M'Lean, but it was not many weeks until it had produced a hopeless disruption of the Edinburgh Church and of the entire Haldanean body. The enterprise which started forth with so much promise was brought to hopeless desolation. There has been scarcely anywhere in modern Church history a more lame and impotent conclusion.
The Sandemanians had ruined the cause and Church of the Haldanes.
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Alexander Campbell was born near Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, on the 12th of September, 1788. (Memoirs, as above, vol. i. p. 19.) His father, Thomas Campbell was a Seceder minister of The Anti-Burgher branch (vol. i. p. 25), and lived in
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quite humble circumstances. After suffering the ills of a probationer's existence for about ten years, his patience was at length rewarded by the pastoral charge of a new church at Ahorey, near Armagh (vol. i. pp. 29-30). With the hope of eking out an insufficient salary, the young pastor took a farm near the village of Rich Hill, where he fixed his residence (vol. i. p. 30). The farm proving a failure, he went back to his early occupation of teaching school (vol. i. p. 47), removing for this purpose into the village. As his family increased in number, the individual advantages of the several children were in a corresponding degree curtailed. Alexander got what education he might at hap-hazard (vol. i. pp. 31-35,48); but for several years, owing to the loss of most of his studious inclinations, his powers went to waste. At length his attention was directed to the importance of cultivation, and he set about the business of self-education (vol. i. p. 76), but with no unusual amount of success. Most of the time was passed in the capacity of an assistant in his father's school at Rich Hill, or in the performance of similar labors at the school of one of his uncles at Newry (vol. i. p. 88).
The circumstances of the family became at length so much straitened that they began to turn their eyes to the United States for "deliverance" (vol. i. pp. 80-81,86). The father preceded the balance of the household, setting sail from Londonderry on the 8th of April, 1807 (vol. i. p. 81). In the course of time
[ 078 ]
he was enabled to provide means for their passage; and they took ship to follow him on the 1st of October, 1808 (vol. i. p. 95). The funds for this purpose were likely procured by means of public contributions obtained from the different Presbyterian Churches of Western Pennsylvania. (Debate upon Campbellism, between Alexander Campbell and Obediah Jennings, Pittsburgh 1832, pp. 246-247; compare Richardson, vol. i. pp. 306-307.)
Six days after their embarkation, the family were wrecked on the island of Islay on the coast of Scotland. Mrs. Campbell, his mother, being unwilling to intrust herself to the hazards of an ocean voyage in the winter season of the year, and Alexander being naturally desirous to repair in some measure the defects of his early education, it was arranged that they should pass the time until the approaching spring should open upon them, at Glasgow, where he might employ his leisure in attending the university. Meanwhile Thomas Campbell was actively engaged at his home in Washington County, Penn., in trying to relieve their distresses, and, in due time, to procure their transfer to the country of his adoption.
Already in their home at Rich Hill, Ireland, they had become familiar with the Scottish Independents. A somewhat flourishing Church of the Glasites, or Sandemanians of the aspersion observance existed there (vol. i. pp. 60,82). Professor Richardson admits (vol. i. p. 59) that "the Independents exerted a most important influence upon the religious views
[ 079 ]
of both Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander; but this influence did not become apparent during the period of their residence at Rich Hill. The former, it is true, had much pleasure in attending the religious services of the Sandemanian Church; but he was all the while in the full odor of Seceder orthodoxy, and it is not likely that he would ever have forsaken his own people but for the somewhat extraordinary experiences that he was now called to encounter. Even the membership he held in the Haldane "Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home" (vol. i. p. 73) does not necessarily signify any lack of devotion to his lifelong connections in the Presbyterian body. Many persons in various portions of the country had yielded to the eloquent and impassioned solicitations of James A. Haldane so far as to permit themselves to be enrolled in that organization, who had no thought or wish to be known as followers of the Haldanes.
The only perceptible influence exerted by the Sandemanians of Rich Hill upon the Presbyterian pastor of the place may be observed in the fact that he is reported to have made an overture either before the Presbytery of Market Hill or the Synod of Ireland, "in favor of a more frequent celebration of the Lord's Supper" (vol. i. p. 69); but it is not stated that he was bold enough to advocate a weekly observance. For the rest, he must have been at this time almost unaffected by the ordinary Sandemanian considerations in favor of the "mutual exhortation" of
[ 080 ]
church-members, or of the various other preposterous imitations of Christ that were peculiar to the people in question. In brief, Alexander is believed to have been the leader in the unhappy progress that was later made by both father and son in the direction of the Independents.
When they were wrecked on the island of Islay, one of the most influential persons with whom Alexander became acquainted was Mr. George Fulton, who, in addition to his duties as pedagogue for the community, also stood at the head of a Sunday school, -- probably one of those which James A. Haldane and his co-laborer John Campbell had established during their famous visit to Greenock and other communities in the West of Scotland for that purpose, in the year 1797 (vol. i. p. 159). He was at pains to visit the Sunday school of Mr. Fulton (vol. i. p. 10S), -- an act which must have won the favorable regards of that excellent person, for, when Alexander left the place for his sojourn in Glasgow, he was the bearer of a letter of introduction from Fulton to Mr. Greville Ewing (vol. i. p. 114).
His arrival in Glasgow occurred on the afternoon of the 3d of November 1808. Although he had been thoughtful enough to procure letters of introduction to several persons in the city (vol. i. pp. 114-115), it somehow befell that the letter to Mr. Ewing was the first which he was minded to present (vol. i. p. 128). It secured him a night's lodging and perhaps a large amount of well-deserved sympathy.
[ 081 ]
The next morning, having been informed that he was of the Seceder persuasion, Mr. Ewing gave him a note to the Rev. John Mitchel (vol. i. p. 128), who, it is believed, was one of the two ministers of that order in Glasgow, Mr. Moutre being the other. (Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell, by Alexander Campbell, of Bethany, Va., Cincinnati 1861, p. 117.) Mr. Mitchel was attentive enough to render him some degree of assistance in finding lodgings, perhaps in the house of one of his Seceder parishioners. (Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, vol. i. p. 128.)
But by some means Alexander seems to have already acquired a kind of distaste for the Seceders. The lodging which Mr. Mitchell had procured for the family was speedily concluded to be incommodious, and must needs be replaced by another of Mr. Ewing's selection, which was likely in the home of one of the members of his own church (vol. i. p. 130). This may appear to be a trivial circumstance; but when we are reminded what an important effect the influence of Ewing produced upon the fortunes of the Campbell family, no transaction that fell out between them can wisely be overlooked. From this time Mr. Ewing was the chief counselor of the household, and his praises were on the tongue of every member of it (vol. i. pp. 148-149).
He was always ready to employ his good offices in their service. Through his courtesy Alexander was carried about and introduced to each of the professors of the university (vol. i. p. 180). It was
[ 082 ]
likewise, perhaps, by his assistance, that Alexander was enabled to make up those classes in the rudimentary branches which he taught in private for the purpose of improving the narrow finances of the family (vol. i. p. 138), and by means of which it must have been rendered nearly impossible that he should make any solid progress in his own studies; a serious misfortune in view of the fact, that, by reason of the sad necessities of the situation, his early education had been left incomplete, At every point the toils of the excellent and plausible Ewing encircled the ingenuous and inexperienced boy. He was frequently invited to the house of Ewing: in order to take dinner or tea (vol. i. p. 149); before the winter was past, the disciple of Glas found himself on a decidedly intimate footing with the son of the Irish Seceder pastor (vol. i. pp. 148-149). Alexander had obtained a great impression of the learning and piety of his new friend (vol. i. p. 187), and was soon as pliable under Ewing's manipulations as clay in the hands of the potter. Professor Richardson truly says (vol. i. p,148), that his "stay at Glasgow was destined to work an entire change in the views and feelings of Alexander in respect to the existing denominations, and to disengage his sympathies entirely from the Seceder denomination, and every other form of Presbyterianism." He is likewise correct in the admission that "the change seems to have been occasioned chiefly through his intimacy with Greville Ewing."
Moreover, Ewing was esteemed " a very fine lecturer,
[ 083 ]
and very popular both as a man and as a preacher, as was also Mr. Wardlaw, who frequently officiated": With Mr. Moutre, the pastor of the Seceder Church: where his mother and the family attended worship, Alexander would naturally have small sympathy; and before the close of the winter his private note-books exhibited various evidences of his impatience (vol. i. p. 187).
It is not necessary to set down in further detail the features of this old and vulgar story, which has been enacted a thousand times before and since in many parts of the earth. It will be sufficient to call attention to the conclusion of it as recorded by the biographer of Mr. Campbell. Professor Richardson relates, that Alexander "became gradually more and more favorable to the principles of Congregationalism entertained by Mr. Ewing, which secured an entire emancipation from the control of domineering Synods and General Assemblies, and which seemed to him much more accordant with primitive usage. At the same time, he did not feel himself at liberty rashly to abandon the cherished religious sentiments of his youth,, and the Seceder Church to which his father and the family belonged, and in which he thought it his duty to be a regular communicant.
He was in this unsettled state of mind as the semi-annual communion season of the Seceders approached, and his doubts in regard to the character of such religious establishments occasioned him no little anxiety of mind concerning the proper course
[ 084 ]
for him to pursue. His conscientious misgivings as to the propriety of sanctioning any longer, by participation, a religious system which he disapproved; and, on the other bend, his sincere desire to comply with all his religious obligations, -- created a serious conflict in his mind, from which he found it impossible to escape. At the time of preparation, however, he concluded that he would be in the way of his duty, at least, and that he would go to the elders and get a metallic token, which every one who wished to communicate had to obtain, and that he would use it or not, afterwards as was sometimes done. The elders asked for his credentials as a member of the Secession Church; and be informed them that his membership was in the Church in Ireland, and that he had no letter. They replied that in that case it would he necessary for him to appear before the Session and to he examined. He accordingly appeared before them and, being examined, received the token. The hour at which the Lord's Supper was to take place found him still undecided; and, as there were about eight hundred communicants, and some eight or nine tables to be served in succession, he concluded to wait until the last table, in hopes of being able to overcome his scruples. Failing in this however, and unable any longer to recognize the Seceder Church as the Church of Christ he threw his token upon the plate handed round, and when the elements were placed along the table, declined to partake with the rest.
[ 085 ]
It was at this moment that the struggle in his mind was completed; and the ring of the token falling upon the plate, announced the instant at which he renounced Presbyterianism forever, -- the leaden voucher becoming thus a token, not of communion, but of separation." (Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, vol. i. pp. 189-190.)
In brief words, the conquest of Greville Ewing and of his particular type of Sandemanianism was then first firmly established. Though he had entered Scotland comparatively innocent of these vagaries, Alexander turned away from the country at the end of three hundred days (vol. i. p. 194), in a state of more or less abject slavery to them. With this view his own statement, made some years later in the pages of the paper which he edited in Virginia, is in agreement, where in speaking of the confirmed disgust he felt against the "popular schemes" he adds, "which I confess I principally imbibed when a student at the University of Glasgow." (C.B., edit. 6, p. 72.)
Let the fact be likewise considered, that Alexander entered Glasgow on the 3d of November, 1808, which left a period of not quite seven full months since the time when James A. Haldane had given such dire offense to Ewing and Wardlaw and the men of that faction, by submitting to the rite of immersion without waiting for their initiative. The circles in which he was received were by consequence very full of opposition to the course of the Haldanes in drawing near to the immersed wing of
[ 086 ]
the Sandemanian fraternity. It is likely that Mr. Ewing and the church over which he presided had already taken the remarkable step by which they "refused to have visible communion with those who adhered to the Haldanes" (vol. i. p. 181). Alexander was, therefore, in no situation to hear the Haldane side of the controversy, and in no state of mind to do the Haldanes justice in case he had been permitted to hear it.
Accordingly it is perfectly natural that he should be inclined to favor the cause of the Sandemanians of the aspersion observance; and there is no good reason why Professor Richardson should find it somewhat singular, that during his residence in Glasgow none of the questions connected with infant-baptism and immersion engaged Mr. Campbell's attention in the least (vol. i. pp. 186-187). Ewing and his co-adjutor Wardlaw were both of them at the moment vehemently exercising themselves in opposition to immersion and to the baptism of adults only (vol. i. p. 187). Alexander could have heard scarcely any thing else than arguments in favor of infant-baptism and aspersion, at such times as he was admitted to a place at their tables. These disquisitions would naturally fall in with his previous convictions regarding those topics. He had not yet enjoyed an occasion to become intimately acquainted with the immersion wing of the Sandemanian body,
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Professor Richardson has, unhappily, left in a state of incompleteness that portion of his volumes which relates to the perversion to Sandemanian views of Thomas Campbell, the father of Alexander. It is very natural that he should be inclined to do as much honor as possible to the father of his hero; but in accomplishing this purpose he is suspected to have been, in some degree, unfaithful to the facts of history.
His readers must present their acknowledgments to the excellent author for the care he has often exhibited in permitting his characters to address the public in their own persons. Alexander Campbell seems to have been one of that kind of men who rarely ever lose a letter, whether the same were received or sent by him. Much of his early epistolary correspondence was strictly copied down in notebooks that he kept for the purpose of preserving documents that were of any sort of interest. A liberal share of the letters which passed between himself and his father, Thomas Campbell, have been reproduced
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in the pages of the biographer; but, singularly enough, not one of those is published which belongs to the time of Alexander's sojourn in Glasgow. This fact is to be regretted, since, if it were supplied, some light might fall from that source on the course of Thomas Campbell's proceedings during the same season in Pennsylvania.
In the narrative of Professor Richardson it is represented that Thomas Campbell had reached a position substantially like that to which Greville Ewing had brought his son, by means of his own private reflections and experiences, without any reference to communications that he might have received from Alexander while the latter was detained in Glasgow (Memoirs, vol. i. p. 220); but this conclusion is, for several reasons, inadmissible. Every thing, for example, that is reported of Thomas Campbell, whether in the volume which contains his own Memoirs (Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell, by Alexander Campbell of Bethany, Va., Cincinnati, 1861), or in the biography which Professor Richardson has supplied of his son Alexander, goes to show that he was a timid, inefficient person. There are no certain proofs that he was capable of independent thought or action, either at this or any other period of his life. The facts and instances which might serve to establish the propriety of this judgment regarding him are too numerous and circumstantial to be repeated here, but it would not be difficult to supply them on demand.
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Moreover, it is not to be supposed that Thomas Campbell, in Pennsylvania, was kept in ignorance of the experiences of his family in Glasgow, nor of the kindness of Greville Ewing towards them, especially as every member of the household was glad to acknowledge the extent of their obligations to him. (Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, vol. i. p. 149.) The heart of the good and weak man would naturally he moved with gratitude towards the distant benefactor, and there would be no just bounds to his admiration for the greatness and power and condescension of the noble Sandemanian. Comparisons would easily be drawn between the kindness and attentions of Mr. Ewing, and the relative coldness and neglect of the Seceder minister, Mr. Moutre; and there would be no very careful reflections upon the circumstance that the distant hearing of his ministerial colleague might be due to the passion which his own loved ones had conceived for a disagreeable rival.
Again, it is entirely possible that Alexander was not slow to communicate the points of that intimate knowledge of Mr. Ewing's previous religious history which he had been enabled to acquire in the progress of his exceptionally friendly intercourse with him (vol. i. p. 149). By means of this kind, Thomas Campbell, who, perhaps, was already in subjection to the imperious will of his son, would be placed in possession of several items of news that were highly acceptable to a husband and father in his own unfortunate situation.
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By degrees, as Alexander found himself "gradually becoming more and more favorable to the principles of Congregationalism entertained by Mr. Ewing" (vol. i. p. 189), various considerations in support of these would be included in his epistolary communications with his absent parent. These suggestions would each of them fall upon a mind and heart which had been prepared to receive them with cordiality. The father, in his rather exceptional weakness of character, would perceive that himself also sympathized with Alexander's distaste for the people among whom he was brought up, and with whom his fortunes had been the reverse of flourishing.
Under circumstances of this kind, it is not a matter of surprise, -- it is only what might be reasonably anticipated, -- that Thomas Campbell should become involved in a controversy with the Seceders of the vicinity where he kept his residence. In the spring of the year 1809, while his family were still in Glasgow, a libel was laid against him in the Presbytery of Chartiers, "containing various formal and specified charges, the chief of which were, that he had failed to inculcate strict adherence to the Church standard and usages, and had even expressed his disapproval of some things in said standard, and of the uses made of them" (vol. i. p. 225). The case was appealed to the Associate Synod of North America, which convened in the fall of the year 1809. From the letter of protest that was addressed by Mr. Campbell
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at the time to this body (Memoirs of Thomas Campbell, by Alexander Campbell, pp. 12-15), it may be gathered that the objections urged against him related to the usual Sandemanian scruples concerning the impropriety of any human standards of belief, and to his advocacy of the customary Sandemanian position that the Scriptures are the only admissible standard, to the exclusion of all kinds of creeds and confessions of faith. Here was the earliest, if not the most brilliant, conquest which Alexander was enabled to make on behalf of Sandemanianism.
It is possible that the troubles which arose in the Presbytery of Chartiers were duly reported to the family, who were then abiding in Glasgow. Tidings of these occurrences may have reached their ears before the communion season already mentioned, at which Alexander was successful in making up his mind no longer to recognize the Seceder Church as the Church of Christ (vol. i. p. 190). Although his case was pending before the Synod, Mr. Campbell did not leave off proclaiming the Sandemanian notions which had just met with decided opposition in the Presbytery. The churches of his Seceder brethren, it would appear, were promptly closed against his access; but he found accommodation for the people who were disposed to give heed to him, in the private houses of various persons who might be inclined to show him that favor (vol. i. p. 231). In this labor of making propaganda for his new
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principles, he received especial support from certain members of the Sandemanian Church in Rich Hill, Ireland, who had emigrated to America but a fortnight after he himself had come over (vol. i. pp. 81-83). Regarding one of these, who was the precentor of the Church, Professor Richardson truly says (vol. i. p. 82), "This James Foster was destined to take no unimportant part in Thomas Campbell's future religious movements." In fact, he was the faithful and efficient ally of Alexander in the efforts he made to draw his father away from his former allegiance to Presbyterian doctrines and polity.
Before the summer of 1809 was half closed, Thomas Campbell was engaged in meditating a scheme by which it might be in his power to put his new-found notions into practice. He proposed to his followers the propriety of holding a meeting for the purpose of imparting greater definiteness to the movement in which they were embarked. Perhaps it was some time during the month of May or June that one such was appointed at the house of Abraham Altars, one of his more subservient adherents (vol. i. p. 231).
When that meeting had been duly convened and addressed, Mr. Campbell proposed, as a basis for all further action, the motto: "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where they are silent, we are silent." Here was, beyond dispute, an excellent ideal; but, in point of fact, it could hardly ever amount to anything
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more than an ideal. Neither Thomas Campbell, nor Alexander, nor any of their supporters has ever possessed wit enough to give effect to it by making out just where the Scriptures do speak. Great abuses once prevailed among them in that regard, which Alexander attempted to regulate by composing, and publishing a fourth-rate treatise on the subject of Biblical Interpretation. Nothing was clearer than that the Campbells were hopeless failures in the department of exegesis, as most of their people have been; at any rate, they could lay no sort of claim to infallibility. Consequently it was impossible for them to apply their watchword to any advantage. What is the profit of professing to speak where the Scriptures speak, without more power than these gentlemen had to determine where the Scriptures speak or where they are silent?
However, the above motto was a neat and popular expression of the fundamental principle of Mr. Greville Ewing. (Facts and Documents, pp. 124,130.) It is likewise nothing more than is professed in fact, if not in form, by every sect of religious worshippers in Christendom. Mr. Ewing and Mr. Haldane had both adhered to this motto with all the skill and devotion they could command, but with the sad result of perceiving, that, instead of the excellent Christian union which they so ardently desired, they were daily drifting farther apart. Ewing even felt himself constrained to deny any visible fellowship with the sometime friend and associate to whom he
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was under the deepest obligations for kindness bestowed. Nevertheless, he had not lost any portion of his faith in this watchword, believing that there was virtue in it to charm every discord that might arise in the Christian world. It is likely, that, in the mouth of Thomas Campbell, it signified nothing more important than, "Where Mr. Ewing speaks, we speak; and where he is silent, we are silent."
Whether the father or the son should be awarded the credit of imparting this taking expression to the leading principle of Ewing, is an inquiry that may not be easily determined. It is not unlikely that the first meeting and its incidents were duly and minutely reported to Alexander beyond the seas; he may have had knowledge of the whole business before he set sail for America on the 3d of August 1809. The chief result of this preliminary meeting was not enacted until the 17th of August, when Alexander was already on the high seas. On that date was formed "The Christian Association of Washington," which appears to have been modeled in several respects after the pattern of the Haldanean "Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home," of which Thomas Campbell was a member during his residence in Ireland.
The first act of this Association was to issue a "Declaration and Address," the proofs of which were just coming from the press when Alexander arrived with the family at Washington, Penn., on the 28th of October 1809 (vol. i. p. 246). This document
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embraced a number of considerations in elucidation and advocacy of the principle that the Scriptures are in themselves a sufficient guide without the aid of any confession of faith or other kind of standard. It confined itself to somewhat narrow limits and general statements, its author not venturing to step beyond the boundaries which had been set for him in Scotland, through the example of Mr. Ewing, and possibly through the dictation of Alexander.
In the autumn of the year 1809, his letter of protest against the censure of the Presbytery of Chartiers was brought to the attention of the Associate Synod of North America, and along with it a copy of the "Declaration and Address" which in the interval had been published (vol. i. p. 228). The Synod were kindly disposed towards him, and, reversing the action of the Presbytery, directed that he should be released from censure. At this point the narrative of Professor Richardson is confused and indefinite, but it suffices to indicate (vol. i. p. 229) that the Presbytery were not content with the ruling of the Synod; and at their next session, perhaps in the spring of 1810, instead of dismissing the censure they renewed it, and referred the case back to the Synod. Thomas Campbell, conscious perhaps that his course was reprehensible, and for the moment unwilling to be debarred from religious communion, submitted to receive this second censure. However, instead of quitting his schismatical practices as the Presbytery now had a right to expect he would do,
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he persevered in them. Justly offended by his conduct, which they perhaps interpreted as a breach of faith, the Presbytery placed his movements under strict surveillance, with a view to their own protection, and in order to establish by undeniable proofs the correctness of their judgment against him when the Synod should again bring forward the case for review and decision. In this latter respect they were so far successful that the defendant himself must have become aware that it would be useless to continue the litigation. Accordingly, before the Synod met to consider the questions involved, Mr. Campbell found it prudent to hand in a formal renunciation of its authority, in which he declared that he should henceforth hold himself "utterly unaffected by its decisions" (vol. i. p. 280). These occurrences are supposed to belong to the autumn of the year 1810.
About the same time that he was engaged in declaring his independence of the Seceders, Thomas Campbell is found presenting an overture to the regular Presbyterians of the Synod of Pittsburgh, praying for the reception of the "Christian Association of Washington" into their communion. That body heard him with respect while he unfolded the beauties of Mr. Ewing's principle, and then coolly dismissed him (vol. i. pp. 327, 328). After this rebuff it was soon decided by the Campbells to organize a church of their own, a task which was accomplished at the regular semi-annual meeting of the Association,
on the 2d of May, 1811 (vol. i. pp. 366-368). This church was organized as nearly as might be after the fashion of the one over which Greville Ewing presided in Glasgow (vol. i. p. 349). It had weekly communion (vol. i. p. 373); it maintained the biblical propriety of the independent form of church government (vol. i. pp. 345, 346, and p. 349); it favored lay preaching in the same way Ewing did (vol. i. p. 346); it did not adopt the notion of a plurality of elders, which Ewing also now rejected; and was content with choosing Thomas Campbell as elder, although Alexander was licensed to preach (vol. i. p. 367). Like Mr. Ewing, both the Campbells were still in favor of infant-baptism.
Nevertheless, out of regard for James Foster, the preceptor of the Sandemanian Church in Rich Hill, who had refused even in Ireland to have his children baptized (vol. i. p. 82), they were prevented from taking as definite grounds on that subject as their Scottish master was in the custom of assuming. Thomas Campbell, it would appear, strove hard to keep in the steps of Ewing in this quarter; but it was, perhaps, impossible for him to manage Foster. The Sandemanian precentor was highly scrupulous, and labored much to bring his friend over to his own way of thinking (vol. i. p. 240). Under these circumstances there was no other resource than to make infant-baptism a matter of forbearance (vol. i. pp. 325 and 345). Considering the altered circumstances,
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this was keeping quite well in the track that had been marked out for them. "Mutual exhortation" also cut no figure at this moment in the Brush Run Church; Mr. Ewing, it will be remembered, had become disgusted with that item of "the ancient order of things" before Alexander's arrival in Glasgow, and was even charged by the Haldanes with turning against it. (Facts and Documents, p. 126ff.) Alexander was always unfavorable to it (vol. ii. p. 128), and opposed his influence when it was later introduced at Brush Run. Alexander must have frequently heard of the theological classes which Ewing was intrusted to teach during the first two years of his residence in Glasgow. The suggestion was not lost upon him. As early as he could after his arrival in Pennsylvania, steps were taken to organize a similar class. Its first, and, so far as reported, its only students, were James Foster and Abraham Altars (vol. i. pp. 277-279).
There was one single point, however, in which he had not yet learned to speak with Ewing. Whether that failure is due to the multitude of cares which must have beset him as the head of the family in Glasgow, robbing him of most of the leisure which otherwise he might have devoted to his studies; or whether he had a keener appreciation of matters relating to the "ancient order" than of such as related to the "ancient gospel;" or whether, in the third instance, he experienced a difficulty in the prospect of surrendering the view which he had always held
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concerning the nature of saving faith, -- must remain, for the present, a theme of conjecture. But, whatever should be the right explanation of the phenomenon, Alexander rejected, for a while, the conceit of Ewing and the Sandemanians, that faith is nothing other than mere belief, which is produced by testimony alone, without reference to the regenerating grace of God. On the 7th of April 1811, about twenty months after he had left behind him the advantages of the personal tutelage of his master, he is still found holding fast to the orthodox Seceder convictions regarding this subject (vol. i. p. 376).
But the period was near at hand when he should accede to the notion of his master touching this point also, and, at the same time, go beyond him in other respects. The 7th of April 1811, is the latest date on which, according to the representations of his biographer, he was willing to affirm that faith "is of the operation of God, and an effect of almighty power and regenerating grace."
The Brush Run Church which Alexander had succeeded in organizing out of the material that composed the "Christian Association of Washington," including his own, embraced the names of twenty-eight persons (vol. i. p. 373). These were the first-fruits of his labors on behalf of the Sandemanian cause. He was untiring in his exertions, both in the neighborhood of his residence and elsewhere. On the 16th of May, 1811, he undertook his first missionary journey, which carried him into the State of Ohio,
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and gave him a store of experience, but a very slight measure of success (vol. i. pp. 370, 371). In August he again went forth, and was employed most of the time until the close of the year; but the people were nowhere inclined to favor the innovations which he had borrowed from Scotland (vol. i. p. 379).
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The Brush Run Church does not appear to have enjoyed a great degree of harmony of conviction in its efforts to "unite on the Bible." On the third day after its organization, a question was raised that must have given the members an amount of solicitude. When the Lord's Supper was celebrated for the first time on Sunday, the 4th of May 1811, it was remarked that three of the members -- Joseph Bryant, Margaret Fullerton, and Abraham Altars --
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refrained from the elements. Upon inquiry made for the reasons which might influence them to pursue this course, it was discovered that neither of them had ever been baptized after any of the various modes in which that ordinance is administered among Christian communities (vol. i. pp. 371-372).
The difficulty would have been of easy adjustment if these parties had been willing to accept baptism by affusion. In that instance there would have been no kind of obstacle in the way of Thomas Campbell's speaking where Mr. Ewing spoke. But they were unhappily decided in their conviction that the "ancient order of things" provided for baptism by immersion. Joseph Bryant would likewise appear to have taken the lead in making the demand for this form of the ordinance (vol. i. p. 372), and he was a person whom it was exceedingly desirable to conciliate. Besides the fact that he had rendered most efficient service in erecting the house of worship at Brush Run (vol. i. p. 322), it may also be mentioned that he had been an attentive member of "The Christian Association," and perhaps already was recognized as an eligible match for Miss Dorothea Campbell, to whom he was united in marriage about twenty months later, on the 13th of January 1813 (vol. i. p. 458). It was, therefore, very trying to resist Mr. Bryant's conscientious scruples and his earnest solicitations.
On the other hand, Thomas Campbell was loath to depart from the platform of Greville Ewing. A discussion
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of two months' duration was carried on, at the end of which Bryant was successful. Mr. Campbell immersed him and his two friends on the 4th of July 1811 (vol. i. p. 372). But this concession to the wishes of a few did not mend the condition of affairs; it only whetted the appetite for other changes. James Foster, the Sandemanian precentor, who witnessed it, was not edified by the manner in which the ceremony was performed. Instead of entering the water along with the subjects, the administrator stood on the root of a tree at the side of the pool, bending down their heads until they had been covered by the water.
Furthermore, in order to signify the position which he had now brought himself to occupy, Foster expressed the opinion that it was incongruous for one who had not been baptized in his own person, to administer the rite to other people (vol. i. p. 373). Manifestly it was becoming daily more impracticable for the Campbells to walk in Ewing's way. They must either leave it, or submit to witness the Church which they had established at Brush Run go to pieces. An earnest discussion had been some time going forward on the subject of immersion (vol. i. p. 393), and it was not a great while before "many of those connected with Thomas Campbell had advanced beyond him." They were restrained from carrying out their convictions, and submitting to this form of the rite, by nothing else than "the respect which they felt was due his position" (vol. i. pp. 399-400).
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Alexander seems now to have perceived that speedy action most be had else their cause was lost. He therefore resolved to take the step which it was becoming evident the larger portion of the Church demanded at the hands of himself and his father. Accordingly he made preparations to procure his own immersion (vol. i. p. 395). When he went to communicate his intention to his father, an ally was found in the house in the person of his sister Dorothea (vol. i. p. 395). Naturally concerned to avoid an explosion in the Church, by means of which she might be required to decide between the affection she bore her parents, and her affection for the man to whom she was, perhaps already betrothed, she had become, like Mr. Bryant a decided advocate of immersion. If Bryant, and the majority of the little community at Brush Run could have been induced to tolerate aspersion, it is probable that the Campbells would never have found it convenient to leave the side of the sprinkling Sandemanians.
But affairs had taken a direction which it was not in their power to control and they were compelled to follow the current. Alexander's previous acquaintance with the treatise of Archibald M'Lean on "The Commission of Christ " must have now done him service, giving him a rudder by which to steer his course. The father, then as always pliant before the stronger will of his son, was not disposed to offer any serious objections, and at the last moment
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decided to be immersed himself (vol. i. p. 376). The event occurred on the 12th of June 1812; the rite being performed by a Baptist minister of the Redstone Association, named Mattias Luce. Four days afterwards thirteen other members of the Church were immersed by Thomas Campbell. The remainder, who would not accede to the new change, went their way, leaving behind them a Church twenty members who were united in approbation of the course that had been pursued, and whose clamors perhaps had made it necessary. James Foster was one of the thirteen (vol. i. p. 403).
A circumstance of personal concern to Alexander also had a certain share in the business of directing his attention to these issues. On the 13th of March 1812 his first child was born. The question of infant-baptism, therefore, became to him a topic of special interest. Doubtless with reference to the scruples of James Foster, he had formerly urged that this point should be treated as a matter of forbearance (vol. i. p. 392). That was the utmost limit to which he might safely advance if he desired to retain the sympathy and support of so important a personage. It does not appear that he had even ventured as far as that since the 5th of June 1811, possibly abstaining through fear of provoking an undesirable conflict. If now he had dared to baptize his own child, after its birth in March 1812, he must have done so with the conviction that the act would cost him the affections and the countenance of most
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of the communicants at Brush Run. At any rate he could not make up his mind to provoke the Church in that way; and, contrary to the position of Greville Ewing, his child was compelled to dispense with baptism.
The winter of 1811-12 was in other directions an eventful one for the Brush Run Church. Foreseeing that he would be constrained by the force of circumstances to take final leave of Mr. Ewing Alexander began to take further lessons in the "ancient order." Before the first day of January 1812 he had become convinced of the propriety of maintaining a plurality of elders in every church (vol. i. p. 385); and on that day he was ordained, possibly in order that the Church might be provided with Presbytery after the Sandemanian model. On the occasion of Thomas Campbell's removal from the vicinity, in the year 1813, James Foster was ordained in his place, that the Presbytery might not be destroyed by his absence (vol. i. pp. 458-459). Plurality of elders had now, to all appearances become the article of a standing or falling Church.
While yet a resident of Rich Hill, Alexander had been made personally acquainted with one John Walker, a learned and unfortunate gentleman whose literalism had rendered him one of the most fantastic of all the Sandemanians (vol. i. p. 61). He was so far gone in the "ancient order" that he "sold his carriage and traveled on foot through Ireland, and also through England," proclaiming the virtues of an
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exact conformity to the minutest details of it (vol. 1. p. 61). During the season here under review, Alexander seems to have returned to his youthful admiration for this exceedingly queer head. He attentively perused his writings, and to a degree made him the man of his counsel (vol. 1. p. 466). It was from Walker, perhaps that he obtained the singular notion about religious communion, which on the 26th of February 1812, caused him to question the propriety of family prayer wherever the family might be composed in part of unbelievers (vol. i. pp. 447-449; cf. p. 61). As has been already shown, numbers of the Scottish Sandemanians refused to maintain family prayer; but these generally referred their objections to a literalistic interpretation of the injunction which ordains that men shall enter into their closets alone, and there address the heavenly Father in secret. They likewise made much of the fact that there is no distinct biblical command enjoining in so many words the duty of praying in the family. The form in which Alexander's scruple was indicated however, suggests rather the influence of Walker.
The admiration he felt for this impossible character was never abated. In his last years he condemned himself because he had not kept closer to Walker's rigid and exclusive principles (vol. i. p. 454). As a specimen of that gentleman's extraordinary proceeding it may not be amiss to mention a visit he made to Edinburgh, perhaps to confer with the Haldanes, who went very far in the direction of restoring "the
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ancient order." The usual Sandemanian custom prescribes the Lord's Supper on every Lord's Day. But Walker could find nobody in all the city who was good enough to enjoy this rite of religious communion, except the traveling companion who had made the journey with him, and a single student of medicine in the university. These three ate the elements alone (Facts and Documents, p. 247). Professor Richardson also records the fact that Walker's spiritual arrogance was cultivated to such an extreme "that it was a special point with him, strictly to prohibit the performance of any religious act without removing to a distance.(if in the same room) from every person who refused to obey a precept that could be generally applied; insisting that true worship could be rendered only by those who receive and obey the same truths in common" (vol. i. p. 61).
The arrogance of the Scottish Sandemanians did not always carry them quite so far, but it was not unusual for principles of this kind to he applied in the public worship of their churches on the Lord's Day. A Sandemanian Church of the immersion observance had been established in the city of New York, in the autumn of the year 1810, under Elders Henry Erritt and William Ovington, which was quite as fantastic an institution as one could Reasonably desire. In the customary style of the party, they rejected all human creeds, rules (and) covenants, thinking the Scriptures perfect enough for direction in every thing. Church edifices were no part of the "ancient
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order of things," neither were pulpits: they hired a hall, and claimed that it was not possible elsewhere to witness the sight of a church assembled together. (Benedict, History of the Baptists, Boston 1813. vol. ii. p. 409). This body held four public services in the week, at neither of which were any but communicants admitted; at another public service appointed for Tuesday evening, they were willing to see the outside world, and to preach the gospel to them. (Benedict, as above.) In the year 1818, they had so far mended their manners as to permit the "world" to attend on Sunday evenings, after the regular worship of the Church had been concluded, at which time the elders, and some others of the brethren approved by the Church, would be gracious enough to declare the gospel to them. (Christian Baptist, p. 389.)
By some means Alexander had become aware of these ridiculous proceedings of the immersed Sandemanians, and was immediately captivated. He resolved to copy them in that as well as in so many other singularities; and when, after his immersion, the Brush Run Church was re-organized on the basis of the "Scotch Baptists," no person "was recognized as duly prepared to partake in religious services, except those who had professed to put on Christ in baptism," (Richardson, vol. i. p. 454.)
The absurd tenor of his sentiments, and the sincerity of his conversion to these idle puerilities, may be illustrated by the fact that when he attended the session of the Redstone Association, in August
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1812, he could not be induced to preach before the outside public, as other ministers were in the custom of doing. Every solicitation of that kind was declined. On the contrary, he was willing to discourse "one evening in a private family to some dozen preachers and twice as many laymen" (vol. i. p. 440). This conduct would be inexplicable on any other supposition, except that Alexander's motto seems now to have suffered an alteration, by means of which it should read, "Where the Scotch Baptists speak; we speak; " and not many of these could be found who went to more wretched extremes.
Thomas Campbell, as usual, was the obedient echo of his son in the suggestions made by the latter in favor of this arrogant policy of exclusion (vol. i. pp. 449-454). If the father and son had but followed that policy continuously and consistently, it is not in the least probable that our country would have been burdened with the shame and evils of Mormonism, which grew out of the Disciples' movement -- since their influence would have been so much circumscribed that their enterprise could have affected few persons besides themselves and their immediate dependents.
A portion of the winter of 1811-12 was also devoted to the task of acquiring the doctrine and the dialect of the Sandemanians in relation to faith. In a letter directed to Mr. Robert B. Semple in April 1820, Alexander informs him that he had "appropriated one winter season for examining this subject."
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(Christian Bap., p. 228.) The facts, however, as they are set down by his biographer, show that this was not an entirely correct reminiscence; for, in addition to his investigations regarding the nature of faith, it is clear, from what has been said above, that he also found time to investigate and accept the Sandemanian doctrine concerning the plurality of elders; to change his mind about the action of baptism and about the propriety of infant-baptism; to adopt the notions of the Sandemanians of the straitest sect in favor of excluding from the worship of the Church all persons who were not members of the Church; and to discuss the absurd proposition to discontinue family prayer in cases where all the members of the household might not be fortunate enough to relish the fantastic conceits of the party to which he was now inclined. He had long previously made the discovery upon which the average Sandemanian was likely to value himself, to the effect that Sunday is not the Jewish Sabbath day (vol. i. p. 347); but it was only during the winter in question, that the sentiments of himself and the community which he led became so much the topic of public remark as to excite the report that they "paid no respect to the Sabbath" (vol. i. pp. 432-435).
Returning to the subject of faith, Alexander describes as follows the method in which he pursued his investigation: "I assembled all the leading writers (that day on) these subjects. I laid before me Robert Sandeman, Harvey, Marshall, Bellamy, Glas,
Cudworth, and others of minor fame in this controversy. I not only read, but studied, and wrote off in miniature, their respective views. I had Paul and Peter, James and John, on the same table. I took nothing upon trust. I did not care for the authority, reputation, or standing of one of the systems, a grain of sand. I never weighed the consequences of embracing any one of the systems as affecting my standing or reputation in the world. Truth (not who says so) was my sole object. I found much entertainment in the investigation; and I will not blush, nor do I fear to say, that, in this controversy, Sandeman was like a giant among dwarfs. He was like Samson with the posts of Gaza on his shoulders." (Christian Bap., p. 228.)
It would have been nearly impossible for a person of his present connections and situation, especially one who was so much lacking in respect to independence of mind and theological capacity and culture, to have reached a different conclusion. Here, as at so many other points, Alexander was the unquestioning slave of his masters.
In case the representations made by Professor Richardson are complete, the revolution which took place in Alexander's mind by which he became a subject of Sandeman in the matter of faith, began in the month of October 1811 (vol. i. p. 413), and was completed in the month of March 1812 (vol. i. p. 422). In connection with it he carried forward a correspondence with his father, perhaps chiefly for
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the purpose of showing him deference. The harmless old gentleman was incapable of rendering any considerable assistance in his enterprises, but it was in his power to offer a deal of resistance in case he were not duly coddled and conciliated. As on every other occasion, Thomas Campbell played the role of a convenient echo. It is surprising to witness the readiness with which he could repeat at first blush such Sandemanian watchwords as "the bare belief of the naked truth," and affirm, against the convictions of a lifetime, that this "involuntary, unavoidable faith" was sufficient to procure salvation (vol. i. p. 419).
In requesting baptism at the hands of Matthias Luce, in Alexander, in due subjection to the authority of Archibald M'Lean as laid down in his work styled "The Commission of Christ Illustrated," says he had stipulated "that it should be performed into the name of the Father, etc. and not in the name, as was then and now is usual among the regular Baptists." (Memoirs of Thomas Campbell, p. 114.) Moreover, it was not his object, in seeking immersion, to unite with the Baptists of America. On the contrary, he declares, "I had no idea of uniting with the Baptists" (vol. i. p. 439.) Not many months had passed by, however, before that purpose entered his mind; and in order to accomplish it he was willing, in the month of August 1813, to violate one of the leading Sandemanian tenets, and to contradict the teachings of the famous "Declaration and Address," by composing for the purpose a sort of confession of
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his faith, which, if it could now be procured, would possibly supply an amount of interesting reading (vol. i. p. 440).
But he was never at that or any other moment, either by sympathy or by conviction, a Baptist. In a private letter under date of Dec. 28, 1815, more than two years after his Church had been received into the fraternity of the Redstone Baptist Association, he describes his situation in the following terms: "I am now an Independent " (or Sandemanian) "in Church government;... of that faith and view of the gospel exhibited in John Walker's seven letters to Alexander Knox; and a Baptist in so far as respects baptism" (vol. i. p. 466).
During the period between the year 1812 and 1820, Alexander relapsed into a condition of mere vegetation. In the year 1816, he was able to excite a small controversy by a discourse on "the law" before the Redstone Association, where, in keeping with his Sandemanian principles, he thought the preaching of the gospel was sufficient to produce the "bare belief of the bare truth," and therefore maintained that it was unnecessary and reprehensible to persuade men by the terrors of the Lord. He also became to a degree interested in the missionary cause (Christian Baptist, p. 17 and p. 73), which the Redstone Association was then prosecuting with some kind of vigor. (Benedict, History of the Baptists, New York 1856, p. 615.)
The year 1820, however, was full of events that
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supplied him fresh incitement, and opened for him a career. The month of April brought him a newspaper discussion on the question regarding the Sabbath (vol. i. p. 522) in which he embraced an opportunity of setting forth and maintaining the customary Sandemanian distinctions with much length and logomachy. The month of June brought him an oral discussion about the action and subjects of baptism, with the Rev. Mr. Walker of the Seceder Church. These occurrences served to arouse him from his long-continued lethargy, as well as to call the attention of circles to his abilities as a rhetorician, which had not previously been aware of his existence.
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The most important impulse that the year 1820 had in store for Mr. Campbell was conveyed to him in a doctrinal pamphlet that was published and sent forth by the "Scotch Baptist" Church of New York City. This body was, perhaps, pleased to regard itself as, in a certain sort, the leader of sentiment among the churches of that persuasion in this country. The pamphlet referred to was largely devoted to a treatment of the design of baptism. It was forwarded, we may suppose, to all the Sandemanian churches of the immersion observance in America if not also to those in the British Islands as well. One of these existed at the moment in Pittsburgh, under the pastoral supervision of Mr. Walter Scott, one of the principal co-laborers of the Campbells. A copy was conveyed to him. The work also fell into the hands of Alexander and his father. (Life of Elder Walter Scott, by William Baxter, Cincinnati, 1874, p. 47.) They all perused it with more or less of avidity; it was the subject of a number of eager conferences between the trio. (Richardson, vol. ii. p. 83.) Alexander had it on his mind at the debate with
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Mr. Walker, and ventured to employ the position which it maintained in one of his addresses against the practice of infant-baptism, asserting that "baptism is connected with the promise of the remission of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit" (vol. ii. p. 20.)
Here was the beginning of a new departure. The document of the New York Church contains the same view regarding the design of baptism to which the Campbells later gave in their adhesion (Life of Scott, by Baxter, pp. 47-53); it was also published by Scott in one of the numbers of "The Evangelist," monthly periodical which he edited respectively in Cincinnati and Cambridge, O. The same texts which the sect of Disciples (or Campbellites) are in the habit of setting forward are produced in this pamphlet, and handled much in the same way, in order to support the conclusion that baptism was designed for the remission of sins.
But Alexander was disposed to approach this business in a gingerly fashion. It was manifest that the sentiments advanced by the men of New York were nothing else than a development of the views expressed by Archibald M'Lean, the father of the "Scotch Baptists," in his famous work entitled "The Commission of Christ," which had been for many years in the hands of the Campbells. (See M'Lean's Commission, edit. 1. p. 133.) At that place this author declares, "To be baptized for the remission, or washing away of sins, plainly imports, that in baptism the remission of sins is represented
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as really conferred upon the believer. The gospel promises in general, "That, through Christ's name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Baptism applies this promise, and represents its actual accomplishment to an individual believer, assuring him that all his past sins are now as really washed away in baptism by the blood of Christ, as his body is washed in water." He also says (pp. 131-132, note), "As to the necessity of baptism to salvation, it is no stronger expressed in these passages" (John iii:5, and Tit. iii:5), "than in some others concerning which there is no dispute, such as, 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved' (Mark xvi.:16); 'The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us,' etc. (1 Pet. iii.:21); 'Be baptized, and wash away thy sins' (Acts xxii.:16)." (A Disciple firm of publishers in Cincinnati, O., have republished this work from the third Edinburgh edition. In the year 1871 there had been five editions of the American reprint.)
But from the manner in which M'Lean, in this work, guards some of his utterances, it might be in the power of an opponent to affirm that it was not entirely warrantable to represent that author as a thorough-paced advocate of the theory of baptismal remission. His New York followers, on the other hand, had fully, and without much hesitation, taken their stand on this dogma. Alexander, however, is considered to have felt some misgiving as to whether these gentlemen were of canonical authority.
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It is not, perhaps, entirely accidental, therefore, that, in his published version of the debate with Mr. Walker, he appears on both sides of the issue touching the design of baptism. (Compare Richardson vol. ii. p. 20, with vol. ii. pp. 36-37.) Nevertheless, the question was not of small concern to him. The topic of the New York pamphlet was often the theme of remark. (Richardson, vol. ii. p. 83) a When the "Christian Baptist" was sent forth in the year 1823, it was among the first matters that were put forward for treatment. In the second number of the periodical, under date of Sept. 1, 1823, an article that bears the marks of careful preparation is published, in which the writer confidently takes his stand on the side of the New Yorkers, and pleads the propriety of the sentiments which were enunciated in their pamphlet of the year 1820. Thomas Campbell, who was not responsible, and whose opinions could easily be disclaimed in case any strong objections; were heard against them, was put forward in this way to feel the public pulse. (Christian Baptist pp. 11-13.)
In the month of October 1823, Alexander was engaged in a public debate with the Rev. Mr. McCalla, a Presbyterian divine, at Washington in Mason County, Kentucky, in which the action and the subjects of baptism were again treated. Here he likewise found courage enough to endorse the New York authorities in his own proper person, by setting forth the position and the arguments which they had employed in their publication (Richardson, vol. ii. pp. 90-83)
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But he was still so much disposed to hesitate regarding their canonicity, that his scruples a later date more than once took him over to the other side of the issue. (Christian Baptist, pp. 58,67,70 & 64.)
In October 1824, a second advance was made towards the principles which the New York Sandemanians had laid down; and Thomas Campbell was in this instance likewise employed to perform the delicate task, Alexander being still in a state of incertitude regarding the question whether it would be prudent and popular for him to espouse their cause. The article which his father was now employed to write was of twice the length of that which he had previously produced, and in some respects more decided. (Christian Baptist, pp. 99-101.) In December 1824, the father again engages to enlighten the "professing World" upon the significance and importance of what the New York theologians had laid so heavily upon his own mind. (Christian Baptist, p. 115) Various other expedients were devised to keep the point before the public. In the month of May 1826, a writer who appears under the nom de plume of "Independent Baptist" who is suspected to be no other than Alexander, asserts in round terms, "that the baptismal water washes away sin, and is the only Divinely appointed pledge that the blood of Christ has cleansed the conscience of the obedient disciple." (Christ. Bap., p. 236.) That his mind was strongly engaged in that direction, may
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also be perceived from occasional references to the topic which are elsewhere scattered up and down in the pages of his periodical. Among these, attention may be directed to the more or less covert allusions on p. 94, p. 118, and p. 351, respectively. In October 1827 he contrives to throw off a portion of his constitutional timidity, and to employ in his own person language that, with considerable definiteness, signifies that he had now made up his mind to become an avowed convert to the New York theory. He says (Christ. Bap., p. 381.), "Elder John Secresttold me, at the meeting of the Mahoning Association, Ohio, on the 27th ult., that he had immersed three hundred persons within the last three months. I asked him, 'Into what did he immerse them?' He replied, he 'immersed them into the faith of Christ for the remission of their sins.' Many of them were the descendants of Quakers, and those who had formerly waited for the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Quaker sense of those words But brother Secrest had succeeded in convincing them that the one baptism was not that of Pentecost, nor that repeated in Caesarea, but an immersion into the faith of Jesus for the remission of their sins... Thus while my friend Common Sense, and his two Baptist doctors, are speculating on what regeneration is, brother Secrest has by the proclamation of repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and immersion for the remission of sins, been the means of regenerating three hundred in three months, in the proper import of the term."
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These statements have the appearance of being uttered by a person who had finally made up his mind to assume a definite position, and to maintain it against all who might come forward to oppose him. Moreover, the seed that, since the year 1820, he had been sowing with so much care and covert art, had already taken root in some quarters. In more than one section of the country persons who chanced to be under his influence were proclaiming the conceit of the New York Church. During the year 1826, Jeremiah Vardeman had been advocating it in Kentucky, and professed to entertain a degree of satisfaction in administering the ceremony of baptism that was superior to any thing he had known before he was rightly instructed in the New York theory. (Richardson, vol. ii. pp. 287-288.) B. F. Hall was also on the same ground, with the same message, in the same year of grace (vol. ii. pp. 388-389). Adamson Bentley and Jacob Osborne were declaring it to the people of Ohio in 1827, as well as John Secrest already mentioned above (vol. ii. pp. 207-208). It was indeed high time for Alexander, if he desired to remain at the head of the movement, to declare in public his adhesion to the notion of baptismal remission.
But a number of trials mere still to meet him before he should finally gain his consent to formally announce his acceptance of what seemed long since to have become his favorite tenet. Walter Scott, who in other years had been his co-laborer in Pittsburg,
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was appointed at its session in September 1827, as the missionary of the Mahoning Association in Ohio. This arrangement had been effected under the oversight and largely through the influence of Alexander, and he hoped that many advantages might accrue from it in the way of perverting the Baptists of that body to Sandemanian opinions and customs (vol. ii. pp. 173-174; cf. p. 206).
Notwithstanding the circumstances that Elder Scott had been often admitted to conferences that were held touching the New York notion (vol. ii. p. 83), and though, as Campbell declares, he had been definitely advised by Scott to introduce that opinion into the debate with McCalla in October 1823, yet this person, if one may judge from his writings in the "Christian Baptist," prior to November 1827, had never contrived to get any practical hold or understanding of that tenet. Nay, when he heard it promulgated by Jacob Osborne in the early autumn of 1827, it is said to have struck him with surprise (vol. ii. p. 208). Not long afterwards, however, he was by some agency of which no distinct account has been given, made sensible of the meaning and importance of the new departure which Alexander had been pushing ever since the reception of the circular about baptismal remission, in the year 1820; and he took hold of the idea with his customary enthusiasm and precipitation. The first discourse that he delivered in favor of it was not rewarded by any visible results (vol. ii. pp. 209). It served the
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purpose, however, of rendering him broad awake to the excellency of an opinion which a number of his brethren in the vicinity had been some length of time proclaiming. The only apparent obstacle in the way of his action in thus going forward lay in the fact that he was occupying an official relation to the Mahoning Baptist Association, and it was wholly uncertain how that body would be disposed to regard this flagrant departure from the principles of the Baptist community. Alexander was justly uneasy regarding the issue, especially since, in case the churches which had employed Scott should repudiate him, the most of the blame would attach to himself, who had perhaps suggested this expedient, and selected his long-time associate and disciple for the position.
Notwithstanding the manifest perils of the situation for his principal, Scott, in the enthusiasm of a new convert, was resolved to press forward. On the 18th of November 1827, he appointed a meeting at New Lisbon, O., in which he announced that he would fully discuss the ancient gospel" (vol. ii. pp. 210 and p. 212). Here at his first discourse he secured his earliest convert; and this may be set down as in some sort the natal day of the modern Disciple movement. Before the series of meetings at New Lisbon were concluded, Scott had succeeded in persuading seventeen persons to be immersed for the remission of sins.
This conduct on his part rendered it necessary that
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he should make a speedy visit to the leader of the movement at his residence in Virginia. (Hayden, History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, p. 93.) The two friends must have discussed the hazards to which the precipitancy of Scott had exposed their cause in Ohio, and the probabilities that he had effected the destruction of Alexander's hope to pervert the entire Association from the doctrines which they had hitherto maintained. The situation was indeed critical, and the slightest mishap would have brought upon them extreme disaster. Scott's energies were therefore excited to their fullest tension; it was necessary to accomplish the work of perversion as far as possible before the date appointed for the next session of the Mahoning Association, in order that objections which might be confidently anticipated should be silenced, or that the party of opponents might be defied. In this enterprise he was successful to a high degree; and from the 18th of November 1827, the notion of baptism for the remission of sins was officially regarded as a part of the faith of the Disciples.
In January 1828, Alexander got courage enough to lend a helping hand by commencing a series of articles in the Christian Baptist," on the ancient gospel," where he comes out boldly on behalf of the opinion which hitherto he was in doubt whether he should publicly and irrevocably avow. By a very adroit contrivance he is skillful enough in the first of these to represent John Secrest, a Kentucky preacher
[ 124b ]
of the Stoneite or Christian party, as proclaiming this opinion with distinguished success on the Western Reserve. "Elder John Secrest," he reports, "told me on the 23d of November, in my own house, that, since the Mahoning Association last met, he had immersed with his own hands one hundred and ninety, thus lacking only ten of five hundred in about five months -- for it is not more than five months since he began to proclaim the gospel and Christian immersion in its primitive simplicity and import." (Christian Baptist, edit. 6, p. 402.)
This second allusion to the labors of Secrest would be, at that moment, a desirable diversion in favor of Scott, by assuring the people of the region where they were both employed that the latter was not alone in the innovation that he was practicing. But at a later time when Scott manifested a disposition to claim the most of the credit for the prosperity and success of the Disciples' enterprise, the above extract was the occasion of an amount of ill feeling. Scott appears to have conceived the idea that Campbell was jealous of him, and had inserted the statement that has been cited with the purpose to deprive him of his just honors.
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The founder of the Disciples was highly reticent regarding the nature and extent of his obligations to the Sandemanians, whether of the aspersion or of the immersion observance The occasions were comparatively rare when he could be induced to reveal his counsels in that direction. At the head of the "Christian Baptist" he had placed as a motto the passage, "Style no man on earth your father, for He alone is your Father who is in heaven, and all ye are brethren;" and it was considered important, that, in accordance with this injunction, little should be reported concerning the Sandemanians who were his own masters on earth. It was likewise an element of strength in that class of the community whom he had access that he should make a large parade of his intellectual independence, and sometimes of his "erudition" (McCalla, Debate on Baptism, Buffalo 1824 p. 124), a quality with which he was also but moderately provided.
William Jones, who, after the death of Archibald M'Lean, became the leader of the "Scotch Baptists," or Sandemanians of the immersion observance, embraces
[ 125b ]
the opportunity to disburden his mind regarding this clear instance of ingratitude, which was provided by a letter he addressed to Mr. Campbell on the 16th of March 1835. (Millennial Harbinger, 1835, pp. 298-300.) From the representations there set forth, this kind of "childish vanity" must have been the common failing of a number of those churches which, in Ireland and America, had descended from the "Scotch Baptists." John Walker, the fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, for whom, even down to his latest days, Mr. Campbell felt an extravagant admiration, is sorely chastised for his crimes of omission at this point. Mr. Jones professes to be able to prove that Walker owed his earliest impulse in favor of Sandemanianism to the writings of Archibald M'Lean, and pities "those individuals who, through the pride and envy of their hearts, have scorned to acknowledge their obligations to the servants of God whose labors have been so useful to them." (Mill. Harb., as above, p. 299.)
In America he is particularly severe upon the conduct of the New York Church, for their neglect to feel any gratitude towards those churches in the Fatherland to whom they owed much thanks. Speaking of the circular which had been sent forth by that organization, in the year 1818, to many of the prominent "Scotch Baptist" Churches in England and America, regarding the "ancient order of things," and afterwards published under the title of "The First Part of an Epistolary Correspondence between
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the Churches in America and Europe," Mr. Jones complains, that, "though it is well known that those individuals had gone out from this country, and carried their principles with them, there is not the smallest reference, in all their narratives, to the source whence they derived them." (Mill. Harb., 1835, p. 298.) Nor does he quite spare the Disciples, reminding Mr. Campbell that he would not deny that his own churches took their origin from the "Scotch Baptists." (Mill. Harb., 1835, p. 300.)
In reply to these just complaints, Alexander allows his personal obligations, but is content to express these in terms of such shadowy generality as in effect almost to deny them. At the close of the letter in which these concessions are made, he adds, "But now, Brother Jones, after all these acknowledgments for myself and my brethren, I have no hesitation in saying that there will be found views of the Christian institution wholly new, as far as the works of all the schools to which I have alluded are concerned. This I say not from vanity, nor from pretensions to originality; but from a conviction, before God, that it is due to all the, citizens of Christ's kingdom, in Europe and America, to state that the cause we plead is at least something in advance of even the Scotch, or English, or American Baptists, as I have no doubt will appear to yourself from a careful examination of the books forwarded you." (Mill. Harb., 1835, pp. 306-307.)
It must be conceded that he has embraced some
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items in his creed which may not be found in the works of his masters, the "Scotch Baptists." These were immediately insisted upon by Mr. Jones with so much emphasis as to defeat the hopes which at one time Alexander would seem to have entertained to the effect that it might be in his power to swallow up the "Scotch Baptists," and celebrate another triumph of that Christian union which he professed to believe would in the end destroy all "sects and sectism" by comprehending every one of the various Churches of the Christian world in his own Church. This would have been a splendid ambition if it had not been supremely ridiculous.
The most important particular in which he departed from the theology of the "Scotch Baptist" writers consists in the fact that he surrendered the Calvinism in which he had been educated, in favor of Arminian sentiments. In the present state of research, it is not possible to suggest the precise time and circumstances in which Alexander accomplished this change. His biographer is entirely at fault here, and leaves the reader wholly without information. Indeed, both himself and his hero appear to have been fresh enough to believe that they were not really Arminians as long as they omitted to designate themselves by that title, no matter how firmly and consistently they might profess and support Arminian principles. This policy, which after the fashion of the ostrich leads them to imagine that they are sufficiently concealed by covering their head
[ 125e ]
in the sand, is one of the most amusing foibles of the Disciples.
However, it would appear that as late as the year 1811 Alexander had not yet turned away from his Calvinistic convictions; since in his notes on the writings of John Walker, made at that season, he has set down, apparently with approval, the substance of one of his author's chapters against Arminianism. (Richardson, vol. i. p. 446.) He was likely still in favor of Calvinistic views as late as the 28th of December 1815, on which date he informed his uncle Archibald, in a letter addressed to him in Ireland, that he was "of that faith and view of the gospel exhibited in John Walker's seven letters to Alexander Knox" (vol. i. p. 466).
There have been few more absurd hyper-Calvinists than was John Walker, and it would be difficult to embrace his "faith and view of the gospel" without in some degree partaking of that sentiment. But in the absence of more definite information regarding the portion of Mr. Campbell's life that lies between 1811 and 1820, it would be in vain to speculate about the date and circumstances of his perversion to Arminian opinions. We must content ourselves with the simple fact that when he began to set forth a printed record of his position, in the "Christian Baptist," he was already a confirmed opponent of the system of the Calvinists. Thomas Campbell was permitted to retain his Calvinism, but only as a sort of philosophy, or other attenuated appendage. In
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this sublimated capacity it would do no great amount of harm, while it might serve to remind them of the source whence they had sprung, and upon occasion to furnish a bond of sympathy with the "Scotch Baptists," in case it were deemed prudent at any time to attempt a union with them.
It must be allowed that Mr. Campbell's adhesion to Arminian views suited much better with his theory of baptismal remission, than the Calvinism in which he had been reared and trained. To discard the system of Calvin for the behoof of the New York theory and to embrace Arminianism in its stead, would at least indicate that he had an eye for symmetry.
A very considerable result of this abandonment of Calvinism appears in the fact that Mr. Campbell was thereby enabled to deny the doctrine which he had preached in his early time, that spiritual influences of some sort must co- operate with the word before the sinner will exercise faith. According to the scheme of the "ancient gospel" which Walter Scott elaborated, the operations of the Holy Spirit must be confined entirely to those who are already in a saved estate. His much-boasted ordo salutis was: (1) Faith, (2) Repentance, (3) Immersion, (4) Remission of sins, and (5) The Holy Spirit. To the Third person of the Trinity was conceded unchecked access to the hearts of believers; but it was not allowed him to influence the hearts of unbelievers, and it was sometimes even attempted to show that the act of faith was such an easy matter that there was no need of
[ 125g ]
his assistance in order that it might be effected. Nevertheless the leaders of the movement had a deal of trouble to explain the circumstance, that, since faith is wholly the result of testimony, some of those who attended their own ministry should accept the testimony they were in the custom of imparting, while others of equal or superior capacity for sifting and weighing testimony would turn unaffected away from it. (Richardson, vol. i. p. 427, and vol. ii. pp. 150-163.)
This same arbitrary method of dictating to the Holy Spirit what might be the sphere and limits of his operations may be found in the writings that the Congregational minister, Mr. W. Cudworth, sent forth in his controversy against Robert Sandeman, which have already been mentioned on a previous page. (William Jones of England, in the Mill. Harbinger, 1835, p. 443). Cudworth also advanced, in the same works, the singular hypothesis that the word of Scripture is the Spirit; a fancy that was approved and elaborated in the well-known Dialogue between Timothy and Austin which Mr. Campbell sent forth in the pages of the "Harbinger." (Jones of England, in the Mill. Harbinger, as above).
In the winter of 1811-12, which Mr. Campbell appropriated to the examination of these issues, the work of Cudworth was one of the books that he studied. Writing to his father on the 28th of March, 1812, Alexander says, "I have read about one-half of Cudworth this week. Will give you my sentiments
respecting his performance in my next." (Richardson, vol. i. p. 425.) Unhappily Professor Richardson has failed to insert the letter in which his cogitations about the production of Cudworth are recorded. If that were supplied, it is possible that a degree of assistance might accrue to the labors of students in this department. As the writings of Cudworth cannot be consulted at the present moment, it is not possible to form a conclusion with any degree of detail as to how far the positions assumed by Mr. Campbell may correspond to the opinions which that singular author has enunciated. It is just to state, however, that Mr. Campbell assures his English critic that he reprobates the notion of Cudworth. (Mill. Harb., 1835 p. 463.) It is equally just to add that this same notion is distinctly advocated in the Dialogue between Timothy and Austin.
Mr. Jones likewise informs us that those persons in England who took up with the opinion of Cudworth "have, in process of time, verged into Socinianism or Deism, among whom were some of the elders of our (Scotch Baptist) Churches." According to this account, therefore, the immersed Sandemanians of the mother country were affected by these extraordinary conceits touching the Holy Spirit, as well as their brethren under the lead of Mr. Campbell in America. And it is, further, no secret at all that Mr. Campbell and a portion of his adherents were much suspected of a leaning towards the tenets of Socinianism or Arianism, This suspicion was
[ 125i ]
aroused at an early period, -- even before the Disciples had entered upon any official church relations with the Unitarian followers of Barton W. Stone in Kentucky -- as may be seen in the pages of the "Christian Baptist," pp. 50 and 216. For a number of years he was at great pains to clear himself and his people of imputations of this nature that were laid against them. After the comprehension of the Stoneite party in Kentucky, these suspicions became more numerous than ever; and it was a tedious task to meet the objections that were excited by that action.
It is hardly necessary to ransack the literature of the Sandemanians of Europe for traces of the distinction that was so much approved and employed by Mr. Campbell, between faith and opinion, and is the chief prop of the Plea for Christian Union. Nothing could be more easy than to fall upon this expedient without the aid of a special counselor. The appearance of arrogance which induces him to assert that the confessions of faith set forth by various Christian churches, are merely confessions of opinion (Christian Baptist, p. 216), is not an unusual display in the ranks of the smaller sects. In general, the opinion of Mr. Campbell, touching the meaning of a given passage of scripture, was too likely to be regarded as a point of faith, while the equally careful and honest conclusions of others who, to say the least, were not less competent than himself, were somewhat haughtily denounced as unworthy of that
[ 125j ]
high distinction. In the debate that occurred between himself and the Rev. N. L. Rice, at Lexington, Ky. (Nov. 15 to Dec. 2, 1843), he was sorely pressed to declare the point where faith begins and opinion ends (Debate, p. 813), but was not able to bring forward any satisfactory reply. (Debate, pp. 835-836).
Nevertheless, the distinction proved to be practically serviceable in enabling his people to comprehend within their communion a number of persons believing in Unitarian and Universalist tenets, who were willing to promise that they should hold this item of their faith as a mere opinion. It was not long, however, until he was constrained to deplore an unfortunate condition of affairs, and to complain that "all sorts of doctrines, by almost all sorts of men," were proclaimed among his adherents.
The different sects and systems which we have been considering are extreme, and in several respects fantastic, developments of the principles of Protestantism, and especially of that principle which asserts the necessity of returning to the Bible as the standard of faith and action. The literalism which is an abuse of Protestantism was pretty well displayed in each of them, and in several instances became abused and injurious.
In conclusion, it is believed that the statement with which the present treatise was begun has been shown to be true. The Disciples of Christ are the direct descendants of the Sandemanians; it is possible
to point out in the literature of Sandemanianism the source whence Mr. Campbell derived almost every one of his religious opinions. If he ever had an original idea he took pains to avoid giving expression to it in such of his writings as have been submitted to the inspection of the public.
By each and all the parties that were passed under review in the author's treatise on the "Origin of the Disciples of Christ," which it has been indicated was composed for insertion at this place, out (of) which was subsequently produced in a separate volume, the formal principle of the Protestant Reformation was sadly defaced and perverted through undue and unskillful insistence upon the letter of the Christian Scriptures. Throughout the entire history of Protestantism this excellent principle has been abused by extravagant spirits and parties, who were insensible to the fact that they were thereby contributing all that lay in their power to reduce the whole cause and system of the Reformers to an absurdity. Few things can be more distressing and humiliating then the record in various ages of the freaks of ill balanced but honest men in the matter of false literalism. Poor John Walker, the Sandemanian scholar and preacher who was a prime favorite with Mr. Campbell, sold his carriage and trudged through various countries of Europe on foot, because he could find in the Bible "no express precept nor approved precedent" relating to a Christian minister who journeyed in that kind of style. If we smile at this excessive scrupulosity, it must be borne in mind that there are multitudes besides Mr. Walker,
who have been to an equal or greater extent seized with the almost incurable malady of literalism, Even the incomparable Origen is reported to have made himself an eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake, out of respect for a literalistic interpretation of Matt. 19:12. The Egyptian Church of the fourth and fifth centuries, when as yet it had not been wasted by decay, was for a season largely under the influence of a party whose literalism took the form of gross anthropomorphism (Hase, Kirchengeschichte, Leipzig, 1867, sec.100). The Massalians of Syria and Amenia are reported out of an undue insistence upon the letter of the injunction "pray without ceasing, to have neglected every other means of grace. They even considered it was sinful to labor for their own livelihood, or to possess any property of their own, and passed the time in wandering about the country and begging their daily bread, while they devoted all their mental energies to the task of offering secret prayer (Hase, sec.131). The literalism of the Catholic Church in founding the impossible tenet of transubstantiation upon the words "This Is my body," will show that this evil is both grotesque and dangerous in other than Protestant quarters. For many ages it was forbidden in the Christian church to exact any interest whatever for money that might be given out on loan (Hase sec.252 & Herzog Realencyclopaedia, 13th ed. p. 267).
But while this malady has prevailed to a greater or less degree in both the larger sections into which the Christian world is divided, it will not be questioned that it has infected the Protestant party more seriously than the Roman Catholics, The constant appeals of the former to the holy writings have brought those nearer to the attention or the people than is the case on the other side. In giving these to the common people in their own tongue it was to be expected that so rare a treasure would sometimes suffer abuse. But the misuse which it was plainly foreseen that the Christian Scriptures would suffer at the hands of the incompetent readers and students was justly regarded as a lesser evil than the course of the Catholics in somewhat carefully hiding them from the sight of persons who might wrest them to their own destruction. Let it be remembered, however, that it is now and always a gross perversion of the Protestant position touching this matter to assert this matter to assert that no difference how slight may be his capacity and preparation, one man is just as capable of comprehending and setting forth the meaning of the Bible as another, even though the latter has devoted the cares and energies of a lifetime to that occupation. Protestants who understand themselves have never proceeded so far as this extreme. They have indeed resisted the claim of the Roman theology that the church alone is empowered to interpret
and to teach the sense of the sacred books, but only in so far as to maintain that other scholars of an equal or larger amount of erudition and piety were as competent to determine the exact import of Scripture language as those of the Roman communion, and that their authority was as reliable as that of the Pope and the Councils, notwithstanding the circumstance that the latter laid claim to an exclusive right to the presence and direction of the Holy Spirit.
But they placed the Bible in the hands of the common people as well as in the hands of their learned men. This high extent of confidence has in general been duly honored, but cases of perversion have not been uncommon. If however the balance should be fairly struck, Protestants have every kind of reason to congratulate themselves upon the result of the experiment. These abuses appeared almost as soon as Luther had spoken his first word. Dr. Carlstadt conceived the notion of entering the, houses of (the _____ ) of Wittenburg and requesting from artisans and others the view which these might chance to possess regarding any portions of the Bible which he was called upon to handle in his lectures or discourses from the pulpit. When they would express their astonishment that so distinguished an authority in scholarship and divinity should give them trouble about questions which they possessed scarcely any acquaintance, his reply was that God had concealed the knowledge of such things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to
babes and sucklings. He is also (is) reported to have counseled parents to remove their children from school and to instruct them in a trade because learning was not needful in order to comprehend the word of God, (Koestlin, Martin Luther, Sein Leben und Seine Schriften, Elberfeld 1883, p. 519).
The three prophets who, coming from Zwickau, entered Wittenberg on the 27th of December, 1521, were nearly as much in advance of Luther regarding a "restoration of the ancient order of things" as his disciple Rigdon, soon came to be ahead of Mr. Campbell. Both of these classes of enthusiasts were in favor of restoring the miracles and other spiritual gifts of the primitive ages.
It was not long until among those whose minds were influenced by the doctrines and methods of Luther, a sect arose who insisted so strenuously upon returning to the "ancient order" as, like the apostles of Joseph Smith, to journey everywhere without gold or silver or brass in their purses, without scrip for their journey or shoes or yet staves, proclaiming the advent of a glorious age. And because they prepared themselves in this apostolical fashion for their journeys they judged they might strongly affirm that (they) themselves were the only true ministers of religion, all the others having in this particular departed from the apostolical model, and thereby had surrendered their
position and calling. Members of the same sect were likewise so stern in their literalism as gravely to insist that the housetop was the only place whence it was allowable to deliver the gospel; since oar Lord had expressly laid upon his disciples the injunction "What ye bear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." No discourse was entitled to be designated as a gospel sermon which was given from any other pulpit (Bullinger, Der Widertoeoffern Ursprung, Fuergang, Zurich 1561, p. 18). Another party demanded that females should surrender their chastity, because it was written that publicans and harlots should enter the kingdom of heaven before those who might rejoice in their own righteousness (Bullinger, p. 37).
Because Isaiah had predicted "all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, another body of these queer heads affirmed and practiced that it was sinful that any should enter the churches where they might hear the words of a human teacher, since no one but the Lord was entitled to teach them anything touching the affairs of religion (Bullinger, p. 33).
Whatever taints have been uttered against our good Protestant cause on this score may be painful enough to hear, but we are able to console ourselves with the reflection that the benefit has been far in excess of the
acknowledged evil. Though our sacred writings have been shockingly handled in many times and places, yet on the whole the cause of true religion has been incomparably promoted by the policy which entrusts them to the care of man of every station and every grade of learning.
Sandemanians of all names and classes have bean sadly at fault in this regard, as may be seen from the few studies in their history that have been laid before the public in the work on the Origin of the Disciples, nevertheless it must be allowed that some of the parties to whom reference has just now been given, went far beyond their excesses, it was reserved for the sect which Sidney Rigdon led forth from the American branch of the immersed Sandemanians to rival the literalistic follies of the Reformation period, if not in some respects to surpass anything that was then enacted.
After the conference In the summer of 1821 which himself and Adamson Bentley held with Mr. Campbell and which lasted through the entire night, the former rose up with more than the average enthusiasm of new converts. He was carried off his legs to behold the panorama of the various dispensations -- Adamic, Abrahamic, Jewish and Christian -- passing and repassing before his sight; and especially "the ancient order of things" as severely compared with the modern, won his admiration. The state of his mind was
pretty clearly indicated by the remark he made on the following morning when it was time to say his adieux, to the effect that "if he had within the last year taught and promulgated from the pulpit one error, he had a thousand." This extravagant assurance was in every sense characteristic of the precipitancy of Mr. Rigdon. His life long weakness -- hysteria mascularis - which perhaps had displayed itself on the occasion of his conversion at the Peter's Creek church, was now exhibited in the presence of his new master. The symptoms of his joy may not have been quite so remarkable on this occasion as at the season when he first embraced the truths of Christianity, but they were of sufficient importance to attract the attention of Mr. Campbell, and to elicit a word of caution, which it is believed was chiefly intended for the benefit of Rigdon, although apparently for the sake of courtesy, Adamson Bentley was included in its provisions (Rich., II:45).
In brief words, Sidney was completely in the power of Mr. Campbell. Himself and Bentley pursued their journey towards Warren and their hearts and minds were full of the extraordinary things that had been told them regarding the various dispensations and the wonderful "ancient order of things." Bentley did not forget to proclaim, on his return, the sentiments which he had learned from Mr. Campbell's Sermon on the Law, and to contend for the alone sufficiency of the Scriptures as a guide in the hands of ignorant men (Hayden p. 21).
Rigdon added the persuasions of a very commanding and popular eloquence to the new Sandemanian tenets (Hayden, p. 21). Jacob Osborne, a worthy schoolmaster, who had obtained a portion of his education in the Buffalo seminary, a school that was conducted with much success for a few years by Mr. Campbell at his own home (Rich., I:494), who had also been a member of the church at Brush Run and at a later period of the church at Wellsburg (Rich., II:69.fn.), was thereby induced to renewed exertions on the behalf of his old master (Hayden p. 21). Joseph Freeman, another student of the same school, who had likewise been a member of the two churches above mentioned (Richardson, as above), also joined his exertions to those of his more influential brethren on the Western Reserve (Hayden p. 21).
The turn that was given to his affairs by the conversion of Rigdon and Bentley was so prosperous that Mr. Campbell soon conceived the possibility of enlarging his enterprise. The First Baptist church in Pittsburgh had bean formed in the year 1812, with only twelve members (Benedict 2nd ed. p. 617). At its reception into the Redstone Association in the year 1816, this number had dwindled down to eight (Rich., I:470.fn. & 480). Mr. Campbell was desirous of gaining a foothold in that important city. During the residence of his father there, Thomas Campbell had indeed constituted a small church, composed perhaps of the members of his own
family, who were giving him aid in the business of keeping a school. in the course of the same year he also made an effort to procure a seat in the Redstone Association (Rich., I:480), but as this party had brought no creed or declaration of principles, and perhaps because the Association was aware that if they had been really of the Baptist persuasion and order they could have effected a union with the small Baptist church already in existence, the petition for admittance was denied and their rivals for that honor were welcomed to fellowship. Shortly after this repulse the school of Thomas Campbell, like almost every other undertaking that he ever laid his hand to, proved a failure, and he departed from Pittsburgh with his family and with the church which he had desired to establish there (Rich., I:48). Failed in this direction, Alexander was now constrained to devise other plans to effect the purpose he had in view. A small company of immersed Sandemanians had been organized in Pittsburgh about the time when Thomas Campbell was taking his leave of the place, under the oversight of a certain Mr. George Forrester, who is reported to have had a larger store of singular conceits in his head than were common among "Scotch Baptists" on this side of the ocean (Rich., I:486). It was plain that it would not be in the power of Alexander, with his unusual form of Sandemanianism, which rejected the tenets of Calvin, to influence a brother who held fast to the truth and importance of these tenets.
On the 7th of May 1819 there arrived in Pittsburgh a young Scotchman
named Walter Scott. He had come to this country from the town of Moffat, Dumfrieshire, in search of a career. His situation was of the forlornist kind; for lack of other means of conveyance he had traversed the entire distance from New York City on foot (Baxter, Life of Walter Scott, pp. 5-6). Being in a state of urgent necessity he was soon found by his fellow countryman, Mr. George Forrester, and engaged by the latter gentleman as an assistant teacher in the school over which he was then presiding. In this defenseless condition it was not difficult for his employer to convince a person who had never given any considerable amount of attention to religions questions, of the falsity of the Presbyterian principles in which he had been reared. After no great length of time Scott had contrived to make all the discoveries which are commonly esteemed important in circumstances like his own, and in due season he was immersed and added to the "Scotch Baptist" church which recognized Forrester as their spiritual guide. This event occurred before the close of the year 1819 (The Messiahship; or Great Demonstration, Walter Scott, Cincinnati 1860, p. 7).
The works of Carson, Warclaw, Haldane, Glas and Sandeman were in the library of Mr. Forrester, and the young convert made so much progress in the lore of the Sandemanians as in a brief season to join his teacher in ministering to the little flock
(Walter Scott, as above, p. 6). But before he was able to become firmly grounded and settled in the crabbed faith of the "Scotch Baptists,' Mr. Forrester was suddenly snatched away by drowning and Scott was left alone in charge of the little flock. He did not neglect to prosecute his studies in Sandemanianism after the event which laid this unexpected responsibility upon him; his profiting appeared unto all. His church were in the custom of maintaining "the ancient order of things" in respect to the kiss of charity and to the washing of the saints' feet, and he himself would seem to have been sufficiently hearty in these exercises (Baxter p. 59). Moreover, so ardently did he embrace the Sandemanian confession of faith that he caused the great revelation "Jesus is the Christ," to be written in large letters with chalk over the door of his academy, that he might teach it to his pupils (Scott, the Messiahship, p. 6).
Nevertheless the situation of Scott was for the main part still unprotected. If Forrester could have survived there would have been little chance of his falling into other hands, The Scotch and Irish people who composed the bulk of his little congregation (Baxter, p. 40) were much devoted to him and every way as preposterous in their adhesion to "the ancient order" as the most unreasonable could require, but they were generally of too humble station and culture
to maintain a controlling influence over his mind and heart, a journey which he made to the city of New York in order to become acquainted with the "Scotch Baptist" church of that place had done more to disenchant than to confirm him (Baxter, pp. 54) It was almost inevitable that be should fall into the hands of Mr. Campbell. The principal agent in achieving the capture of Scott was perhaps a certain Mr. Richardson of Pittsburgh, who had been for several years, apparently to a degree, under the influence of Campbell (Rich., I:464). This gentleman had sent his son Robert, who afterwards became the biographer of Mr. Campbell, to be a pupil in the school of Scott, as he had previously attended the instructions of Thomas Campbell while his Pittsburgh academy was in progress (Rich., I:504). Now that Scott had drifted away to New York, where it was easily possible he might soon be lost out of sight, the benevolent interest of Mr. Richardson availed to bring him back (Baxter, pp. 54-55)
On his return he was received with a welcome that lacked nothing in warmth, and installed as a preferred inmate of the Richardson family (Baxter, pp. 56) In the winter of 1821-22, when the influence of the Richardsons was well established over the admired teacher and preacher, Mr. Campbell appears upon the scene and is formally presented to him, (Baxter, pp. 64) From that moment it would seem that Campbell had at last obtained what he had so long desired -- a foothold in Pittsburgh; although it was by no means certain as yet that Scott would be strong
enough to induce all the members of his little church to bow to the authority of the new master who had just now been installed over himself. Thomas Campbell later went to his assistance in school and church (Memoir of Elder Thomas Campbell, p. 275): but the Scotch and Irish elements in the latter ware so obstreperous that it was a great while before they could be reduced to order and submission (Rich., II:128-9).
Mr. Campbell was at the same time ambitions to extend his conquests to the Baptist church in Pittsburgh, which in the interval since its last appearance, in the year 1816, had grown into a somewhat numerous community. He had even conceived the project of effecting a union between it and the "Scotch Baptist" church over which was installed his disciple Welter Scott (Rich., II:47-48). He was in the custom of preaching for them whenever he chanced to be in the city, and some of the members were believed to favor Sandemanian views; but the suspicion that attended against himself was so active that it (was) not feasible in his own person to attempt the task of wholesale conversion.
Sidney Rigdon the new convert and eloquent preacher appeared to be the most suitable agent into whose hands he might entrust this delicate enterprise. Accordingly, through the influence of Campbell, Mr. Rigdon was chosen pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh in the latter portion of the year 1821 (Rich., II:47).
The announcement of this sudden access of fortune must have reached his hands by due course of mail, possibly in a letter from Mr. Campbell, who had taken such a lively interest in his welfare since the time when Rigdon had become his willing tool, as well as from the official authorities of the church in Pittsburgh. As early as it was convenient for him to accomplish his removal from Trumbell county, Ohio, he appears upon the scene of his triumph. On the 28th of January 1822 he entered upon his duties in Pittsburgh (Patterson, p. 8). It must have bean an occasion of no small exultation to the gawky, green boy of Peter's Creek to return to the scenes of his early humiliations as the pastor of a city church, which by this time had assumed a station of leading prominence in the Redstone Association. It would now be in order for the Rev. Mr. Philips and all others in that portion of the country who had held his powers and importance in slight esteem to hide their own diminished heads.
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It reflects a curious light upon the style of cultivation that must have prevailed in the Baptist community of Pittsburgh, when it is brought to mind that so competent a judge as Mr. Campbell was induced to suppose that an orator of Sidney's "sound and fury" could be endured in their pulpit for a longer space than a single day. On the other hand it must not be omitted to observe that Mr. Campbell had small room for choice. Adamson Bentley could not be obtained for the service in view, since his pastoral and mercantile engagements would bind him fast to Warren for a series of years; even if he had been willing to make a sacrifice of his business interests, the people of Pittsburgh ware no longer familiar with the name of a person who had left them so many years previously to reside in Ohio, and they would not be easily disposed to extend him a call.
Mr. Campbell was therefore shut up to the necessity of selecting Mr. Rigdon, though it is hardly probable he would have placed his influence in jeopardy by an alliance with him if his mind had not been in a measure unbalanced by a desire to capture the church in Pittsburgh. Sidney may have bean in a situation to meet the rude demands of the position in respect to his oratorical endowments, but it must have been apparent that his impulsive and
unruly spirit would be a constant menace. Nevertheless he combined two qualities which it was nearly impossible to meet with elsewhere, he was an enthusiast in his devotion to the Sandemanian platform, while preserving at the same moment the odor of Baptist orthodoxy. The church at Pittsburgh had enjoyed no opportunity to become informed of his close relations to Campbell, or of the service he had already rendered that gentleman in the Mahoning Association. Therefore, with Rigdon's aid it seemed possible to obtain control of the church; without his co-operation no such result could be achieved.
Possibly it was not long after the arrival of Rigdon on the 28th of January 1822, before Campbell was at his side for the purpose of surveying the prospect. He would embrace an early occasion to present the new pastor to Walter Scott, his other henchman in the town (Rich., II:47). Thereupon the trio would gravely discuss the chances of affecting a union between the Baptist church under the charge of Sidney and the Sandemanian church under the charge of Walter (Rich., II:48). It would be allowed that the two bodies were very shy of each other; Mr. Campbell had already gained some experience in this regard at the time when his father was trying to erect a Sandemanian church in the schoolroom which he occupied at Pittsburgh. Nothing was clearer than that much tact and delicacy would be required in order to accomplish any results that would be worth the pains.
But neither Walter nor Sidney had ever learned to spell out so much as the initials of such words as tact and delicacy; it was not long before the latter began to exhibit his cloven foot: his partisanship in favor of Sandemanianism was speedily too open and violent to serve with any degree of efficiency the interests of his master. Holland Summer, who is said to have been a deacon, was one of Sidney's most troublesome adversaries; he stood forward in the interests of the church to resist the influence and the activity of the pastor (Patterson, p. 13.)
So far as existing researches go the details of the conflict are mainly out of sight; it has not been stated just how early it was started. Rev. Samuel Williams succeeded to the pastoral office of the Baptist church in Pittsburgh in the year 1827, and held the place continuously until 1855 (Baptist Home Mission Monthly for May 1883, p. 117). During this period he made it his care to inquire diligently into the details of the business in hand, and in the year 1840, published in New York a pamphlet under the title of Mormonism Exposed" in which a good many of these were likely set down for the information of the public, But only a single copy of that document is known to be now in existence (Home Mission Monthly, as above): the student is compelled to be content with such extracts from it as may be found in the "Millennial Harbinger" for the year 1842-43, which unfortunately omit the facts of Sidney's Pittsburgh activity. Mr. Williams, however, has supplied one or
two of these in his article for the Baptist Home Mission Monthly of the date above indicated.
He there reports the business as having come to an issue as early as the 11th of July 1823 (p. 118). On that day a church meeting was held in which a portion of the church presented a protest against the heretical teachings of the pastor, and Williams asserts that "among the errors specified in the protest, the following are on record: 1. That Christians are not under obligation to keep the moral law, it having been abolished by the Savior. 2. That the Jewish dispensation was not the best that God might have given to that nation, for it had made them threefold more the children of hell than they were before. 3. That a change of heart consists merely in a change of views and baptism. 4. That there is no such thing as religious experience. 5. That saving faith is a mere crediting of testimony given by the evangelists, such as all persons have in the truth of any other history. 6. That it is wrong to use the Lord's prayer, inasmuch as the reign of Christ has now already commenced."
The above protest was not the close of the struggle; it shortly proceeded to the extent of a schism. The Rev. John Winter had reached Pittsburgh from England sometime during the summer of the year 1822, and is said, with his family, to have found a place for a brief season in the household of Mr. Rigdon (Christian Baptist, 1st ed., Vol. 7 p. 184, cf. Mill. Harb., 1830 pp. 174-177). He afterwards was engaged in teaching (Patterson, p. 11). Perceiving the game in which Sidney was involved he led the opposition against him. Each of the two parties claimed to be the First Baptist church of Pittsburgh and each went so far as to excommunicate the other. Winter's party is said to have numbered only about twelve communicants, while Mr. Rigdon was sustained by seventy or eighty (C.B, 1st ed., p. 184).
Mr. Winter shortly afterwards quitted the schoolhouse which he provided at Pittsburgh and retired to the Beaver Baptist Association of Pennsylvania. The party which he had organized engaged the Rev. Mr. Greatrake to be their minister (Christian Baptist, edition 6, p. 91). This person brought himself into notice the following year by means of a pamphlet
devoted to the issues involved, in which his insight was clear enough to perceive that Rigdon was only a puppet. His attack was directed against the person who was manipulating this puppet; the pamphlet was entitled "Letters to Alexander Campbell by a Regular Baptist," and was issued in Pittsburgh during the month of August 1824 (C. B., p. 91).
Both of these factions appeared at the Redstone Association which convened that year in Pittsburgh to dispute the question, which of the twain should be recognized as the Baptist church in Pittsburgh, and by consequence be admitted to the seat which belonged to that organization in their body. The Association was prevailed upon to defer immediate action and to appoint a council of ministers and messengers from neighboring churches to assemble in Pittsburgh on the 11th of October 1823 to pronounce which faction should be recognized in that character (Home Mission Monthly, May 1885, p. 118). Mr. Campbell, on the other hand affirms that this said council was charged with no other duty than to endeavor to promote a reunion of those whom Sidney and his faction had excommunicated (C.B., p. 91).
It is evident, however, that the council did not understand their commission in this fashion; nor is it likely that Sidney so understood it, for he incontinently ran away from the meeting. On the 11th of October, the very day when it convened, he made his appearance at Washington, Ky., a point several hundred miles distant from the scene of the action (Rich., II:71). On this journey
to Kentucky he was performing the function of a squire to his master; Alexander had gone to Washington to enact the role of a Baptist champion in a debate with the Rev. Mr. McCalla of the Presbyterian church. To the best of his ability, which was not very large that way, Sidney performed the part of a reporter; such notices as he was able to set down during the progress of the debate, were handed over to his chief, and when the records of it were published by the latter in May 1824, he was able to give Mr. Campbell a certificate affirming the correctness of the version that was laid before the public (A Debate on Christian Baptism by Alexander Campbell, Buffaloe 1824, Preface p.ix)
Mr. Campbell complains that the above council was called by the excluded party, and that when it was assembled it left undone the only duty that had been laid upon it by the Redstone Association: "they proceeded to do that which they were not commanded to do, and did, without any authority from the association, call, or denominate the excommunicated ones a church." But Rigdon did not dare to remain at Pittsburgh and instruct them in their duty, and the blood of the brethren was up, so that they were prepared to deal out salutary justice not only to the tool but also to the principal in the transactions which gave them so much offense
Evidently the chief blame for Rigdon's evil behavior was laid to Mr. Campbell's account, and the association were now in an excellent temper to cut him off along with his henchman. Perceiving that the exasperation against him was very general and direct, he resolved to take timely measures against it (Rich., II:68). His guadium certaminis, usually a prominent feature, was wholly forgotten in the face of this peril; he could think of no expedient but incontinent flight. If he went to the Association with all his recent sins upon him it was beyond question that the organization would withdraw its fellowship from the Brush Run church to which he belonged.
On the eve of the meeting of the Association he assembled the Brush Run church and announced to them that "for special reasons which it was not prudent to disclose, he desired from them letters of dismission for himself and some thirty other members, in order to constitute a church in Wellsburg," which new church would not be under the jurisdiction of the Redstone fraternity. Next day when the matter came up, he announced to the body that he "was in no sort of connection with them, and quite beyond the reach of their power to legislate against him" (Rich., II:69-70). But for this hasty retreat he would have been overtaken in the like disaster as that which befell Mr. Rigdon.
in case the Redstone Association had succeeded in its propose to visit condign punishment upon Campbell as well as upon Rigdon, the act would have been a serious blow to his prospects, breaking up the proposed debate with Mr. McCalla, in which he expected to gain a large amount of capital by posing as the accredited advocate of the whole Baptist fraternity. It is an amusing spectacle to observe the airs assumed by this couple as soon as they found themselves in Kentucky. Sidney was formally cut off from the Baptist fold the very day of his arrival at Washington, and Mr. Campbell had avoided such a calamity by a ruse which had much appearance of cowardice. In effect though not quite in form he had suffered the ban of excommunication.
But to a reader of the Debate as it was daily waged from the 15th to the 21st of Oct., there comes no sort of suspicion regarding this condition of affairs; Mr. Campbell plays his part as well as if he had been a Baptist of the best repute both for position and orthodoxy. Indeed it supplies a curious study in human nature that he of all persons should have allowed himself to cast discredit upon his opponent, not however upon the ground that he was not recognized by the Presbyterian church, but for the reason that at a former period McCalla was convicted by the courts "of having libeled a neighboring preacher" (Debate, p. 373). If that gentleman could have been made aware of the real condition of his opponent's record, he might have offered in reply some pungent remarks on the subject of Mr. Campbell's impudence.
Nothing but the distance at which they were removed from the boundaries of the Redstone Association could have saved his blushes; nothing else gave him the hold which by means of his exertions in this conflict he obtained upon the confidence and the sympathies of the Baptists of Kentucky.
When Sidney returned to Pittsburgh, he perceived that his game was out. By the action of the council taken on the 11th of October, he had ceased to be in any way connected with the Baptist brotherhood; for more than two years prior to that date he had been estranged from them in his sympathies, and was employing all the resources he could command to do them hurt.
note: Mrs. Fanny Lashbrooke (formerly Morton) of North Fork, Ky., says that when the debate was concluded Sidney borrowed a horse from her brother Thomas Morton to ride about the country proclaiming the merits of Mr. Campbell's doctrines. Neither horse nor rider were ever afterwards seen by Mr. Morton. (Letter of Rev. J. W. Loving under date of May 12, 1890).
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