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Title: The Church, the Falling Away, and the Restoration
Author: Shepherd, James Walter
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              THE CHURCH,
                           THE FALLING AWAY,
                                  AND
                            THE RESTORATION


                                   BY
                             J. W. SHEPHERD
                               Editor of
“Handbook on Baptism,” “Queries and Answers,” “Salvation of Sin,” “What
                     is the New Testament Church?”

                        GOSPEL ADVOCATE COMPANY
                            Nashville, Tenn.
                                  1961


                               Copyright
                                  1929
                             By F. L. Rowe

                       Gospel Advocate Co., Owner
                            Nashville, Tenn.



                                CONTENTS


   Preface                                                             3
                                 PART ONE
                                The Church

What Should the Church of the Present Be?                              5

The Church and the Temple                                              9

Infant Baptism                                                        16

Conditions of Membership                                              25

Conditions of Admission                                               25

Agencies                                                              28

Conditions                                                            28

Conditions of Continued Membership                                    29

The Worship                                                           32

The Apostles’ Teaching                                                36

The Fellowship                                                        38

Breaking Bread                                                        39

Prayers                                                               40

Singing                                                               40

Polity                                                                42

The Word of God                                                       42

Names                                                                 43

Congregational Independence                                           44

Elders                                                                45

Deacons                                                               47

Evangelists                                                           47
                                 PART TWO
                             The Falling Away

The Falling Away Predicted                                            49

The Falling Away                                                      54

The Confessional                                                      63

Indulgences                                                           67

John Tetzel                                                           69
                                PART THREE
                        The Reformation In Europe

John Wyckliffe                                                        74

Translates the Bible Into English                                     75

William Tyndale                                                       79

Erasmus Arrives in England                                            80

Tyndale Translates the Bible Into English                             82

Goes to Hamburg                                                       84

Bishop of London Supplies Money                                       86

Betrayed and Murdered                                                 88

Martin Luther                                                         89

A Friend Indeed                                                       90

Becomes a Monk                                                        91

Makes a Pilgrimage to Rome                                            94

Professor of Theology at Wittenburg                                   96

The Ninety-five Theses                                                97

Debates With John Eck and Burns the Papal Bull                       100

Before the Diet of Worms                                             103

Under Imperial Ban                                                   110

A Change Comes Over Luther                                           112

Retains What Is Not Forbidden                                        115

Origin of Protestantism                                              116

The Reformation in Switzerland                                       122

The Reformation in England                                           126

Changes Made by Edward VI                                            129

“Bloody Mary”                                                        131

Elizabeth, the Protestant Queen                                      133

The Reformation in Scotland                                          138

The Independents                                                     138

Haldane and Aikman                                                   141

The Scotch Baptists                                                  142

The Separatists                                                      144
                                PART FOUR
                   The Restoration Movement In America

Spiritual Unrest in Many Places                                      148

Barton W. Stone                                                      153

Confronted by Many Difficulties                                      153

Ordained to the Ministry                                             157

Remarkable Meeting at Cane Ridge                                     160

“A Time of Distress”                                                 163

Last Will and Testament                                              166

The Witnesses’ Address                                               167

Practices Modified in Many Particulars                               169

“Shakerism”                                                          170

The Work Prospers                                                    171

Thomas Campbell                                                      175

Conflict With the Seceders                                           175

The Declaration and Address                                          180

Alexander Campbell                                                   188

Subject and Act of Baptism Settled                                   188

The Redstone Association                                             195

A Wider Field                                                        199

The Campbell-McCalla Discussion                                      203

Visits the Kentucky Baptists                                         207

John Smith                                                           209

Soul Struggles                                                       210

Desires to Preach                                                    213

Terrible Calamity                                                    215

Preaches at Crab Orchard                                             215

The Christian Baptist                                                217

Fetters Cast Off                                                     218

Resolves to Preach the Simple Gospel                                 220

“Ancient Order”—Baptists in Kentucky                                 224

Walter Scott                                                     231-236

A Sincere Truth Seeker                                               232

Turning Point in His Life                                            235

Reformers in Other States—John Wright                                246

Herman Christian Dasher                                              249

The Christians and Reformers Unite                                   251



                                PREFACE


An effort is made in the following pages to set forth what the New
Testament church was when it came into the world through the preaching
of inspired men; how it was led into apostasy; and an account of some of
the many attempts to restore it to its original purity and simplicity.

In proportion as any religious work becomes a potent force in affecting
the welfare of mankind, its early history becomes interesting and
important. This is especially true of the very beginning of its history
where those influences which have molded its character are most clearly
seen. It is due to the world no less than to the heroic men who were
chief actors in such a movement, that the motives which inspired them,
the principles which guided them, and the forces which opposed them,
together with the results of this conflict, should be set down
accurately for the information and for the benefit of those who are
seeking the truth.

If the writer did not most profoundly believe that this effort to
restore the New Testament church was one of those providential movements
designed by Jehovah to correct existing evils, and to purify religion
from its corruptions that the gospel may run and be glorified in the
earth, then he would feel but little interest in its history and
achievements. But recognizing, as I do, the hand of God in this
remarkable movement of the nineteenth century, it is believed that an
important service is being rendered by putting on record the causes
which gave birth to it, and the influences which by action and reaction
have made it what it is. If God overrules in human affairs, and teaches
men by means of history, then he who faithfully records historic facts
fulfills an important service in the education of men. This is
pre-eminently true of that kind of history which deals with the
struggles of the human mind and heart to know God, and to understand his
will concerning human redemption.

It is of the very greatest importance to the successful carrying forward
of the Lord’s work that the younger generation should become thoroughly
acquainted with the spirit which animated, and the principles which
controlled the men who, under God, gave the primary impulse to this
great work. They should become familiar with the conflicts of those
early days and with the tremendous sacrifices made by those valiant men
and women who loved the truth more than popularity, more than ease, more
than wealth, friends, and family ties. It is only as we shall be able to
perpetuate this love of truth, this freedom from the bondage of
tradition and inherited opinions, that we shall be able to carry
forward, successfully the work they inaugurated.

We need the same dauntless heroism, the same faith in God, the same zeal
for truth and the same underlying principles which characterized them
and who have transmitted to us the responsibility of carrying forward
the work which they began. If this volume which is now sent forth shall
serve to inspire the workers who are to succeed us with the same passion
for pure apostolic Christianity, with the same spirit of loyalty to
Christ, which marked the beginning of their work, the purpose of the
writer shall have been fulfilled.

                                                         J. W. Shepherd.

Birmingham, Ala., July 25, 1929.



                                PART I.
                              The Church.


                               CHAPTER I.
               WHAT SHOULD THE CHURCH OF THE PRESENT BE?

That the church is the bride of Christ is clearly expressed in the
following: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law
through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to
him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto
God” (Rom. 7:4). “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I
espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin
to Christ” (II Cor. 11:2). In these passages the bride evidently means
the church. That the bride will remain till the Bridegroom comes there
can be no reasonable doubt; that she has ever waited his coming is
equally certain. She has been in great distress, being driven into the
wilderness and deprived of much of her glory, but she has ever looked
for the coming of her espoused. In what condition the Bridegroom will
find her is a question about which there has been much speculation.
Unless we believe that the Bridegroom, when he comes, will find his
bride in dishonor—living in fornication with the world—we may not
measure the church by human standards. That the bride will be found
wearing the name of the Bridegroom and living in chastity when he comes
to claim her, there is no room for reasonable doubt. The world may be
deeply defiled by crime, but the church will be arrayed in her robes of
righteousness. Hence, while the church may have its impurities, as
everything composed of humanity has, it must at least be uncontaminated
to the extent of fidelity to Christ. This may cut off much of what the
world calls the church, but not what God regards as the church. This has
ever been the case since the apostasy, and will doubtless so continue to
the end.

In the days of the apostles, God had a people in Babylon, but while they
were in Babylon they were not of Babylon. Hence the Lord says: “Come
forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins,
and that ye receive not her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). God doubtless has a
people in Babylon now; but they and Babylon are two distinct things.
God’s church is not composed of the Babel of sectarianism. Just who
God’s people are who may now be in Babylon it is not my purpose to
determine. God has revealed to us the things that pertain to his
church—the faith, the practice, and the promises—and with these it is my
purpose to deal. Here, all is faith and assurance; beyond this, all is
opinion and fruitless speculation. Concerning those in Babylon we have
but one living direction. “Come forth, my people, out of her.” To this
we should give faithful heed. For to console people in the Babylon of
sectarianism, and to reconcile them to their bondage, we have no divine
right; but to deliver them from it is a divine obligation. Therefore
God’s church is an institution separate and distinct from the Babel of
denominationalism.

In determining, then, what the church should be, it will be necessary to
ascertain the characteristics of the apostolic church. If the church of
the present day be essentially different from the apostolic as a matter
of preference, it can not be the church of which God is the author.
Hence it can not be a divine institution, neither can it be the virgin
bride of Christ. It follows, therefore, that the church must possess the
following characteristics:

  1. It Must Be a Divine Institution

  At the beginning the church was a divine institution, and it can not
  cease to be divine and still be the church of God, for God does not
  begin with the divine and end with the human. Beginning in the spirit
  the things of God are not made perfect in the flesh. A divine
  institution must have for its organization and essential features
  divine authority, for the world can not make an ordinance or an
  institution divine. It must be specially appointed of God. No human
  institution, therefore, nor combination of institutions for which
  there is no special divine appointment, can ever constitute the church
  of God, for it is of God and not of men. Hence the church must be in
  all its essential features of specific divine appointment. These
  appointments are all found in the New Testament; therefore, the church
  to be a divine institution must be fashioned after that model.

  2. It Must Be Governed Wholly by Divine Authority.

  The church was governed wholly by divine authority at the beginning.
  Should it substitute human for divine authority it would cease to be
  the church of God. A substitute for a divine thing can never itself be
  divine; therefore, anything substituted for the church as it was in
  the beginning is not that church. Just as certainly therefore, as
  Christ will own and accept his church when he comes again, so
  certainly will it be governed by his authority. Christ will accept
  only the church which he established. That which he established was
  governed wholly by divine authority: therefore the church of today
  must be so governed.

  3. It Should Have Only the Names It Had at the Beginning.

  In the New Testament there are various names applied to the church and
  to its members. All these names have their significance, for the Holy
  Spirit never used them by accident, and for these names, and for these
  only, is there divine authority. The true church of to-day will be
  governed by divine authority; therefore, only these will the church
  accept. This with it is not simply a matter of taste, but of loyalty
  to Christ. Names unknown to the New Testament have come of the
  apostasy.

  4. It Must Have the Form of Government Given to the Church in the
  Beginning.

  It must necessarily be true, since it recognizes only the same
  authority. The church of to-day could not disregard the government of
  the New Testament church and still be the same church. Its
  congregations are not bound in the coils of an ecclesiasticism as
  merciless as it is unscriptural. Its bishops are not diocesan, but
  congregational. There are not a plurality of churches, under one
  bishop, but a plurality of bishops in one church. Its government is
  not in the hands of a legislative body, but it is under the
  legislation of Christ, executed by the several congregations.

  5. It Has the Unity of the Church of the New Testament.

  This conclusion is reached from several considerations. (1) Since the
  church is governed only by divine authority, has the same form of
  government that it had in the beginning, and wears only the names
  found in the New Testament, the unity that characterized the first
  church follows as a consequence. (2) The destruction of the unity of
  the church was the work of the apostasy; hence when the church is
  reclaimed from the apostasy it will be freed from this disunion. (3)
  There can be no doubt that Christ’s prayer for the unity of his people
  can now be fulfilled as it was at the beginning. This unity can never
  exist through denominational walls. There were no denominational walls
  between the Father and the Son, neither was there any between the
  first disciples. Hence, if that prayer is answered in the restoration
  of the church, and it must be, there must be the same unity that
  characterized the church in the beginning.


                              CHAPTER II.
                       THE CHURCH AND THE TEMPLE

Under the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensation there were numerous animal
sacrifices by divine appointment. Not only so, but the people generally,
who knew not the true God, have, all down the ages, poured sacrificial
blood upon altars innumerable. This must have come about by the
perversion of divinely-appointed sacrificial institutions, or from the
felt need of fallen man for some way of mediation and of approach to
God. That the need was felt by true worshipers is not open to doubt, for
if sacrifice were devised by man, it would only have arisen from a sense
of that need; and, on the other hand, if ordained of God, it could only
have been acceptably offered under a consciousness thereof.

Sacrifices, altars and priests have generally stood together; and so
long as they have been upon divine lines have been highly beneficial.
But it has been alleged that priests have been a curse rather than a
blessing to the nations, and I am not prepared to dispute the
allegation. But neither God nor the Bible is responsible, because the
priesthood as instituted by the Jews was a good and not an evil to that
people; while, on the other hand, the priestly system has no place in
Christianity. The priests of heathendom and of Christendom are not of
God. Then how widely different, how completely opposite, is the
unpriestly worship of the Church of Christ from the sacerdotal
ceremonies of the Jewish economy. There we find the costly temple, in
the construction of which were gold, silver, precious stones and costly
fabrics in unrestricted abundance; sacred places over which the people
may not pass, and which the feet of priests and Levites only may tread;
ceremonials which bring death to those who touch them with other than
priestly hands; altars and fires, blood and incense, and priests, all of
divine ordering, so that we read:

  Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before Jehovah. And
  King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and
  a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people
  dedicated the house of God. And the priests stood, according to their
  offices; the Levites also with instruments of music of Jehovah, which
  David the King had made to give thanks unto Jehovah (for his loving
  kindness endureth forever), when David raised by their ministry; and
  the priests sounded trumpets before them; and all Israel stood.
  Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the
  house of Jehovah; for there he offered and burnt offerings, and the
  fat of the peace offerings, because the brazen altar which Solomon had
  made was not able to receive the burnt offering, and the meat
  offering, and the fat.

  So Solomon held the feast at that time seven days, and all Israel with
  him, a very great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath unto the brook
  of Egypt. And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly: for they
  kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
  And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month, he sent the
  people away unto their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the
  goodness that Jehovah had showed unto David, and to Solomon, and to
  Israel his people. (II Chron. 7:4-10.)

The significance, and richness, and glory of that economy surpassed
anything that the world had ever seen; but in the fullness of time it
was superseded by a higher and more glorious dispensation, concerning
which the Apostle Paul wrote:

  And such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we
  are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves;
  but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as
  ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for
  the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the
  ministration of death, written, and engraven on stones, came with
  glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon
  the face of Moses for the glory of his face which glory was passing
  away: how shall not rather the ministration of the spirit be with
  glory? For if the ministration of condemnation hath glory, much rather
  doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For verily
  that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this
  respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth. For if that which
  passeth away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
  (II Cor. 3:4-11.)

Shall we, then, look for still greater material splendor and wealth in
temples, vestments, altars and instruments of music? If not, why not?
And still, if not, why did the like exist under the former and inferior
economy? We should look for nothing of the sort, nor suffer its
intrusion upon the Church of Christ, and that for one reason, sufficient
without others equally good—the former economy, in all its ceremonials,
was typical of spiritual blessings then to come. There was a perfect
typical system most expressive and opposite, but rendered useless when
its antitypes appeared. The cross took the place of the altar; the High
Priest of our confession came in the room of the Aaronic priesthood,
“the sacrifice of praise,” “that is the fruit of our lips,” set aside
the praise by trumpets, psaltery and cymbal. These were good and
expressive in their day and place. “A shadow of things to come; but the
body is Christ” (Col. 2:17). “For the law having a shadow of good things
to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same
sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them
that draw nigh. Else would they not have ceased to be offered?” (Heb.
10:1). So we see that the Holy Spirit very aptly informs us that “the
body” or substance, is Christ’s, and when he came and filled to the full
the types and shadows of the law, they passed away in their entirety,
giving place to higher institutions, by means of which the worshipers
could be made perfect. “And not only so,” as a ripe Bible student very
forcefully says, “but just in proportion as these abandoned shadows are
intruded into the church and worship of God they become injurious and
more or less substitutes for the realities of which, in their day and
place, they were the proper types and symbols. Consequently, in setting
in order, by the apostles, of the Church of Christ, the temple and its
worship were in no degree taken as models, and this is highly
reasonable, inasmuch as the existence together of the type and the
antitype would be completely inadmissible. Nothing could have been
easier than for the apostles to have adopted priestly, or modified
priestly vestments. There could have been no manner of difficulty in
burning incense as an act of praise of worship. It can not be supposed
but that, long before the close of the apostolic ministry, they could
have used and enjoined the use of instrumental music. But no! Nothing of
the kind; no trace even of a leaning, or of a desire, in that direction.
The things of the shadows were done with, and those of the substance
took their place.”

That the church is not modeled after the temple, but after the
synagogue, is established beyond doubt by the testimony of the learned
men in the denominational world. If objection be made to the
inconsistency of denominational scholars putting forth such views, I
answer that it is a well-known fact that men do confess truths that they
fail to carry into effect; but the truth is not weakened thereby, but
rather derives additional weight from the fact that it forces
confession, even against the interests and associations of those who
utter it. But however that may be, they write the truth abundantly
clear.

The first witness I introduce is “Richard Watson,” who the McClintock
and Strong Cyclopedia says “gave the first systematic treatment of
Wesleyan theology. His Institutes, though not the legal, have been the
moral and scientific standard of Methodist doctrine.” All aspirants to
the Methodist pulpit are required to study “Watson’s Theological
Institutes.” He says:

  The course of the synagogue worship became indeed the model of that of
  the Christian Church. It consisted in prayer, reading and explaining
  the Scriptures, and singing psalms; and thus one of the most important
  means of instructing nations, and of spreading and maintaining the
  influence of morals and religion among people, passed from the Jews
  into all Christian countries.... The mode of public worship in the
  primitive church was taken from the synagogue service; and so, also,
  was its arrangements of offices.... Such was the model which the
  apostles followed in providing for the future regulation of the
  churches they had raised up. They took it, not from the temple and its
  priesthood, for that was typical, and was then passing away. But they
  found in the institution of the synagogues a plan admirably adapted to
  the simplicity and purity of Christianity, ... and which was capable
  of being applied to the new dispensation without danger of Judaizing.
  (Theological Institutes, pages 640, 683, 684.)

Lyman Coleman, Presbyterian, who was “eminent in solid abilities, in
accurate scholarship, in stores of accumulated learning, and in extended
usefulness,” says:

  He (Jesus) was a constant attendant upon the religious worship of the
  synagogue, and, after his ascension, his disciples conformed their
  acts of worship to those of the synagogue. They consisted in prayer,
  in singing and in the reading and exposition of the Scriptures, as
  appears from the writers of the New Testament, from the earliest
  Christian fathers, and from profane writers of the first two
  centuries. (Ancient Christianity Exemplified, page 94.)

The eminent scholar of the Church of England, G. A. Jacob, in his
“Ecclesiastical Polity of the New Testament,” which is used as a
text-book in some of the Episcopal theological seminaries in this
country, says:

  In the temple was the priest consecrated according to a precise
  regulation, and a sarcedotal succession laid down by God himself, with
  the altar and its sacrifices at which he officiated, the incense which
  he burned, the holy places into which none might enter but those to
  whom it was especially assigned. In the synagogue was the reader of
  the Scriptures, the preacher or expounder of religious and moral
  truth, the leader of the common devotions of the people, unconsecrated
  by any special rites, and unrestricted by any rule of succession; with
  a reading desk or pulpit at which he stood, but with no altar,
  sacrifice or incense, and no part of the building more holy than the
  rest. And without attempting now to dwell upon all the remarkable
  contrasts thus displayed, it may suffice to say that the temple
  exhibited in a grand combination of typical places, persons and
  actions. God dwelling with man, reconciling the world unto himself in
  the person and work of Christ; and pardoning, justifying and
  graciously receiving those who come to him through the appointed
  Saviour; while the synagogue exhibited a congregation of men, already
  reconciled to God, assembled as devout worshipers for prayer and
  praise, for instruction in divine knowledge, and edification in
  righteous living. And the two systems—the one gorgeous and typical,
  the other simple and real; in one, God drawing near to man, in the
  other, man drawing near to God—never clashed or interfered with each
  other; were never intermingled or confounded together. In the temple
  there was no pulpit, in the synagogue there was no altar.... They
  (apostles) retained and adapted to Christian use some Jewish forms and
  regulations; but they were taken altogether not from the temple, but
  from the synagogue. The offices which they appointed in the church,
  and the duties and authority which they attached to them, together
  with the regulations which they made for Christian worship, bore no
  resemblance in name or in nature to the services of the priesthood in
  the temple. The apostles had been divinely taught that those priests
  and services were typical forms and shadows, which were centered, and
  fulfilled, and done away in Christ; and to reinstate them in the
  Church would have been in their judgment to go back to the bondage of
  “weak and beggarly elements” from the liberty, strength and rich
  completeness of the Gospel dispensation. They saw that as the
  ordinances of the temple represented the work of God wrought out for
  man, not man’s work for God, to continue them after that work was
  finished in the life and death of Jesus, would be in effect so far to
  deny the efficacy of the Saviour’s mission, and to thrust in the
  miserable performances of men to fill up an imagined imperfection in
  the Son  of God. (Ecclesiastical Polity, pages 96-98.)

The apostles, therefore, by the directions of the Holy Spirit adopted
official arrangements similar to those of the synagogue, and discarded
those of the temple, in the institution of church offices, and plainly
showed by this circumstance that no priestly powers or duties were
attached to their ministrations. Another argument which leads to the
same conclusion is deduced from the condition of the members of the
Church as it appears in the New Testament, and the equality of standing
in Christ, which Christians possessed. The way of access to God being
open to all without distinction through the priesthood of Christ, there
was nothing for a priest to do—no sacerdotal work or office for him to
undertake.

On this phase of the subject, Mr. Jacob has said some very pointed
things, and I will call on him to give testimony. He says:

  A distinct proof that the office bearers in the Church of the Apostles
  were not, and could not be priests, or perform any sacerdotal duties,
  is seen in a condensed form in the epistle to the Hebrews, and is
  found at large in the whole of the Old and the New Testaments, of
  which that epistle, as far as the subject reaches, is so valuable an
  epitome. We there learn that from the very nature of the priestly
  office, it is necessary for those who hold it to be specially called
  and appointed by God, either personally by name, or according to a
  divinely instituted order of succession; and that, since the
  patriarchal dispensation, only two orders of priesthood have ever had
  this necessary divine sanction granted to them. The two orders are the
  order of Aaron and the order of Melchisedek. The priests of the former
  order belonged to the Jewish dispensation only, and have indisputably
  passed away. The only priest after the order of Melchisedek, even
  mentioned in the Bible, is our Lord Jesus Christ—the “priest upon his
  throne,” without a successor, as he had none before him, in the
  everlasting priesthood of his mediatorial reign. This argument appears
  to me to be conclusive. It appears to me that the epistle to the
  Hebrews shuts out the possibility of there being any other priest in
  the Church besides Christ himself. But this does not so appear to a
  large number of our clergy. Bishops as far back as the third century
  claimed to be successors or vicegerents of Christ on earth; and our
  presbyters do not hesitate to declare that they are priests after the
  order of Melchisedek. To my mind and feeling this is an impious claim;
  but countenanced as they are by numberless past and present examples,
  good men are not conscious of impiety in making it. But, then it is
  necessary to ask the “priests” for their credentials. Where is the
  record of their divine appointment to the sacerdotal office? In what
  part of the New Testament, and in what form of words, is the
  institution of such priests, and the manner of their succession, to be
  found? And to such inquiries no satisfactory answer has been or can be
  given. (Ibid, pages 102-104.)


                              CHAPTER III.
                             INFANT BAPTISM

Another point in which the Church of Christ and the Jewish Covenant are
at exact opposites is that of infant membership. In the Apostolic Church
baptism preceded membership, and faith was prerequisite to baptism,
consequently there was not, neither could be any place for infant
membership. On this account we have in the New Testament neither precept
for, nor example of, infant baptism, but on the contrary, much that
renders it totally incompatible with apostolic teaching.

But we are reminded by the advocates of infant baptism that in some
sense baptism stands to its subject and the Church as circumcision did
under the Abrahamic covenant. They emphasize that as an unquestioned
fact, and seem to think there ought to be something in it, somewhere or
somehow, in favor of infant baptism. Some claim that circumcision
initiated into the Church under the former dispensation, and that
baptism is initiative now; and that infants were formerly initiated by
circumcision, and should now be initiated by baptism. Others hold that
circumcision was a declaration of church membership under the Jewish
dispensation; and that baptism is a declaration of membership now: and
that as circumcision was extended to infants, so baptism should be
extended. They further claim that infants were put in the Church which
was established in the family of Abraham; that the Church of the old
dispensation is identical with that of the new; that no law has since
been enacted to put them out; and that they were then initiated by
circumcision and that, as baptism has superseded circumcision, infants
should now be initiated by baptism.

To some this is a strong and satisfactory argument, but a few plain,
simple facts should decide the question whether the Church of the new
covenant is identical with that of the old and that baptism takes the
place of circumcision:

  (1) “The covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) was a covenant with
  Abraham and to him “that is born in thy house, and he that is bought
  with thy money” (Gen. 17:12, 13); while the new covenant embraces
  believers in Jesus Christ, without respect to Abraham’s flesh or
  money. (See II Cor. 5:16, 17; Gal. 3:26-29; Heb. 8:8-12.)

  (2) Male children alone were subjects of circumcision. If baptism took
  the place of circumcision, none but the males should be baptized; but
  the advocates of infant baptism contend that infants should be
  baptized regardless of sex, flesh or money.

  (3) If baptism came in the place of circumcision, persons already
  circumcised could not be baptized. If the one came in the place of the
  other, the two could not exist at the same time in the same person.
  But all the Jews that had been circumcised on believing in Christ were
  baptized. The children of Jewish Christians were still circumcised. Is
  it possible that pedobaptists are so blinded in their contention for
  infant baptism that they can not see this?

That there is a point of similarity between circumcision and baptism
there is no doubt, for Paul says: “In whom ye were also circumcised with
a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off the body of the
flesh, in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in
baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through the faith in the
working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:11, 12). In
circumcision the foreskin of the flesh was cut off by the hands; so in
baptism the sins were put off, and this putting off the sins was called
“a circumcision not made with hands.”

The Mosaic law given to the fleshly family of Abraham typified to some
extent the spiritual family of God. Circumcision marked those born of
the flesh as members of the kingdom of Israel; baptism marks those
begotten of the Spirit as members of God’s spiritual kingdom. To affix
the spiritual mark to the fleshly birth is to do violence to the figure
and to introduce those born of the flesh into the spiritual kingdom. Now
faith is the first manifestation of the spiritual begetting, and only
those begotten of the Spirit and manifesting it in faith can be
introduced into the spiritual kingdom, or should have the mark of God’s
spiritual child. To place the mark of the birth of the Spirit upon one
born of the flesh is to mislead and deceive that child and make the
impression that it is one of God’s spiritual children when it is not.
The Spirit of God always connects the fleshly mark with the fleshly
birth into the fleshly kingdom, and the spiritual mark (baptism) with
the spiritual birth into the spiritual kingdom. Hence the Holy Spirit
says: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt.
28:19). “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole
creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
disbelieveth shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16). “Repent ye, and be
baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission
of your sins” (Acts 2:38). “And now why tarriest thou, arise, and be
baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts
22:16). Only those capable of believing, repenting and of thus showing
that they are begotten of the Spirit, are fit subjects for baptism. To
bestow the mark of the spiritual birth on those born of the flesh is to
break down and carnalize the kingdom of God.

The prophet says:

  Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant
  with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according
  to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took
  them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which my
  covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith
  Jehovah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of
  Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their
  inward parts, and in their hearts will I write it; and I will be their
  God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every
  man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah: for
  they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of
  them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins
  will I remember no more. (Jer. 31:31-34.)

This shows that a new covenant different from that he made at Sinai
would be made. That was a fleshly covenant with the house of Israel,
into which they were born by a fleshly birth; but in the new covenant
the law was to be written on their hearts, and all were to know him,
from the least to the greatest. That is, all must know the law of God,
accept it in their hearts before they could become members of the Church
of God. So Paul asks: “What then is the law? It was added because of
transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been
made” (Gal. 3:19). The seed that was to come was Christ, and this
plainly shows that because of the transgression this law was to continue
only until Christ should come. Then the new spiritual covenant was to go
into force, and the members of it were all to believe in Christ.

The following significant contrast is drawn by the Apostle Paul: “Ye are
our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men; being made
manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not
with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not on tables of stone,
but in tables that are hearts of flesh. And such confidence have we
through Christ to Godward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to
account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God, who
also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the
letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth
life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven on stones,
came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look
steadfastly upon the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which
glory was passing away: how shall not rather the ministration of the
spirit be with glory? For if the ministration of condemnation hath
glory, much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in
glory. For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made
glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth. For if
that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth
is in glory” (II Cor. 3:2-11). In this the Ten Commandments, written
upon the tables of stone, is contrasted with the law of Christ, written
in the hearts of God’s children. The law written on stones is called
“the letter” that “killeth.” It convicted of sin, but had no power to
deliver from it. The sins were rolled and rolled year by year until
Jesus came and shed blood, not only for our sins but for “the redemption
of the transgressions that were under the first covenant that they that
have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

The letter to the Hebrews was written to show the change from the old
covenant to the new, and to show the immense superiority of the new to
the old. To turn back from the spiritual law and the Church of Christ to
the fleshly law and institution of Judaism is called falling “away from
grace.” “Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the
law; ye are fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

Since it is so very evident that there is no ground whatever for infant
baptism based on the arguments on the analogy of circumcision and the
identity of the covenants it is quite appropriate to close this article
with quotations from two great pedobaptist scholars. Dr. Jacob Ditzler,
claimed to be the best debater the Methodist Church has produced, says:

  I here express my conviction that the covenants of the Old Testament
  have nothing to do with infant baptism. (Graves-Ditzler Debate, page
  694).

Moses Stuart, Congregationalist, Professor of Sacred Literature in
Andover Theological Seminary, called “The Father of Biblical Literature
in America,” says:

  How unwary, too, are many excellent men, in contending for infant
  baptism on the ground of the Jewish analogy of circumcision! Are
  females not proper subjects of baptism? And again, are a man’s slaves
  to be all baptized because he is? Are they church members of course
  when they are so baptized? Is there no difference between ingrafting
  into a politico-ecclesiastical community, and into one of which it is
  said that “it is not of this world?” In short, numberless difficulties
  present themselves in our way, as soon as we begin to argue in such a
  manner as this. (Old Testament Canon, § 22, page 369.)

In the investigation thus far we have learned that under the old
covenant infants were included, so were slaves, taken in war or bought
with money. The covenant was with a nation, involving national laws and
customs, and promising national and temporal blessings. The duly
recognized, as embraced under that covenant, were not thereby entitled
to eternal life. As the entire flesh of the nation, for national
purposes, was included, the infants of that nation, from the moment of
birth, stood in covenant relation with God and the covenant people.
There was no ceremonial by which they entered into that
relationship—they were born into it. They came not in by circumcision,
for the male infant, continuing uncircumcised, was not said to be
debarred from entering, but was to be “cut off” from the people which
implies previous covenant relationship.

But all this is reversed under the new covenant. No one nation is
chosen, but the people of the covenant are to be those who respond to a
call made to all nations. No family is chosen, but the blessing is
offered to each of all the families of earth. No infant is either
invited or excluded, except as it comes to faith in, and obedience to,
the Son of God. The covenant blessings are not national and eternal,
based upon a living and active faith. As a consequence, infants are not,
and could not possibly be embraced in the new covenant; and as the
Church of Christ, as to its divinely-ordained membership, consists of
those who have thus believed in him, infants are not and can not be in
the Church of Christ, therefore are not subjects of baptism, for all who
are Scripturally baptized enter into the church.

We now turn our attention to the remaining methods by which the practice
of infant baptism could be proven. They are: (1) Express command of an
inspired man; or, (2) by an example from Scripture where an inspired man
baptized infants, or where it was done in his presence, by his consent
and approval. Inasmuch as it is admitted by renowned pedobaptists that
there is neither express command for or example of infant baptism in the
New Testament, I will make no attempt to answer the arguments to prove
it, but let the most learned of their number speak for themselves. This
is legitimate and has the divine sanction, for Jesus said: “Out of thine
own mouth will I judge thee” (Luke 19:22); and Paul, in meeting
opposition to his preaching, said: “As certain even of your own poets
have said” (Acts 17:28); and again: “One of themselves, a prophet of
their own, said” (Titus 1:12).

Henry Alford, one of the most variously-learned clergymen that the
Church of England has produced, says:

  The language of the Bible is against them; and, on their own ground,
  which is a very sore perplexity. There is one escape, and that is a
  perfectly effectual one; but they are unwilling to avail themselves of
  its assistance. They might declare, and they ought to declare, that
  infant baptism was a practice unknown to the apostles; that not only
  does the New Testament not give one single expression which plainly
  and necessarily implies that infants were baptized in the apostolical
  churches, but it can be fairly argued from a passage in chapter 7 of
  II Corinthians 7 that such a practice could not have existed at
  Corinth. The recognition that the baptism of adults was the only
  baptism known to the apostles would clear every difficulty on this
  point out of the way of the Low Churchmen. It is natural that the
  sacred writers should assume that men who, at great worldly sacrifice,
  not free from risk of life, came forward to profess the Christian
  faith by a solemn initiatory rite, possessed the frame of mind which
  that fact implied—that they were honestly changed and renewed beings.
  And then it would be easy to pass on the conclusion that the baptismal
  service of the Church of England has been constructed on the language
  of the Bible, and that the embarrassment has proceeded not from a
  mistaken view of baptism, but from the application of the words used
  by Scripture of an adult person to an unconscious and, so to say,
  mindless infant. (Contemporary Review, Vol. 10, page 329.)

Joseph Ager Beet, one of the finest scholars that the English Wesleyan
Methodist Church has produced, Professor of Systematic Theology in the
Wesleyan Theological College, Richmond, England, says:

  It must be at once admitted that the New Testament contains no clear
  proof that infants were baptized in the days of the apostles.
  (Christian Baptism, page 28.)

Albert Taylor Bledsoe, of whom it has been truthfully said, “He was one
of the most candid and trustworthy writers that the Methodist Church has
produced,” says:

  It is an article of our faith, that “the baptism of young children
  (infants) is in any wise to be retained in the church, as one most
  agreeable to the institution of Christ.” But yet, with all our
  searching, we have been unable to find, in the New Testament, a single
  express declaration, or word, in favor of infant baptism. We justify
  this rite, therefore, solely on the ground of logical inference, and
  not on any express word of Christ or his apostles. This may, perhaps,
  be deemed, by some of our readers, a strange position for a
  pedobaptist. It is by no means, however, a singular opinion. Hundreds
  of learned pedobaptists have come to the same conclusion; especially
  since the New Testament has been subjected to a closer, more
  conscientious, and more candid exegesis than was formerly practiced by
  controversalists. (Southern Review, Vol. 14, page 334.)

John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian Church, says:

  As Christ enjoins them to teach before baptizing, and desires that
  none but believers shall be admitted to baptism, it would appear that
  baptism is not properly administered unless when preceded by faith.
  (Harmony of the Evangelists, Vol. 3, page 38.)

Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, German Lutheran, the “prince of New
Testament exegetes,” says:

  The baptism of the children of Christians, of which no trace is found
  in the New Testament, is not to be held as an apostolic ordinance; but
  it is an institution of the church, which gradually arose in
  post-apostolic times in connection with the development of
  ecclesiastical life and of doctrinal teaching, not certainly attested
  before Tertullian, and by him still decidedly opposed, and although
  already defended by Cyprian, only becoming general after the time of
  Augustine in virtue of that connection. (Commentary on Acts 16:15,
  page 312.)

August Wilhelm Neander, Lutheran, who is unanimously conceded to be by
far the greatest of all ecclesiastical historians, and is surnamed “the
father of modern church history,” says:

  Baptism was administered at first only to adults, as men were
  accustomed to conceive baptism and faith as strictly connected. We
  have all reason for not deriving infant baptism from apostolic
  institution somewhat later, as an apostolical tradition serves to
  confirm this hypothesis. (Church History, Vol. 1, page 424.)

Moses Stuart, a Congregationalist, called “the father of Biblical
literature in America”, says:

  On the subject of infant baptism I have said nothing. The present
  occasion did not call for it; and I have no wish or intention to enter
  into the controversy respecting it. I have only to say that I believe
  in both the propriety and expediency of the rite thus administered;
  and therefore accede to it ex animo. Commands, or plain and certain
  examples, in the New Testament relative to it, I do not find. Nor,
  with my views of it, do I need them. (Mode of Christian Baptism, pages
  189, 190.)

But I have given enough; it is a thing made out that infant baptism was
not an apostolic practice. So, indeed, have all the scholars who have
thoroughly investigated this subject conceded. I know of no subject
which seems to be more clearly made out, and I can not see how it is
possible for any candid man who examines the subject to deny this.


                              CHAPTER IV.
                        CONDITIONS OF MEMBERSHIP

As we have already learned that infant baptism was not an apostolic
practice, we will give it no further attention at present. The
conditions of membership in the apostolic Church naturally divide
themselves into two classes—those of admission into the Church and those
of continued membership.


                        CONDITIONS OF ADMISSION

Concerning admission into the Church it is said in connection with its
establishment that “the Lord added to them day by day those that were
saved” (Acts 2:47). This implies that the Lord saved the people and
added them by one and the same process. They were not first saved and
then added, nor added and afterward saved, but they were saved in being
added, and added by being saved. Hence it was not a formal adding to a
local congregation by extending the “hand of fellowship” after salvation
from sin, but an adding to the one body of Christ in the obtaining of
salvation by obedience to the Gospel. While they were added by the Lord,
he added them through certain agencies, both human and divine—the Holy
Spirit, the Gospel and the preacher—all present and active in the work.
What the Lord did, therefore, he did through these agencies.

In the second chapter of Acts the Holy Spirit gives the directions that
God gave to guide sinners into the Church. This being the first time
that men were guided into the Church, the directions given would
necessarily be more minute and particular in every step than after the
way was fully made known to men.

After his resurrection from the dead Jesus said to his disciples, “All
authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth,” to show them
that he had the right and authority to speak the words that come next:
“Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them
into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:
teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo,
I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19, 20).
They were not to go yet, for he had sealed their lips. On the day of his
ascension to heaven he said unto them: “Go ye into all the world, and
preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is
baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned”
(Mark 16:15, 16); “but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with
power from on high” (Luke 24:49). So they returned to Jerusalem and
waited for the coming of the Spirit who was to unseal their lips and to
speak to the world in the name of Jesus. The day of Pentecost came, they
were in the temple, when suddenly a sound from heaven filled the house
where they were sitting, and they felt themselves moved inwardly by a
new power, under which they began to speak to the multitude in the
temple, addressing them in all the different languages represented by
the nations there assembled. The time had come when they can tell to the
world all they know about Jesus fully and freely. And when they had
praised God, to the amazement of the people, in all their tongues, Peter
arose, now having the keys to the kingdom in his hands, now ready to
execute his high commission to open the gates and admit those who were
entitled to enter, and for the first time in his life begins to inform
men who Jesus is. He delivers a discourse in which he says: “Ye men of
Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto
you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the
midst of you, even as ye yourselves know; him, being delivered by the
determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hands of lawless
men did crucify and slay: whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of
death.”

He quotes language of the prophets to prove this. He then presents the
testimony of himself and his fellow apostles to the effect that Jesus
had been raised from the dead, and that they had seen him with their
eyes and handled him with their hands. He further states that God had
said to Jesus: “Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the
footstool of thy feet,” and closes this powerful argument with this
soul-stirring appeal: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know
assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom
ye crucified.”

Three thousand of those who stood in the hearing of Peter’s voice
believed this, felt pricked in their hearts—that sense of guilt which
overwhelmed them when they realized that they had been guilty of
murdering the Son of the living God, the greatest crime that human being
ever committed—and in great agony of soul, they cried out: “Brethren,
what shall we do?” to get rid of this pricking of our hearts, to get rid
of the awful crime, to get rid of our sins before God and escape its
consequences in the day of God’s wrath against sin.

Moved by the Holy Spirit, Peter answered: “Repent ye, and be baptized,
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your
sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This was God’s
answer, that enabled them to get rid of their guilt and condemnation at
once. And to assure them still further, he said: “For to you is the
promise” (the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit), “and
to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord
our God shall call unto him,” for the commission was to “all nations,”
“even unto the end of the world.” But Peter did not stop here, for “with
many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save
yourselves from this crooked generation.’ Then they that received his
word were baptized; and there were added unto them in that day about
three thousand souls.”

Now, let us see if we can gather from this brief narrative what agencies
God used in bringing about the conversion of these people, and what
conditions they had to comply with in order to receive the benefits of
the redemption which was provided by the blood of Christ.


                                AGENCIES

1. The Holy Spirit.

2. The apostles, speaking as the Spirit gave them utterance, testifying
of the Christ and pleading with sinners, were the leading human agents
in this case of conversion, as they are still and ever will be; for
though dead they yet speak through the Gospel which they first preached
through the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. As they were agents then
through their spoken testimony, so they are agents now through their
written testimony. Their words live in all their vitalizing power, and
can never be destroyed.

3. The sinners themselves, guilt-stricken and inquiring, had also an
agency in this work which so vitally concerned themselves. It was theirs
to attend to the things spoken by the apostles, to hearken to the divine
counsel, to learn of Jesus, and to receive the truth that they might be
made alive. They had the divinely-given power to do this; and they also
had the power to reject the Gospel and die, otherwise the apostle could
not say, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation”—seize the help
God was holding out from heaven.


                               CONDITIONS

1. They heard (vs. 8, 11, 14, 22, 37).

2. Believed (vs. 30), in accordance with the apostle’s appeal to them,
otherwise they would not have been pricked in their hearts.

3. They repented.

4. Were baptized in his name. Thus they entered through these
divinely-appointed conditions into the enjoyment of the blessings
graciously provided for them through the death and mediation.

This was the first time the Gospel in its fullness was ever preached
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, leading men into the Church of
God and into the remission of their sins, under the world-wide
commission of Jesus, the Lord and Master; for Peter, in giving an
account of the conversion of Cornelius, said: “As I began to speak, the
Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15).
On the first occasion, when the world knew not the way, there was of
necessity a demand for a fullness and specificness of direction, a
careful and distinct enumeration of the steps to be taken in their
connection, and the agencies used, that was not needful in after
references; after the steps to be taken and the order was once clearly
made known, an allusion to one leading step or point or the order called
up all of them. These were the steps to be taken, this the rule to be
followed, the fixed directions of the spirit of God, sealed by the blood
of Christ, worldwide in its application, and to stand to the end of the
world. No human power can abrogate, change or modify this commission of
the Lord Jesus, this guidance of the Spirit; and I feel sure that no one
can have a well-grounded assurance of citizenship in that kingdom until
he has complied with the conditions presented in the blood-sealed
commission of Jesus Christ, given under the infallible guidance of the
Holy Spirit.

This brings us to the discussion of the second division of the subject—


                   CONDITIONS OF CONTINUED MEMBERSHIP

To all those who entered into the apostolic Church the exhortation was
given: “Putting away, therefore, all wickedness, and all guile, and
hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as new-born babes, long
for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby
unto salvation” (I Peter 2:1, 2). They were also taught to “let the word
of Christ dwell in them richly” (Col. 3:16). This was necessary in the
mind of inspired men because they realized that to be a Christian was to
be like God. It was to be like God in the flesh. Jesus Christ was
Immanuel—“God with us” in the flesh. He came in the flesh to take on
himself all the feelings, temptations, and weaknesses of humanity, to
show what and how the Christian should live. With this in mind it is
easy to see that with them the Christian was God growing in the flesh up
to the stage of maturity in man and perfection under “the law of the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” In the growth of the Christian there
was a constant but gradual growth of all the desires and affections into
the likeness of the character affections that move God; a growth in
character in the feelings and in thoughts and in actions to the life and
character of God. The Christian’s life was a continual growth into a
nobler life with God. They were to grow in thoughts and feelings, in
purposes and actions, into the likeness of God. Solomon said: “For as he
thinketh within himself, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). The thoughts and
feelings that a man cherishes in his heart mold and shape the character
and make him what he is. A spirit that loves as God loves and seeks to
do good and bless as God does will grow into the likeness of God. They
were taught that a man must not only think as God thinks; but that the
thoughts must grow into permanent principles cherished in the heart;
that they must mold the actions to make him act as God acts. Faith in
God made them desire to think, feel and act like God, which is the end
and accomplishment of the turning to God.

But all who entered into the apostolic Church did not choose to thus
develop themselves into the likeness of God and continue in the
fellowship with him, for some were put away. There were reasons for
this. Since some were and some were not, it follows that there were
conditions of continued fellowship. Some have interpreted the parable of
the tares (Matt. 13:24-30)—“Let both grow together until the harvest”—to
mean that there is to be no exclusion from the Church, but this is to
make parabolic language conflict with plain, unfigurative statements and
historical facts, which is not admissible. The Saviour directed that he
who would not “hear the church” should be “as the Gentile and the
publican” (Matt. 18:17). Concerning the incestuous man in the church at
Corinth Paul said: “For I verily, being absent in the body but present
in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so
wrought this thing, in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered
together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus to deliver
such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit
may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Cor. 5:3-5). And to the
Thessalonians he gave practically the same directions: “Now we command
you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw
yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly” (II Thess. 3:6).
The Holy Spirit mentions the following things as the works of the flesh:
“Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities,
strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envying,
drunkenness, revelings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, that
they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”
(Gal. 5:10-21).

Those guilty of such things “can not inherit the kingdom of God.” Such
things are disorderly, else they would not deprive one of the kingdom of
God. For those that walk orderly enjoy the divine favor. Since such
things are disorderly, and the Church is to withdraw from those who walk
disorderly, it follows that the Church is to withdraw from all such.
Therefore, the congregation that did not do it, disregarded the law and
authority of Jesus Christ. Of course, it is understood that an earnest,
faithful effort was to be made to bring such offenders to repentance,
and an orderly life; but when such efforts failed, they were compelled
by the law of Christ to put them away. Consequently the condition of
continuing in the membership of the Church of God was an orderly
Christian life, as I have already shown.


                               CHAPTER V.
                              THE WORSHIP

Of the people under the new covenant the Holy Spirit, through Peter,
said: “But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a
people for God’s own possession, that ye may show the excellencies of
him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter
2:9). They constitute a nation—not a republic, but a kingdom—so we read:
“Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and
he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to
him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever” (Rev. 1:6, 7). “And
madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests” (Rev. 5:10).

A nation or kingdom of priests is equal to a nation or kingdom without
priests. And so the whole Church of God is his lot, heritage, “clergy,”
or priesthood. As a kingdom, not of this world, though in the world.
When on trial for his life, Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this
world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight,
that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not
from hence” (John 18:36). Though on earth, not earthly, and its honors
and grandeur are not akin to those of the nations of this world. The
subjects of this “kingdom” were born, “not of blood, nor of the will of
the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13); “born of
water and the Spirit.” They were all the sons and daughters of the Lord
Almighty.

Congregated for worship and service they were not only a priesthood, but
their edification was committed to the whole body of male members,
excluding from ministering therein only those incapable of edifying.
There were elders, required to be “apt to teach,” not to be the sole
instructors of the church, but taking part therein; securing order and
propriety on the part of all.

Every member was taught to attend the worship regularly, but this was
not the end. Even if every member attended regularly and punctually,
this was not to be the end of the teaching, the worship, the service.
These were necessary, because without these the end could not be
attained. The end was to excite and secure the active and earnest labor
of every member in serving God and teaching and helping humanity. One
could not serve God without helping others. He was to help them
spiritually, morally, intellectually and materially. The end of all the
teaching and training of men in the church was that they might bear
fruit in doing good to men. Paul said of Christ Jesus: “Who gave himself
for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto
himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works” (Titus
2:14). They were to cease to do evil and be zealous in good works.
“Faithful is the saying, and concerning these things I desire that thou
affirm confidently, to the end that they who have believed in God may be
careful to maintain good works. These are good and profitable unto
men.... And let our people also learn to maintain good works for
necessary uses, and that they be not unfruitful” (Titus 3:8-14). The end
of the teaching and the worship was to develop the activity and direct
the energies of every member in good works. The first element of true
good to others was to bring them into proper spiritual relations to God,
for without this no good can be enjoyed. But this spiritual harmony with
God must show itself in bringing every thought into harmony with the
will of God and so direct the bodily energies as to bring all
good—spiritual, intellectual and material—to all creatures.

Every member of the Church was to participate in all the services of the
church; and the members not only were competent to do all the work
pertaining to the church, but they needed this work and service for
their own spiritual growth. In this service alone could the Christian
find the food and exercise needed for his growing wise and strong in the
inner man. The spiritual man could no more grow strong and active
without himself doing the worship and work of the church than the body
could grow strong while refusing the food and exercise needed for its
growth and life. In this service in the church man could alone find the
highest development of the soul and the mind and the body. One could no
more worship and do the work in the church by proxy and grow spiritually
thereby than he could eat and take exercise by proxy and his body grow
thereby. The well-being of every member demanded that he should take
active part in the worship, the well-being of the church demanded the
help of every member that it “may grow up in all things unto him, who is
the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit
together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the
working in due measure of each several part, making the increase of the
body unto the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15, 16). The point
emphasized here is that every member had his work to do, his office to
fill, and by this harmonious working of all the parts the body grew into
the well-proportioned body of Christ—the Church. The welfare and
development of the whole was dependent upon the proper workings of each
and every member.

Every child of God, by virtue of his birthright into God’s family, a
family of priests to God, had the right to perform any and every service
connected with the Church of God, limited only by God’s directions and
by the ability to do it decently and in order. All were encouraged to
take part in the service, and in doing the service each member
manifested his talent for the work and trained himself for fitness in
God’s work.

Every dispensation has had its peculiar worship. That of the Jewish
dispensation differed from the patriarchal. The worship under the
Christian dispensation is radically different from both. The worship
which was acceptable under the patriarchal would condemn a Jew; and that
which would justify a Jew would condemn a Christian. During the
patriarchal dispensation religion was confined to the family. Every one
was his own priest, and he could build his own altar and offer his own
sacrifices for himself and for his family. (Gen. 4:4; 8:20; Job. 1:5.)
But when the priesthood was changed, and confined to the family of Levi
(Ex. 28:1; Num. 25:11-13), this worship was no longer permitted by those
included in the Sinaitic covenant; hence no longer acceptable. It is
likewise true that the sacrifices offered by the Levitical priesthood
ceased to be acceptable after the death of Christ and the establishment
of the Church. When Christ ascended to the Father the priesthood was
changed. The high priesthood then passed into the hands of one belonging
“to another tribe, from which no man hath given attendance at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah; as to which
tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests” (Heb. 7:13, 14). The
priesthood being changed, a change of the Worship follows as a
necessity. “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity
a change also of the law” (Heb. 7:12). While the worship of the three
dispensations had some things in common, each had its distinctive
peculiarities. Since Christianity is distinguished from every other
religion by its institutions and worship, it of necessity follows that,
in order to its preservation, these must be strictly observed. Nothing
short of this can preserve the Church from degeneracy and final
extinction. As we have already learned, a fundamental feature of the
worship in the Church of God is the _Universal Priesthood_ of its
membership. All the members of God’s family have became “a royal
priesthood,” who no longer offer bloody sacrifices of the law of Moses,
but they offer their “bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1), and the
“sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips
which make confession to his name” (Heb. 13:15). Since all were priests,
all worshiped God without any mediatorship other than that of the Lord
Jesus Christ. They could all come with equal boldness to the throne of
grace. Such clerical distinction and arrogance as we have at the present
time had no place then.

That the apostles taught the churches to do all the Lord commanded will
not be called in question by those who receive the Bible as authority.
Whatever, then, the churches did by the appointment or concurrence of
the apostles, they did by the commandment of Jesus Christ. Whatever acts
of worship the apostles taught and sanctioned in one congregation, they
taught and sanctioned in all, because all under the same government of
the same King. But the church in Troas met “upon the first day of the
week ... to break bread” (Acts 20:7), and Paul exhorts the Hebrew
brethren to “consider one another to provoke unto love and good works;
not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but
exhorting one another; and so much the more as ye see the day drawing
nigh” (Heb. 10:24, 25). From the manner in which this meeting of the
disciples at Troas is mentioned by Luke, two things are very evident:
(1) That it was an established rule of the disciples to meet on the
first day of the week; (2) that the primary object of their meeting was
to break bread. And Luke also tells us that the Jerusalem church
“continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the
breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42), which shows us that the
breaking of bread was a prominent item in those stated meetings. Other
corroborating evidences of the stated meetings on the first day of the
week for religious purposes are indicated by the instructions Paul gave
to the church in Galatia and Corinth: “Now concerning the collection for
the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye.
Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store,
as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come” (I Cor.
16:1, 2).

As we have seen that whatever the primitive churches did by the approval
of the apostles, they did by divine authority, now, as Paul approved
their meeting on the first day of the week, it is as high authority as
could be required for the practice of meeting to worship on the first
day of every week. The items of their worship were:


                         THE APOSTLES’ TEACHING

They believed that the teaching of the apostles was from God and they
constantly and diligently studied it, that they might know and do the
whole will of God. The constant study of and the profound reverence for
the Word of God were recognized traits of their character. They
certainly had the word of Christ dwelling in them richly. Not only was
reading the Scriptures a part of all the public worship, it was a daily
custom in private life—in the family, the social circle, and even at
their toil. On this point I will give the testimony of Lyman Coleman,
who has gathered much information on this subject. He says:

  No trait of the primitive Christians was more remarkable than their
  profound reverence for the Scriptures and their diligent study of
  them. The Word of God, dwelling in them richly and abounding, was
  their meditation all the day long. Those who could read never went
  abroad without taking some part of the Bible with them. The women, in
  their household labors, wore some portion of the sacred roll hanging
  about their necks; and the men made it the companion of their toil in
  the field and the workshop. Morning, noon and night they read it at
  their meals. By the recitals of the narratives of sacred history, by
  constant reading, by paraphrase, by commentary, and by sacred song,
  they taught the Scriptures diligently unto their children; talked of
  these heavenly themes when they sat in their house, when they walked
  by the way, when they laid themselves down, and when they rose up. One
  relates with great delight that he never sat at meat with Origen, A.
  D. 225, but one of the company read to the other. They never retired
  to rest without first reading the Bible. So diligent were they in this
  divine employment that “prayers succeeded reading of the Word, and the
  reading of the Word to prayer.” (Ancient Christianity Exemplified,
  Page 57.)

Augustus Neander says:

  The nature of single acts of Christian worship will be evident from
  what we have remarked respecting its essence generally. As the
  elevation of the spirit and heart of the united Church of God was the
  end of the whole, so instruction and edification by uniting in the
  common contemplation of the divine Word, constituted, from the first,
  a principal part of Christian worship. The mode in which this was done
  might, like the form of the church constitution, be closely connected
  with the arrangement of the assemblies of the Jewish communities in
  the synagogues. As in the synagogue assemblies of the Jews the reading
  of portions from the Old Testament formed the basis of religious
  instruction, so the same practice passed over into the Christian
  assemblies. The Old Testament was read first, particularly the
  prophetic parts of it, as referring to the Messiah; next, the gospels,
  and finally the apostolic epistles. The reading of the Scriptures was
  of the greater consequence, since it was desired to make every
  Christian familiar with them. (History of the Christian Church, Vol.
  1, Page 412.)


                             THE FELLOWSHIP

The leading idea of this term is that of joint participation. We have
fellowship with God because we are made partakers of the divine nature,
as we escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. We have
fellowship with Jesus Christ because of the common sympathies which his
life and sufferings have established between himself and us. To be in
fellowship with him means to take part in his poverty and want, to share
in his sorrows, his sufferings and self-denial in this world, as well as
to partake of the joys and hopes, the consolations and blessedness of
this world, and the hopes and glories of the world to come. We have
fellowship with one another because of the mutual participation in each
other’s affections, joys, sorrows and needs. The word as here used
includes the contribution which was regularly made on the first day of
every week. Paul says: “Upon the first day of the week let each one of
you lay by him in store as he may prosper” (I Cor. 16:2). The small
offering of the poor was as much demanded as the greater ones of the
rich, and just as acceptable. The regulation governing this was: “For if
the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not
according as he hath not” (II Cor. 8:12). God never valued the offerings
brought to him by their intrinsic value, but by the sacrifice made by
the one making the offering. It was also required that the worshiper
should be liberal and cheerful in giving. “He that soweth sparingly
shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap
also bountifully. Let each man do as he hath purposed in his heart; not
grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Cor.
9:6, 7). This shows that a cheerful, bountiful offering to God is but a
reasonable measure of liberality. God expected this of every worshiper.


                             BREAKING BREAD

That the churches in apostolic times met on the first day of every week
to partake of the Lord’s Supper, is well at tested by both inspired and
uninspired writers. It is plainly stated that the disciples at Troas
gathered together to break bread; and what one church did by the
authority of the Lord, as a part of his instituted worship, they all
did. That they met for this purpose is not to be inferred, for Luke
says: “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered
together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart
on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).
From the way this meeting is mentioned two things are quite obvious: (1)
That it was an established custom for the disciples to meet on the first
day of the week; and (2) that the primary object of this meeting was to
break bread.

All Biblical scholars and church historians, without regard to
denomination, generally concede that the apostolic church observed the
Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week. Out of the many proofs
that might be given of this I will give the testimony of only one.
Mosheim says:

  The first of all the Christian churches founded by the apostles was
  that of Jerusalem; and after the form and model of this, all the
  others of that age were constituted. That Church, however, was
  governed immediately by the apostles, to whom the presbyters and the
  deacons, or overseers of the poor, were subject. Though the people had
  not withdrawn themselves from the Jewish worship, yet they held their
  own separate meetings, in which they were instructed by the apostles
  and presbyters, offered up their united prayers, celebrated the sacred
  supper, the memorial of Jesus Christ, of his death, and the salvation
  he procured.... The Christians of this century assembled for the
  worship of God and for their advancement in piety on the first day of
  the week, the day on which Christ reassumed his life; for that this
  day was set apart for religious worship by the apostles themselves,
  and that, after the example of the Church of Jerusalem, it was
  generally observed we have unexceptional testimony. (Ecclesiastical
  History, Vol. I, page 46, 85.)

This testimony is confirmed by the pagan Pliny in his well-known letter
to Trajan (about A. D. 100), written while he presided over Pontus and
Bithynia. He says:

  The Christians affirm the whole of their guilt or error to be that
  they were accustomed to meet together on a stated day, before it was
  light, and to sing hymns to Christ as a god, and to bind themselves by
  a sacrimentum, not for any wicked purpose, but never to commit fraud,
  theft, or adultery; never to break their word or to refuse, when
  called upon, to deliver up any trust; after which it was their custom
  to separate, and to assemble again to take a meal, but a general one,
  and without guilty purpose. (Epistle X, 97.)


                                PRAYERS

Simplicity characterized everything in the primitive worship.
Consequently the prayers of the first Christians were of the most simple
and artless character. They regarded prayer as a quickening spirit,
drawing forth the inward inspirations of the soul after God, and
accompanied every important act of their public and private life with
this holy privilege, and Paul exhorts his readers to “pray without
ceasing.” On this subject Lyman Coleman says:

  The prayers of the Church were offered in language the most artless
  and natural. Even the most learned of the apologists and early
  fathers, such as Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of
  Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, and Lactantius, who
  were no strangers to the graces of diction, refused all ornamental
  embellishments in their addresses to the throne of grace, alleging
  that the kingdom of heaven consists not in words, but in power. Their
  prayers were accordingly offered in the greatest simplicity, and as
  far as possible in the phraseology of Scripture. This artlessness and
  elegant simplicity appears in striking contrast with the ostentation
  and bombast of a later date. This contrast appears equally great also
  in the brevity of these prayers. It was a maxim of the primitive
  Church that many words should never be employed to express what might
  be better said in a few. (Ibid, page 316.)


                                SINGING

Their singing was a real heartfelt service. The Holy Spirit said: “And
be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the
Spirit; speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18, 19).
And again, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom
teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God” (Col. 3:16). In this
delightful service the whole congregation doubtless took part. It has
been contended, recently, that the singing of the first churches was not
congregational, and therefore our congregational singing is as
unscriptural and unauthorized as any musical performance in the worship.
The testimony of history is against this statement. On this subject
Philip Schaff says:

  The song, a form of prayer, in the festive dress of pietry and the
  elevated language of inspiration, raising the congregation to the
  highest pitch of devotion, and giving it a part in the heavenly
  harmonies of the saints. This passed immediately, with psalms of the
  Old Testament, those inexhaustible treasures of spiritual experience,
  edification and comfort, from the temple and the synagogue into the
  Christian Church. The Lord himself inaugurated psalmody into the new
  covenant at the institution of the holy Supper, and Paul expressly
  enjoined the singing of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” as a
  means of social edification. (History of the Christian Church, Vol. I,
  page 463.)

To the same effect testifies Lyman Coleman:

  The prevailing mode of singing during the first three centuries was
  congregational. The whole congregation united their voices in the
  sacred song of praise, in strains suited to their ability. Their
  music, if such it could be called, was, of necessity, crude and
  simple. Indeed, it appears to have been a kind of recitative or chant.
  The charm of their sacred music was not in the harmony of sweet
  sounds, but in the melody of the heart.... But, however this may be,
  the most ancient and most common mode of singing was confessedly for
  the whole assembly; men, women and children blend their voices in
  their songs of praise in the great congregation. Such is the testimony
  of Hillary, of Augustin and Chrysostom. “Formerly all came together
  and united in their song, as is still our custom.” “Men and women, the
  aged and the young, were distinguished only by their skill in singing,
  for the spirit which led the voice of each one blended all in one
  harmonious melody.” (Ancient Christianity Exemplified, pages 329,
  330.)


                              CHAPTER VI.
                                 POLITY

By the term polity I mean the organic structure and government of the
Church. Nothing is more obvious from the New Testament record than the
simplicity which characterized its primitive organization. In this
particular Christianity was in marked contrast with Judaism. With
temple, tabernacle or altars; without priests or Levites, and almost
without ceremonies, it made known at once its character and purpose as
spiritual and not carnal, as, in fact, a kingdom of God “not of this
world.” Its only authority was


                            THE WORD OF GOD

We have already seen that the only creed of the primitive Church was the
central truth of God’s revelation to man—“Thou art the Christ, the Son
of the living God.” The whole New Testament is but an expansion of this
thought. The early Christians, in confessing their faith in Christ,
accepted the whole revelation of God based upon it as their absolute and
only authority. The teaching of inspired men was to them what the New
Testament is to us, till their teaching was recorded and the necessity
for oral inspiration ceased.

The all-sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures is thus expressed by the
inspired apostle: “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in
righteousness: for the man of God may be complete, furnished completely
unto every good work” (II Tim. 3:16, 17). This most evidently refers to
the Old Testament as a whole—the book that Timothy had known from his
childhood. The teaching of Jesus and the apostles in connection with the
examples, the teachings, the warnings of the Old Testament Scriptures,
are sufficient to thoroughly furnish the man of God with instruction
necessary to carrying out all the requirements of God in every
relationship of life. Paul’s confidence in the sufficiency of the Word
of God is also expressed in these words: “And now I commend you to God,
and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give
the inheritance among them that are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). In the
Lord’s prayer, just before his arrest and tragic death, he said:
“Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

From what is here stated it is evident that the early Christians were
fully convinced that the Word of God in the work of redemption was
all-sufficient for the accomplishment of the following things: (1)
Teaching. (2) Reproof—conviction of sin. (3) Correction—for setting men
upright. (4) Instruction in righteousness. (5) Build men up. (6)
Sanctification. (7) Give an inheritance. (8) And perfection in good
works.

Since the Bible furnishes all this, it would be difficult to conceive
any want it does not supply. It leaves no room for a human creed, nor
any other authority in matters of faith. Hence it is a fact, conceded by
all Biblical students, that the apostolic Church accepted the Word of
God as its absolute and only authority in all religious affairs.


                                 NAMES

Those who became followers of Christ in the early days of Christianity
were designated by several names, all of which were significant. They
were called “saints” because they had been set apart to the service of
God; “brethren,” because of their relation as members of a common
family; “elect” because they were chosen of God in Christ by the Gospel;
“children of God,” because of their relation to him as a common Father;
“believers,” because of their devotion to Christ and of their faith in
him; “disciples,” because they were learners in the school of their
Master; “Christians,” because they were followers of Christ and citizens
of his kingdom. It was natural, therefore, that the last name should
soon become the most prominent and be freely used by the friend and foe
in times of persecution. Peter says: “If a man suffer as a Christian,
let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (I Peter
4:16). It was the name that united believers in the government of
Christ, and was the most comprehensive of all the names of those given
to those who composed the body of Christ. To be called a Christian
carried with it all the honors implied in all the other names. All these
names were worn by divine authority, and were evidently given by
inspiration.


                      CONGREGATIONAL INDEPENDENCE

Each congregation was independent of all others in its government. They
sustained a fraternal relation to each other as parts of the body of
Christ, but no one was under the ecclesiastical authority of another.
There is no ecclesiastical authority recognized in the New Testament
except that of a single congregation, and that only when acting strictly
in obedience to the will of Christ. From such a decision there is no
court of appeal. On this point I submit the testimony of a few
distinguished men, who, while they stood identified with an
eccleciasticism ruling the individual congregation, admit that no such
thing was known to the New Testament. Mosheim says:

  All the churches, in those primitive times, were independent bodies;
  or none of them subject to the jurisdiction of any other. For though
  the churches which were founded by the apostles themselves frequently
  had the honor shown them to be consulted in difficult and doubtful
  cases, yet they had no judicial authority, no control, no power of
  giving laws. On the contrary, it is as clear as the noon-day, that all
  Christian churches had equal rights, and were in all respects on a
  footing of equality. Nor does there appear in this first century any
  vestige of that consociation of the churches of the same provinces,
  which gave rise to ecclesiastical councils, and to metropolitans. But,
  rather as is manifest, it was not till the second century that the
  custom of holding ecclesiastical councils first began in Greece, and
  thence extended into other provinces. (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 1,
  page 72.)

Concerning the churches of the second century, Mosheim says:

  During a great part of this century, all churches continued to be as
  at first, independent of each other, or were connected by no
  consociation or confederation. Each church was a kind of small
  independent republic, governing itself by its own laws, enacted or at
  least sanctioned by the people. But in the process of time it became
  customary for all the Christian churches within the same province to
  unite and form a sort of larger society or commonwealth; and in the
  manner of confederated republics, to hold their conventions at stated
  times, and there deliberate for the common advantage of the whole
  confederation. (Ibid, page 116.)

Of the independence of the apostolic churches, Prof. Lyman Coleman says:

  These churches, whenever formed, became separate and independent
  bodies, competent to appoint their own officers, and to administer
  their own government without reference to subordination to any central
  authority or foreign power. No fact connected with the history of
  these primitive churches is more fully established or more generally
  conceded, so that the discussion of it need not be renewed at this
  place. (Ancient Christianity Exemplified, page 95.)

From this we learn: (1) That during the first century and the early part
of the second the churches were independent; and (2) that so soon as
they confederated for the common interest their independency was
destroyed and a tyrannical ecclesiasticism established. Much more might
be given to establish the face of the congregational independence of the
apostolic churches, but as that is so well established and so generally
admitted, it does not seem necessary.


                                 ELDERS

In every fully-developed church in apostolic times there was a plurality
of elders or bishops. Luke says: “And from Miletus he [Paul] sent to
Ephesus, and called to him the elders of the church. And when they were
come to him he said unto them, ... Take heed unto yourselves, and to all
the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the
church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts
20:17-28). From this we not only learn that there was a plurality of
elders at Ephesus, but they were also called bishops, which clearly
proves that the terms “elder” and “bishop” are used synonymously. Of
Paul and Barnabas it is said: “And when they had preached the gospel to
that city [Derbe], and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra,
and to Iconium, and to Antioch, confirming the souls of the
disciples.... And when they had appointed for them elders in every
church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on
whom they had believed” (Acts 14:21-23). From this we learn that
_elders_ were appointed _in every church_. That there were a plurality
of elders in every fully-developed church is abundantly proved by
historical testimony.

The eldership is the most sacred trust of God to his church. God is the
legislator, the only lawmaker of his people. His authority is absolute,
his power omnipotent. To the elders is committed the work of teaching
and enforcing the laws of God and of guarding them against all
perversion or corruption by adding to or taking from, or by bringing in
the customs, traditions, or doctrines of men. No elder can be faithful
to God without holding to the faithful word which is according to the
teaching, that he may be able to “exhort in sound doctrine, and to
convict the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). The Holy Spirit through Peter
charges them to “tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising
the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will
of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as
lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves
ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-4). Their office is to feed the
flock on “the Spiritual milk which is without guile that they may grow
thereby unto salvation.” (See I Peter 2:2.) They are the guardians of
God’s heritage, to keep it from being led away from him.

They are to make no rules of their own, as though they are the lords or
rulers over God’s house. They have no authority save to enforce the law
of God, and so set an example of fidelity to God to be followed by the
church. If elders conscientiously confine themselves to the law of God,
they can give account with joy; otherwise with grief. The spirit in
which this is to be done is given by Paul in his charge to the elders at
Ephesus: “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the
Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which
he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departing grievous
wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your
own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away
disciples after them. Wherefore watch ye, remembering that by the space
of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with
tears, and now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which
is able to build you up, and give you the inheritance among all them
that are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32). This exhortation was given to
guide the elders in their work. A fundamental and all-pervading
principle of this counsel is that nothing is to be taught or practiced
of the precepts of man. The elders are to guard and preserve the purity
of God’s word, the faith and peace of the church and so promote the
salvation of man.

Their labors were confined to the congregation in which they held their
membership, and to which they were responsible for their conduct.


                                DEACONS

There were also a plurality of deacons in every full-developed
congregation. Luke tells us (Acts 6:3) that the Church in Jerusalem
selected seven deacons. It is true that they are not here called
deacons, but the work to which they were called corresponds to that of
the deacons as described by Paul in his letter to Timothy. The work of
both is expressed by the same word in the Greek. Paul addressed a letter
“to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the
bishops and deacons.” Hence there were a plurality in the Church at
Philippi. This being true, and Jerusalem being the Church after which
the others were modeled, I conclude that what was true of these churches
was true of all the others.


                              EVANGELISTS

In the New Testament Church there was a class of laborers called
evangelists. Their work differed very materially from that of the elders
and deacons. Philip, who was one of the seven that were appointed
deacons in the Church at Jerusalem, is the first evangelist of which we
have any account. He “went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed
unto them the Christ. And the multitude gave heed with one accord unto
the things that were spoken by Philip when they heard and saw the signs
which he did.... [And] when they believed Philip preaching good tidings
concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were
baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:5-12). Thence he went, in
obedience to the instruction of the angel, “unto the way that goeth down
from Jerusalem unto Gaza,” where he met “a man of Ethiopia,” and
“preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto
a certain water; and the eunuch said, Behold here is water; what doth
hinder me to be baptized?... And they both went down into the water,
both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” From this we learn
that a deacon may soon develop into an evangelist.

Timothy was exhorted to do the work of an evangelist; hence it is
legitimate to infer that he was one. From the letters to Timothy and
Titus it appears that the general work of an evangelist was to preach
the Gospel in other fields than the congregation in which he held his
membership, establish churches and take care of them, appoint elders and
deacons when such work was appropriate, and to labor for such
congregations as needed assistance, whether with or without an
eldership.



                                PART II
                            The Falling Away


                               CHAPTER I.
                       THE FALLING AWAY PREDICTED

The Saviour, when about to leave his apostles, prayed the Father, that
as he till then had kept them, so they might be kept when he was no
longer personally with them, adding: “I pray not that thou shouldst take
them from the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one”
(John 17:15). And his prayer was answered, for though Jew and Gentile
sought their death, yet they were preserved until the church stood forth
in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ—till the perfect
had come. And what a perfection it was! Perfect unfolding of the love of
God, so far as that can be comprehended in this life; perfect exhibition
of the plan of salvation; perfect deliverance of the faith; perfected
canon of Scripture; perfected church policy; perfected hope, blooming
with immortality. The last of the apostles were preserved to the church
till the entire apostolic work was done. The perfect had thus come, and
apostles were no more needed, and have no more been had.

But notwithstanding perfection so varied, the world is not yet brought
to the Saviour. This would surprise us did we not know that departure
from the faith and order has been as complete and widespread as could
be. This sad condition, however, did not come unawares upon the church,
for our Saviour himself, and his apostles, foretold the apostasy, and so
minutely that its very existence stands out that prophets and apostles
“spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.”

In the Sermon on the Mount we have this solemn note of warning: “Beware
of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly
they are ravening wolves.... By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt.
7:15-20). These false prophets were men who would tear and rend the
sheep to satisfy their own greed; coming not only as enemies, but “in
sheep’s clothing,” arising from among the flock.

On careful examination it will be found that the apostles never taught
the disciples to look for an unbroken triumph of Christianity. Paul
gives warning to the Ephesian elders concerning grievous wolves who
would not spare the flock in the following words: “Take heed unto
yourselves, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his
own blood. I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in
among you, not sparing the flock; and from your own selves shall men
arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them”
(Acts 20:28-30). These grievous, tearing wolves were to arise, not only
in the church, but from among the elders. They would care for the
fleece, not for the flock; speaking perverse things to draw away from
the truth of God. Paul’s epistles repeat the warning to the Ephesian
elders in various and awful forms. He wrote his second letter to the
church in Thessalonica for the express purpose of guarding the church
against the expected return of the Lord before the “falling away” in the
church, “and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that
opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is
worshiped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God setting himself forth
as God” (II Thess. 2:3, 4). In this it is clearly set forth that a
principle was at work in the church that would work out developments and
organizations that would set aside the authority of God. The place or
prerogative of God is to sit as lawmaker, to make laws for his kingdom
and his people, and whoever or whatever proposes to legislate, make,
repeal or modify the laws of God, add to or take from what God has said,
is the man of sin, the son of perdition. Organizations in the church or
over the church to do the work that God has committed to individual
Christians and the churches are the works of the man of sin.

Concerning false apostles Paul gave this warning: “For such men are
false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles
of Christ. And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an
angel of light” (II Cor. 11:12, 14). It was no wonder that false
prophets and apostate elders were transforming themselves into apostles
of Christ when their master was setting them the example. All who sought
to turn people from God’s appointments were ministers of Satan, even
though they thought they were serving God. The end of all such shall
correspond to their works. From this we learn a needful warning in our
day, that a man calling himself an apostle, or the successor of the
apostles, is no security that Satan is not his prompter. No wonder,
then, the apostasy came soon and lasts long.

In the following the apostle again plainly foretells the apostasy: “But
the Spirit expressly saith that in latter times some shall fall away
from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,
through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies” (II Tim. 4:1, 2). Every
one that teaches that man can in any manner set aside the law and
appointments of God, or substitute man’s devices for the order of God,
is a seducing spirit that turns man from the truth. Seducing spirits
carry on their evil work through men who speak lies in hypocrisy.

Again the apostle brings up the awful subject: “But know this, that in
the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of
self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to
parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable,
slanderous, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors,
head-strong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;
holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from
these also turn away” (II Tim. 3:1-5). The condition here depicted was
as certain as important. Timothy was to have no doubt about it, and he
was to be continually calling it to mind. The men of the last times were
to be “lovers of self” and avaricious. Men had always been so in all
ages; but the characteristic of the men in question was that they were
to be “holding a form of godliness,” but denying the power thereof.

But Paul is not the only one who confirms the prediction of the Lord.
The whole body of the apostles are at one on this point. James says:
“Whence come wars and whence comes fightings among you? come they not
hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? Ye lust, and
have not; ye kill, and covet, and can not obtain: ye fight and war; ye
have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask
amiss, that ye may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3). The
wolfish work had already begun; but it was little compared with what was
to follow, when the proud, money-loving priest would find emperors and
kings to arm in his quarrel. Peter, too, writes: “But there arose false
prophets among the people, as among you also there shall be false
teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even
the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way
of the truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Peter 2:1, 2).

Jude also gives warning against the apostates predicted by Christ, and
Paul, and Peter, and denounced by James. He says: “For there are certain
men crept in privily, even who were of old written of beforehand unto
this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into
lasciviousness, and denying our only Master, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). The
self-styled vicar of Christ, with all his horde of dignitaries, and all
the multitude of corruptions in other sectarian bodies, are sure that
this can have no reference to them, because they have never denied
Christ; but on the other hand have filled the world with their various
creeds and confessions of faith. But it deserves consideration, whether
works are not always more weighty than words. “Lord, Lord,” is loathsome
to him in the mouths of the “workers of iniquity”; and Paul expressly
declares that some “profess that they know God; but by their works they
deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work
reprobate” (Titus 1:16).

Coming down to John, the last of the apostles, and, in point of time,
nearest to the apostasy, we read: “Little children, it is the last hour;
and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there risen many
antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out
from us, but they are not of us; for if they had been of us, they would
have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made
manifest that they are not of us” (I John 2:18, 19). These antichrists
were not open enemies, but wolves in the garb of sheep. Then we read:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they
are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I
John 4:1). Not into the world as openly declaring their departure from
the faith, but as destroyers thereof by false doctrine, while professing
to be servants of Christ. Further: “For many deceivers are gone forth
into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in
the flesh.” This is the deceiver and the antichrist. They went forth
into the world professedly as preachers of the Gospel of Christ, yet
denying his true character. Again: “I wrote somewhat unto the church:
but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them,
receiveth us not. Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance his
works which he doeth, prating against us with wicked words: and not
content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and
them that would he forbiddeth and casteth them out of the church” (III
John 9,10). Thus this bloated wolf had acquired such power in the church
as to exclude those who held the truth as taught by the apostles. In the
last message that God ever made to man, he said: “To the angel of the
church in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven
stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of seven golden
candlesticks: I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou
canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves
apostles, and they are not, and didst not find them false” (Rev. 2:1,
2). Thus it appears that what Paul informed the elders of the church at
Ephesus he knew would come to pass after his leaving them. The wolves in
that case claimed to be the accepted apostles of Christ, but were found
liars.


                              CHAPTER II.
                            THE FALLING AWAY

The origin of the Roman hierarchial system is obscured in pious frauds;
but it is certain that it arose gradually. As we have already learned,
the apostolic churches had a plurality of elders or bishops. At the
first the elders of any particular congregation would select one of
their number to preside at their meetings for the transaction of
business, and in the course of time he came to be known as “The Bishop.”
Little by little he came to feel his importance till he was exalted
above his fellow elders. This the presbyters would not concede.
Divisions arose out of these troubles, and the authority of the bishops,
closely united among themselves, came victorious over the presbyters,
who opposed them singlehanded. The power and authority of these bishops
were regulated by the prominence of the cities in which they presided.
As Rome was the chief city of the world at that time, the bishops of
cities of less importance regarded it an honor to themselves to concede
to the bishop of Rome the pre-eminence in all things; and so he extended
his authority from time to time, till almost the whole world bowed to
his authority.

The changes which produced this condition are strikingly expressed by
Lyman Coleman. He says:

  1. In the college of equal and co-ordinate presbyters, some one would
  naturally act as moderator or presiding officer; age, talent,
  influence, or ordination by the apostles, might give one an accidental
  superiority over his fellows, and appropriate to him the standing
  office of president of the presbytery. To this office the title of
  bishop was assigned; and with the office and the title began to be
  associated the authority of a distinct order. Jerome alleges that the
  standing office and authority of a bishop were a necessary expedient
  to still the cravings and strife for preferment which by the
  instigation of Satan, arose in process of time among the presbyters.
  Whatever may have been the cause, a distinction began to be made, in
  the course of the second century, between bishops and presbyters,
  which finally resulted, in the century following, in the establishment
  of the episcopal prerogatives.

  2. Without reference to the causes which occasioned the distinction
  between the clergy and the laity, this is worthy of notice as another
  important change in the constitution of the Church, which gradually
  arose in connection with the rise of episcopal power. In opposition to
  the idea of universal priesthood, the people now became a distinct and
  inferior order. They and the clergy begin to feel the force of
  conflicting interests and claims, the distinction widens fast, and
  influence, authority and power centralize in the bishop, the head of
  the clerical order.

  3. The clergy claim for themselves the prerogatives, relations and
  authority of the Jewish priesthood. Such claims, advanced in the third
  century by Cyprian, were a great departure from the original spirit
  and model of the Church derived from Christ and the apostles. It was
  falling back from the New to the Old Testament, and substituting the
  outward for the inward spirit. It presented the priesthood again as a
  mediating office between man and his God. It sought to invest the
  propitiating priest with awful sanctity, as the appointed medium by
  which grace is imparted to man. Hence the necessity of episcopal
  ordination, the apostolical succession, and the grace of the
  ordinances administered by consecrated hands. The clergy, by this
  assumption, were made independent of the people; their commission and
  office were from God; and, as a Mosaic priesthood, they soon began to
  claim an independent sovereignty over the laity. “God makes the
  priests” was the darling maxim of Cyprian, perpetually recurring in
  identical and varied phraseology. No change, perhaps, in the whole
  history of the changing forms of church government can be specified
  more destructive to the primitive constitution of the Church, or more
  disastrous to its spiritual interests. “This entire perversion of the
  original view of the Christian Church,” says Neander, “was itself the
  origin of the whole system of the Roman Catholic religion—the germ
  from which sprang the popery of the Dark Ages.”

  4. Few and simple were the offices instituted in the Church by the
  apostles; but after the rise of episcopacy, ecclesiastical offices
  were multiplied with great rapidity. They arose, as may appear in the
  progress of this work, from different causes and at different times;
  many were the necessary results of changes in the Church and in
  society; but, generally, they will be found to have, as their ultimate
  effect and end, the aggrandizement of the episcopate. They are an
  integral, if not an essential, part of the ceremonial, the pomp and
  power of an outward religion, that carnal perversion of the true idea
  of the Christian Church, and the legitimate consequence of beginning
  in the spirit and seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. (Ancient
  Christianity Exemplified, pages 97-99.)

This testimony is confirmed by Neander, who says:

  The changes which the constitution of the Christian Church underwent
  during this period related especially to the following particulars:
  (1) The distinction of bishops from presbyters, and the gradual
  development of the monarchico-episcopal church government; (2) The
  distinction of the clergy from the laity, and the formation of a
  sacerdotal caste, as opposed to the evangelical idea of the
  priesthood; (3) The multiplication of church offices. (Church History,
  Vol. I, page 259.)

Since it has been shown that episcopacy was the outgrowth of a wicked
ambition for leadership and power that culminated in the papacy, I deem
it important to give ample proof, since it is yet very popular in many
of the denominations of this day. I now invite attention to the
testimony of Mosheim. He says:

  1. The form of church government which began to exist in the preceding
  century was in this century more industriously established and
  confirmed in all its parts. One president, or bishop, presided over
  each church. He was created by the common suffrage of the whole
  people. With presbyters for his council, whose number was not fixed,
  it was his business to watch over the interest of the whole Church,
  and to assign to each presbyter his station. Subject to the bishop and
  also to the presbyters were the servants or deacons, who were divided
  into certain classes, because all the duties which the interests of
  the Church required could not well be attended to by them all.

  2. During a great portion of this century [second] all the churches
  continued to be, as at first, independent of each other, or were
  connected by no consociations or confederations. Each church was a
  kind of small, independent republic, governing itself by its own laws,
  enacted or at least sanctioned by the people. But in the process of
  time it became customary for all the Christian churches within the
  same province to unite and form a sort of larger society or
  commonwealth; and in the manner of confederated republics, to hold
  their conventions at stated times, and there deliberate for the common
  advantage of the whole confederation. This custom first arose among
  the Greeks, with whom a political confederation of cities, and the
  consequent convention of their several delegates, had been long known;
  but afterward, the utility of the thing being seen, the custom
  extended through all the countries where there were Christian
  churches. Such conventions of delegates from several churches
  assembled for deliberation were called by the Greeks synods and by the
  Latins councils; and the laws agreed upon in them were called canons,
  that is, rules.

  3. These councils—of which no vestige appears before the middle of
  this century—changed nearly the whole form of the Church. For by them,
  in the first place, the ancient rights and privileges of the people
  were very much abridged; and, on the other hand, the influence and the
  authority of the bishops were not a little augmented. At first the
  bishops did not deny that they were merely the representatives of
  their churches, and that they acted in the name of the people; but
  little by little they made high pretensions, and maintained that power
  was given them by Christ himself to dictate rules of faith and conduct
  to the people. In the next place, the perfect equality and parity of
  all bishops, which existed in the early times, these councils
  gradually subverted. For it was necessary that one of the confederated
  bishops of a province should in those conventions be intrusted with
  some authority and power over the others; and hence originated the
  prerogatives of metropolitans. And lastly, when the custom of holding
  these councils had extended over the Christian world and the universal
  Church had acquired the form of a vast republic composed of many
  lesser ones, certain head men were to be placed over it in different
  parts of the world as central points in their respective countries.
  Hence came the Patriarchs, and ultimately the Prince of Patriarchs,
  the Roman Pontiff. (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I, pages 116, 117.)

Concerning this, I note the following facts:

1. That in the second century they digressed so far from apostolic
practice as to have one bishop over each church, and that he had his
elders under his control. He was the pastor of that church.

2. That there was a confederation of churches into councils.

3. These councils began to be held about the middle of the second
century, and resulted in augmenting the power of the bishops and
diminishing the privileges of the people. This power on the part of the
clergy was not assumed all at once, but gradually assumed as the people
would bear it. These councils soon began to enact laws, and claimed
authority from Christ to thus dictate to the people.

4. That when the custom of holding these councils had extended over the
Christian world, and the Church had acquired the form of a vast republic
composed of many lesser ones, certain head men were placed over it in
different parts of the world; hence came the patriarchs, and ultimately
a prince of patriarchs, the Roman pontiff.

For centuries the struggle between the Church of Rome and the State
raged furiously, so that when we reach the age of Hildebrand (A.D.
1073-1085) we find plots and counterplots the order of the day. It was
the height of his ambition to subordinate the State to the Church, and
subject the Church to the absolute authority of the Pope. The course
pursued by Hildebrand and by aspiring pontiffs who succeeded him
resulted in an open conflict between the papacy and the empire. In the
persistent contest which followed the papacy gained a decided advantage.
That the emperor was commissioned to preside over the temporal affairs
of men, while it was left for the pope to guide and govern them in
spiritual things, was a rule too vague for defining the limits of
spiritual and temporal jurisdiction. The co-ordination, the equilibrium
of the two powers was a relation with which neither party would be
content. It was a struggle on both sides for universal monarchy. The
popes, by strategy and shrewd diplomacy, gained complete supremacy over
Western Europe, and for many years the pope was everywhere acknowledged
head of the Latin Church.

“It was during the progress of the struggle with the empire,” says
Professor Fisher, “that the papal power may be said to have culminated.
In the eighteen years (1198-1216) in which Innocent III reigned the
papal institution shone forth in full splendor. The enforcement of
celibacy had placed the entire body of the clergy in closer relation to
the sovereign pontiff. The vicar of Peter had become the vicar of God
and of Christ. The idea of a theocracy on earth, in which the pope
should rule in this character, fully possessed the mind of Innocent, who
united to the courage, pertinacity and lofty conceptions of Gregory VII
a broader range of statesmanlike capacity. In his view the two swords of
temporal and ecclesiastical power had both been given to Peter and to
his successors, so that the earthly sovereign derived his prerogative
from the head of the Church. The king was to the pope as the moon to the
sun; a lower luminary shining with borrowed light. Acting on this
theory, he assumed the post of arbiter in the contention of nations, and
claimed the right to dethrone kings at his pleasure.” In the Church he
assumed the character of universal bishop, under the theory that all
episcopal power was originally deposited in Peter and his successors,
and communicated through this source to bishops, who were thus only the
vicars of the pope, and might be deposed at will. Being thus lifted up,
he said: “Jesus Christ wills that the kingdom should be priestly, and
the priesthood kingly. Over all he has set me as his vicar upon earth,
so that as before Jesus ‘every knee shall bow,’ in like manner to his
vicar all shall be obedient, and there shall be one fold and one
shepherd.” Moreover, he applied to himself the words of Jesus, “All
authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.” And again, we
hear one of them say: “For every human creature it is a condition of
salvation to submit to the Roman pontiff.” Not only did they assert the
necessity of obedience to the pope, but they actually claimed the power
to forgive sins and to bestow eternal life. This is a striking
fulfillment of what Paul said to the Thessalonians: “He opposeth and
exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped; so
that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God” (II
Thess. 2:4).

The corruption of the government of the Church naturally led to the
corruption of everything connected with Christianity. A departure from
the divine government in one thing opens the way for other departures.
Such a course will soon cause men to lose sight of the Lord’s directions
and cause them to follow the doctrines and commandments of men.
Prominent among the early departures from the divine order was the
substitution of infant baptism for that of believers. This practice
originated in the third century, and grew out of the doctrine of
original sin. It was contended that baptism was regeneration in the
sense of washing away original sin; that infants were depraved by
original sin, and could not be saved without this washing away of that
sin, and therefore they baptized infants that they might be saved. On
this point Neander testifies:

  But when now, on the one hand, the doctrine of corruption and guilt,
  cleaving to human nature in consequence of the first transgression,
  was reduced to a more precise and systematic form, and, on the other
  from duly distinguishing between what is outward and what inward in
  baptism (the baptism by water and the baptism by the Spirit), the
  error became more firmly established that without external baptism no
  one could be delivered from that inherent guilt, or could be saved
  from the everlasting punishment that threatened him, or raised to
  eternal life; and when the notion of a magical influence, a charm
  connected with the sacraments, continually gained ground, the theory
  was finally evolved of the unconditional necessity of infant baptism.
  About the middle of the third century this theory was already
  generally admitted in the North African Church. (Church History, Vol.
  I, pages 426, 427.)

To the same import is the testimony of Dr. Philip Schaff. He says:

  The practice of infant baptism in the church, with the customary
  formula, “for the remission of sins,” and such accompanying ceremonies
  as exorcism, presupposes the dominion of sin and of demoniacal powers
  even in infancy. Since the child, before the awakening of
  self-consciousness, has committed no actual sin, the effect of baptism
  must relate to the forgiveness of original sin and guilt. This was a
  very important point from the beginning of the controversy, and one to
  which Augustine frequently reverted.... Constrained by the idea of
  original sin, and by the supposed necessity of baptism to salvation,
  he does not shrink from consigning unbaptized children to damnation
  itself.... The Catholic doctrine of the necessity of outward baptism
  to regeneration and entrance into the kingdom of God, forbade him a
  more liberal view respecting the endless destiny of that half of the
  human race which die in childhood. (History of the Christian Church,
  Vol. III, pages 835, 836.)

The departure from the practice of immersion, the original act performed
in baptism, to affusion, was largely due to the idea of the magical
effect of water to cleanse the polluted souls of men. It was believed to
contain the whole forgiving power of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On
this account many put off baptism till death threatened them, that their
iniquities might be removed as the King of terrors carried them into the
land of spirits. The first case of the kind on record is that of
Novatian (A. D. 251), who was “baptized by affusion in the bed as he
lay.” At first this practice caused a schism in the Church, but in the
course of time that which was the exception became the rule. On this
radical change from apostolic practice the learned Roman Catholic
bishop, Karl Joseph Hefele, says:

  The Church has always been tender toward the sick; she has hastened to
  confer baptism upon them, because it is necessary to salvation; and
  for that reason she introduced clinical baptism. (History of Church
  Councils, page 153.)

There were no serious controversies about the Lord’s Supper until the
early part of the ninth century, when one Paschasius Radbert, a monk of
“great acuteness of mind,” wrote a book in which he promulgated the
doctrine of transubstantiation. In this book he took the position that
the wine in the Lord’s Supper is “the very blood that ran out of the
Saviour’s side upon the cross, and for that reason water is mingled with
the eucharistical wine;” and the bread “is the very flesh of our Saviour
which was born of the Virgin.” At first the doctrine was repugnant to
the cultivated, but it was broached in a rude age, and the monks favored
it; the materialistic character of European thought assisted it, and
gradually it had a host of friends and was prepared to frown down all
opposition. The controversy, however, continued with fury till A. D.
1215, when Pope Innocent III assembled a council in Rome, in the Lateran
Church, consisting of 412 bishops, in whose hearing he read seventy
canons which he had drawn up; among these was the famous canon which
gave transubstantiation a legal place in the Catholic Church. The
important part of the canon is:

  There is one universal church of the faithful, out of which no one at
  all is saved; and in which Jesus Christ himself is at once priest and
  sacrifice; whose body and blood, in the sacrament of the altar, are
  truly constrained under the species of bread and wine, which, through
  the divine power, are transubstantiated, the bread into the body, and
  the wine into the blood; that for the fulfillment of the mystery of
  unity, we may receive of that which he received of ours.

Another step was taken about 350 years later, when the Council of Trent
declared the host an atoning sacrifice:

  And, since in the divine sacrifice which is performed in the mass, the
  same Christ is contained and offered in an unbloody manner, who, on
  the altar of the cross, offered himself, with blood, once for all; the
  holy synod teaches that that sacrifice is, and becomes of itself,
  truly propitiatory, so that if, with a true heart and a right faith,
  with fear and reverence, we approach to God, contrite and penitent, we
  may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. The Lord,
  forsooth, being appeased by the offering of this, and granting grace
  and the gift of repentance, remit crimes and sins, even great ones;
  for it is one and the same host, the same person now offering by the
  ministry of the priests, who when offered himself upon the cross, only
  in a different manner of offering; and by this unbloody sacrifice, the
  fruit of that bloody one are abundantly received; only far be it that
  any dishonor should be done to that by this. Wherefore according to
  the tradition of the apostles, offering is duly made, not only for the
  sins, pains, and satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful
  who are alive, but also for the dead in Christ, who are not yet wholly
  cleansed.

This same council further declared:

  If any one shall deny that in the sacrament of the most holy
  eucharist, there is contained really, truly, and substantially, the
  body and the blood together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord
  Jesus Christ, and so whole Christ, but shall say he is only in it in
  sign, or figure, or power, let him be accursed.

Not content with this it declares that:

  If any one shall say that in the holy sacrament of the eucharist,
  there remains the substance of the bread and wine, together with the
  body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall deny that wonderful
  and remarkable conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the
  body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, while
  only the appearance of bread and wine remain, which conversion the
  Catholic Church most appropriately names transubstantiation; let him
  be accursed.

The Council of Tridentine says there is a whole Christ in every particle
of the Mass:

  If any one shall deny that Christ entire is contained in the venerable
  sacrament of the eucharist, under each species, and, when they are
  divided, under every particle of each kind; let him be accursed.

The climax of blasphemy is reached when the Council of Trent asserts:

  There is, therefore, no reason to doubt but that all Christ’s faithful
  people, in their veneration, should render this most holy sacrament
  the same worship which is due to the true God, according to the custom
  which the Catholic Church has always received.


                              CHAPTER III.
                            THE CONFESSIONAL

As the mass is the aggregate of the Romish doctrine, the confessional is
the chief of the papal system. By it the decrees of the “infallible
Church” are applied and carried out with unequaled measure of minuteness
and rigor.

That the New Testament requires the confession of sin is not denied; but
such a thing as secret confession in the ear of a priest, to secure his
absolution, was entirely unknown in the early churches. Even in Rome it
was not till about the year 390 that there was a place appointed for the
reception of penitents, when they stood mourning during the public
service, from which they were excluded. They cast themselves upon the
ground with groans and lamentations; the bishop who conducted the
ceremony prostrated himself and wept; flooded with fears the people
groaned aloud; then the bishop arose from his humble position and
summoned up the people, and, after praying for the people, he dismissed
them. This custom, with slight changes, was universal. For some sins men
were required to do penance during the whole of their lives, and
absolution was only granted them in death; but the common course of
penance consigned men for ten, fifteen or twenty years to its various
humiliating stages. After the long, distressing penance was completed,
“the candidate for restoration knelt down between the knees of the
bishop, or, in his absence, between those of the presbyter, who, laying
his hand upon his head, solemnly blessed and absolved him. The people
received him with transports of joy, as one escaped from the coils of
the old serpent.”

They were then received into communion with the imposition of hands, and
the prayer of the whole church for them. The form of their prayer was:

  O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, that takest away the sin
  of the world, remit, blot out and pardon their sins, both voluntary
  and involuntary, whatever they have done by transgression and
  disobedience. And whereinsoever thy servants have erred from thy
  commandments, in word or deed, or whatever curse or peculiar anathema
  they have fallen under, we pray and beseech thine ineffable goodness
  to absolve them with thy word, and remit their curse and anathema,
  according to thy mercy. O Lord and Master, hear our prayer for thy
  servants and deliver them from eternal punishment.

Bingham informs us that the form, “I absolve you,” was not known in the
practice till the beginning of the thirteenth century. Thomas Aquinas
was one of the first men to write in defense of it. In his day the
expression excited much opposition. Pope Innocent III, ambitious to
establish a number of superstitions, called the fourth Council of the
Lateran, A. D. 1215, which declared that “the church has always
understood that an entire confession of sins was always appointed by the
Lord, and that it is of divine requirement necessary to all who have
lapsed after baptism. Because our Lord Jesus Christ, when about to
ascend from earth to heaven, left his priests, his vicars, to be, as it
were, the presidents and judges, to whom all mortal sins into which
Christ’s faithful people should fall should be brought, in order that,
by the power of the keys, they might pronounce sentence of remission or
retention. For it is plain that the priest can not exercise this
judgment without knowledge of the cause, nor can they observe equity in
enjoining penalties if men declare their sins only generally, and not
particularly and separately. From this it is inferred that it is right
that the penitent should recount in confession all the deadly sins of
which, upon examination, their conscience accuses them, even though they
be the most secret, and only against the last two commandments, which
not unfrequently grievously wounds the soul and are more dangerous than
those which are openly practiced.” This invests the priesthood with the
prerogative of God himself, who is the searcher and discerner of “the
thoughts and intents of the heart.” To this demand all the members of
the Catholic Church, whether old or young, are required to bow, as is
shown by the twenty-first canon of the Lateran Council, which is as
follows:

  Every one of the faithful of both sexes, after he shall have reached
  the years of discretion, shall, by himself alone, faithfully confess
  all his sins, at least once a year, to his own priest, and strive to
  perform according to his ability the penance imposed upon him,
  reverently partaking of the sacrament of the eucharist, at least at
  Easter; unless perhaps, by the advice of his priest, for some
  reasonable cause, he should judge that for a time he should abstain
  from partaking of it; otherwise, let the living be hindered from
  entering the church, and let the dead be deprived of Christian burial.
  On this account this salutary statute shall be frequently published in
  the churches that no one may pretend as an excuse the blindness of
  ignorance. But if any one should wish to confess his sins to a foreign
  priest, for proper reasons, he must first ask and obtain a license
  from his own priest, since otherwise he would not be able to bind or
  loose him.

The confessional as it exists today is chiefly the work of the Council
of Trent, and those who lived in the age immediately after. In order to
strike terror to the hearts of all who might refuse to accede to the
demands of the priesthood, the Council of Trent published a number of
canons on penance, pronouncing the most awful curses on those who
refused obedience. I have not space to give the canons, but they teach
that the form of the sacrament of penance in which its force especially
lies is placed in the words, “I absolve thee,” and that this absolution
is not in words merely, but that “the ministers of God truly absolve.”
The priest is declared to represent Christ in the confessional, and
therefore is invested with divine attributes and powers. The language
used is: “Moreover, in the priest who sits a legitimate judge over him,
he should venerate the person and power of Christ the Lord; for in
administering the sacrament of penance, as in the other sacraments, the
priest discharges the office of Christ.” They further teach that the
confession of sins to a priest is necessary to salvation; and that every
mortal sin, even the most secret and infamous, must be confessed to a
priest, otherwise there can be no pardon from God. Thus we see that they
make the priest the judge of the soul, and that in the confessional he
sits instead of Jesus Christ and that he can keep the sins of any man
bound upon him, or loose them, according to his discretion.

In the confessional the penitent kneels beside the priest, makes the
sign of the cross, saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” Then with her lips near the cheek of the
priest she asks the priest’s blessing in these words: “Pray, father,
give me your blessing. I have sinned,” after which the penitent repeats:

  I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary, ever Virgin, to blessed
  Michael, the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy
  Apostles, Peter and Paul, and to you, father, that I have sinned
  exceedingly, in thought, word and deed, through my fault, through my
  fault, through my most grievous fault!

Many of the questions of the confessional are too horrible to quote.
Were I to do so I would lay myself liable to prosecution by the
Government authorities. But every question put by the priest must be
answered by the penitent on the peril of damnation; he sits instead of
Christ, the penitent is confessing to God, the voice of the priest is
Immanuel’s; it is the Almighty that is addressing the trembling
penitent. And for this reason the priest hears everything, however
shocking, shameful, frightful; everything in thoughts, feelings, words,
looks and deeds. That the modesty of women should be placed on the rack
in the confessional by a bachelor priest, full of curiosity as well as
sanctity, and torn and lacerated, under the awful sanctions of the
Almighty, is indeed a dreadful thought.

“The confessional is the most odious espionage ever invented by cunning
despots. It is the most flagitious outrage upon the rights of husbands
and wives, parents and children, the sinning and the sinned against,
that ever shocked modesty or ground trembling hearts under its fatal
heel. It is strongly believed to be the greatest incitement to vice that
a holy God ever permitted; frightful examples of which are on record. It
turns priests into odious receptacles for the accumulated stench and
nastiness of all the foul corruptions of thousands, making them the sons
of the Man of Sin, ready bearers of the iniquities of whole
communities.” Yes, it is a withering curse, a cruel tyranny, without one
redeeming quality, “which the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of
his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming.”


                              CHAPTER IV.
                              INDULGENCES

In order to make the absolution effective, the sacrament of confession
comprises penances by which the wrongs done are paid. Originally the
amount of satisfaction was measured by the time alone during which the
state of penance should last. As we have already seen, this situation
inflicted the greatest disgrace, and caused the greatest distress of
mind. But gradually a change was wrought, and penitents who showed
undoubted sorrow were relieved of their penance earlier than the old
usage demanded. This abridgement of the long sentence was called an
indulgence, and was really the beginning of that system which reached
its infamous maturity under Leo X and in the preaching of the wicked
Tetzel. In that age no one knew anything of purgatory or the treasury of
merits acquired by the saints, and disposed by the Pope; or even of the
supreme bishop at Rome, with authority over all the churches and clergy
everywhere.

At first indulgences were limited exclusively to church penances, but in
process of time they embraced all the temporary punishments due the soul
on earth and in purgatory. Christ, it was said, had endured and removed
the eternal penalties of sin; but the sufferings short of everlasting
continuance must be borne in purgatory, pilgrimages, or be removed by
indulgence. The earthly sufferings could be enduring by deputy—any
amount of fasting, flagellation or pilgrimage work could be discharged
by substitute—and throngs of monks in time of papal darkness were
competitors for the repulsive service.

It was argued that when a man performs his allotted task for the day he
deserves additional reward or credit for any further services he may
render. Such labors are beyond what his agreement demands; they are
works of supererogation. So when a Christian leading a blameless life is
persecuted and killed, as his sins did not draw his sufferings, these
pains were meritorious, they were higher than a man’s deserts—these were
works of supererogation. It was claimed that millions of saints in
heaven had left a legacy of such merits to the Church, and that in it
she had a treasury of good deeds of immense value, incapable of
exhaustion, no matter how many drafts, through indulgences, the Holy
Mother might make upon it. Sometimes it was said that one drop of the
Saviour’s blood was sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and that
all the rest went into the treasury, which the Church might give to
souls in purgatory, or rich men on earth who had money to buy it, or to
men not so wealthy who had some means. This was the paid-up capital of
the bank of indulgences. The doctrine and practice of indulgence
constitute the very center of the hierarchial system.

In the fifteenth century the disposal of indulgences became a common
traffic, and public sale of them was generally preceded by some specious
pretext. Often the pretenses for selling them were in reality bloody,
idolatrous and superstitious. Pope John XXIII empowered his legates to
absolve penitents from all sorts of crimes upon the payment of sums of
money proportioned to their guilt. D’Aubigne, in his “History of the
Reformation,” tells us that when such indulgences were to be published,
the disposal of them was commonly farmed out; for the papal court could
not always wait to have the money collected and conveyed from every
country of Europe. And there were rich merchants at Genoa, Milan, Venice
and Augsburg who purchased the indulgences for a particular province,
and paid to the papal chancery handsome sums for them. Thus both parties
were benefited. The chancery came at once into large sums of money, and
the farmers did not fail of a good bargain. They were careful to employ
skillful men to sell the indulgences, persons whose boldness and
impudence bore due proportion to the eloquence with which they imposed
upon the simple people. Yet, that this species of traffic might have a
religious aspect, the Pope appointed the archbishops of the several
provinces to be his commissaries, who in his name announced that
indulgences were to be sold, and generally selected the men to sell
them, and for this service shared the profits with the merchants who
farmed them. These papal hawkers enjoyed great privileges, and, however
odious to the civil authorities, they were not molested. Complaints,
indeed, were made against these contributions, levied by the popes upon
all Europe. Kings and princes, clergy and laity, bishops, monasteries
and confessors, all felt themselves aggrieved by them; the kings, that
their countries were impoverished, under the pretext of crusades that
were never undertaken, and of wars against heretics and Turks; and the
bishops, that their letters of indulgence were rendered inefficient, and
the people released from ecclesiastical discipline. But at Rome all were
deaf to all these complaints, and it was not till the revolution
produced by Luther that unhappy Europe obtained the desired relief.


                              JOHN TETZEL

Leo X, in order to carry on the expensive structure of St. Peter’s
Church in Rome, published indulgences, with a plenary remission to all
such as should contribute toward erecting that magnificent building. The
right of promulgating these indulgences in Germany, together with a
share in the profits arising from the sale of them, was granted to John
Tetzel, a Dominican friar, a licentious wretch, but an active and
enterprising spirit, and remarkable for his noisy and popular eloquence.
Assisted by the monks of his order, selected as his chief agent for
retailing them in Saxony, he executed the commission with great zeal and
success, but with no less indecency.

That my readers may have some idea of the course pursued, I give one of
his harangues. After the cross had been erected and the arms of the Pope
suspended from it, Tetzel went into the pulpit, and with a tone of
assurance began to extol the value of indulgences in these words:

  Indulgences are the most precious and most noble of God’s gifts. This
  cross has as much efficacy as the very cross of Jesus Christ. Come and
  I will give you letters, all properly sealed, by which even the sins
  you intend to commit may be pardoned. I would not change my privileges
  for those of Saint Peter in heaven; for I have saved more souls by my
  indulgences than the apostle by his sermons. There is no sin so great
  that an indulgence can not remit; and even if one (which it doubtless
  is impossible) had offered violence to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God,
  let him pay—only let him pay well, and all will be forgiven him.
  Reflect then, that every mortal sin you must, after confession and
  contrition, do penance for seven years, either in this life or in
  purgatory; now, how many mortal sins are there not committed in a day,
  how many in a week, how many in a month, how many in a year, how many
  in a whole life! Alas, these sins are almost infinite, and they entail
  an infinite penalty in the fires of purgatory. And now, by means of
  these letters of indulgence, you can once in your life, in every case
  except four, which are reserved for the apostolic see, and afterward
  in the article of death, obtain a plenary remission of all your
  penalties and all your sins!

  Do you know that if any one desires to visit Rome, or any country
  where travelers incur danger, he sends his money to the bank, and for
  every hundred florins that he wishes to have, he gives five or six or
  ten more, that by means of the letters of this bank he may be safely
  repaid his money at Rome or elsewhere.... And you, for a quarter of a
  florin, will not receive these letters of indulgence, by means of
  which you may introduce into paradise not a vile metal, but a divine
  and immortal soul, without its running any risk.

  But more than this, indulgences avail not only for the living, but for
  the dead. For that repentance is not even necessary. Priests! nobles!
  merchant! wife! youth! maiden! do you not hear your parents and your
  other friends who are dead, and who cry from the bottom of the abyss:
  “We are suffering horrible torments! A trifling alms would deliver us;
  you can give it, and you will not!” At the very instant that the money
  rattles in the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory,
  and flies liberated to heaven. Oh, stupid and brutish people, who do
  not understand the grace so richly offered! Now heaven is everywhere
  opened! Do you refuse to enter now? When, then will you enter? Now you
  can ransom so many souls! Stiff-necked and thoughtless man! with
  twelve groats you can deliver your father from purgatory, and you are
  ungrateful enough not to save him! I shall be justified in the day of
  judgment; but—you will be punished so much the more severely for
  having neglected so great salvation. I declare to you, though you
  should have but a single coat, you should strip it off and sell it, in
  order to obtain this grace. The Lord our God no longer reigns. He has
  resigned all power to the pope.

  Do you know why our most Holy Lord distributes so rich a grace? It is
  to restore the ruined Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and those
  of a multitude of martyrs. The saintly bodies, through the present
  state of the building, are now, alas, beaten upon, inundated,
  polluted, dishonored, reduced to rottenness, by the rain and the hail.
  Alas, shall these sacred ashes remain longer in the mire and in
  degradation?

  “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell
  you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see, and have not
  seen them; and to hear those things, which ye hear, and have not heard
  them!”

When Tetzel concluded his discourse he immediately left the pulpit, ran
to the money box, and, in the sight of the people, dropped into it a
coin, being very careful to make it rattle so that it could be heard by
the excited people. This was the signal that “indulgence had established
its throne in the place with due solemnity.” Confessionals, decorated
with the pope’s arms, were arranged in convenient places. On “each of
these confessionals were posted in large letters the names, the surnames
and titles of the under commissaries and of the confessors. Men, women
and children crowded around these confessionals, all with money in their
hands. Even those who lived on alms found money to buy indulgences!”

After having privately explained to each individual the greatness of
indulgence, the confessors addressed the following question to each
penitent: “How much money can you conscientiously spare to obtain so
complete a remission?” “The demand,” said the instructions of the
archbishop of Mentz to the commissaries, “should be made at this moment,
in order that the penitents might be better disposed to contribute.”

To all who should aid in building the cathedral of Saint Peter in Rome,
the following graces were promised: (1) The full pardon for every sin;
(2) the right of choosing a confessor, who, whenever the hour of death
appeared at hand, should give absolution for all sin, even from the
greatest crimes reserved for the apostolic see; (3) a participation in
all the blessings, works and merits of the Catholic Church, prayers,
fasts, alms, and the pilgrimages; and (4) redemption of the souls that
are in purgatory. To obtain the first of these graces it was said to be
necessary to “have contrition of heart and confession of mouth, or at
least an intention of confessing. But as for the three others they might
be obtained without contrition, without confession, simply by paying.”
The intention was to make it appear that whoever possessed money could,
by using it in the purchase of indulgences, introduce souls into heaven.
The indulgence mongers said:

  As for those who would deliver souls from purgatory and procure the
  pardon of all their offenses, let them put money into the chest;
  contrition of heart or confession of mouth is not necessary. Let them
  only hasten to bring their money: for thus they will perform a work
  most useful to the souls of the dead, and to the building of the
  Church of Saint Peter.

The confession over, there was a rush to the trafficker, who examined
very closely the dress, manner, gait and appearance of the applicant.
The sum required was measured by his judgment of the financial ability
of the individual. If he made a mistake about the price set, he was
empowered to make the best bargain possible, “and all was to be arranged
according to the data of sound reason, and the generosity of the donor.”
For adultery, polygamy, sacrilege, perjury, murder, witchcraft,
infanticide, and fratricide he had a particular tax. In fact, “there was
no vein in the gold mine that they did not find the means of working.”
Tetzel executed the commission with great zeal and success, but with no
less indecency. He assured the purchasers that their crimes, however
enormous, would be forgiven; that the efficacy of indulgences was so
great that the most heinous sins would be expiated and remitted by them,
and the person freed both from punishment and guilt; and that this was
the unspeakable gift of God to reconcile men to himself.

In order that my readers may understand more fully the frightful extent
of the wickedness to which the traffic led, I give the usual form of the
letters of absolution, which was as follows:

  May the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon thee, and absolve thee by
  the merits of his most holy passion. And I, by his authority, that of
  his apostles Peter and Paul, and of the most holy pope, granted and
  committed to me in these parts, do absolve thee, first, from all
  ecclesiastical censures, in whatever manner they may have been
  incurred; then from all thy sins, transgressions and excesses, how
  enormous soever they may be; even such as are reserved for the
  cognizance of our most holy father the pope and for the apostolic see.
  I remit to thee all punishment which thou deservest in purgatory on
  their account; and I restore thee to the holy sacraments of the
  Church, to the unity of the faithful, and to the innocence and purity
  which thou possessedst at baptism; so that when thou diest the gates
  of punishment shall be shut, and the gates of the paradise of delights
  shall be opened; and if thou shall not die at present, this grace
  shall remain in full force when thou art at the point of death. In the
  name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Friar John
  Tetzel, commissary, has signed with his own hand.

This abolished all guilt and fear of hell in the minds of the
purchasers, and inasmuch as the sale of indulgences was universally
prevalent, the Church of Rome was everywhere triumphant, darkness
covered the earth, and gross darkness the people; the children of God
were driven to caves and secret places of the earth, hunted by armed
bands at the command of the apostate Church. The condition was
appalling!



                                PART III
                       The Reformation in Europe


                               CHAPTER I.
                             JOHN WYCKLIFFE

The Roman Catholic Church, as we have already seen, had reached such a
degree of corruption in doctrine and practice, so deep and widespread,
that it would seem quite impossible for it to reach further degradation.
The name of Christ was everywhere professed, but a devout believer was
seldom found. The Christ was hidden that his pretended representatives
might be all in all. Justification by faith was denounced in order to
open up a trade in indulgences to enrich the papacy by the sale of
salvation. The commands of God were openly made void by the doctrines
and commandments of men. Apostolic order and ordinances had given place
to those of the “man of sin.” “The mystery of lawlessness” stood out in
full proportions.

And yet, notwithstanding all this, there were forces at work, in
different parts of Europe, moving on to conflict and reform that were
destined to break the all but universal sway of the papacy. There can be
no doubt that the invention of printing, the gradual revival of
learning, and the enlarged acquaintance with the Scriptures, all made
directly against the then existing conditions. The Reformation was
effected and the names of its chief actors have come down to us with
deserved honor, and yet how imperfect the work done and the spirit of
the doers of it. Measuring both by the doctrine and practice of the
apostles can not but compel the conclusion that the Reformation from the
first onward needed immense reformation to bring it up to the measures
of the divine standard. And still it may be that any nearer approach to
a completely scriptural work and spirit would have been quite futile
under the existing conditions.

John Wyckliffe, who flourished in the latter part of the fourteenth
century, popularly called the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” was the
first to distinguish himself in fighting against the supremacy of the
pope, the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the abuses of the
hierarchy. As early as 1360 he became known as the opponent of the
mendicant friars who infested England, interfering with school
discipline, as well as domestic relations. He exposed the venality and
superstition of the monkish orders with a vigor of reasoning and a keen
satire. Efforts were made by a commission appointed by the king to have
the evil abrogated, and such arrangements were finally made; but the
pope soon violated the compact and Parliament again took action against
the Roman usurpations. These developments fully opened the eyes of
Wyckliffe to the intolerant corruption of the Roman See, and he began
henceforth to argue and teach, preach and write, boldly and without
reserve against the papal system.


                   TRANSLATES THE BIBLE INTO ENGLISH

But the greatest work of Wyckliffe for the enlightenment of the world
was the translation of the Bible into the English language. But in order
to appreciate the difficulties of his task, we should remember that Rome
had not only utterly neglected and contemned the Sacred writings, but
had interdicted their translation into any vernacular tongue. She
claimed that it was not only unlawful, but injurious, for the people at
large to read the Scriptures. Nor was this idea left to pass current
merely as a received opinion, but it was a subject which was considered
by councils, and canons were enacted against it. Not to mention other
proofs of this, more than one hundred and fifty years before Wyckliffe
had finished his translation of the Bible, in the year 1229, at the
Council of Toulouse, forty-five canons were passed and issued for the
extinction of heresy and the re-establishment of peace. One of these
canons involved the first court of inquisition, and another, the first
canon, forbade the Scriptures to the laity, or the translation of any
portion of them into the common tongue. The latter was expressed in the
following very pointed terms:

  We also forbid the laity to possess any of the books of the Old or New
  Testament, except, perhaps, the Psalter or Breviary for the Divine
  Offices, or the Hours of the Blessed Virgin, which some, out of
  devotion, wish to have; but having any of these books translated into
  the vulgar tongue, we strictly forbid.

In the face of all this, and far more than I can now explain, Wyckliffe
performed his arduous task of translation. Of this great work, a
competent critic most appropriately remarks: “From an early period of
his life he had devoted his various learning, and his powerful energies
of mind, to effect this, and, at length, by intense application on his
part, and from assistance from a few of the most learned of his
followers, he had the glory to complete a book, which, alone, would have
been sufficient (or at least ought) to have procured the veneration of
his own age, and the commendation of posterity.”

While engaged in this work, in the year 1379, he was taken violently
ill, and the friars, imagining that his course was now near its end,
contrived to visit him. Four of their ablest men had been selected, or a
friar from each of the mendicant orders, and they were admitted to a
patient hearing. After reminding him of the great injury he had done to
their order, they exhorted him, as one near to death, that he would now,
as a true penitent, bewail and revoke, in their presence, whatever he
had said to their disparagement. As soon as they had done, Wyckliffe,
calling for his servant, desired to be raised up on his pillow; and then
collecting all his strength, with a severe and expressive countenance,
and in a tone not to be misunderstood, exclaimed:

  I shall not die, but live to declare the evil deeds of the friars.

Confounded at such a reply, they immediately left him; and he recovered,
to finish in the next year his translation of the entire Bible.

As this was before the invention of printing, the translation could only
be diffused by the laborious process of transcription; but transcribed
it was most diligently, both entire and in parts, and as eagerly read.
There were those who, at all hazards, sought wisdom from the Book of
God, and their number could not be few. A contemporary writer, an enemy,
and in the language of hatred and fear combined, with the wish to damage
the cause, affirmed that “a man could not meet two people on the road,
but one of them was a disciple of Wyckliffe.” Certainly the opportunity
was gladly received by the people; and while the word of the Lord did
not have “free course,” there can be no question that it was “glorified”
in the reception given it by many. The same bitter opponent, in the tone
of deep lamentation, makes the following remarkable admission about the
wonderful progress made in the face of bitter persecution:

  The soldiers, with the dukes and earls, are the chief adherents of
  this sect, its most powerful defenders, and its invincible protectors.
  This Master John Wyckliffe hath translated the Gospel out of Latin
  into English, which Christ had entrusted with the clergy and doctors
  of the Church, that they might minister it to the laity and weaker
  sort, according to the state of the times and the wants of men. So
  that by this means the Gospel is made vulgar, and laid more open to
  the laity, and even to women who can read, than it used to be to the
  most learned of the clergy and those of the best understanding! And
  what was before the chief gift of the clergy and doctors of the
  Church, is made forever common to the laity!

At about the same time another papal dupe, in the same spirit, most
vehemently urged:

  The prelates ought not to suffer that every one at his pleasure should
  read the Scriptures, translated even into Latin; because, as is plain
  from experience, this has been many ways the occasion of falling into
  heresies and errors. It is not, therefore, politic that any one,
  wheresoever and whensoever he will, should give himself to the
  frequent study of the Scriptures.

These men just quoted referred to the period between 1380 and 1400, and
it was one, though but too short, which distinguished England from every
other country in Europe. However transient, it was one that had much to
do with wresting the world from the appalling darkness and ruin wrought
by the papacy, and flooding the world with the glorious sunlight of
eternal truth. It was all in vain that the bishops, with the primates of
Canterbury at their head bellowed and remonstrated with the people,
wrote letters to and received letters from Rome, made and executed
fearful threats of punishment; the Bible had been translated, the people
transcribed and read, and sent copies of it far and near.

In 1400 Parliament enacted a law that gave bishops the power to hand
over obstinate or relapsed heretics to sheriffs and magistrates, who
were enjoined to have them publicly burnt. In 1401 William Sawtre, a
devout man, was burnt at Smithfield as a heretic. Of the many victims, I
have only space to mention J. Badby, who was burnt in a barrel; and
especially that generous friend of the Reformation, Sir John Oldcastle,
who frequently sheltered preachers of reform in his castle, and devoutly
did he adhere to these doctrines, since, as he himself attested his
whole life through them had undergone a change. Henry V had made vain
efforts to induce him to change from his faith; but he refused to
recant, and was condemned as a “pernicious heretic” in 1413. But during
the respite granted him, he managed to escape into Wales, where he
concealed himself till 1417, when he was captured and executed at St.
Giles’ Fields, amidst the most barbarous tortures, being roasted over a
slow fire. The escape of Oldcastle and the rumors of a Lollard
insurrection the following year were made the occasion for fresh
measures of persecution. In 1414 it was ordered that all public
officials should bind themselves by oath to aid in the extirpation of
heresy, and that the lands and possessions of those convicted of heresy
should be confiscated.

In 1416 a regular inquisition was instituted in every parish of the
diocese of Canterbury. Among the common people, however, the desire for
Biblical knowledge continued to spread; secret conventicles were held;
and though the persecution, which lasted till 1431, may have crushed the
“heresy,” the principles lived and spread worldwide, and became the
influence that led to reformation in other parts.


                              CHAPTER II.
                            William Tyndale

If I were to follow the strictly chronological order, I would here give
a sketch of Luther and his work, but as I have given an account of the
work of Wyckliffe, it is proper to give attention to the work of William
Tyndale, because I am now seeking the basic principle of the return to
apostolic purity and simplicity.

At the opening of the sixteenth century, a period of great interest to
all the world, were four men—Le Fevre, in France; Zwingli, in
Switzerland; Luther, in Germany, and Tyndale, in England—destined to
make a great impression on the world for all time. But they were wholly
unknown to each other. In France, Switzerland and Germany were the
living voices throughout life, of the men raised up, calling upon their
countrymen to hear and obey the truth; and so it was in England a
century and a half before, in the case of Wyclif. But in the case of
Tyndale, the procedure is entirely different, and out of the usual
course pursued in other lands. He had, it is true, lifted up his voice
with some effect, but he was driven from his native land, never to
return. In the other cases the men lived and died at home. Le Fevre when
above one hundred years old wept because he had not felt and displayed
the courage of a martyr; Zwingli, in battle for his country; and Luther,
after his noble intrepidity, expired in his sick chamber; but Tyndale
was strangled and his body burnt to ashes in a foreign land. Englishmen,
Scotchmen and Germans were gathered together against him; yes, men of
three nations at least concur to confer upon him the martyr’s crown, so
that among all his contemporaries, in several respects, but especially
as a translator of the Scriptures, he stands alone.

The political and literary condition of England under Cardinal Wolsey
did not afford the slightest indication that the Scriptures were about
to be given to the people in their native tongue, but the reverse. In
justice to that event it is necessary to observe, also, the nature of
that connection which had existed for ages between Britain and Rome.
Indeed, under Henry VIII it reached its climax. This connection
sustained a peculiarly complicated character. There were no fewer than
twelve distinct sources of revenue that went directly to Rome. These
altogether were operating on the inhabitants without exception, and with
as much regularity as the rising and setting of the sun. “It was a
pecuniary connection of immense power, made to bear upon the general
conscience, which knew no pause by day or night; falling, as it did, not
merely on the living, but on the dying and the dead!”

In no other country throughout Europe was the papal system in all its
oppressive and fearful integrity more fully maintained. Under the
unscrupulous and imperative Henry VIII, who gloried in his knowledge of
divinity and prided himself on his orthodoxy, with a prime minister so
well known in every foreign court, and who himself yearned for the
pontificate, England had become the mainstay of the system. In Worcester
diocese above every other part of England was this power of Rome most
intensely felt, yet here in about 1484 was William Tyndale born whose
labors were destined to work the overthrow of its power in the realm.


                       ERASMUS ARRIVES IN ENGLAND

Erasmus arrived in England in 1498, and was delighted to find a taste
for the study of Hebrew, Greek and Latin so pronounced, and he pursued
his studies with great diligence and satisfaction. His zeal so inspired
others that the influence of his residence there may be regarded as the
opening of a new era in letters in that country. In 1516 the first
edition of his Greek New Testament was published, accompanied by a new
Latin translation, and spread far and wide. He received the hearty
congratulations of his friends, but its appearance raised up a host of
enemies.

Notwithstanding the opposition during the period during 1477 to 1526,
fourteen editions of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek were published, and
not one of the sacred originals had ever been restrained by any
government. In fact, at this time, so far from such restraint being
imposed in England, it was encouraged; as not a man in high authority
seems to have foreseen that the cultivation of the knowledge of the
original language would necessarily lead to a translation of the sacred
volume into the common tongue. Even Henry VII transmitted to the
university a royal mandate “that study of the Scriptures in the original
language should not only be permitted, but received as a branch of the
academical institution.” And this was at the period when Tyndale resided
at Cambridge and Oxford. The advantages thus combined fully explain the
source of the superior attainments in learning which he afterward turned
to such wonderful account.

About 1504 Tyndale went to Oxford University, and took his degree of
B.A., in 1508. One of the colleges at Oxford had forbidden the entrance
of the Greek New Testament within its walls “by horse or by boat, by
wheels or on foot.” Possibly owing to this enmity Tyndale left Oxford
for Cambridge, where Erasmus was teaching Greek and issuing his edition
of the Greek New Testament. About the close of 1521 we find Tyndale as
tutor in the family of Sir John Walsh, at Little Sudbury, in
Gloucestershire, twelve miles north of Bristol. Walsh always kept a good
table, and abbots, deans, archdeacons, and divers other doctors who were
fond of discussion, were often invited to share his hospitality. In
these discussions Tyndale always bore a conspicuous and decided part. He
had an uncomfortable way of crushing his opponents by clinching his
arguments with a “thus saith the Lord.” His outspoken way caused Lady
Walsh many an uneasy hour, and she often reminded him that bishops,
abbots and others having an income of hundreds of pounds yearly held
views the very opposite of his, “and were it reason that we should
believe you before them?” Not being so skilled in the use of Scripture
knowledge as some in these days of Gospel light and liberty, this was
very embarrassing to him, a moneyless man, coming from such a source. In
order to strengthen his position with his wavering hostess by the
testimony of Erasmus, whose fame was resounding throughout Europe, he
translated his “Christian Soldier” into English and presented it to
Walsh and his wife. This won her, and they did not invite the clergy to
their table any more. This change was attributed to Tyndale, and ever
afterward they treasured a grudge against him. Of this opposition Fox
says: “These blind and rude priests, flocking together to the alehouse,
for that was their preaching place, raged and railed against him;
affirming that his sayings were heresy, adding of their own heads
moreover unto his sayings more than ever he spake.”


          TYNDALE RESOLVES TO TRANSLATE THE BIBLE INTO ENGLISH

Fortunately Tyndale has left on record his reflections at this period of
his life. He says:

  A thousand books had they lever [rather] to be put forth against their
  abominable doings and doctrines, than that the Scripture should come
  to light. For as long as they may keep that down, they will so darken
  the right way with the mist of their sophistry, and so tangle them
  that either rebuke or despite their abominations with arguments of
  philosophy, and with worldly and apparent reasons of natural wisdom,
  and with wresting the Scriptures to their own purpose, clean contrary
  unto the process, order, and meaning of the text; and so delude them
  in descanting upon it with allegories, and amaze them, expounding it
  in many senses, whose light the owls can not hide, that though thou
  feel in thy heart, and art sure, how that all is false that they saw,
  yet couldst thou not solve their subtle riddles. Which thing only
  moved me to translate the New Testament. Because I have proved by
  experience, how that it is impossible to establish the lay people in
  any truth, except the Scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in
  their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order and
  meaning of the text; for else, whatever truth is taught them, these
  enemies of all truth quench it again—partly with the smoke of their
  bottomless pit (Rev. 9), that is with apparent reasons of sophistry,
  and traditions of their own making; and partly in juggling with the
  text, expounding it in such a sense as it is impossible to gather of
  the text itself.

The Convocation of Canterbury had expressly forbidden any man to
translate any part of the Scripture in English, or to read any such
translation without authority of the bishop, an authority not likely to
be granted. The study of the Bible was not even a part of the
preparatory study of the religious teachers of the people. Writing
against Alexander Alesius to James V of Scotland, Cochlæus, the
notorious Roman Catholic theologian, writes about the Bible as follows:

  The New Testament translated into the vulgar tongue, is in truth the
  food of death, the fuel of sin, the veil of malice, the pretext of
  false liberty, the protection of disobedience, the corruption of
  discipline, the depravity of morals, the termination of concord, the
  death of honesty, the well-spring of vice, the disease of virtues, the
  instigation of rebellion, the milk of pride, the nourishment of
  contempt, the death of peace, the destruction of charity, the enemy of
  unity, the murderer of truth. (Demaus’ Biography of William Tyndale,
  page 358.)

With such a sentiment prominent among the clergy, there is no surprise
at the danger to which Tyndale subjected himself when in a warm
discussion he revealed his intention. Of this incident Fox says:

  Communing and disputing with a certain learned man in whose company he
  happened to be, he drove him to that issue, that the learned man said,
  “We were better to be without God’s law than the pope’s.” Master
  Tyndale hearing that, answered him, “I defy the pope and all his laws;
  and if God spare my life many years, I will cause a boy that driveth
  the plow to know more of the Scripture than you do!”

After this, the murmurings of the priests increased to a fury. Such
language flew over the country as on the wings of the wind. They branded
him as a heretic, and hinted loudly of burning him.

It was now evident to Tyndale that a crisis had been reached, and he saw
too clearly that it would be impossible for him to remain longer at
Little Sudbury in the home of Walsh in peaceful prosecution of his great
purpose. This purpose he was determined to prosecute whatever
inconvenience or danger it might bring upon him; and it seemed to him
quite possible that he might find that liberty in some other part of
England. He resolved, therefore, to give up his position which he held
in the family of Walsh. So with the good will of Walsh, he made his way
to London, hoping to find in Cuthburt Tunstal, Bishop of London, a
liberal patron under whose protection the work might be prosecuted.
Tunstal accorded him an interview, acknowledged his scholarship, but
said that his house was already full, and advised him to seek a place
elsewhere. While in London Tyndale preached at St.
Dunstan’s-in-the-West, and greatly impressed Humphrey Monmouth, a
wealthy, educated, traveled cloth merchant, who took him into his house,
where he remained six months diligently engaged in translating the New
Testament. For this kindness Monmouth was imprisoned in the Tower.

While in London, Tyndale saw men around him led to prison and to death
for having or reading the writings of Luther, which were finding their
way into England, and he knew well that a Bible translation would be
still a more dangerous book. At last he “understood not only that there
was no room in my lord of London’s palace to translate the New
Testament, but, also, that there was no place to do it in all England.”
But Tyndale was not the man to put his hands to the plow and then turn
back. If only a life in exile could do the work, a life of exile he
would gladly accept. As Fox remarks: “To give the people bare text of
Scriptures, he would offer his body to suffer what pain of torture, yea,
what death His Grace (Henry VIII) would so that this be obtained.”


                            GOES TO HAMBURG

Having now fully decided on going abroad, he sailed direct to Hamburg,
about May, 1524, never to set foot on his native soil again. Scarcely a
year before, he entered London with bright anticipations of success, but
all his anticipations had been cruelly disappointed, and now in sorrow
and sadness he was sailing forth on the untried dangers of solitude and
exile. Had he been able to read the future that awaited him, and which
he afterwards so patiently bewailed, “the poverty, the exile from his
own native land, the bitter absence from his friends, the hunger, the
thirst, the cold, the great danger wherewith he was everywhere
compassed, the innumerable hard and sharp fightings which he had to
endure,” doubtless his loving soul would have been melted with the
spectacle, and yet, no doubt, the stout and brave heart would have gone
forward, “hoping with his labors to do honor to God, true service to his
prince,” and bestow unspeakable blessings upon his priest-ridden people.

In Hamburg he diligently applied his whole time to translating, but on
being interrupted he moved to Cologne about the first of May, 1525,
where he put his translation into the hands of the printer. Not only was
the entire sacred text then translated, but his prologue was composed
before he began to print. At this time John Cochlæus, dean of Frankfort,
the “watchdog of Romanism,” was at Cologne, an exile from his own city
on account of uprisings of the peasants against the clergy. He was
occupied at Cologne printing a book. In consequence of this he became
acquainted with the printers of Cologne, whom he heard confidently
boasting over their cups that whether the king and cardinal would or not
all England in a short time would be furnished the New Testament in
English. He heard that there was “an Englishman there, learned, skilled
in languages, eloquent, whom, however, he never could see or converse
with.” Inviting, therefore, some printers to his lodging, and, after
exciting them with wine, one of them disclosed to him that the New
Testament had been translated into the English language; that it was
then in the hands of the printers, who were then printing an edition of
three thousand copies; and that the expenses were being met by English
merchants, who were to convey it secretly to England and dispense it
widely throughout the realm before the king or the cardinal could
discover or prohibit it.

Though mentally distracted between fear and wonder, Cochlæus disguised
his grief in a cheerful manner; and after having considered sadly the
magnitude of the danger, he deliberated with himself how he might
conveniently obstruct “these very wicked attempts.” So he went to Herman
Rinck, a Senator of Cologne, and a knight, well known both to the
Emperor and the King of England, to whom he made known the whole affair.
On hearing this Rinck went to the Senate of Cologne, and procured an
order interdicting the printers from proceeding further with the work.
Tyndale contrived, however, to procure the printed sheets, and sailed up
the Rhine to Worms about October, 1525; but Rinck and Cochlæus wrote at
once to the king and cardinal and the Bishop of Rochester to take the
utmost precaution in all the seaports of England, lest that “most
pernicious article of merchandise should be introduced.” Apparently
nothing could have been more complete than the triumph of Cochlæus. He
had not only interrupted the printing of the New Testament at Cologne,
but had disclosed the secret of Tyndale’s intentions to those who were
most able to take effectual steps to prevent the introduction of the
work in England, if he should ever succeed in getting it printed at all.

This interruption, though felt most keenly at the time by Tyndale, only
inflamed his zeal, and the remarkable result was that two editions were
issued by him in the same period in which he had contemplated only one.
Thus the hostility of Cochlæus, which, as we have seen, threatened to
arrest the progress of the work, only delayed its completion for a time
and enabled Tyndale to issue six thousand copies of his translation
instead of three thousand. “Early in 1526 both editions were sent into
England in cases, in barrels, in bales of cloth, in sacks of flour, and
in every other secret way that could be thought of.” The reception in
England was remarkable. They were eagerly bought and read to the
inexpressible joy and comfort of thousands who had long walked in
darkness, and as eagerly proscribed and sought out for destruction. Sir
Thomas More fiercely attacked the translation as ignorant, dishonest and
heretical. In the autumn Tunstal and Warham issued mandates for the
collection and surrender of copies. Tunstal attacked it in a sermon at
St. Paul’s, and professed to have found three thousand errors in it. So
the cardinal and all the bishops decided that the book should be burned,
which was vigorously carried out. But this was all in vain, for the tide
was fairly flowing and it could not be checked. A formidable
organization was ready in England to welcome and circulate the books. In
proportion to the violence with which the clergy condemned the books was
the esteem in which they were held by those in England to whom the light
was breaking.


            BISHOP OF LONDON SUPPLIES MONEY TO PRINT BIBLES

In 1529 Bishop Tunstal went to Antwerp to seize Tyndale’s Testaments,
and by a singular coincident Tyndale also was there and so it happened
that one Parkington, who favored Tyndale, was at Antwerp at the same
time. On being informed by the bishop that he would be glad to buy the
Testaments, Parkington told him that, as he knew those who had them for
sale, he could buy “every book of them that is imprinted and is here
unsold.” The bargain was made, and as has been said by the quaint
chronicler:

  The bishop, thinking he had God by the toe, when indeed he had, as
  after he thought, the devil by the fist, said: “Gentle Mr. Parkington,
  do your diligence and get them; and with all my heart I will pay for
  them whatsoever they cost you, for the books are erroneous and nought,
  and I intend surely to destroy them all, and to burn them at Paul’s
  Cross.” Augustus Parkington came to William Tyndale, and said:
  “William, I know that thou art a poor man, and hast a heap of New
  Testaments and books by thee, for which thou hast both endangered thy
  friends and beggared thyself; and I have now gotten thee a merchant,
  which, with ready money, shall dispatch thee of all thou hast, if thou
  think it so profitable for yourself.” “Who is this merchant?” said
  Tyndale. “The Bishop of London,” said Parkington. “Oh, that is because
  he will burn them,” said Tyndale. “Yea, marry,” quoth Parkington. “I
  am the gladder,” said Tyndale, “for these two benefits shall come
  thereof: I shall get money to bring myself out of debt, and the whole
  world will cry out against the burning of God’s Word; and the overplus
  of the money that shall remain to me shall make me more studious to
  correct the New Testament, and so newly to imprint the same once
  again, and I trust the second will much better like you than ever did
  the first.” And so went forward the bargain; the bishop had the books;
  Parkington had the thanks, and Tyndale had the money.

  After this, Tyndale corrected the same New Testament, and caused them
  to be newly imprinted, so that they came thick and threefold over into
  England. When the bishop perceived that, he sent for Parkington, and
  said to him: “How cometh this, that there are so many New Testaments
  abroad? You promised me that you would buy them all.” Then said
  Parkington: “Surely, I bought all that were to be had, but I perceive
  they have printed more since. I see it will never be better so long as
  they have letters and stamps; wherefore you were best to buy the
  stamps, too, and so you shall be sure.” At which the bishop smiled and
  so the matter ended.

It so happened that shortly after this that George Constantine was
apprehended by Sir Thomas More, suspected of certain heresies. During
the time he was in custody, More said to him: “There are beyond the sea
Tyndale, Joyce, and a great many of you, I know they can not live
without help, and I pray thee tell me who they are that help them thus?”
“My lord,” quoth Constantine, “I will tell you truly, it is the Bishop
of London that hath helped us, for he hath bestowed among us a great
deal of money upon New Testaments to burn them; and that hath been, and
yet is, our only succor and comfort.” “Now my troth,” quoth More, “I
think even the same, for so much I told the bishop before he went about
it.”


                         BETRAYED AND MURDERED

Tyndale’s enemies endeavored to decoy him into England, but he was too
wary to be so easily entrapped, for he well knew what displeasure Henry
VIII felt at his tract, called “The Practice of Prelates,” and what
penalty the royal indignation would speedily inflict. But his enemies in
England, whose power had been shaken by the wide circulation of the
English New Testament, were the more enraged against him, and conspired
to seize him on the Continent, in the name of the Emperor, and through
the treachery of one Henry Philips, a smooth, treacherous villain, in
the employ of Stephen Gardiner, after having invited Tyndale to dine
with him, had him arrested and had him put in the State prison of the
Castle of Vivorde, twenty-three miles from Antwerp, May 23, 1535. The
English merchants aggrieved by the loss of an esteemed friend, and by
this treacherous assault of their rights and privileges, made every
effort to secure his release, but all in vain. The neighboring
University of Louvain thirsted for his blood. He was speedily condemned,
and on Friday, October 6, 1536, he was strangled at the stake and his
body then burned to ashes. At the stake, with a fervent zeal and a loud
voice, he cried: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

As an apostle of liberty, Tyndale stands foremost among the writers of
his day, whose heroic fortitude and invincible love of the truth were
heard with a force superior to royal and ecclesiastical injunctions; and
“the very flames to which fanaticism and tyranny consigned his writings
burnt them into the very hearts of the people, and made them powerful
instruments in attacking and converting multitudes to the principles of
the Reformation. It is not exaggeration to say that the noble sentiments
of William Tyndale, uttered in pure, strong, Saxon English, and steeped
in the doctrines of the Gospel, gave shape to the views of the most
conspicuous promoters of the great movement, who, like himself, sealed
their convictions with their blood.”


                              CHAPTER III.
                             MARTIN LUTHER

Notwithstanding the fact that the papacy had universal sway over Europe
at the beginning of the sixteenth century, it must be noted that, from
the beginning of the fourteenth century on, there were insurgents,
however varied their cries and watchwords, who were persistent in their
denunciation of the priesthood. The hatred arose from their intolerable
extortions, which were a galling burden. While the tithing system was an
intolerable yoke, the rapacity of the priests went far beyond tithes in
their exactions. In speaking of this condition, Seebohm, a Spanish
historian, says:

  I see that we can scarcely get anything from Christ’s ministers but
  for money; at baptism money, at marriage money, at bishoping money,
  for confession money—no, not extreme unction without money! They ring
  no bells without money, no burials in the Church without money; so
  that it seems that Paradise is shut up from them that have no money.
  The rich is buried in the church, the poor in the churchyard. The rich
  man may marry his nearest kin, but the poor not so, albeit he is ready
  to die for love of her. The rich may eat meat in Lent, but the poor
  may not, albeit fish be much dearer. The rich may readily get large
  indulgences, but the poor none, because he wanteth money to pay for
  them. (“The Era of the Protestant Revolution,” pages 57, 58.)

All the efforts at reformation had always ignominiously failed, and the
papacy with all its abuses had never been more powerful than at the time
John Tetzel was trafficking in indulgences. Just thirty-four years
before this time, Martin Luther was born. His parents were poor, but it
was their desire to give him the best education possible. When he was
fourteen years old they sent him to school at Magdeburg, where he relied
upon the liberality of well-meaning citizens to supply his needs. The
tuition was free at Magdeburg, but the students were required to provide
their own lodgings and meals. The usual custom was for a company of poor
boys to band themselves together and sing in the front of the house of
the wealthy citizens. Sometimes they would be invited to a meal; at
other times they would receive the remnants of a repast or at least some
slices of bread.

After a year had gone by his father decided to send him to Eisenach,
because he hoped that some of his relatives would take a kindly interest
in him; but in this expectation he was mistaken, for as before he was
compelled to beg and sing for his bread. Many times young Luther became
so discouraged that he made up his mind to return to his home and become
a miner like his father. But a very different life was awaiting him.
When he had acquired the discipline resulting from the long struggle
with poverty, a great change took place.


                            A FRIEND INDEED

One day, after having been harshly treated at three houses, he was
preparing to return fasting to his lodgings; he stopped motionless in
front of a house and reflected, “Must I for the want of food give up my
studies and return with my father in the mines?” when suddenly a door
opens and Madame Ursula Cotta, the wife of a wealthy merchant, stood on
the threshold. She had heard the harsh words that had been addressed to
him, and, seeing him standing thus sadly before her door, she came to
his aid, beckoned to him to enter, and gave him food to satisfy his
hunger. She and her husband took a liking to him, and offered him a
place at their table and in their family, where he remained for three
years. Thus were brought into his life the influences of gentleness and
refinement.

A new life now opened to him. Free from care and anxiety as to his
sustenance, he was able to devote his whole time to his studies. Here
noble influences, very necessary for his future work, surrounded him,
teaching him the fine and gentle traits of good breeding that elevated
life above the struggle for mere existence and gave to it its peculiar
charm. “The strength of his understanding, the liveliness of his
imagination, the excellence of his memory, soon carried him beyond all
his school fellows.”

These years of his school period contributed much towards promoting that
higher education which his father was so very anxious that he should
obtain. Thus furnished, in the summer of 1501, in his eighteenth year,
he entered the University of Erfurt. Here he applied himself diligently
and made rapid progress. He did not merely study to cultivate his
intellect. He had serious thoughts about God, and fervently invoked the
divine blessings to rest upon his labors. He passed all the time that he
could possibly spare from his studies in the university library. Books
were very scarce, and it was a great privilege for him to have access to
the “great collection of books there brought together.” After having
been in the university for two years, one day, to his great surprise and
delight, he found a copy of the Bible, the first that he had ever seen.
His interest was greatly excited. “He was filled with astonishment at
finding other matters than those fragments of the Gospels and Epistles
that the Church had selected to be read to the people during public
worship throughout the year. Until this day he had imagined that they
composed the whole Word of God.” And now he sees so much of which he had
never thought! With eagerness and great emotion he turned its pages. The
first passage on which he fixed his attention was the story of Hannah
and Samuel, which gave him unbounded joy. He returned to his room with a
full heart, saying, “Oh, that God would give me such a book for myself!”
The copy of the Bible that had filled him with so much joy was in Latin.
After this he returned to the library again and again to pore over this
wonderful treasure, and thus the glimmerings of new truth were beginning
to dawn upon his mind. “In that Bible the Reformation lay hid.”


                             BECOMES A MONK

Luther’s father required him to study law. At considerable expense the
necessary books had been purchased, and he had begun to attend lectures
on jurisprudence; but for the calling he had no love; and yet, from a
sense of obedience to his father, he felt it his duty to follow the path
he had prescribed. He was, however, frequently disturbed by the thought
of the endangered spiritual condition of those who followed the legal
profession. This conflict quickened within him the sense of his relation
to the higher law, on which his obedience to his father was based. The
sudden death of a friend followed shortly afterward by a narrow escape
from death by lightning, in a forest on the way between Erfurt and
Eisleben, determined him to obey what he then regarded as the commands
of higher law. Terrified by the violence of the storm that was raging
around him, and especially by the bolts of lightning that were crashing
through the trees, addressing one of the patron saints of his childhood,
he cried out: “Help me, dear Saint Anna, I will be a monk!”

The vow thus made was faithfully performed. Two weeks later, July 16,
1505, he invited his most intimate friends to a cheerful but frugal
supper. For the last time he determined to enjoy music and song. The
decision once made all sadness was gone. His intention was to tell no
one of his decision, but at the very moment his guests were giving way
to their gayety, he could no longer control the serious thoughts that
filled his mind. They endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, but
all in vain. Sorrowfully they accompanied him the next morning to the
Augustinian cloister located in the town, where he knocked for
admission. As they opened, he entered. When the heavy portals of the
monastery closed behind him, and the bars were fastened again, he had no
idea but that he was separated from the world forever. The great
struggle was at an end. Was his soul satisfied? Had he found that for
which he was looking—the “peace that passeth all understanding”? We
shall see in our next.

Luther was received among the novices of the monastery with sacred
hymns, prayers and other solemnities. After this he was given over to
the care of the master of the novices, whose duty it was to initiate
them into the practices of the monastic sanctity, to observe their
actual conduct, and to watch over their souls. Above all things, the
will of the novices were to be entirely broken. They were to learn that
everything enjoined upon them was to be performed without the least
resistance, and even to be the more willing to render obedience the more
it was against their own disposition and taste. Inclination to pride was
to be overcome by imposing upon them the meanest services. So at the
very beginning of Luther’s monastic life he was compelled to perform the
most degrading work in sweeping and scrubbing, and it afforded those
envious of him peculiar pleasure when he, the hitherto proud young
master, was ordered, with a sack upon his shoulders, to beg through the
town in company with a more experienced brother. He did not shirk from
these services; but even desired to perform self-mortifying duties, so
that he might the more deserve God’s favors. Of these days Luther says:

  I chose for myself twenty-one saints, read mass every day, calling on
  three of them each day, so as to complete the circuit every week;
  especially did I invoke the Holy Virgin, as her womanly heart was more
  easily touched, that she might appease her Son. I verily thought that
  by invoking three saints daily, and by letting my body waste away with
  fastings and watchings, I should satisfy the law, and shield my
  conscience against the goad; but it all availed me nothing: the
  further I went on in this way the more I was terrified.

From this we see that Luther subjected himself to every possible form of
discipline and mortification. He was a model of monkish piety. He says,
“If ever a monk got to heaven by monkery, I would have gotten there.” No
one could surpass him in prayers by day and night, in fasting, in
vigils, self-discipline and self-mortification, and yet—had he found
what his soul was looking for? There is no mistake. He is as far from
peace of conscience as ever. He read the Bible, but a veil was before
his eyes. Christ was still to his mind a merciless judge. The
righteousness of God, which, according to Paul, was revealed in the
Gospel, he took to mean the righteousness which metes out just
punishment.

Finally, John Staupitz, the vicar-general of the Augustinian order, a
man of sympathetic nature, and one who possessed in a singular degree
the power to discern and appreciate the needs of whomsoever applied to
him for aid, came to his rescue. Looking into the haggard face of
Luther, he said: “Brother, you must obey God and believe in
forgiveness.” “You have altogether a wrong idea of Christ. Christ does
not terrify; his office is to comfort.” “You must make up your mind that
you are a very sinner, and that Christ is a very Savior.” These were
starting points for new currents of thought. They shed light upon many
passages of scripture. For days and weeks Luther pondered over these
words: “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth; ... For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith
unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith”
(Rom. 1:16, 17). Many years after receiving this help, Luther wrote:

  If Dr. Staupitz, or, rather, God, through Dr. Staupitz, had not aided
  me in this, I would have been long since in hell.

Luther now devoted himself earnestly to the study of theology. Among
other writings, he read those of Augustine more frequently and fixed
them more thoroughly in his memory than any others. In 1508 his
scholarship received acknowledgement by a call to the chair of
philosophy in the newly-founded University of Wittenburg. As a professor
he made rapid progress, and soon reached a position of great
responsibility and influence.


                       MAKES A PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

“To make a pilgrimage to Rome; to confess in the Holy City all his sins
committed from early youth; to visit the many sacred places, sacred to
the memory of saints and martyrs; to avail himself of the rich
influences offered there; to read mass in Rome—had been a long-cherished
hope of the young monk. Hardly had he dared to look for its
realization.” But all of a sudden he was sent by Staupitz to Rome to
assist in the settlement of some difficulties which had arisen in the
management of the monastic order. On foot, from monastery to monastery,
he and his companion went across the Alps, and by the picturesque plain
of Lombardy passed into Italy. Everywhere his eyes were opened, and
important lessons for the future were learned.

The first sight of Rome inspired him with great enthusiasm. It was a
great moment to him. He fell upon the ground, and, with outstretched
hands, exclaimed, “Hail, thou Holy City!” The visit continued four
weeks, giving him ample time to see the ruins of the Colosseum, the
Baths of Dioclesian, the Pantheon, and other remains of past glory. He
visited also the catacombs and other places made sacred by the
sufferings of martyrs, and, above all, those churches and shrines where
“special grace” could be obtained.

The chief attraction, however, was not that of sight-seeing, but the
spiritual blessings that he hoped to receive. It was his purpose to make
while there an unreserved confession of all the sins that he had ever
committed. Although he had made such confession twice before at Erfurt,
he expected an especial blessing from the same confession, if made in
the “Holy City.” Mass he celebrated a number of times, and actually
wished that his parents were dead, because, by such services at Rome, he
thought that he could have been able to deliver them from purgatory.

But in all this he found no satisfaction for his mind; on the contrary,
there was aroused in him a consciousness of another way to salvation
which had previously taken root in his heart. While he was painfully
climbing on his knees in devout prayer the steps of the identical
staircase, as was superstitiously believed, which formerly led up to the
palace of Pilate in Jerusalem—in order to receive the rich blessings
promised by several popes upon all who would perform this meritorious
deed—again and again as he struggled up the stairway, the words of
Paul—“the just shall live by faith”—came to him as though uttered in
tones of thunder. But Luther never became sensible of any blessing.

Even Rome did not give to his soul the peace for which he longed. On the
contrary, his sojourn in the “Holy City,” brief though it was, sufficed
to convince him that Rome could never supply the needs of his spiritual
nature. The high ideals of the sanctity of the worship of the saintly
life of the pope and the other ecclesiastical dignitaries, which filled
his own soul with aspirations and stimulated him to like endeavors, were
rudely shattered. What he saw and heard in Rome was the very opposite of
what he had expected. Instead of piety he found levity; instead of
holiness he met lasciviousness; instead of seeing pure spirituality, he
beheld nothing but carnal-mindedness, greed and self-seeking. Religion
was but the cloak which covered up the shame and vice. The white
garments of the Church were polluted with the stains of the most
disgraceful and carnal manner of living. Wherever he turned he saw
hypocrisy and sin. Everything that was to him an object of holy
adoration was made the butt of blasphemous jests. Of the impressions
made on his mind he wrote:

  Nobody can form an idea of the licentiousness, vice and shame that is
  in vogue in Rome. Nobody would believe it unless he could see it with
  his own eyes and hear it with his own ears. Rome was once the holiest
  city, now it is the vilest. It is true what has been said, “If there
  be a hell, Rome must be built over it.”

Yet in spite of all he saw and heard, he “loved the grand old Church”
with all his heart. He did not return from Rome an enemy of the Church,
nor even intending to reform it. But if ever a man left the “Holy City”
thrust down from the heights of zeal and enthusiasm to the very depths
of despair, wounded and crushed in spirit, it was the plain, honest
Luther. This experience, however, was but another step in his
preparation, for he says:

  I would not take a thousand florins for missing that visit to Rome. I
  would constantly fear that I had wronged the pope. But now I can speak
  of what I have seen myself.


                  PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY AT WITTENBURG

When Luther returned from Rome to Wittenburg in the early summer of
1512, Staupitz sent him to Erfurt to complete his training for the
doctorate in theology. His advancement was so rapid that by the time he
reached his twenty-ninth year he found himself not only installed in a
professorship of Theology at Wittenburg, but also with the main
responsibility resting upon him for all instruction that was to be
given. From that time the presence of Staupitz was not frequent. In this
position he did not hesitate to break through all traditional modes of
theological instruction.

Luther was still a genuine monk, with no doubt of his vocation. He
became the sub-prior of the Wittenburg Monastery in 1512, and was made
district vicar over eleven monasteries in 1515. These administrative
duties occasioned frequent interruptions of his professional and
literary labors. It was his duty, by means of visitations and frequent
correspondence, to learn the condition and decide concerning the
necessities of each monastery and its inmates. The already thoroughly
occupied professor was thus called to a truly pastoral care of an
extensive and difficult field. To every one in doubts and perplexities,
like those which agitated him, he sought to give the full benefit of his
experience.

So far as the record shows, Luther first heard of Tetzel in 1516, just
as he was beginning his visitation of the churches. It was reported to
him that Tetzel was making a great noise, and some of his extravagant
sentiments, which I have already quoted, were related to him, and when
he heard this he indignantly exclaimed, “If God permit, I will make a
hole in his drum!” Shortly after this he gave warning, not against
indulgences, but what he regarded their abuse. “What should be regarded
with all reverence,” said he, “has become a horrid means of pampering
avarice, since it is not the salvation of souls, but solely pecuniary
profit that is in view.”

He justified the intentions of the pope, but charged that Tetzel had
misinterpreted and misapplied them. In a sermon delivered February 24,
1517, he grows in severity. “Indulgences,” he declared, “are teaching
the people to dread the punishment of sin, instead of sin itself. If it
were not to escape the punishment for sin, no one would care about
indulgences, even if offered gratuitously.”

As Tetzel drew near to Wittenburg, attracting larger crowds to his
preaching, and as some over whom Luther had spiritual jurisdiction
sought to excuse themselves from worshiping of relict and of engaging in
revolting sins by producing letters of indulgence obtained from Tetzel,
he could not, by silence, connive at what would have carried with it the
violation of his fidelity as a spiritual guide. Still it was only after
much hesitation, after many of his friends had urged him to interfere,
and in deep distress of mind, that he resolved to protest. When he had
determined to do something he went about the matter with a mixture of
caution and courage.


                         THE NINETY-FIVE THESES

The Church of All-Saints in Wittenburg had always been intimately
connected with the university; its doors were used as boards on which to
publish important academic documents; and notices of public
“disputations,” common enough at the time, had frequently appeared
there. The day of the year which drew the largest concourse of townsmen
and strangers to the church was All-Saints Day, so on the day before,
October 31, 1517, Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses protesting
against what he regarded as the abuse of indulgences, to the door of the
church. Crowds of eager students gathered for hours before the door of
the church, intent upon reading and copying the sensational document.
The first effect upon those nearest Luther was stunning. Whatever their
abhorrence of the methods of Tetzel, and their dissatisfaction of the
whole system which admitted of such manifest abuses, the impression was
that he had spoken inadvisedly. His colleagues were apprehensive of the
results for the university. The Augustinian monks saw the stake in the
foreground, and dreaded the disgrace which Luther’s presence among them
would cast upon their order. For the moment, Luther stood alone at
Wittenburg, but copies of the Latin original and translations of it into
German were sent to the university printing house and the presses could
not print them fast enough to meet the demand which came from all parts
of Germany, and “in four weeks they were diffused throughout all
Christendom, as though the angels were the postmen.” The result was
unexpected and startling to Luther.

Many approved Luther’s course, saying that the man who was to break the
tyranny of the papacy had arisen. In the meantime the opposition was
industriously gathering its forces, but the controversy increased the
popularity of the theses. Luther was summoned to Rome to answer for his
attack on the Indulgence system. To have disobeyed would have meant
death. This peremptory summons was construed as an affront to the
University of Wittenburg. The officials of the university interfered,
with the result that the summons to Rome was canceled and it was
arranged that the matter was to be left in the hands of the Papal Legate
Cajetan in Germany, and Luther was ordered to present himself before the
official at Augsburg. The interview was not satisfactory. The cardinal
demanded that Luther should recant his heresies without any argument.
When pressed to say what the heresies were, he named the statement in
fifty-eighth thesis that the merits of Christ work effectually without
the intervention of the pope, and that which said that the sacraments
are not efficacious apart from faith in the recipient. There was some
discussion, notwithstanding the cardinal’s declaration; but in the end
Luther was ordered to recant or depart. Luther appealed to a general
council and returned to Wittenburg.

On returning to Wittenburg Luther’s first task was to prepare for the
press an account of his interview with Cardinal Cajetan, the pope’s
representative at Augsburg. He was careful to take the people of Germany
into his confidence, and published an account of every important
interview he had; thus the people were able to follow him step by step,
and he was never so far in advance that they were unable to see his
footprints. The immediate effect of the report was an immense outburst
of sympathy for him.

Soon after the interview at Augsburg, the papal court reached the
conclusion that it would be to their interest to win him by compromise
and kindness. Miltitz, a papal chamberlain, was sent to Germany. On
reaching there he found that “the state of matters was undreamt of at
the papal court.” He saw that Cajetan had never perceived that he had
not only to deal with Luther, but with the slow movement of the German
nation. He found that three out of five of the people stood with Luther.
He wisely resolved that he would see both Luther and Tetzel privately
before producing his credentials. Tetzel he could not see, for it was
dangerous for him to stir from his convent, so greatly was he in danger
from violence of the people. On meeting Luther, he at once disowned the
speeches of Tetzel; showed that he was not pleased with Cajetan’s
methods of action; and so prevailed on Luther that he promised to write
a submissive letter to the pope, to advise the people to reverence the
Roman Church, and to say that indulgences were useful in the remission
of canonical penances.

The letter was actually written and the language is replete with
expressions of condescension, and it exalts the Roman Church above
everything but Christ himself. He also promised to discontinue the
controversy if his opponents would do the same. But Miltitz was not
supported by the Roman court, and he had also to reckon with John Eck,
who was burning with a desire to vanquish Luther in a public discussion.

The time between his interview at Augsburg and the discussion with the
vainglorious John Eck was spent by Luther in hard and disquieting
studies. His opponents had confronted him with the pope’s absolute
supremacy in all ecclesiastical matters, and this was one of his oldest
inherited beliefs. The Roman Church had been for him “the pope’s house,”
in which the pope was the house-father, to whom all obedience was due.
It was hard for him to think otherwise. He re-examined his convictions
about justifying and attempted to trace clearly their consequences, and
whether they did lead to his declarations about the efficacy of
indulgences. He came to no other conclusion. He also investigated the
evidence for the papal claim of absolute authority, and found that it
rested on the strength of a collection of decretals many of which were
plainly forgeries. Under the combined influence of historical study, of
the opinions of the early “church fathers,” and of the Holy Scriptures,
one of his oldest landmarks crumbled to pieces. His mind was in a whirl
of doubt. He was half-exultant and half-terrified at the result of his
studies; and his correspondence shows how his mind changed from week to
week. “It was while he was thus ‘on the swither,’ tremulously on the
balance, that John Eck challenged him to dispute at Leipzig on the
primacy and supremacy of the Roman pontiff.” Luther accepted the
challenge, thinking that the discussion might clear the air, and might
enable him to see more clearly where he stood.


             DEBATES WITH JOHN ECK AND BURNS THE PAPAL BULL

The discussion began June 27th and closed July 15, 1519. This is the
first time Luther ever met a controversialist of European fame. Eck came
to Leipzig from his triumphs at the great debates at Vienna and Bologna,
and was and felt himself to be the hero of the occasion. Eck’s intention
was to force his opponent to make some declaration which would justify
him in charging Luther with being a partisan of the medieval heretics,
and especially of the Hussites. He continually led the debate away to
the Waldenses, the Wycliffites, and the Bohemians. The audience was
swayed with a wave of excitement when Luther was gradually forced to
admit that “the Hussite doctrines are not all wrong.” Throughout the
debate Eck’s deportment was that of a man striving to overcome his
opponent rather than one striving to win a victory for the truth. There
was as much sophistry as good reasoning in his arguments; he continually
misquoted Luther’s words or gave them a meaning they were not intended
to convey.

“Triumphant, lauded by his friends, and recompensed with favor and honor
by Duke George, Eck departed from the debate.” He had done what he had
meant to do. He had made Luther declare himself. In his estimation, all
that was needed was a papal bull against Luther, and the world would be
rid of another pestilent heretic. He had made him the central figure
around which all the smoldering discontent could gather. As for Luther,
he returned to Wittenberg, disgusted and full of melancholy foreboding.
This did not prevent him preparing and publishing for his people an
account of the discussion, which was eagerly read and gained for him
great favor. In some respects the Leipzig debate was the most important
point in the career of Luther. It made him see for the first time what
lay in his opposition to indulgences. It made the people see it, too.
His attack was no criticism, as he had at first thought, of a mere
excrescence on the medieval ecclestiastical system. He had struck at its
center: at its ideas of priestly mediation which denied the right of
every believer to immediate entrance into the very presence of God.

Great men now came to the support of Luther, including Philip
Melanchthon, one of the greatest scholars of the age. The conflict
between Rome and Luther became one of life and death. In September,
1520, Eck again appeared in Germany with a papal bull against Luther,
dated June 15th. It condemned as heresies forty-one propositions
extracted from his writings, ordered his works to be burned wherever
they were found, and summoned him on pain of excommunication, to confess
and retract his errors within sixty days, and to throw himself upon the
mercy of the pope. This bull fight brought Luther to a step decisive
beyond recall. He met this threat of violence with unshakable courage.
He at once “carried the war into the heart of the enemy’s territory. In
the presence of a vast multitude of all ranks and orders, he burned the
papal bull, and with it the decree, the decretals, the Clementines, and
extravagants, the entire code of Romish canon law, as the root of all
the evil, December 10, 1520.”

When the news spread that a poor monk had burnt the pope’s bull, a
thrill went through Germany, and, indeed, throughout all Europe. Papal
bulls had been burnt before Luther’s day, but the actors had for the
most part been powerful monarchs. This time it was done by a monk with
nothing but his faith and courage to back him.

Rome had now done its utmost to get rid of Luther by ecclesiastical
measures, and had failed. If he was to be overthrown, if the new
religious movement and the national uprising which indorsed it were to
be stifled, this could only be done by the aid of the supreme secular
authority. The Roman court now turned attention to the emperor.

Emperor Maximilian died January 12, 1519, and after some months of papal
intriguing, his grandson, Charles, the King of Spain, was chosen to be
his successor. Troubles in Spain prevented his leaving that country at
once to take possession of his new dignities. He was finally crowned on
October 20, 1520, and opened his first German diet, at Worms, January
22, 1521.

After the coronation, and especially after the burning of the pope’s
bull, every step was toward Worms. The decision of the Roman court had
not settled the case as to Luther; the bull was slow in getting itself
executed; very many thought it were better not executed. Men’s minds
were not at rest—they wished for some other tribunal to which the case
might be referred; in the absence of a general council, the highest
authority in the Roman Church, they thought of the emperor and the diet,
the highest authority in the State. But if Luther were to appear before
the diet, it was not at all clear what the diet was to demand of him or
to do with him. There was no need that judgment should be passed upon
him; the pope had already condemned him. It was not necessary that the
diet should order his execution; the bull made it the duty of any prince
to do that without any order. He might be required to retract his
teaching, but that had already been done by the bull. If the diet should
undertake to hear his cause, that would be a virtual denial of the
pope’s supremacy, and an acknowledgment of the justice of Luther’s
complaint that he had been condemned unheard. Both parties felt that for
the diet to do anything was a reflection on the pope; and yet it was
evidently necessary for the diet to do something.

The emperor, too, felt the difficulty. He was a politician from his
youth, and his conduct toward the pope, even from the first, was
affected by political considerations; but apart from these things, there
was sufficient reason for his hesitation and vacillation. He was
influenced now by one party now by the other or, as is likely, now by
his own independent judgment and now by what seemed to be required of
him by his position as the civil head of the Church. On November 28,
1520, he wrote to the Elector of Saxony, directing him to bring Luther
to Worms, “in order to give him there a full hearing before the learned
and competent persons,” and promising that no harm should come to him;
in the meantime, the elector was to require of Luther to write nothing
against the pope. The emperor was acting on the suggestion of the
elector, but between the time of this suggestion and the time of the
elector’s receiving the letter things had been changed—by the burning of
his books he had been treated as a condemned heretic. This offended the
elector, and he wrote the emperor declining to require Luther’s presence
at the diet. The emperor, too, had changed; he had begun to realize that
Luther was under the papal ban, and that any place in which he might be
was declared under the interdict. Luther, therefore, could not be
permitted to come to Worms. If he would not retract what he had said
against the papacy he was to stay at home until the emperor should have
opportunity to confer with the elector personally.


                        BEFORE THE DIET OF WORMS

The diet met on January 22, 1521, and on February 10th there came a
brief from Rome making final Luther’s excommunication, urging his
condemnation by the diet and emperor. But there was evident reluctance
to proceed against him; something might be accomplished by negotiations.
The pope had selected Marino Carraccioli and Jerome Aleander to wait on
the young emperor and to represent his case before the diet. Aleander
was a clearsighted, courageous and indefatigable diplomatist, a pure
worldling, a man of indifferent morals, who believed that every man had
his price, and that law and selfish motives were alone to be reckoned
with. The defeat of the papacy at Worms was not due to any lack of
thoroughness of his work. He had spies everywhere—in the households of
the emperor and of the leading princes, and among the population of
Worms. He did not hesitate to lie when he thought it useful to the Roman
Church. The Roman court had put upon him the difficult task of putting
Luther under the ban of the empire at once and unheard.

His speech before the diet was long and eloquent, but weakened by his
bitterness and vehemence. He said he spoke in defense of the papal
throne, which was so dear to them all. He enumerated the heresies taught
in Luther’s works. Luther was obstinate, disobedient to the pope’s
summons, refused to be instructed; the pope had condemned him, and it
was the emperor’s duty to enforce the condemnation; the laity had
nothing to do with such questions except to carry out the pope’s
decrees; ruin would follow if Luther was not condemned; a decree from
the diet and the emperor would restore quiet, and preserve the Church
and empire. Such were the considerations urged by Aleander. He sat down
amid murmurs of approbation, but he had made no new points, given no
fresh reasons.

A few days afterward a representative German, Duke George of Saxony,
already Luther’s enemy, presented the case of Germany against the pope.
There were many things of which he complained, exactions and
usurpations, the growth and accumulation of years. A committee of the
diet was appointed to draft the grievances, and brought in a long list.
With so many grievances against the pope already the diet was in no
hurry to take the pope’s part against a popular German; the condemnation
of Luther, and especially the manner of condemnation, was itself another
grievance.

The law required the execution of the pope’s bull, and was against
granting to a condemned heretic a new hearing before a secular tribunal.
It was a case in which the law demanded one thing and expediency and
justice another. After a long discussion in the diet it was “held
stoutly that no countryman of theirs should be placed under the ban of
the empire without being heard in his defense, and that they and not the
pope of Rome were to be the judges in the matter.”

There was open opposition between the emperor and the diet, and abundant
secret intrigue—“an edict proposed against Luther, which the diet
refused to accept; an edict proposed to order the burning of Luther’s
books, which the diet also objected to; this edict revised and limited
to seizure of Luther’s writings, which was also found fault with by the
diet; and, finally, the emperor issuing this revised edict of his own
authority and without the consent of the diet.”

The command to appear before the diet on April 16, 1521, and the safe
conduct were delivered to Luther on March 26th. He was to face in a
practical way the question of going to the diet, and for him and his
friends the crisis had come. Many of Luther’s associates at Wittenberg
endeavored to dissuade him from obeying the emperor’s mandate. Well it
was for his fame, work and cause that he refused to heed their advice.
These good-intentioned, but faint-hearted, colleagues were advising him
to take a fatal step, one that would have been more damaging to his work
than all the machinations of his foes; that would, in fact, have been
playing his enemies’ game, and bringing the Reformation in Germany to a
sudden close. A crisis had been reached where a failure in moral courage
in Luther would have ruined everything. He rose to the occasion, and his
moral stature was disclosed to the whole world.

The journey seemed to the indignant papists like a royal progress;
crowds came to bless the man who had stood for the people against the
pope, and they believed he was going to his death for his courage. The
nearer he came to Worms, the fiercer became the disputes there. Friends
and foes found that his presence would prove oil thrown into the flames.
The emperor regretted having sent the summons. Messengers were
dispatched secretly to endeavor to prevent his coming. Just as he was
approaching the city a messenger from one of his best friends in great
alarm said: “Do not enter Worms!” But Luther, undismayed, turned to him
and said: “Go and tell your master that even should there be as many
devils in Worms as tiles on the housetops, still I would enter it.”

On the morning of April 16th Luther entered the city, accompanied by
fully two thousand persons. The citizens eagerly pressed forward to see
him, and every moment the crowd was increasing. It was much greater than
the public entry of the emperor. The news of his arrival filled both
friend and foe with great alarm. On the next morning the “marshal of the
empire cited him to appear at four o’clock before his imperial majesty
and the states of the empire.” Luther received this summons with
profound respect. Thus everything was arranged. At four o’clock the
marshal appeared, and Luther set out with him. He was agitated at the
thoughts of the solemn congress before which he was about to appear. The
streets were so densely crowded that they advanced with great
difficulty. At length they reached the doors of the hall, which were
opened to them. Luther went in, and with him entered many persons who
formed no portion of the diet. And now was enacted “the most splendid
scene in history.” As has been aptly said:

  Never had man appeared before so imposing an assembly. The Emperor
  Charles V, whose sovereignty extended over a great part of the old and
  new world; his brother, Archduke Ferdinand; six electors of the
  empire, most of whose descendants now wear the kingly crown;
  twenty-four dukes, the majority of whom were independent sovereigns
  over countries more or less extensive, and among whom were some whose
  names afterward became formidable to the Reformation—the Duke of Alva
  and his two sons; eight margraves, thirty archbishops, bishops, and
  abbots; seven ambassadors, including those from the kings of France
  and England; the deputies of ten free cities; a great number of
  princes, counts, and sovereign barons; the papal nuncios—in all two
  hundred and four persons. Such was the imposing court before which
  appeared Martin Luther. The appearance was of itself a signal victory
  over the papacy. The pope had condemned the man, and yet there he
  stood before a tribunal which by this very act, set itself above the
  pope. The pope had laid him under an interdict, and cut him off from
  all human society; and yet he was summoned in respectful language, and
  received before the most august assembly in the world. The pope had
  condemned him to perpetual silence, and yet he was now about to speak
  before thousands of attentive hearers drawn together from the farthest
  parts of Christendom. An immense revolution had thus been effected by
  Luther’s instrumentality. Rome was already descending from her throne,
  and it was the voice of a monk that caused this humiliation.
  (D’Aubigne’s History of the Reformation, p. 240.)

Into the presence of this august body Luther was led, and the sight of
this great assemblage of dignitaries almost paralyzed him. The marshal
commanded him not to speak unless he was spoken to, and to answer
promptly and truly all questions put to him. The court was conducted
with great pomp, but all its solemn apparatus was an empty pageant; for
however Luther might defend himself, the sentence had been already
arranged with Rome. Aleander had arranged the procedure. After a moment
of solemn silence John Eck rose and said in a loud and clear voice:

  Martin Luther, his sacred and invincible imperial majesty has cited
  you before his throne, in accordance with the advice and counsel of
  the States of the holy Roman empire, to require you to answer two
  questions: (1) Do you acknowledge these books to have been written by
  you? [At the same time pointing to twenty books on a table directly in
  front of Luther.] (2) Are you prepared to retract these books, and
  their contents, or do you persist in the opinions you have advanced in
  them?

It was then requested that the titles of the books be read, which was
done, and Luther acknowledged them to be his. He was again asked, “Will
you retract the doctrines therein?” Then Luther, after having briefly
and precisely repeated the questions put to him, said:

  I can not deny that the books named are mine, and I will never deny
  any of them; they are all my offspring. But as to what follows,
  whether I shall reaffirm in the same terms all, or shall retract what
  I may have uttered beyond the authority of Scripture—because the
  matter involves a question of faith and of the salvation of souls, and
  because it concerns the Word of God, which is the highest thing in
  heaven and on earth, and which we all must reverence—it would be
  dangerous and rash in me to make any unpremeditated declaration,
  because in unpremeditated speech I might say something less than the
  facts and something more than the truth; besides, I remember the
  saying of Christ when he declared, “Whosoever shall deny me before
  men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven, and
  before his holy angels.” For these reasons I beg, with all respect,
  that your Imperial Majesty give me time to deliberate, that I may
  answer the question without injury to the Word of God and without
  peril to my own soul.

Luther made his answer in such a low voice that those who were sitting
near him could scarcely hear him. Many present inferred that Luther’s
low voice indicated that his spirit was broken, and that he was greatly
alarmed. But from what followed it is evident that Luther’s whole
procedure on this first appearance before the diet was intended to
defeat the intrigues of Aleander, which had for their aim to prevent
Luther addressing the diet in a long speech; and in this he succeeded.

The emperor expressed the opinion that the question was one for which
Luther ought to be prepared to make immediate answer; but after much
delay and consultation with his advisers he granted Luther’s request for
a postponement until the next day at the same hour. Then he was required
to present himself before the diet on April 18th. After he had been
called on the following day, Eck began by reproving him for asking for
further time for consideration, and then proceeded to put a second
question, somewhat modified and more in conformity to the ideals of the
States: “Will you defend all the books that you have acknowledged as
your own, or recant some of them?”

Luther had now freed himself from the web of intrigue that Aleander had
so skillfully woven around him to compel him to silence, and stood forth
a free German to plead his cause before the most illustrious audience
Germany could offer to any of her sons, before which he made a
deliberate reply in a firm and decided tone. He divided his books into
three classes. The first were written for the edification of believers,
and his adversaries admitted them to be harmless, and even useful. He
could not retract these. Were he to do it, he would be the only man
doing so. In other books he had attacked pernicious laws and doctrines
of the papacy, which, as no one could deny, tortured the consciences of
Christians and also tyrannically devoured the property of the German
nation; if he should recant these he would be but adding to the force of
the Roman tyranny, and opening, not merely the windows, but the doors,
to great impiety, and make himself a disgraceful abettor of wickedness
and oppression. In the third place, he had written against persons who
defend and sanction this tyranny, and aiming at annihilating these pious
teachings; against them he said he had possibly been more severe than he
should have been, and that he did not claim that his conduct had always
been faultless. “But the question,” said he, “is not concerning my
conduct, but concerning the doctrine of Christ; and therefore I could
not recant these writings, for Rome would make use of such disavowal to
extend her oppression. I demand the evidence against me, and a fair
trial. I stand here ready, if any one can prove me to have written
falsely, to recant my errors, and to throw my books into the fire with
my own hands.” In conclusion he uttered an earnest admonition to the
emperor, and the empire, that instead of securing peace and quiet by a
condemnation of the divine Word, they would, on the other hand, open the
floodgate of untold miseries and evils that can not be conceived. He did
not mean to say that his distinguished hearers required this admonition,
but that he could not refrain from discharging this duty in behalf of
his beloved Germany.

“It was a brave speech, a strong speech, delivered with self-possession
and in a clear voice that could be heard by the whole assembly—a
striking contrast in every way to his manner of the previous day.” When
Luther had finished, Eck addressed him in a threatening manner, and told
him that he had not answered the question; that this was not an occasion
for general discussion, but to ascertain from him whether he would
retract his errors. “In some of your books you deny the decision of
councils and that they have often erred and contradicted the Holy
Scriptures. Will you recant or reaffirm what you have said about them?
The emperor demands a plain answer.”

To which Luther replied:

  Well then, since His Imperial Majesty wants a plain answer, I will
  give him one without horns or teeth. Unless I am convinced of error by
  the testimony of Scriptures or clear arguments—for I believe neither
  the pope nor the councils alone, which have erred and contradicted
  each other often—I am convinced by the passages of Scripture which I
  have cited, and my conscience is bound by the Word of God. I can not
  and will not recant anything, for it is neither safe nor right to act
  against one’s conscience. Such is my profession of faith, and expect
  no other from me. Here I stand, I can not do otherwise. God help me,
  Amen!

In astonishment, the emperor suggested the question whether Luther
actually was of the opinion that councils could err, and he was promptly
answered by Luther:

  Of course; because they have often erred. For, since the council of
  Constance decided in many points against the clear text of Holy
  Scripture, Holy Scripture forces me to say that councils have erred.

Eck declared that it could not be proved that general councils had
erred. Luther said he could prove they had. The disputation that they
said they would avoid was beginning. The emperor, seeing this, arose,
and all the assembly with him. Eck cried out in a loud, clear voice:
“The diet will meet again to-morrow to hear the emperor’s opinion.” It
was night; each man retired to his home in darkness. Two imperial
officers escorted Luther. Some supposed that his fate was decided and
that they were leading him to prison, whence he would never return till
he was brought out to be burned at the stake. A great tumult arose. Some
cried out, “Are they taking him to prison?” “No,” replied Luther, “they
are only accompanying me to my hotel.” At these words the excitement
subsided.


                           UNDER IMPERIAL BAN

Luther had produced a profound impression on the chiefs of the empire,
and many lords and princes were won to his cause. On the next morning
the emperor submitted to the estates of the empire the proposition to
immediately dismiss Luther, and then on the expiration of his
self-conduct, to proceed against him as a heretic. On May 26th, after a
majority of the diet had departed from Worms, an imperial edict against
Luther was passed, and published as the “unanimous act of the Electors
of the States.” In order to make it appear that the emperor’s signature
was affixed when all the members of the diet were assembled, it was
dated May 8th. It decreed against Luther the imperial ban; after
applying to him the usual severe expressions of the papal bulls, it
said:

  Under the pain of incurring the penalties due to the crime of high
  treason, we forbid you to harbor the said Luther after the appointed
  term shall be expired, to conceal him, to give him food or drink, or
  to furnish him, by word or by deed, publicly or secretly, with any
  kind of succor whatever. We enjoin you, moreover, to seize him, or
  cause him to be seized, wherever you may find him, to bring him before
  us without any delay, or to keep him safe in custody, until you have
  learned from us in what manner you are to act toward him, and have
  received the reward due to your labors in so holy a work.

Thus the diet of Worms added to the pope’s excommunication the ban of
the emperor. The bold stand of the poor monk, in the face of the
combined civil and ecclesiastical powers of the age, is one of the
sublimest scenes in history, and marks an epoch in the progress of
freedom. The disaffections with the various abuses of Rome and the
desire for free preaching of the Gospel were so extensive that the
Reformation, both in its negative and positive features, spread in spite
of the pope’s bull and the emperor’s ban, and gained a foothold before
1530 in the greater part of Northern Germany.

Among the principal causes of this rapid progress were the writings of
the reformers, Luther’s German Bible, and the evangelical hymns, which
introduced the new ideas into public worship and the hearts of the
people.

On leaving Worms, after having gone some distance, Luther dismissed the
imperial herald and proceeded leisurely, attended by only two friends.
Toward night on May 4th, as he was in a lonely part of the wood, a band
of armed horsemen suddenly appeared and surrounded the carriage. His
friends supposed themselves attacked by bandits; one of them fled for
his life, the other, Amisdorf, went on to Wittenberg with the news that
Luther was violently dragged away and his fate was unknown. As the weeks
passed and nothing was heard of him, the people were filled with
anxiety. Even his enemies rejoiced with trembling when they heard that
he had disappeared, for things were in such a state that “Luther dead
might well be more troublesome to them than Luther living.”

Luther has left no record of his feelings when he was dragged from his
carriage, mounted on a horse and spirited away. If he at first supposed
himself to be a real captive he was soon informed that he was in the
hands of friends. He was taken in the darkness and silence of the night
to the castle at Wartburg, eight miles distant, by the order of the
Elector Frederick, as a means of protecting him, where he spent the next
ten months. He doffed his monk’s gown, put on the garb of a country
gentleman, let his beard grow, and was known as “Junker George.” His
time was spent in meditation, translating the New Testament into German
and writing.


                       A CHANGE COMES OVER LUTHER

At Wartburg he began that course of interference with political
administration and ecclesiastical organization which made his later
years as a reformer so different from his earlier, and in the end led
him to the practical denial of nearly every principle that he had
affirmed. His own protection by the Elector Frederick against the
combined power of pope and emperor made clear to him, he thought, the
method by which a reformation might be attempted. While at Wartburg he
thought out and wrote what he entitled, “Warning to all Christians to
Abstain from Rebellion and Sedition,” in which he maintained the
principle from which he never thereafter departed, that the civil Rulers
had both the right and the duty to undertake the reformation of the
church, and that any other principle was impracticable and dangerous.
That there be no mistaking his meaning I give his words:

  Therefore have regard to the rulers. So long as they undertake nothing
  and give no command, keep quiet with hand, mouth and heart, and
  undertake nothing. If you can persuade rulers to undertake and
  command, you may do it. If they will not you should not. But if you
  proceed, you are wrong and much worse than the other party.

This no doubt was called forth by the news of the proceedings at
Wittenberg. For even with Luther away, Wittenberg, with its growing,
aggressive university, was the center of the Reformation. New thoughts
had been put into men’s minds, new aspirations, new purposes had come
into their hearts. Luther had long before preached that the mass was
wrong, but had gone right along celebrating it, and so had he taught
about other things, but continued to practice them. His teaching had
taken deep root, and Zwilling, chaplain of the Augustinian convent, a
bold, zealous and eloquent man, who had the confidence of the people,
declared that the mass ought to be abolished and that it was a sin to
celebrate it. “The members of the convent, the prior excepted, agreed
with him. The prior asserted his authority; the monks rebelled; the
elector interfered and referred the case to the university. The
university decided in favor of Zwilling and the monks, Melanchthon
writing the opinion.” He attacked earnestly and bitterly monastic vows,
celibacy, clerical garb, the use of images and pictures in the churches.
His teaching strongly implied that liberty could not be attained till
all these things were swept away.

The movement to put these exhortations into practice began first among
the clergy. Two priests in parishes near Wittenberg married; several
monks left their cloisters and donned the garments of the common people;
Melanchthon and several of his students “communicated in both kinds in
the church,” and his example was followed by others. Images were
condemned and cast out of the churches. No one knew what would next be
done, and disturbing rumors were being circulated. Carlstadt now took
the lead and announced that on the first day of the new year he would
“celebrate the Lord’s Supper after the ancient manner in both kinds.
When opposition threatened he anticipated the time and held the service
on Christmas day. A beginning was made; opposition was silenced and
Carlstadt had his way.”

Things were going too fast for the Elector Frederick, too fast for
Luther. In his quiet retreat in Wartburg he wrote against the mass and
monkish vows, “but how great a step there is between condemning old
customs in our hearts and changing them with our hands—between the
thoughts and the act!” On being informed of the reformatory movements in
Wittenberg, Luther resented it, and most sharply reproved them for
practicing what he had preached. In a letter written to the
Wittenbergers in December, 1521, he said:

  They have introduced changes in the mass and images, attacked the
  sacrament and other things that are of no account, and have let love
  and faith go; just as though all the world hereabouts had great
  understanding in these matters, which is not the fact; and so many
  have brought it about that many pious people have been stirred up to
  do what is really the devil’s work. It would, indeed, be a good thing
  to begin such changes, if we could all together have the needful
  faith; and if they suited the church in such measure that no one could
  take offense at them. But this can never be. We can not all be as
  Carlstadt. Therefore we must yield to the weak; otherwise those who
  are strong will run far, and the weak who can not follow them at like
  pace will be run down.

It was not by Luther, but by men of a different type, that this
practical work was begun. There was sore need for a Zwilling and a
Carlstadt. This was an occasion when those who were called fanatics did
a real service for mankind. They were strong in their convictions, saw
only one thing, reckless of all consequences, and brave where other men
are appalled, and with no misgivings kindled a fire that wrapped the
world in flame. Had it not been for what they did, “Luther’s writing and
preaching might have ended in preaching and writing. They saw that
something must be done, and they did it!” While this was needful in
precipitating the conflict, it was equally necessary that others should
direct it.

The excitement at Wittenberg soon reached an alarming height, and was
intensified by the arrival of the Zwickan prophets, who claimed to be
the first to have properly received the divine Spirit, and to have been
called to carry on God’s work. They boasted of prophetic visions, dreams
and direct communications with God. They also rejected infant baptism,
saying that there was no such thing taught in the Scriptures. The
people, losing their hold on the old, were ready to take up with
anything that came with a plausible face. Even the most prudent were
afraid to condemn anything that might have truth in it, and especially
were they unwilling to reject anything that seemed to be taught in the
Scripture. Melanchthon was greatly troubled and disturbed. It was not so
much the visions of the Zwickan prophets that disturbed him as their
teaching on baptism, and instead of settling the matter by an appeal to
the Word of God, he referred it to the Elector Frederick, who advised
him not to discuss the subject with them, but wait for Luther, for they
quoted Saint Augustine to prove that nothing could be brought in favor
of infant baptism except ecclesiastical custom.


       RETAINS THAT WHICH THE SCRIPTURES DO NOT EXPRESSLY FORBID

Luther returned from Wartburg to Wittenberg in the early part of 1522,
when efforts were made to get him to drop infant baptism and make the
Reformation thorough. But while translating the Bible, at Wartburg, he
had determined to retain whatever practices it did not forbid. At first
he had no little struggle on the subject of infant baptism. On other
subjects he had been forced, against his will, step by step, to abandon
the fathers, the councils, and Catholic tradition, being driven to it by
the Scriptures. But when he found no authority in the Bible for infant
baptism he assumed a new attitude. At that point he had a fiery contest
with himself as to the true key of Biblical interpretation, and he
deliberately chose the negative turn. That is, he determined to abide by
what the Scriptures did not forbid, instead of by what they enjoined. He
saw at a glance where his rule of interpretation on other subjects must
inevitably lead him on this point. And he dared not venture one step
further in free thought, for fear of invoking a complete revolution. To
take one step more was to let infant baptism go and the State church
with it. But this was not the kind of a church Luther wanted, so he
dismissed the whole matter as a very inopportune question. Thus it
appears that he was willing to do as a positive duty to God whatever the
Scriptures did not prohibit, as in the Supper, when asked, “What
scripture have you for elevating the cup?” to which he indignantly
replied, “What is there against it?” By the same answer he might have
justified the offering of masses for the dead, auricular confession,
purgatory, infallibility of popes, and any other unauthorized thing
practiced by the Catholics, but which the Scriptures had not positively
forbidden.

The imperial edict against Luther at the diet of Worms could scarcely
have been stronger than it was, and yet it was wholly ineffective, for
after Luther returned from his hiding place to Wittenberg he went on
tours of numerous places, preaching to thousands, encouraging them in
reformation, and never felt any ill effects of the ban placed upon him.

The papal court made determined efforts to bring to nought the efforts
of Luther at the diet of Nurnberg, 1522-1523, but with no success, for
they were compelled to say that “among a thousand men scarcely one could
be found untainted by Lutheran teaching.”

It is generally agreed that the real separation into two opposite camps
really began at the diet of Spires in 1524, although the real parting of
the ways actually occurred after the Peasants’ War. When Germany emerged
from the social revolution which perpetrated this war, it soon became
apparent that the religious question was still unsettled and was
dividing the country into two parties, and that both held as strongly as
ever to their distinctive principles. The reason for the increased
strain was the conduct of many of the Romanist princes in suppressing
the rebellion; and on the other hand those princes who favored Luther’s
teaching had a mutual understanding to defend one another against the
attack upon their faith.


                        ORIGIN OF PROTESTANTISM

When the diet met at Spires in 1526 it was apparent that the national
hostility to Rome had not abated. The grievances of Germany against the
Roman court were again revived, and it was alleged, as it was in fact,
that the chief causes of the Peasants’ War were the merciless exactions
of clerical landholders. In the absence of Charles V, who was at war
with France, Ferdinand of Austria presided over the diet. “He demanded
the enforcement of the edict of Worms and a decree of the diet to forbid
all innovations in worship and in doctrine,” but the diet was not
inclined to adopt the suggestions. Luther’s followers were in the
majority, and the delegates from the cities insisted that it was
impossible to enforce the edict. The Committee of Princes proposed to
settle the religious question by a compromise which was almost wholly
favorable to Luther’s teaching. It was decided that “the marriage of
priests, giving the cup to the laity, the use of the German as well as
the Latin in the baptismal and communion services, should be recognized;
that all private masses should be abolished; that the number of
ecclesiastical holy days should be largely reduced; and that in the
exposition of Holy Writ the rule ought to be that scripture should be
interpreted by scripture”; and that each State should so live as it
hoped to answer for its conduct to God and the emperor.

This was interpreted by those States favorable to the Reformation that
they had a legal right to organize territorial churches and to make such
changes in public worship as would bring it into harmony with their
beliefs. This gave new life to the Reformation. Almost the whole North
Germany adopted the principles of the Reformation. Various political
intrigues caused division and discredit among the reform party. When the
diet again met at Spires in 1529, the Roman Catholic party was largely
in the majority. The emperor at the outset declared:

  By my imperial and absolute authority I abolish the clause in the
  ordinance of 1526 on which the Lutherans relied when they founded
  their territorial churches; it has been the cause of much ill counsel
  and misunderstanding.

The majority of the diet upheld the emperor’s decision, and the
practical effect of the ordinance was to rescind that of 1526;
re-establish Roman Catholic rule everywhere, and with it the right of
the bishops to direct all preachers in their dioceses. This ordinance
called forth the celebrated “Protest,” which was read before the diet
April 19, 1529, when all concessions to the reformers had been refused.
The legal position taken was that the unanimous decision of the diet in
1526 could not be rescinded by a majority. The “protesters” declared
that they intended to abide by the decision of 1526, and not by that of
1529. They also declared their readiness to obey the emperor and the
diet in all “dutiful and possible matters, but any order considered by
them repugnant to God and his holy Word, to their soul’s salvation, and
their good conscience,” they appealed to the emperor, to the free
council, and to all impartial Christian Judges. The essential principles
involved in the protest against this decree and in the arguments on
which it was grounded were:

  We protest publicly before God, our only Creator, Preserver, Redeemer
  and Savior, who, as the only Searcher of all our hearts, judgeth
  righteously, and we also protest before all the world, that both for
  ourselves and for our connections and subjects, we do not consent or
  agree with any resolutions or acts contained in the last decree of
  Spires above referred to, which, in the great concern of religion, are
  contrary to God and to his holy word, injurious to our soul’s
  salvation, and also in direct opposition to the dictates of our
  conscience, as well as to the degree issued by an imperial diet at
  Spires; and we hereby solemnly declare that, from reasons already
  assigned, and from other weighty considerations, we regard all such
  resolutions or acts as null and void.

Thus in the presence of the diet spoke those courageous men. This is the
origin of the name “Protestant.”

So critical was the situation that the Protestants immediately entered
into an armed alliance for mutual defense. But as the only object now
was to secure mutual defense in the right to have the same Gospel, the
contest in progress was not one in which all wrongs were to be righted,
but one in which they felt themselves justified in resistance only when
the emperor attacked that which they all were convinced was of God.

An effort was made to perfect a union between the Protestants in
Germany, but without success, and a divided Germany awaited the coming
of the emperor. Charles V was now at the zenith of his power, and was
determined to visit Germany and by his personal presence and influence
end the religious difficulty which was distracting that portion of his
vast dominions. He meant to use every persuasion possible, to make what
compromises his conscience permitted, to effect a peaceful settlement.
But if these failed he was determined to crush the Reformers by force.

He summoned the diet to meet at Augsburg on April 8, 1530, but it was
not formally opened till June 20th. In his speech Charles V. announced
that the assembly would be invited to discuss armament against the Turk,
and that his majesty was anxious “by fair and gentle means” to end the
religious differences which were distracting Germany. The Protestants
were invited to give in writing their opinions and difficulties which
compelled them to forsake the Church of Rome. It was resolved to take
the religious question first. By June 24th the Lutherans were ready with
the “statement of their grievances and opinions relating to the faith.”
On the following day it was read before the diet by the Saxon
Chancellor, Dr. Christian Bayer, in such a clear voice that it was heard
not only by those assembled within the chamber, but by the crowd that
thronged the court outside.

They were reviewed before the Protestant princes, and it being deemed
desirable that they should be extended and enlarged, the work was
assigned to Melanchthon; thus was completed the famous Confession of
Augsburg, the standard of faith of all the Lutheran churches. When read
before the diet it produced a profound impression. It was signed by four
princes of the empire, by the imperial cities of Nuremberg and
Reutlingen, and by the Elector of Saxony. Faber, Eckins and Cochlæus,
who represented the Roman court at the diet, drew up a refutation which
was publicly read before the diet, the emperor demanding the
acquiescence of the Protestants; for he was now determined to insist on
their submission, and to close the dispute. This they absolutely
refused. The emperor again took counsel with the pope, and the result
was an imperial edict commanding the princes, States and cities which
had thrown off the papal yoke to return to their duty, on pain of
incurring the displeasure of the emperor as a patron and defender of the
Holy See.

The emperor published the decision on November 19th, and the Protestants
had to arrange some common plan for facing the situation. They met,
princes and delegates of cities, in the town of Smalkald, December 22d
to 31st, when they formed a religious alliance, to which they invited
England, Denmark and other States in which the Reformation had now
dawned, to join them. In 1532 the peace at Nuremberg composed for a time
the differences between the emperor and the reformers; the Lutherans
were permitted the free exercise of their worship until a general
council or another diet should finally determine the faith of
“Continental Christendom.” In 1535 the pope, Paul III, proposed to
summon a general council at Mantau. The Protestants of Germany, well
satisfied that no advantages would result from such a synod, assembled
at Smalkald in 1537, and published a solemn protest against the
constitution of the council as partial and corrupt. To this they added a
summary of their doctrine, drawn up by Luther, in order to present it to
the council, if the pope should persist in calling it together. This
summary, which was distinguished by the title of the “Articles of
Smalkald,” is generally joined with the creeds and confessions of the
Lutheran Church. The pope, however, died and the council at Mantau was
postponed. New projects were raised, with the vain hope of setting at
rest the spirit of religious freedom by which all Germany was now
disturbed. The emperor summoned a conference at Worms in 1541, and
Melanchthon disputed three days with Eckins on the points at issue. A
diet followed at Ratisbon, another at Spires in 1542, and a third was
held at Worms in 1545; the emperor vainly attempting to intimidate the
Protestants, or to induce their leaders to consent to a general council
to be summoned by the pope. But their resolution was fixed: they denied
the pope’s right to call a general council; they regarded the proposal
as a snare, and treated it with scorn.

The Council of Trent met in 1546, but the Protestant representatives
appeared. It thundered its decrees, and the Protestant princes of
Germany bade it defiance. The emperor, exasperated by their resistance
and stimulated by the pope, assembled his forces, resolved to crush the
spirit he could not otherwise subdue. All Germany was arming in defense
of Protestantism or in submission to the emperor, and the storm darkened
on every side. Such was the state of Germany when Luther died, February
18, 1546.

A religious war now broke out. The emperor was victorious and the
Interim followed. This was an imperial edict, issued in 1547,
guaranteeing certain concessions more specious than really important, to
the Protestants, until the decisions of a general council should be
given. It satisfied neither party, and the war soon raged anew. The
emperor was defeated by the German confederate, under Maurice of Saxony,
in 1552, and the pacification of Passau followed. At last, in 1555, the
diet of Augsburg met, peace was restored, and the Protestant States of
Germany secured their independence. It was decreed that the Protestants
who embraced the Confession of Augsburg should be entirely exempt from
the jurisdiction of the pope of Rome, and from the authority and
interference of his bishops. They were free to enact laws for the
regulation of their own religion in every point, whether of discipline
or doctrine. Every subject of the German empire was allowed the right of
private judgment, and might unite himself with the church he preferred;
and those who should prosecute others under the pretext of religion were
declared enemies of the common peace.

The “Religious Peace of Augsburg” has been claimed, and justly so, as a
victory for religious liberty. The victory lay in this, that the first
blow had been struck to free mankind from the fetters of Rome; that the
first faltering step had been taken on the road to religious liberty;
and the first is valuable not for what it is in itself, but for what it
represents and for what comes after it. It is always the first step that
counts.

The German Reformation was a vast stride from Rome, but it fell far
short of a return to Jerusalem. About the best that can be said is that
the Reformation was a change of masters; a voluntary one, no doubt, in
those who had any choice; and in this sense an exercise, for the time,
of their personal judgment. But as soon as the Augsburg Confession of
Faith was written no one was at liberty to modify or change it, and
those who did not conform to it were no less heretics than Luther had
been when he failed to conform to the behests of Rome.


                              CHAPTER IV.
                     THE REFORMATION IN SWITZERLAND

Hulerreich Zwingli, the Reformer of German Switzerland, was born at
Wildenhaus, January 1, 1484. In school he made rapid progress and was
soon recognized as a youth of much promise. His bright mind, love of
truth, and devotion to the Scriptures soon brought him prominently
before the public. On discovering the corruptions of the clergy, and
learning of the dogmas and traditions, not found in the Bible, such as
indulgences, the worship of the “Virgin” Mary and of images, he
attempted to reform the Roman Catholic Church. This soon caused charges
of heresy to be brought against him, for his influence was subversive of
the established order of things.

In a discussion held in the Town Hall at Zurich, January 29, 1523, in
the presence of more than six hundred persons, the entire clergy of the
canton and large numbers of the laity, Zwingli presented reformatory
doctrines he had preached in sixty articles, and defended them so
successfully that “the council at Zurich charged all the preachers to
preach the pure gospel in the same manner.” Soon after Zwingli received
an efficient co-laborer in his reformatory efforts by the appointment of
Leo Pudea, as Lent priest in Zurich. Several events signalized at this
time the cause of the Reformation. The council allowed nuns to leave
their convents, several of the clergy married without hindrance, a
German baptismal service was introduced, and the cathedral chapter, at
its own request, received new and suitable ordinances.

The council decided that the time was ripe for a second public
discussion, to be held October 26, 27, 1523. More than eight hundred and
fifty persons were present, of whom more than three hundred and fifty
were clergymen. On the first day, Zwingli set forth his views on the
presence of images in churches, and appealed to the council to forbid
their use. No champion for their use was found, and the council decided
that the images and pictures should be removed from the churches, but
without disturbance. On the second day the following proposition was
discussed: “The mass is no sacrifice, and hitherto has been celebrated
with many abuses, quite different from its original institution by
Christ.” As no champion for images and mass was found, the Council of
Zurich concluded to promote the reformation of the canton by diffusing
the proper instruction in the country districts, for which purpose
Zwingli drew up and published his “Christian Introduction,” which
explained to the people the meaning of the Reformation. Soon after this
the council remodeled the public worship according to the views set
forth by Zwingli. While Luther favored the retention of everything in
the practice of the church of Rome not forbidden by the Scriptures,
Zwingli contended that nothing should be practiced that was not
expressly commanded by the Scriptures. On this difference between Luther
and Zwingli, D’Aubigne says:

  The Swiss Reformation here presents under an aspect somewhat different
  from that of the German Reformation. Luther had risen up against the
  excesses of those who had broken the images in the churches of
  Wittenberg; and in Zwingli’s presence the idols fell in the temples of
  Zurich. This difference is explained by the different lights in which
  the two reformers viewed the same object. Luther desired to retain in
  the church all that was not expressly contrary to the Scriptures, and
  Zwingli to abolish all that was opposed to the Word of God. The Zurich
  reformer passed over those ages, returned to the apostolic times, and
  carrying out an entire transformation of the church, endeavored to
  restore it to its primitive condition. (History of the Reformation, p.
  401.)

Thus Zwingli reduced the church service “to extreme simplicity; pictures
and statues were removed from the churches, on the assumption that their
presence was contrary to the Ten Commandments; organs were banished, and
sacred music disparaged as interfering with spirituality.”

From Zurich the Reformation spread, and soon Zwingli was joined by
Œcolampadius, who was a great leader and counselor. The majority of the
cantons were, however, still opposed to the Reformation, and the act of
Lucerne (January, 1525) endeavored to satisfy the longing for a
reformation without rending the church. Its decrees did not, however go
into effect; and the Catholic cantons, in accordance with the advice of
Dr. Eck, arranged a new religious discussion at Baden, which began May
10, 1526. Œcolampadius was the spokesman in behalf of the Reformation.
Though both sides claimed the victory, the Reformation continued to make
progress. As the most zealous of the Catholic cantons resorted to
forcible measures for the suppression of the Reformation, Zurich and
Constance formed, December 25, 1527, a defensive alliance under the name
of “Burgher Rights.” Later on this alliance was joined by eight other
cantons. In the meanwhile five Catholic cantons had concluded to league
with King Ferdinand for the maintenance of the Catholic faith. A war
declared by Zurich in 1529 against the five cantons was of short
duration, and the peace was favorable to the Reformation. In 1531 the
war was renewed. Zurich had lost somewhat of its earlier evangelical
purity, while the neighboring cantons were conspiring for its ruin.

In the awful emergency, when the public mind was alarmed, Zwingli
maintained tranquility. The war began, but Zurich was dilatory, and far
from being prepared; but the horn of the enemy echoed among the hills,
and Zwingli bade farewell to his wife and children, mounted his horse
and went forth as a warrior to share the common danger. The reformers
were defeated with great slaughter, October 11, 1531. Zwingli was found
after the battle, lying on his back, and his eyes upturned to heaven,
with his helmet on his head, and his battle-ax in his hand. He had been
struck near the commencement of the engagement, and then, as he reeled
and fell, he was several times pierced with a lance. He was living when
discovered in the evening, but the infuriated fanatics soon dispatched
him. Next day his body was barbarously quartered and burned. The
Protestants had provoked a contest for which they were not prepared, and
the blow given at Cappel checked for a time the general progress of the
Reformation in Switzerland.

In French Switzerland, the reformatory movement began in 1526, in Berne
and Biel, where William Farel preached. In 1530 he established the
Reformation in Neufchatel. In Geneva a beginning was made as early as
1528; in 1534, after a religious conference held at the suggestion of
the reformers at Berne, in which Farel defended the Reformation, public
worship was allowed to the reformers. Rapid progress was made through
the zeal of Farel, Fromdnt, and Viret; and in 1535, after another
discussion, the papacy was abolished by the council and the principles
of the Reformation adopted.

In 1536 John Calvin arrived at Geneva and was induced by Farel to remain
in the city and to aid him in his struggle against a party of
free-thinkers. On July 20, 1539, the citizens renounced the papacy and
professed Protestantism. Prior to this a reaction of the popish and
conservative elements in the State led to such dissensions and
opposition that Calvin and Farel were banished; but the earnest petition
of the citizens and rulers at Geneva at last induced them to return in
1541. On his return Calvin set about modeling the policy of the
reformers in Geneva on the principles of Presbyterianism, the theory
which he had wrought out, and commenced the dissemination of that
theological system which bears his name. Both his theology and church
polity became dominant throughout Switzerland.

The theological academy of Geneva, founded in 1588, supplied the
churches of many foreign countries, especially France, trained in the
spirit of Calvin. When Calvin died, in 1564, the continuation of his
work devolved upon Theodore Beza. Calvin disagreed in many points with
Zwingli, whose views gradually lost ground as those of Calvin advanced.
The second Helvetic Confession, the most important among the symbolic
books of the Reformed Church, which was compiled by Bullinger in Zurich,
published in 1566, and recognized in all reformed countries, completed
the supremacy of Calvin’s principles over those of Zwingli.

Although the majority of German Protestant Churches remained in
connection with the Lutheran Reformation, a German Reformed Church,
which bore a moderately Calvinistic aspect, sprang up in several parts
of Germany. In 1650 the Elector Frederick II, of the Palatine, embraced
the reformed creed, and organized the church of his dominions according
to reformed principles. By his authority the Heidelberg Catechism, which
soon came to be regarded not only as a standard symbolical book of the
German Reformed Church, but was highly esteemed throughout the reformed
world, was written.


                               CHAPTER V.
                       THE REFORMATION IN ENGLAND

To say that the Reformation in England was brought about by the desire
of Henry VIII to be divorced from Catharine of Aragon is to ignore the
well-established facts of history. No king, however despotic, could have
forced on such a revolution unless there was much in the life of the
people that reconciled them to the change, and evidence of this is
abundant.

There was much that was called “heresy” in England long before Luther
raised his voice against Catholicism in Germany. Wycliffe’s writings and
translations of the Scriptures into English had a tremendous influence
on the people in England and for many years the fires of martyrdom were
kept burning in the mad endeavor to stop the spread of the “heresy,” and
so great was the exasperation that forty years after the death of
Wycliffe Romanists dug up his bones and burned them, and still the
“heresy” spread. As I have already shown in a former article, the work
of Tyndale, “who won a martyr’s crown,” had a wonderful influence over
the English people.

In the Dictionary of National Biography, Dr. Rashdall says:

  It is certain that the Reformation had virtually broken out in the
  secret Bible readings of the Cambridge reformers before either the
  trumpet call of Luther or the exigencies of Henry VIII’s personal and
  political position set men free once more to talk openly against the
  pope and the monks, and to teach a simpler and more spiritual gospel
  than the system against which Wycliffe had striven. (Wycliffe, Vol.
  63, p. 218.)

The Parliaments showed themselves anti-clerical long before Henry threw
off his allegiance to Rome; and Englishmen could find no better term of
insult to throw at the Scots than to call them “Pope’s men.” These, and
many other things that might be mentioned, indicate a certain
preparedness in England for the Reformation, and that there was a strong
national force behind Henry, when he at last decided to defy the Pope of
Rome. The possibility of England breaking away from papal authority and
erecting itself into a separate church under the archbishop of
Canterbury had been thought probable before the divorce precipitated the
quarrel between Henry and the pope.

Henry clung strenuously to the conception of papal supremacy, and
advocated it in a manner only done hitherto by canonists of the Roman
court. It is evident that the validity of his marriage and the
legitimacy of his children by Catharine of Aragon depended on the pope
being in possession of the very fullest powers of dispensation. Henry
had been married to Catharine under very peculiar circumstances, which
suggested doubts about the validity of the marriage ceremony.

To make the alliance stronger between England and Spain the pope had a
marriage arranged between Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catharine, the
daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. The wedding took place in
St. Paul’s, November 14, 1501, but Arthur died April 2, 1502, and it was
proposed from the side of Spain that the young widow should marry Henry,
her brother-in-law, now Prince of Wales. Ferdinand insisted that if this
was not done Catharine should be sent back to Spain and her dowry
returned. Pope Julius II was then besieged to grant a dispensation for
the marriage. At first he refused to give his consent. Such a marriage
had been branded as a sin by canonical law, and the pope himself had
grave doubts whether it was competent for him to grant a dispensation in
such a case; but he finally yielded to the pressure and granted the
dispensation. The archbishop of Canterbury, who doubted whether the pope
could grant dispensation for what was a mortal sin in his eyes, was
silenced. The marriage took place June 11, 1509.

The first four children were either stillborn or died soon after birth;
and it was rumored in Rome as early as 1514 that Henry might ask to be
divorced in order to save England from a disputed succession. Mary was
born in 1516 and survived, but all the children who came afterwards were
either stillborn or died soon after birth. There is no doubt that the
lack of a male heir troubled Henry greatly. There seems to be no reason
for questioning the sincerity of his doubts about the legitimacy of his
marriage with Catharine, or that he actually looked on the repeated
destruction of his hopes of a male heir as a divine punishment for the
sin of that contract. Questions of national policy and impulses of
passion quickened marvelously his conscientious convictions. In the
perplexities of his position the shortest way out seemed to be to ask
the pope to declare that he had never been legally married to Catharine.
He fully expected the pope to grant his request; but the pope was at the
time practically in the power of Charles V, to whom his aunt, the
injured Catharine, had appealed, and who had promised her his
protection. From the protracted proceedings in the divorce case, Henry
learned that he could not depend on the pope giving him what he wanted;
and although his agents fought the case in Rome, he at once began
preparing for the separation from papal jurisdiction. In the meantime,
Henry had taken measures to summon a parliament; and in the interval
between summons and assembly it had been suggested that Cranmer was of
the opinion that the best way to deal with the divorce was to take it
out of the hands of the pope and lay it before the canonists of the
various universities of Europe. Through Cranmer this was so successfully
done that the universities of England, France and Italy decided that the
marriage was null and void. The king separated from Catharine, married
Anne Boleyn, and fell under the papal ban.

Parliament sundered the connection between England and Rome, and passed
an act declaring that the king was “their singular protector and only
supreme lord, and, as far as that is permitted by the law of Christ, the
Supreme Head of the Church and of clergy.” The king’s desire was to
destroy the influence of the pope over the Church of England, to which,
in other respects, he wished to preserve the continuity of its Catholic
character; but it was impossible, however, for the Church of England to
maintain exactly the same place which it had occupied. There was too
much stirring of reformation life in the land. “The cloisters were
subjected to visitation in 1535, and totally abolished in 1536; and the
Bible was diffused in English in 1538 as the only source of doctrine;
but the statute of 1530 imposed distinct limits upon the Reformation,
and in particular confirmed transubstantiation, priestly celibacy,
masses for the dead, and auricular confession.”

When Henry died in 1547 the English Church was Roman in appearance.
Excepting the litany in English, he left the ritual very much as he
found it, as he did nearly the whole framework of religious belief. He
was, however, the instrument whereby three great barriers to
improvement—the papacy, monasticism, and Biblical ignorance—were broken
down. The course of national events during Henry’s latter years prepared
the country for that reformation which it subsequently embraced.

A remarkable thing connected with the issuing of the Bible, in English,
is that Tyndale’s New Testament, which had been publicly condemned in
England at the council called by his majesty in May, 1530, and copies of
it had been burned in St. Paul’s churchyard, while Tyndale himself had
been tracked like a wild beast by the emissaries of the English
Government in the Netherlands, was published in 1538, by the king’s
command, to be “sold and read by every person without danger of any act,
proclamation, or ordinance heretofore granted to the contrary.” Copies
of it were placed in the churches for the people to read, and portions
of it were read from the pulpit every Sunday.

When Henry died the situation was difficult for those who came after
him. A religious revolution had been half accomplished; a social
revolution was in progress, creating popular ferment; evicted tenants
and uncloistered monks formed raw material for revolt; the treasury was
empty, the kingdom in debt, and the coinage debased.


                       CHANGES MADE BY EDWARD VI.

Edward VI, “a child in years, but, mature in wisdom, intelligence and
virtue,” was crowned king, February 20, 1547. He collected learned men
around him from every quarter, and ordered the kingdom to be purged
entirely of popish fictions, and a better religion to be publicly
taught. On July 31st the council began the changes. A series of
injunctions was issued to the clergy, ordering them to preach against
“the bishops of Rome’s usurped power and jurisdiction; to see that all
images which had been objects of pilgrimages should be destroyed; to
read the Gospel and Epistles in English during the service, and to see
that the litany was no longer recited or sung in processions, but said
devoutly kneeling.” The council were evidently anxious that the whole
service should be conducted in English, and that a sermon should always
be a part of the service.

The first Parliament of Edward VI made great changes in the laws of
England affecting treason, which had the effect of sweeping away the
edifice of absolute government which had been so carefully erected by
Henry VIII. The kingly supremacy in matters of religion was maintained,
but all heresy acts were repealed, giving the people an unwonted amount
of freedom. An act was passed ordaining that “the most blessed sacrament
be hereafter commonly administered unto the people ... under both kinds,
that is to say, of bread and wine, except necessity otherwise require.”
An act was also passed permitting the marriage of the clergy. The next
important addition to the progress of the Reformation was the
preparation of a Service Book, commonly called “The First Prayer-Book of
King Edward VI.” It was introduced by an “Act of Uniformity,” which,
after relating how there had been for a long time in England “divers
forms of common prayer ... and that diversity of use caused many
inconveniences,” ordains the universal use of this one form, and enacts
penalties on those who make use of any other.

The changes made in the laws of England—the repeal of the “bloody
statute” and of the treason laws—induced many of the English refugees
who had gone to Germany and Switzerland to return to their native land.
These, with other learned Protestants, who were invited to come to
England, were appointed as teachers in the English universities. Thus
the “New Learning” made great strides, leavening all the more cultured
classes, leading to the discredit of the old theology, and gave a strong
impulse to the Reformation movement. The feeling of the populace changed
rapidly, for instead of resenting the destruction of images, they were
rather inspired by too much iconoclastic zeal.

In 1552, the “Second Prayer-Book of King Edward VI.” was issued. which
was enforced by the second “Act of Uniformity,” containing penalties
against laymen as well as clergymen—against “a great number of people in
divers parts of the realm, who did willfully refuse to come to their
parish churches.” Soon after there followed a new creed or statement of
the fundamental doctrines received by the Church of England. This is
interesting because they form the basis of the “Thirty-nine Articles,”
the creed of the Anglican Church of today.

It was during the reign of Edward VI that Puritanism, which became so
prominent in the time of Elizabeth, first manifested itself. Its two
principal spokesmen were Bishops Hooper and Ridley. Hooper was an ardent
follower of Zwingli, and was esteemed to be the leader of the party.
While the Reformation was being pushed forward at a speed too great for
the majority of the people, Edward died (July 6, 1553), and the collapse
of the Reformation afterwards showed the uncertainty of the foundation
on which it had been built.


                             “BLOODY MARY”

Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon, was crowned
with great ceremony October 1, 1553, and her first Parliament met four
days later. It reversed a decision of the former Parliament, and
declared that Henry’s marriage with Catharine had been valid, and that
Mary was the legitimate heir to the throne; and it repealed all the
religious legislation under Edward VI. On taking the throne Mary
promised to force no one’s religion, but as soon as she dared she began
to restore Romanism with a zeal that delighted the pope.

Mary was married to Philip of Spain January 1, 1554; but the alliance
was very unpopular from the first. Immediately after the marriage “the
bloody acts of the tragedy were begun.” Care was taken to elect to
Parliament members “of a wise, grave and Catholic sort.” This body
obtained the pope’s absolution of the nation for its guilt of schism and
abolished all acts which made the sovereign the supreme head of the
Church. The Latin service was restored. Fully half of the clergy were
thrust out of their offices. Bishop Gardner secured the passage of the
terrible edicts and laws, and Bishop Bonner so applied them as to gain
the title of “the bloody.” The fires of Smithfield and the ax at the
Tower were in such active service during four years that some four
hundred “martyrs left their record of faith and triumph as one of
painful glories of the English Reformation.”

Among those burned were Latimer and Ridley. Bound to the stake with his
friend, Latimer said, when the lighted fagot was applied: “Be of good
comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day, by God’s
grace, light such a candle in England as, I trust, shall never be put
out.”

Cranmer had been the decisive agent in the divorce against Catharine,
thus branding the birth of her daughter, Mary, as illegitimate. This
Mary never forgave. But there were other motives. “To burn the Primate
of the English Church for heresy was to shut out meaner victims from all
hope of escape.” He was more than any other man the representative of
the religious revolution which had passed over the land. In an hour of
weakness, and under the entreaties of his friends, he recanted. But in
the end he redeemed his momentary weakness by a last act of heroism. He
knew that his recantations had been published, and that any further
declaration made would probably be suppressed by his unscrupulous
antagonists. He resolved by a single action to defeat their calculations
and stamp his sincerity on the memories of his countrymen. His dying
speech was silenced, as he might well have expected; but he had made up
his mind to something that could not be stifled. In his speech he said:

  And now I come to the great thing that so troubleth my conscience,
  more than any other thing that I said or did in my life: and that is
  my setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth, which here now I
  renounce and refuse as things written with my hand contrary to the
  truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death, and
  to save my life, if it might be; and that is all such bills which I
  have written or signed with mine own hand since my degradation;
  wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand
  offended in writing contrary to my heart, it shall be first burned.
  And as for the pope, I refuse him as Christ’s enemy and antichrist,
  with all his false doctrine and as for the sacrament—

He got no further; his foes had been dumb with amazement, but now their
pent-up feelings broke loose. “Stop the heretic’s mouth!” cried one;
“Take him away!” cried another; “Remember your recantations and do not
dissemble!” cried Lord Williams. “Alas, my lord,” replied Cranmer, “I
have been a man that all my life loved plainness, and never dissembled
till now against the truth; for which I am sorry;” and he seized the
occasion to add that as for the sacrament, he believed that it should be
administered in “both kinds.” The tumult redoubled. Cranmer was dragged
from the stage and led to the place where Ridley and Latimer had been
burned.

The friars ceased not to ply him with exhortations: “Die not in
desperation,” cried one; “Thou shalt drag innumerable souls to hell,”
cried another. On reaching the appointed place he was bound to the stake
with a steel band, and fire was set to the fagots of wood which made his
funeral pyre. As the flames leaped up, he stretched up his right hand,
saying with a loud voice, “This hand hath offended,” and held it firmly
in the fire till it was consumed. No cry escaped his lips and no
movement betrayed his pain. If the martyrdom of Ridley and Latimer
lighted the torch, Cranmer’s spread the conflagration which in the end
burnt up the Roman Catholic reaction and made England a Protestant
nation.

The death of Cranmer was followed by a long succession of martyrdoms.
Mary tried most desperately to restore Romanism in its fullness, but
failed, and died November 17, 1558, “the unhappiest of queens, and
wives, and women.” The people who had welcomed her when she was crowned,
called her “Bloody Mary”—a name which was, after all, so well deserved
that it will always remain. “Each disappointment she took as a warning
from heaven that atonement had not yet been paid for England’s crimes,
and the fires of persecution were kept burning to appease the God of
Roman Catholicism.”


                    ELIZABETH, THE PROTESTANT QUEEN

The people of England were coming to the conclusion that Elizabeth must
be queen, or civil war would result. It seemed also assumed that she
would be a Protestant. Many things contributed to create such
expectations. The young intellectual life of England was slowly becoming
Protestant. “This was especially the case among the young ladies of the
upper classes, who were becoming students learned in Latin, Greek and
Italian, and at the same time devout Protestants, with a distinct
leaning to what afterwards became Puritanism.” The common people had
been showing their hatred of Roman Catholicism, and “images and
religious persons were treated disrespectfully.” It was observed that
Elizabeth “was very much wedded to the people and thinks as they do,”
and that “her attitude was much more gracious to the common people than
to others.” The burning of Protestants, and especially the execution of
Cranmer, had stirred the indignation of the populace of London and the
south countries against Romanism, and the feelings were spreading
throughout the country.

The accession of Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn,
to the throne, gave new life to the Reformation. As soon as it was known
beyond the sea, most of the exiles returned home, and those who had hid
themselves in the houses of their friends began to appear; but the
public religious service continued for a time the same as Mary left
it—the popish priests still celebrated mass and kept their livings. None
of the Protestant clergy who had been ejected in the last reign were
restored; and orders were given against all innovations without public
authority. The only thing Elizabeth did before the meeting of Parliament
was to prevent pulpit disputes.

Elizabeth was crowned on January 15, 1559. The bishops swore fealty to
the new queen, but took no part in the coronation of “one so plainly a
heretic.” Her first Parliament passed a new act of supremacy in which
the queen was declared to be “the only supreme governor of this realm,
as well in spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal.”
While not proclaimed as “Supreme Head of the Church,” all the drastic
powers claimed by Henry VIII were given to her. It may even be said that
the ecclesiastical jurisdiction bestowed upon her was more extensive
than that given to her father, for _schisms_ were added to the list of
matters subject to the queen’s correction, and she was empowered to
delegate her authority to commissioners, thus enabling her to exercise
her supreme governorship in a way to be felt in every corner of the
land.

The same Parliament passed the “Act of Uniformity,” which threatened all
non-conformists with fines and imprisonment, and their ministers with
deposition and banishment. When the provisions of the act began to be
enforced, a number of the non-conformist ministers who demanded a
greater purity of the church (hence the name Puritan), a simple,
spiritual form of worship, a strict church discipline, and a
Presbyterian form of government, organized separate congregations in
connection with presbyteries, “and a considerable portion of the clergy
and laity of the Established Church sympathized with them. The rupture
was widened in 1592 by an act of Parliament that all who obstinately
refused to attend public worship, or led others to do so, should be
imprisoned and submit, or after three months be banished, and again in
1595 when the Presbyterians applied the Mosaic Sabbath laws to the
Lord’s day, and when Calvin’s doctrines of predestination excited
animated disputes.”

In our study of the Reformation we have found that the pretentions of
Roman Catholic infallibility were replaced by a not less uncompromising
and intolerant dogmatism, availing itself, like the other, of the
secular power, and arrogating to itself, like the other, the assistance
of the Spirit of God. The mischief from this early abandonment of the
right of free inquiry is as evident as its inconsistency with the
principles upon which the reformers had acted for themselves.

Hence under the Protestant banner there arose sectarian churches,
professing to take the Bible alone as their rule of faith and practice,
when assailing the claims of Rome, and yet binding by creeds, unknown to
the Bible, all embraced within their folds; till Protestantism becomes
as creed-bound as Romanism. Taking into view the larger results of this
inconsistency, they bring under notice the Lutheran Church, the State
churches of England and Scotland, as well as non-conformist churches
which have arisen from them.

Bible interpretation by the dogmatic and mystic methods even before the
death of Luther, but more intensely afterward, made the Lutheran
churches a very Babeldom. Then came “Forms of Concord,” made obligatory,
each one resulting in further discord. Lutherans acknowledge the head of
the State as the supreme visible ruler of the Church. The supreme
direction of ecclesiastical affairs is vested in the councils or boards,
generally appointed by the sovereign termed “consistories,” consisting
of both laymen and ministers. The Lutheran established churches are so
interwoven with the State as to be usually dependent on it. They are
almost destitute of discipline, and, in some places, exclude dissent.
Dr. Schaff says:

  The congregations remained almost as passive as the Roman Church. They
  have, in Europe, not even the right of electing their pastor. They are
  exclusively ruled by their ministers, as they are ruled by the
  provincial consistories, always presided over by a layman, the
  provincial consistory by a central consistory, and this again by the
  minister of worship and public instruction, who is the immediate organ
  of the ecclesiastical supremacy of the crown.

Add to this infant baptism and infant membership, and then you have the
world in the Church, and a state of things, if not so bad as that of
Rome, yet as completely unlike the apostolic churches, and as wide a
departure from what must result from surrender to the Bible alone and
submission to Christ and his apostles as it were possible to reach.

The Reformation in England was fraught with immense blessings to the
world at large, the advantage of which the English people now enjoy. But
in England’s so-called Protestant Church there is no trace of the three
fundamental principles enunciated by the reformers:

  (1) The Bible the only rule of faith and practice.
  (2) The duty of every man to judge the Bible for himself.
  (3) The priesthood of every member of the Church.

Instead of “the Bible only as the rule of faith and practice,” they have
creeds and Parliamentary control of church services; in place of “the
duty of every man to interpret the Bible for himself,” this same State
Church has burned and hung Roman Catholics and Dissenters, the one for
holding too much Romanism, and the other for not holding as much as the
king and the clergy were pleased to demand. Then, in lieu of “the
priesthood of every member,” there is a limited priesthood, differing
but little from that of Rome; with infant baptism, infant membership,
and numerous other human inventions “making void the commandments of
God.”


                              CHAPTER VI.
                      THE REFORMATION IN SCOTLAND

Had I the time and space I would be glad to give a history of the
Reformation in Scotland under John Knox and others. After all the
prolonged suffering and conflict, it has precious little more of
Protestantism than is common in the English State Church. There we also
find the reigning monarch represented in the General Assembly by a
nobleman, as Lord High Commissioner, who, on some occasions, has taken
upon himself to dissolve the Assembly without the consent of its
members. In 1843 a conflict between the ecclesiastical and civil courts
brought about a great disruption, giving rise to the Free Church of
Scotland, so that there is also the “General Assembly of the Free
Church.” But these two General Assemblies are not on equal footing—in
the very nature of the case could not be. In the one, the proceedings of
the Assembly carry with them the sanction of the law, backed by the
civil power; while those of the other have no such sanction, and are
only binding upon willing adherents, who, by tacit agreement, are under
moral obligation. The one is a corporate body in the eye of the law; the
other entirely voluntary. But both bodies hold that the acts of their
respective assemblies are binding upon their churches. Consequently
those churches are in subjection to a rule of which the apostolic
churches knew nothing, and, therefore, are not in faith and practice in
subjection to the Bible alone. The “Confession of Faith” is the standard
of appeal. Infant baptism, infant membership, and numerous other
departures from apostolic Christianity stand out to refute any claims
that these churches of Scotland might put in. They may protest against
Rome or Episcopacy, but what matters that, as the Bible protests all of
them?


                            THE INDEPENDENTS

But it is not to be supposed, even though the multitudes settled down in
violation of their professed principles, that all would refrain from a
fuller application of them. Hence the multiplication of distinct
parties, each claiming to be the church, or a nearer approach to the
church as ordained by Christ. Coming out in this way from the English
State Church we find the Independents, who sacrificed property, liberty
and life. They were glad to escape to Holland or to this country. Others
suffered on and aided largely to win against a persecuting State Church
the liberties the people now enjoy. Belknap’s “Life of Robinson” gives
the following principles as underlying their church organization:

  (1) That no church ought to consist of more members than can meet in
          one place for worship and discipline.
  (2) That a church of Christ is to consist only of such as appear to
          believe in and obey him.
  (3) That any competent number of such have a right, when conscience
          obliges them, to form themselves into a distinct church.
  (4) That, being thus incorporated, they have a right to choose their
          own officers.
  (5) That these officers are teaching elders, ruling elders, and
          deacons.
  (6) That elders being chosen and ordained have no power to rule the
          church, but by consent of the brethren.
  (7) That all elders and all churches are equal in respect to power and
          privileges.
  (8) That the Lord’s Supper is to be received sitting at the table.
          (When in Holland they observed it every Lord’s day.)
  (9) That ecclesiastical censures are wholly spiritual, and not to be
          accompanied with temporal penalties.

They admitted no holy days but the “Christian Sabbath,” though they had
occasional days of fasting and thanksgiving; and finally they had
renounced all human inventions or impositions on religious matters.

In Scotland we find Congregational principles as far back as the
Commonwealth. Independency had obtained much hold in England among all
classes. The soldiers of Cromwell carried their principles with them,
and are said to have formed a Congregational church in Edinburgh. But
that church was not permanent, and we find nothing of churches of like
order in Scotland till 1726, when John Glass, an eloquent and able
minister, with avowed convictions in harmony with those of the English
Independents, withdrew from the Church of Scotland and formed churches
in most of the large towns of Scotland. These churches were called
“Glassite.” Mr. Glass and his adherents taught:

  (1) That national establishments of religion are unlawful and
          inconsistent with the true nature of the Church of Christ.
          That the church being spiritual, ought to consist only of true
          spiritual men.
  (2) That a congregation of Jesus Christ, with its elders, is in its
          discipline subject to no jurisdiction under heaven, save that
          of Christ and his apostles.
  (3) That each church should have a plurality of elders or bishops,
          chosen by the church, according to instruction given to
          Timothy and Titus, without regard to previous education for
          the office, continuous engagement in secular employment being
          no disqualification.
  (4) That the churches observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of
          every week; and that love feasts be held, after the example of
          the primitive Christians.
  (5) That mutual exhortations be practiced on the Lord’s day, any
          member able to edify being at liberty to address the church.
  (6) That a weekly collection be made in connection with the Lord’s
          Supper in aid of the poor, and for necessary expenses.

Mr. Glass was largely eclipsed by Robert Sandeman, whose activity
wielded a wide influence. Those who adhered to his teachings were called
“Sandemanians.” Sandeman prominently repudiated that mischievous
mysticism which views “saving faith” as an inspiration directly from the
Holy Spirit. His teaching has been thus summarized:

  “One thing is needful,” which he called the sole requisite to
  justification, or acceptance with God. By the sole requisite to
  justification, he understood the work finished by Christ in his death,
  proved by his resurrection to be all sufficient to justify the guilty;
  that the whole benefit of this is conveyed to men only by the
  apostolic report concerning it; that every one who understands this
  report to be true, or is persuaded that the events actually happened,
  as testified by the apostles, is justified, and finds relief to his
  guilty conscience; that he is relieved not by finding any favorable
  symptom about his heart, but by finding their report to be true; that
  the event itself, which is reported, becomes his relief so soon as it
  stands true in his mind, and accordingly becomes his faith; that all
  the divine power which operates in the minds of men, either to give
  the first relief to their consciences, or to influence them in every
  part of their obedience to the Gospel, is persuasive power, or the
  forcible conviction of truth.

From this we see that he saw with some degree of clearness the nature of
faith, but not that the divine economy provides that faith shall be
perfected by surrender to an ordinance of the Lord’s own appointment. On
some other points in regard to faith he was more or less confused. He
advocated the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper; love feasts;
weekly contribution for the poor; mutual exhortation of members;
plurality of elders; conditional community of goods; and approved of
theaters and public and private diversions, when not connected with
circumstances really sinful. His influence extended to the north of
Ireland, but the people there did not adopt all his views. They attended
weekly to the Lord’s Supper, contributions, etc., but were opposed to
going to theaters or such places of amusement; to the doctrine of the
community of goods; feet washing, etc., as advocated by Sandeman.
Sandeman’s influence extended also to England and to this country.


                           HALDANE AND AIKMAN

At the close of the eighteenth century spiritual religion in Scotland
was at a very low ebb. Then village preaching and extensive itineraries
were entered upon by James A. Haldane and John Aikman. They were members
of the Established Church of Scotland. They took in hand preaching tours
unauthorized by the clergy. They were “laymen,” and preaching by such
men was then a strange thing in Scotland. Their labors were so far
successful that a revival of spiritual life set in at many places and a
spirit of inquiry was aroused. They made successive tours throughout all
Scotland, as far as the Orkney Islands. Then Robert Haldane turned his
attention to the spiritual needs of his native land, and determined to
devote his large fortune to spreading the Gospel through its benighted
districts. This led to the formation of a society for the dissemination
of religious knowledge, and to the employment of young men of known
piety to plant and superintend evening schools for the instruction of
the young in religious truths. This movement grew to considerable
proportions. But it met with determined opposition, both from
Presbyterian Dissenters and the Established clergy. The decrees were
fulminated by entire bodies, as the Relief Synod, obviously leveled
against the devout and ardent itinerants. In like spirit the Antiburger
Synod decreed:

  That as lay preaching has no warrant in the Word of God, and as the
  Synod has always considered it their duty to testify against
  promiscuous communion, no person under the inspection of the Synod
  can, consistently with these principles, attend upon or give
  countenance to public preaching by any who are not of our community;
  and if any do so they ought to be dealt with by the judicatories of
  the Church, to bring them to a sense of their offensive conduct.

Going beyond this, the General Assembly of 1799 accused the itinerant
preachers of “being artful and designing men, disaffected to the evil
constitution of the country, holding secret meetings, and abusing the
name of liberty as a cover for a secret democracy and anarchy.” In the
midst of this opposition a church was formed of some fourteen persons in
a private house on George Street, Edinburgh, which was the beginning of
the Tabernacle Church Leith Walk, in which James Haldane eventually
became minister, in which capacity he exercised, without any emolument,
all the public and private duties with unbroken fidelity and zeal for a
period of fifty years. For some time this church was content with
monthly communion, but in 1802 it resolved to spread the Lord’s table on
the first day of every week. By the close of 1807 some eighty-five
Independent churches had been established. Out of this movement a
further advance took place, and thence arose Baptist churches in
Scotland.


                          THE SCOTCH BAPTISTS

Churches holding the immersion of believers as the only authorized
baptism have, possibly, stood out against the apostasy (not as
Baptists), even from the days of the apostles, though frequently driven
into hiding places by the force of persecution and for the preservation
of their faith and order and also of their lives.

Concerning the origin of the Baptists in England I shall not dwell;
though their early history is very interesting, and far more in accord
with the apostolic style than the present-day Baptists. Passing at once
to Scotland, I find no trace of Baptist churches till the latter part of
the eighteenth century, excepting one of short duration formed by
soldiers of Cromwell’s army. The earliest Scotch Baptist Church is said
to have been formed in Edinburgh in 1765 under the efforts of Robert
Carmichael, who had been a minister in the Antiburger Church at
Coupar-Augus; but later became minister of an Independent Church
(“Glassite”) in Edinburgh, of which Archibald McLean was a member. Early
in life a strong impression had been made on the mind of McLean by the
preaching of George Whitfield. In 1762 he withdrew from the Established
Church of Scotland and united with this Independent Church. But it was
not long till some trouble arose over a case of discipline which
resulted in the withdrawal of both Carmichael and McLean from the
church. While thus standing aloof from church membership they directed
their attention to baptism. McLean, not having read a line upon the
subject, went carefully through the whole of the New Testament with the
inquiry before him, “What is baptism?” This led him to the firm
conviction that only those capable of believing in Christ are its
subjects and that it must be performed by immersion of the whole body in
water. A year later Carmichael reached the same conclusion. He then went
to London where he was immersed by Dr. Gill at Barbican, October 9,
1765. On returning to Edinburgh, he baptized McLean and six others, and
formed a Baptist church. In 1769, Carmichael moved to Dundee, and McLean
became minister of the newly-formed church. Other churches of immersed
believers were soon planted in Glasgow, Dundee, Montrose and other
places, and the sentiment in favor of returning to the scriptural act of
baptizing grew among the people. The marked piety and noble
disinterestedness of Archibald McLean stand out as worthy of all
admiration. His labors were immense and given gratuitous, as he
persisted in continuing in employment as overseer of a printing
establishment.

As Scotch Baptist churches multiplied there arose a disturbing element.
McLean and others held the necessity of an ordained elders to the proper
observance of the Lord’s Supper; consequently, notwithstanding that they
taught the importance of observing the Lord’s Supper on the first day of
every week, it had to be omitted when an ordained elder could not be
present. But ere long others among them saw more light and insisted that
elders were not essential to the being of a church, that the church
existed before its eldership, and that where the church is the Lord’s
table should be spread on the first day of every week, irrespective of
the presence of an ordained elder. This led to contention, and, indeed,
to separation. But truth will not down. We may go with it any distance
we please, but when we say, “Thus far and no farther,” truth struggles
to remove the hindrances thrown across its path, and in the end starts
on afresh to complete the journey.

As leaven will permeate so truth must influence more or less the mass
into which it is cast. From Scotland the principles associated with the
names of the Haldanes, Carmichael and McLean found receptive hearts in
Wales. Even in Ireland, also, there was in men’s minds the struggling of
truth and error, the partial expulsion of the false by the true, the
consequent advance to apostolic faith and order, and falling short of a
complete return thereto, notwithstanding progress calling for thankful
recognition.


                            THE SEPARATISTS

About the year 1802 there were a few persons in Dublin, most of them
connected with the religious establishments of the country. The most
noted among them were John Walker, G. Carr and Dr. Darby, all of whom
organized religious bodies, differing in minor points from one another.
Their attention was directed to Christian fellowship, as they perceived
it to have existed among the disciples in apostolic times. They
concluded from the study of the New Testament that all the first
Christians in any place were connected together in the closest
brotherhood; and that as their connection was grounded on the one
apostolic gospel which they believed, so it was altogether regulated by
the precepts delivered to them by the apostles, as the divinely
commissioned ambassadors of Christ. They were convinced that every
departure of professing Christians from this course must have originated
in a withdrawing of their allegiance from the King of Zion, and in the
turning away from the instruction of the inspired apostles; that the
authority of their word, being divine, was unchangeable, and that it can
not have been annulled by or weakened by the lapse of ages, by the
varying customs of different nations, or by the enactments of earthly
legislators.

With such views in their minds they set out in the attempt to return
fully to the course marked out in the Scriptures; persuaded that they
were not called to make any laws or regulations for their union, but
simply to learn and adhere to the law recorded in the divine Word. Their
number soon increased; and for some time they did not see that the union
which they maintained with each other, on the principles of scripture,
was at all inconsistent with the continuance of their connection with
the various religious bodies round them. But after a time they were
convinced that these two things were utterly incompatible; and that the
same divine rule which regulated their fellowship with each other
forbade them to maintain any religious fellowship with others. From this
view, and the practice consequent upon it, they were called
“Separatists.”

They held that even two or three disciples in any one place, united
together in the faith of the apostolic gospel, and in obedience to the
apostolic precepts, constitute the Church of Christ in that place.

They held that the only good and sure hope toward God for any sinner is
by the belief of this testimony concerning the great things of God and
his salvation. And as they understood by faith, with which justification
and eternal life were connected, nothing else but belief of the things
declared to all alike in the Scriptures, so by repentance they
understood nothing else but the new mind which that belief produces.
Everything called repentance, but antecedent to the belief of the Word
of God, or unconnected with it, they considered spurious and evil.

They considered the idea of any successors to the apostles or of any
change of Christ’s laws as utterly unchristian, and did not tolerate any
men of the clerical type among them. They believed that the Scriptures
taught the community of goods. They held that there is no sanction in
the New Testament for the observance of the first day of the week as the
Sabbath; and that the Jewish Sabbath was one of the shadows of good
things to come, which passed away on the completion of the work of Jesus
on the cross. They believed themselves bound to meet together on the
first day of the week, the memorial day of Christ’s resurrection, to
show his death, in partaking of bread and wine, as the symbols of his
body and his blood shed for the remission of sins.

In their assembly they joined together in the various exercises of
praise and prayer, reading the Scriptures, exhorting and admonishing one
another as brethren according to their several gifts and ability;
contributed of their means and saluted each other with “an holy kiss.”
In the same assemblies they attended, as occasion required, to the
discipline appointed by the apostles, for removing any evil that might
appear in the body.

When any brethren appeared among them possessing all the qualifications
of the office of elders or overseers, which are marked in the apostolic
writings, they thought themselves called upon to acknowledge them as
brethren in that office, as the gifts of the Lord to his church. They
held themselves bound to live as peaceable and quiet subjects of any
government under which the providence of God placed them; to implicitly
obey all human ordinances which did not interfere with their subjection
to their heavenly King.

The baptism of believers was cast aside as anti-Christian, except in the
case of the heathen, who on conversion had made no previous confession
of faith. Their mistake lay in the belief that baptism was intended to
mark the mere profession of Christian faith. They failed to see that it
was commanded by the Lord himself to follow upon a real believing with
the heart, and a confession with the mouth. Any act called baptism prior
to that is not the ordinance of Christ, and stands for nothing. The time
for baptism is so soon as that believing confession and heart trust
exists as a fact. So long as it remains unperformed after that there is
a cessation in that particular of compliance with the divine command,
which should be terminated by obedience so soon as possible.

While these people were scriptural in a number of things, in others they
fell far short of returning to apostolic Christianity. So we must
continue our search.

As we have already seen, there was a great struggle in Europe to escape
from the direful effects of departure from apostolic simplicity. These
efforts brought forth many sects, and each sect fought desperately to
secure the Bible within its own party by the spiritual fetters of
partisan interpretation. The clergy of each denomination, arrogating to
themselves the claim of being its divinely-authorized expounders, caused
it to speak only in the interest of their sect, and thus the Bible was
made to speak in defense of each particular creed. Detached sentences,
relating to matters wholly distinct and irrelevant, were placed in
imposing array in support of positions assumed by human leaders; the
people, on the other hand, seemed to have quietly surrendered into the
hands of the clergy all power of discrimination and all independence in
religious matters. It seemed vain that the Bible had been put into the
hands of the people in their mother tongue, since the “clergy” had
succeeded in imposing upon it a seal which the “laity” dared not break,
so that while Protestants were delighted that they were in possession of
the Bible, it was, in fact, little else than an empty boast, so long as
they could be persuaded that they were wholly unable to understand it.

The Bible thus trammeled had, nevertheless, set free from spiritual
bondage individuals here and there, who were more or less successful in
their pleadings for reform. But among them all, however, there was no
one who took hold of the leading errors with sufficient clearness and
grasp as to liberate it from the thraldom of human tradition and restore
the Gospel to the people in its primitive simplicity and power.



                                PART IV
                  The Restoration Movement in America


                               CHAPTER I.
                    SPIRITUAL UNREST IN MANY PLACES

The close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century
were characterized by efforts to get entirely on apostolic ground,
originating almost simultaneously in widely-separated localities and
amidst different and antagonistic sects. But, as the greatest of these
efforts developed in our own country, we now turn our attention to them.

One of these originated among the Methodists at the time of the
establishment of the American colonies, and the subject of church
government became a matter of discussion among them. Thomas Coke,
Francis Asbury and others labored to establish prelacy, regarding
themselves as superintendents or bishops. Against this movement, James
O’Kelley, of North Carolina, and some others of that State and of
Virginia, with a number of members, pleaded for a congregational system,
and that the New Testament be the only creed and discipline. Those
contending for the episcopal form of government were largely in the
majority, and the reformers were unable to accomplish their wishes. Led
by James O’Kelley, they finally seceded at Mankintown, N. C., Dec. 25,
1793. McTiere says: “The spirit of division prevailed chiefly in the
southern part of Virginia, and in the border counties of North Carolina,
in all of which region the personal influence of O’Kelley has been seen.
It extended also beyond these limits. We find the first two missionaries
in Kentucky—Ogden and Haw—drawn away into his scheme. And in other
places he had adherents” (History of Methodism, page 411). At first they
took the name “Republican Methodists,” but in 1801 “resolved to be known
as Christians only, to acknowledge no head over the Church but Christ,
and to have no creed or discipline but the Bible.” In respect to
increase of numbers, this movement was not great, and in the course of
time was weakened by changes and removals, but its principles spread
into other States.

About the same time Abner Jones, a physician, of Hartland, Vt., then a
member of the Baptist Church, became “greatly dissatisfied with
sectarian names and creeds, began to preach that all these should be
abolished, and that true piety should be made the ground of Christian
fellowship. In September, 1800, he succeeded by persevering zeal in
establishing a church of twenty-five members at Lyndon, Vt., and
subsequently one in Bradford and one in Piermont, N. H., in March,
1803.” Elias Smith, a Baptist preacher, who was about this time laboring
with much success in Plymouth, N. H., adopted Jones’ view and carried
the whole congregation with him. Several other preachers, both from the
Regular and Freewill Baptists, soon followed, and with many other
zealous preachers, who were raised up in the newly-organized churches,
traveled extensively over the New England states, New York,
Pennsylvania, Ohio and into Canada, and made many converts. Those in
this movement also called themselves Christians only, and adopted the
Bible as their only rule of faith and practice.

Dr. Chester Bullard was the pioneer in the cause of primitive
Christianity in all Southwest Virginia. He separated himself from the
Methodist Church and most earnestly desired to be immersed, but would
not receive it at the hands of the Baptists, as he was not sufficiently
in harmony with their tenets to unite with them. About this time Landon
Duncan, the assessor of the county, happened to call in the discharge of
his official duties. Engaging in a religious conversation with him, Dr.
Bullard freely expressed to him his feelings and his desires, and though
he freely expressed his dissent from some of the views held by Duncan,
the latter agreed to baptize him.

In early life Duncan had united with the Baptists and was ordained by
them, but after a time adopted the views of the “Christians,” chiefly
through the teaching of Joseph Thomas, who was in some respects a
remarkable man. He was born in North Carolina, whence he removed with
his father to Giles County, Virginia, where he became deeply imbued with
religious fervor, and began while quite a young man to urge his
neighbors to the importance of devoting themselves to the service of
God. Associating with O’Kelley in North Carolina, he desired to be
immersed, when O’Kelley persuaded him that pouring was more scriptural,
to which he submitted after stipulating that a tubful of water should be
poured upon him. But afterward he became fully convinced that immersion
alone is baptism, and was immersed by Elder Plumer. This brought him
into intimate association with Abner Jones, Elias Smith and others of
the “Christians.” He now devoted his life wholly to preaching and became
noted for the extent of his travels throughout the United States. He
traveled on foot dressed in a long, white robe, hence he was called the
“White Pilgrim,” and frequently, in imitation of the Master, retired to
lonely places for fasting and prayer. He made a strong impression on the
people, and finally died of smallpox amidst his itinerant labors in New
Jersey.

Dr. Bullard, after his baptism by Duncan, at once began preaching,
delivering his first discourse the evening following his baptism.
Avoiding those speculation points with which Duncan and those associated
with him were so much occupied, he presented simple views of the Gospel
and the freeness of the salvation through Christ, and showed that faith
comes by hearing the Word of God, and that “he that believeth and is
baptized shall be saved.” It was a considerable time, however, before he
convinced enough people of the scripturalness of the doctrine to form a
church. By degrees, most of those associated with Duncan were convinced
by Dr. Bullard, and through the assistance of James Redpath and others
joining him in the ministry of the Word, a number of churches were
established in that part of Virginia. About 1839 Dr. Bullard
incidentally came into possession of a copy of Alexander Campbell’s
“Extra on Remission of Sins.” On reading it he was so surprised and
delighted with the new views therein set forth that he obtained all the
numbers of the Christian Baptist and Millennial Harbinger, and was
filled with great joy to find how clear and consistent were Campbell’s
views, and how different from the slanderous misrepresentations which
had been so persistently circulated through the press and from the
pulpit. He immediately began to circulate Campbell’s writings, preaching
with great success the ancient Gospel, and overjoyed in finding himself
unexpectedly associated with so many fellow laborers in the effort to
restore primitive Christianity. He endured hardships as a good soldier
of Jesus Christ and pushed forward against great odds. He traveled all
over Virginia, from the mountains to the seashore, and baptized
thousands. In his prime he was one of the most powerful exhorters that
could be found, and his sermons were exceedingly clear, scriptural and
persuasive.

On a notable occasion the Methodists, who had become greatly stirred by
Dr. Bullard’s preaching, chose one of their preachers, T. J. Stone, to
represent them in a debate with Dr. Bullard on the “Act of Baptism.” The
debate was to be held in a grove at a place some distance from Dr.
Bullard’s home, and he had to start the day before in order to reach the
place in time. Late in the afternoon of the first day’s journey he fell
in with the preacher who was to be his opponent in the debate. Stone had
been studying the Campbell and Rice Debate in search of arguments to
sustain his side of the question. As they rode along together their
conversation turned on the debate, and Dr. Bullard noticed rather a lack
of confidence in the language of his opponent. The doctor turned the
conversation so that he might learn the cause of this, and soon reached
the conclusion that his opponent had little relish for the debate, and,
in short, in his research his confidence in affusion had been
overturned. Dr. Bullard finally said: “You had better let me baptize you
to-morrow instead of debating.” Stone replied: “If it were not for two
or three things in the way, I would.”

That night they spent at Stone’s home, and the doctor soon perceived
that one of the greatest things in the way was Stone’s wife. Accordingly
he gave her much attention, and the three searched the Scriptures the
greater part of the night. A large crowd assembled the next day to hear
the discussion. Dr. Bullard announced that there would be no debate, but
that he would preach that morning and Stone in the afternoon; also that
there would be an immersion immediately after the morning discourse.
Much to the surprise of all, both Mr. and Mrs. Stone presented
themselves for baptism when the invitation was given.


                              CHAPTER II.
                            BARTON W. STONE

We have already learned that efforts were being made to return to
apostolic Christianity in different places in the East, and I mentioned
these efforts first because as emigration is most usually westward, the
influences thus exerted spread far and wide. This is one of the reasons
why the plea to return to the original practice of the apostolic
churches has been more effective in the West than in the East.

I now give attention to a great movement that was inaugurated in what
was then called the “West,” through the untiring labors of Barton W.
Stone and others. Stone was born in Maryland, December 24, 1772. His
father died and the mother, being left with a large family of children,
moved to Pittsylvania County, Va., in 1779, where the manners and
customs of the people were very simple, and contentment seemed to be the
lot of all, and happiness dwelt in every breast amidst the abundance of
home stores, acquired by honest industry. His first teacher was a
tyrant, who seemed to take pleasure in whipping and abusing his pupils
for every trifling offense. When called upon to recite, he was so
affected with fear, and so confused in mind, that he could say nothing,
and remained in that school only a few days. He was then sent to another
teacher, who was patient and kind, and he advanced so rapidly that after
five years’ training his teacher “pronounced him a finished scholar.”
This fired him with ambition and spurred his efforts to rise to eminence
in learning.


                    CONFRONTED BY MANY DIFFICULTIES

About this time some Baptist preachers came into the neighborhood and
began preaching to the people, and great excitement followed. Multitudes
attended their ministrations, and many were immersed. Immersion was so
novel that people traveled long distances to see the ordinance
administered. Young Stone was constant in his attendance, and was
particularly interested in hearing the converts relate their
experiences. Of their conviction and great distress they were very
particular in giving an account, and how and when they obtained
deliverance from their burdens. Some were delivered by a dream, a
vision, or some uncommon appearance of light; others by a voice spoken
to them—“Thy sins are forgiven thee”; and others by seeing the Savior
with their natural eyes. Such experiences were considered good by the
Church, and those relating such were baptized and received into full
fellowship. The preachers had an art of affecting their hearers by a
tuneful voice in preaching. Not knowing any better, he considered all
this a work of God, and the way of salvation.

After these came Methodist preachers who were bitterly opposed by the
Baptists and Episcopalians, who publicly declared them to be the locusts
of Revelation, and warned the people against receiving them. Stone’s
mind was much agitated, and vacillated between the two parties. For some
time he had been in the habit of retiring in secret, morning and
evening, for prayer, with an earnest desire for religion; but being
ignorant of what he ought to do, he became discouraged and quit praying,
and turned away from religion.

When he was about sixteen he came into possession of his portion of his
father’s estate. This absorbed his mind day and night endeavoring to
devise some plan as to how to use it to the best advantage. At last he
decided to acquire a liberal education, and thus qualify himself for the
practice of law. Having reached this decision he began immediately to
arrange his affairs to put his purpose into execution. Accordingly he
bade farewell to his mother, and made his way to the noted academy at
Guilford, N. C. Here he applied himself with great diligence to acquire
an education or die in the attempt. He divested himself of every
hindrance for the course. With such application he made rapid progress.

Just before he entered the academy the students had been greatly stirred
by James McGready, a Presbyterian preacher, and Stone was not a little
surprised to find many of the students assembled every morning in a
private room before the hour for recitation to engage in singing and
prayer. This was a source of uneasiness to him, and frequently brought
him to serious reflections. He labored diligently to banish these
serious thoughts, thinking that religion would impede his progress in
learning, thwart the object he had in view, and expose him to the
ridicule of his relatives and companions. He therefore associated with
those students who made light of such things, and joined them in the
ridicule of the pious. For this his conscience severely condemned him
when alone and made him so very unhappy that he could neither enjoy the
company of the pious nor that of the impious. This caused him to decide
to go to Hampden-Sidney College, Virginia, that he might be away from
the constant sight of religion. He determined to leave at once, but was
prevented by a violent storm. He remained in his room all day and
reached the decision to pursue his studies there and to attend to his
own business, and let others do the same.

Having made this resolution, he was settled till his roommate asked him
to accompany him to hear Mr. McGready preach. Of the deep impression
made on him by the discourse he heard on that occasion he says:

  His coarse, tremulous voice excited in me the idea of something
  unearthly. His gestures were the very reverse of elegance. Everything
  appeared by him forgotten but the salvation of souls. Such
  earnestness, such zeal, such powerful persuasion, enforced by the joys
  of heaven and miseries of hell, I had never witnessed before. My mind
  was chained by him, and followed him closely in his rounds of heaven,
  earth and hell, with feelings indescribable. His concluding remarks
  were addressed to the sinners to flee the wrath to come without delay.
  Never before had I comparatively felt the force of truth. Such was my
  excitement that had I been standing I should have probably sunk to the
  floor under the impression.

When the meeting was over he returned to his room, and when night came
he walked out into a field and seriously reasoned with himself on the
all-important subject of religion. He asked himself: “What shall I do?
Shall I embrace religion, or not?” He weighed the subject and counted
the cost. He concluded that if he embraced religion he would then incur
the displeasure of his relatives and lose the favor and company of his
companions: become the object of their scorn and ridicule; relinquish
all his plans and schemes for worldly honor, wealth and preferment, and
bid adieu to all the pleasures in which he had lived. He asked himself,
“Are you willing to make this sacrifice?” His heart answered, “No, no.”
Then there loomed before him a certain alternative, “You must be
damned.” This thought was so terrible to him that he could not endure
the thought, and, after due deliberation, he resolved from that hour to
seek religion at the sacrifice of every earthly good, and immediately
prostrated himself before God in supplication for mercy.

In accordance with the popular belief, and the experience of the pious
in those days, he anticipated a long and painful struggle before he
should be prepared to come to Christ, or, in the language of that day,
before he should “get religion.” This anticipation was fully realized.
For a year he was tossed about on the waves of uncertainty, laboring,
praying and striving for “saving faith,” sometimes desponding and almost
despairing of ever getting it. He wrestled with this condition until he
heard a sermon on “God is love,” which so impressed his mind that he
retired to the woods alone with his Bible. There he read and prayed with
various feelings, between hope and fear, till the great truth of the
love of God so triumphed over him that he afterward said:

  I yielded and sunk at his feet, a willing subject. I loved him, I
  adored him, I praised him aloud in the silent night, in the echoing
  groves around. I confessed to the Lord my sin and folly in
  disbelieving his word so long, and in following so long the devices of
  men. I now saw that a poor sinner was as much authorized to believe in
  Jesus at first as last; that now was the accepted time and the day of
  salvation.

From that time he looked forward to preaching, and in the spring of 1796
applied to the Presbytery of Orange, N. C., for license to preach. In
describing the proceedings of the presbytery, he says: “Never shall I
forget the impression made on my mind when a venerable old father
addressed the candidates, standing up together before the presbytery.
After the address he presented to each of the candidates the Bible (not
the Confession of Faith), with this solemn charge, ‘Go ye unto all the
world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.’” He was assigned to a
certain district, but soon became much discouraged, and contemplated
seeking regions where he was not known and turning his attention to some
other calling in life.

In the midst of much doubt and perplexity, he turned westward and
finally reached Caneridge, Bourbon County, Ky., where he remained for a
few months, then returned to Virginia.


                        ORDAINED TO THE MINISTRY

In the fall of 1798 he received a call from the united congregations of
Caneridge and Concord, through the Transylvania Presbytery. He accepted,
and a day was appointed for his ordination to the ministry. Knowing that
at his ordination he would be required to adopt the Westminster
Confession of Faith, as the system of doctrine taught in the Bible, he
determined to give it a very careful examination. This was to him almost
the beginning of sorrows. He stumbled at the doctrine of the Trinity as
therein taught, and could not conscientiously subscribe to it. Doubts,
too, arose in his mind on the doctrines of election, reprobation and
predestination, as then taught. He had before this time learned from
those higher up in the ecclesiastical world the way of divesting those
doctrines of their hard, repulsive features, and admitted them as true,
yet unfathomable mysteries. Viewing them as such, he let them alone in
his public discourses and confined himself to the practical part of
religion, and to subjects within his depth. But in re-examining these
doctrines he found the covering put over them could not hide them from a
discerning eye with close inspection. Indeed, he saw that they were
necessary to the system, without any covering.

He was in this state of mind when the day for his ordination came. He
determined to tell the presbytery honestly his state of mind, and to
request them to defer his ordination until he should be better informed
and settled. When the day came a large congregation assembled, but
before the presbytery convened he took aside the two pillars—James
Blythe and Robert Marshall—and made known to them his difficulties and
that he had determined to decline ordination at that time. They labored,
but in vain, to remove his difficulties and objections. They asked him
how far he was willing to receive the Confession of Faith. To this he
replied, “As far as I see it is consistent with the Word of God.” They
concluded that that was sufficient. The presbytery then convened, and
when the question, “Do you receive and adopt the Confession of Faith as
containing the system of doctrine taught in the Bible?” he answered
aloud, so that the whole assembly could hear, “I do, so far as I see it
consistent with the Word of God.” No objection being raised to this
answer he was ordained.

The reception of his ordination papers neither ended his intellectual
misgivings nor his difficulties with his strictly orthodox ministerial
associates in the presbytery. His mind, from this time until he finally
broke the fetters of religious bondage, “was continually tossed on the
waves of speculative divinity,” the all-engrossing theme of the
religious community at that time. Clashing, controversial theories were
urged by the different sects with much zeal and bad feeling. At that
time he believed and taught that mankind were so depraved that they
could do nothing acceptable to God until his Spirit, by some physical,
almighty and mysterious power had quickened, enlightened and regenerated
the heart, and thus prepared the sinner to believe in Jesus for
salvation. He began to see that if God did not perform this regenerating
work in all, it was because he chose to do it for some and not for
others, and that this depended upon his own sovereign will and pleasure.
He then saw that the doctrine was inseparably linked with unconditional
election and reprobation, as taught in the Westminster Confession of
Faith; that they are virtually one, and that was the reason why he
admitted the decrees of election and reprobation, having admitted the
doctrine of total depravity. Scores of objections continually crossed
his mind against the system. These he imputed to blasphemous suggestions
of Satan, and labored to repel them as satanic temptations and not
honestly to meet them with Scripture arguments. Often, when addressing
the multitudes on the doctrine of total depravity, on their inability to
believe and on the physical power of God to produce faith, and then
persuading the helpless to “repent and believe” the Gospel, his zeal
would in a moment be chilled by such questions as: “How can they
believe?” “How can they repent?” “How can they do impossibilities?” “How
can they be guilty in not doing them?” Such thoughts almost stifled his
ability to speak, and were as great weights pressing him down to the
shades of death. The pulpits were continually ringing with this
doctrine; but to his mind it ceased to be a relief; for whatever name it
was called, he could see that the inability was in the sinner, and
therefore he could not believe nor repent, but must be damned. Wearied
with the works and doctrines of men and distrustful of their influence,
he made the Bible his constant companion. He honestly, earnestly and
prayerfully sought for the truth, determined to buy it at the sacrifice
of everything else.

He was relieved from this state of perplexity by this resolve. By
reading and meditating upon the Word of God, he became convinced that
God did love the whole world, and that the only reason why he did not
save all was because of their unbelief, and that the reason why they
believed not was because they neglected and received not his testimony
concerning his Son, for the Scripture says: “These are written, that ye
may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing
ye may have life in his name.” From this he saw that the requirement to
believe in the Son of God was reasonable, because the testimony given is
sufficient to produce faith in the sinner, and the invitation and
encouragement of the Gospel are sufficient, if believed, to lead him to
the Savior for the promised salvation and eternal life. From that moment
of new light and joy he began to part company with Calvinism, declaring
it to be the heaviest clog on Christianity in the world, a dark mountain
between heaven and earth, shutting out the love of God from the sinner’s
heart.

In the joy of this new-found liberty he received such power that made
him one of God’s choicest instruments in awakening religious society out
of its apathy, and in preparing the way for the great religious movement
with which the last century was ushered in. Born with his new
convictions of God’s all-abounding love, was an intense yearning to
bring his fellow men to the joy of such a salvation. While the fire was
kindling in his soul, he heard of a great religious excitement which had
already begun in Logan County, Kentucky, under the labors of certain
Presbyterian preachers, among whom was the same James McGready whose
preaching had so strongly affected Stone, while a youth, in North
Carolina. In the spring of 1801 he attended one of these camp meetings,
and for the first time witnessed those strange agitations and cataleptic
attacks, which baffled description. He describes them thus:

  The scene to me was new, and passing strange. It baffled description.
  Many, very very many, fell down as men slain in battle, and continued
  for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state;
  sometimes for a few moments reviving and exhibiting symptoms of life
  by a deep groan or a piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most
  fervently uttered. After lying thus for hours they obtained
  deliverance. The gloomy cloud which had covered their faces seemed
  gradually and visibly to disappear, and hope in smiles brightened into
  joy; they would rise shouting deliverance, and then would address the
  surrounding multitude in language truly eloquent. (Biography of Stone,
  page 34.)


                    REMARKABLE MEETING AT CANE RIDGE

Returning from these strange scenes, he entered the pulpit at Caneridge
with heart aglow with spiritual fervor. No longer shackled by the
doctrine of election and reprobation, he took for his text the inspiring
message of the great commission: “Go ye into all the world and preach
the Gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized
shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” Old as was
the text, it came like a new evangel to this people, who had known
nothing but the hard terms of a Calvinistic creed. The audience was
visibly affected, and he left them promising to return in a few days.
This was the beginning of one of the greatest revivals in history. On
his return a vast multitude awaited him, and he had scarcely begun to
picture before them the great salvation when scores fell to the ground
as if smitten by some unseen hand. It is well to let Mr. Stone describe
the scene in his own language:

  Some attempted to fly from the scene panic-stricken, but they either
  fell or returned immediately to the crowd, as unable to get away. In
  the midst of this exercise an intelligent deist in the neighborhood
  stepped up to me and said, “Mr. Stone, I always thought before that
  you were an honest man, but now I am convinced that you are deceiving
  the people.” I viewed him with pity, and mildly spoke a few words to
  him; immediately he fell as a dead man, and arose no more until he had
  confessed the Savior. (Biography, pages 36, 37.)

The report of this remarkable meeting soon spread through the country,
and shortly afterward he held a protracted meeting at Concord. The whole
country was aroused and multitudes of all denominations attended. Party
spirit shrank away and all joined heartily in the meeting, which
continued five days and nights without a break, and great numbers
abandoned sin.

On July 2, 1801, Barton W. Stone was married to Miss Elizabeth Campbell,
of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Soon after marriage they hurried on to
Caneridge for the memorable meeting which began on Friday before the
third Sunday in August. The news concerning the remarkable meeting at
Concord had spread far and wide, and when the time came to begin the
meeting at Caneridge the roads were literally crowded with wagons,
carriages, horsemen and footmen, moving to the camp grounds. The crowd
was estimated at thirty thousand. During the meeting four or five
preachers were frequently speaking at the same time, in different parts
of the encampment, without confusion. All denominations joined in the
conduct of the meeting. Party spirit for the time had disappeared, and
all united in the great work. Multitudes abandoned sin and entered the
profession and practice of religion. The meeting continued six or seven
days and nights, and would have continued longer but food for the
multitude could not be found.

This meeting was attended by many from Ohio and other distant parts, who
returned to their homes and spread the same spirit in their
neighborhoods, and the same results followed, and it can not be denied
that great good resulted. Nor were its effects by any means transient,
but were felt for years in the rapid growth of the churches in general
and in a great degree of religious fervor.

From the beginning of this great excitement Mr. Stone had been employed
almost day and night in preaching, singing, visiting, and praying with
and for the distressed, till his lungs failed and became inflamed,
attended with a violent cough, and it was believed that he had
tuberculosis. His strength failed and he believed that his end was near.
Notwithstanding this he had an intense desire to attend a camp-meeting a
few miles distant from Caneridge. His physician had strictly forbidden
him to preach any more till his disease should be removed.

This meeting was held in a grove near Paris. Here for the first time a
Presbyterian preacher opposed the work and the doctrine by which the
zeal among them had its existence and life. He labored hard to bring the
people under the yoke of Calvin and to regulate them according to his
standard. He wished to leave the camp at night and repair to the town,
nearly a mile away, and hold the meeting in a house that would not hold
half the people. This could not be done without leaving their tent and
other things exposed. The consequence was, the meeting was divided and
the work greatly hindered. Infidels and formalists were greatly elated
over this supposed victory and passed great encomiums on the preacher;
but the hearts of the revivalists were filled with sorrow. Stone went to
the meeting in town. A preacher was put forward who had always been
hostile to the work and seldom mingled with the revivalists. He
addressed the assembly in “iceberg style,” and its influence was very
depressing. Stone had decided to lead the congregation in prayer just as
soon as the preacher closed. When he finally closed, Stone arose and
said, “Let us pray.” At that very moment another preacher of the same
cast with the former rose in the pulpit to preach another sermon; but
Stone proceeded to pray, feeling a tender concern for the people. While
he was praying the people became much affected and the house was filled
with distress. Some of the preachers jumped out of the window back of
the pulpit and fled. Stone then pushed his way through the crowd to
those in distress, pointed them to the way of salvation, and
administered to them the comforts of the Gospel. The physician who was
attending him being present, pressed his way through the crowd and found
Stone wet with perspiration. He ordered him to his home, lecturing him
severely for violating his orders. He put on dry clothes and retired at
once, slept sounding, and arose next morning perfectly relieved from his
affliction. He soon regained his strength and joyfully resumed his
ministerial duties. This incident brought the campmeeting to a sudden
close.


                          “A TIME OF DISTRESS”

There were at this time several other preachers in the Presbyterian
Church who coincided in religious views with Stone. These were Richard
McNemar, John Thompson, John Dunlavy, Robert Marshall and David
Purviance. The three former lived in Ohio, and the three latter lived in
Kentucky. They all boldly preached the sufficiency of the Gospel to save
men, and that the testimony of God was designed and able to produce
faith, and that sinners were capable of understanding and believing this
testimony, and of acting upon it by coming to the Savior and from him
obtaining salvation and the Holy Spirit. When they first began to preach
these things, “the people appeared as just awakened from the sleep of
ages. They seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible
beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning
sin.”

This departure from the doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith
soon occasioned a virulent opposition on the part of those who adhered
to it. “At first they were pleased to see the Methodists and Baptists so
cordially uniting with us in the worship; but as soon as they saw these
sects drawing away disciples after them, they raised the tocsin of
alarm—The Confession of Faith is in danger, ‘To your tents, O Israel!’”

These partisans began to preach boldly the doctrines of their Confession
of Faith and used the most potent arguments in their defense. “A fire
was now kindled that threatened to ruin the great fervor among the
people. It revived the dying spirit of partyism and gave strength to
trembling infidels and lifeless professors. The sects were aroused. The
Methodists and Baptists, who had so long lived in peace and harmony with
the Presbyterians and with one another, now girded on their armor and
marched into the deathly field of controversy and war. These were times
of distress. The spirit of partyism soon expelled the spirit of love and
union—peace fled before discord and strife and religion was stifled and
banished in the unhallowed struggle for pre-eminence. Who shall be the
greatest seemed to be the spirit of the contest. The salvation of the
world was no longer the burden, and the spirit of mourning in prayer
took its flight from the breasts of many preachers and people. Yet there
were some of all the sects who deplored this unhappy state of things;
but their entreating voice was drowned in the din of battle.”

The Presbytery of Springfield, Ohio, arraigned McNemar on the charge of
heresy, and the case came before the synod at Lexington, Ky. Foreseeing
their fate before that body, Stone, McNemar, Thompson, Dunlavy and
Marshall drew up a protest, declaring their independence and withdrawal
from the jurisdiction of the synod. The synod then suspended them and
declared their congregations vacant. This act produced great commotion
and division among the churches and confirmed the seceding ministers in
their opposition to creeds and authoritative ecclesiastical systems. But
as yet they had no thought of ceasing to hold the Presbyterian faith,
and that they might continue in the service of the Church organized
themselves into an independent presbytery, called the “Springfield
Presbytery,” but soon finding this position an impossible one and the
whole system out of harmony with their views, they now took another step
in their work of reform. Renouncing their allegiance to all authority
but that of their divine Master, they resolved to be governed by the
Bible as their only rule of faith and practice. This called for the
tracts and sermons from the opposition, and the views thus canvassed
became widely disseminated.

Soon after his separation, Stone called the churches at Caneridge and
Concord together and informed them that he could no longer preach to
support Presbyterianism, but that his labors should henceforth be
directed to advance the kingdom of God, irrespective of party, releasing
them from all pecuniary obligations to him. Thus for the cause of truth
he sacrificed the friendship of two large churches and an abundant
salary for his support. He preferred the truth to the friendship and
kindness of his associates in the Presbyterian ministry, who were dear
to him, and tenderly united in the bonds of love. Having now no support
from the congregations, and having emancipated his slaves, he turned his
attention cheerfully to labor on his farm. Though fatigued in body, his
spirit was happy and calm. He did not relax his ministerial labors,
preaching almost every night and often in the daytime to those who were
anxious to hear the Word. He had no money to hire laborers, and often on
his return home he had to labor at night while others were asleep to
redeem his lost time.

Co-operating with his associates in the Springfield Presbytery in
preaching and planting churches, a year had scarcely passed until such
an organization was perceived to be unscriptural, and was by common
consent renounced, all agreeing to take the name “Christian,” which they
believed to be the only proper title for Christ’s followers, and
believed it to have been given by divine appointment to the disciples at
Antioch. Having divested themselves of all party creeds and party names,
and trusting alone in God and the word of his grace, they became a
byword and laughing stock to the whole family of the sects; all of whom
prophesied their speedy annihilation. Through much tribulation and
strenuous opposition they advanced, and churches and preachers were
multiplied.

As their renouncing their allegiance to all authority in religious
matters but that of the Lord Jesus Christ aroused much interest and no
little opposition at the time, it will, no doubt, be interesting to my
readers to have this remarkable production in full, together with the
witnesses’ address in full, which is as follows:

          THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF THE SPRINGFIELD PRESBYTERY

  The Presbytery of Springfield, sitting at Caneridge, in the county of
  Bourbon, being, through a gracious Providence, in more than ordinary
  bodily health, growing in strength and size daily; and in perfect
  soundness and composure of mind; but knowing that it is appointed for
  all delegated bodies once to die; and considering that the life of
  every such body is very uncertain, do make and ordain this our last
  will and testament, in manner and form following, viz:

  _Imprimis._ We _will_, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into
  union with the body of Christ at large; for there is but one body and
  one spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.

  _Item._ We _will_, that our name of distinction, with its _Reverend
  title_, be forgotten, that there be but one Lord over God’s heritage,
  and his name one.

  _Item._ We _will_, that our power of making laws for the government of
  the Church, and executing them by delegated authority, forever cease;
  that the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the _law
  of the spirit of life in Jesus Christ_.

  _Item._ We _will_, that candidates for the gospel ministry henceforth
  study the Holy Scriptures, with fervent prayer, and obtain license
  from God to preach the simple Gospel, _with the Holy Spirit sent down
  from heaven_, without any mixture of philosophy, vain deceit,
  traditions of men, or the rudiments of the world. And let none take
  _this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron_.

  _Item._ We _will_, that the Church of Christ resume her native right
  of internal government, try her candidates for the ministry, as to
  their soundness in the faith, acquaintance with experimental religion,
  gravity and aptness to teach; and admit no other proof of their
  authority but Christ speaking in them. We will that the Church of
  Christ look up to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into
  the harvest; and that she resume her primitive right of trying those
  _who say they are apostles and are not_.

  _Item._ We _will_, that each particular church as a body, actuated by
  the same spirit, choose her own preacher and support him by a
  free-will offering, without a written _call_ or _subscription_, admit
  members, remove offenses; and never henceforth _delegate_ her right of
  government to any man or set of men whatever.

  _Item._ We _will_, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the
  only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other
  books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire
  if they choose; for it is better to enter into the life having one
  book than having many to be cast into hell.

  _Item._ We _will_, that preachers and people cultivate a spirit of
  mutual forbearance; pray more and dispute less; and while they behold
  the signs of the times, look up, and confidently expect that
  redemption draweth nigh.

  _Item._ We _will_, that our weak brethren who may have been wishing to
  make the Presbytery of Springfield their king, and wot not what is now
  become of it, betake themselves to the Rock of Ages, and follow Jesus
  for the future.

  _Item._ We _will_, that the Synod of Kentucky examine every member who
  may be suspected of having departed from the Confession of Faith, and
  suspend every such heretic immediately, in order that the oppressed
  may go free, and taste the sweets of gospel liberty.

  _Item._ We _will_, that Ja—— ——, the author of two letters lately
  published in Lexington, be encouraged in his zeal to destroy
  _partyism_. We will, moreover, that our past conduct be examined into
  by all who may have correct information; but let foreigners beware of
  speaking evil of things which they know not.

  _Item._ Finally, we _will_, that all our _sister bodies_ read their
  Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and
  prepare for death before it is too late.

                                                 Springfield Presbytery.

  June 28, 1804. (L. S.)

  Robert Marshall, John Dunlavy, Richard McNemar, B. W. Stone, John
  Thompson, David Purviance,
                                                            _Witnesses_.


                         THE WITNESSES’ ADDRESS

  We, the above-named witnesses of the Last Will and Testament of the
  Springfield Presbytery, knowing that there will be many conjectures
  respecting the causes which have occasioned the dissolution of that
  body, think proper to testify that from its first existence it was
  knit together in love, lived in peace and concord, and died a
  voluntary and happy death.

  Their reasons for dissolving that body were the following: With deep
  concern they viewed the divisions and party spirit among professing
  Christians, principally owing to the adoption of human creeds and
  forms of government. While they were united under the name of a
  presbyter, they endeavored to cultivate a spirit of love and unity
  with all Christians, but found it extremely difficult to suppress the
  idea that they themselves were a party separate from others. This
  difficulty increased in proportion to their success in the ministry.
  Jealousies were excited in the minds of other denominations; and a
  temptation was laid before those who were connected with the various
  parties to view them in the same light. At their last meeting they
  undertook to prepare for the press a piece entitled, “Observations on
  Church Government,” in which the world will see the beautiful
  simplicity of Christian Church government, stript of human invention
  and lordly traditions.

  As they proceeded in the investigation of that subject, they soon
  found that there was neither precept nor example in the New Testament
  for such confederacies as modern church sessions, presbyteries,
  synods, General Assemblies, etc. Hence they concluded that while they
  continued in the connection in which they then stood, they were off
  the foundation of the apostles and prophets of which Christ himself is
  the chief cornerstone. However just, therefore, their views of church
  might have been, they would have gone out under the name, the precious
  cause of Jesus, and dying sinners who are kept from the Lord by the
  existence of sects and parties in the church, they have cheerfully
  consented to retire from the din and fury of conflicting parties—sink
  out of the view of fleshly minds, and die the death. They believe
  their death will be great gain to the world. But though dead, as
  above, and stript of their mortal frame, which only served to keep
  them too near the confines of Egyptian bondage, they yet live and
  speak in the land of gospel liberty; they blow the trumpet of jubilee,
  and willingly devote themselves to the help of the Lord against the
  mighty. They will aid the brethren, by their counsel, when required;
  assist in ordaining elders or pastors, seek the divine blessing, unite
  with all Christians, commune together, and strengthen each others’
  hands in the work of the Lord.

  We design, by the grace of God, to continue in the exercise of those
  functions which belong to us as ministers of the Gospel, confidently
  trusting in the Lord, that he will be with us. We candidly acknowledge
  that in some things we may err, through human infirmity; but he will
  correct our wanderings and preserve his Church. Let all Christians
  join with us in crying to God day and night to remove the obstacles
  which stand in the way of his work, and give him no rest till he make
  Jerusalem a praise in the earth. We heartily unite with our Christian
  brethren of every name in thanksgiving to God for the display of his
  goodness in the glorious work he is carrying on in our western
  country, which we hope will terminate in the universal spread of the
  Gospel. (Biography of B. W. Stone, pages 51-55.)


                 PRACTICES MODIFIED IN MANY PARTICULARS

The stand they now took drove them to modify their practices in many
particulars. Among the first things to which they turned their attention
was infant baptism. Previous, indeed, to the great excitement in 1801,
Robert Marshall had become satisfied that infant baptism was not taught
in the Word of God; upon which Stone tried to set him right, but in the
course of the discussion he became so thoroughly convinced of its
unscripturalness that he discontinued the practice entirely. The
religious awakening, however, soon engrossed the minds of all, and for
some years baptism was left out of view. At length, many becoming
dissatisfied with their infant baptism, a meeting was convened to
thoroughly consider the subject, and, after a friendly investigation,
and discussion, it was decided that each member should act in accordance
with his convictions. As none among them had been immersed, it was a
question whether any one was qualified to administer baptism, which was
finally settled upon the ground that authority to preach carried with it
the authority to baptize. In the performance of this newly-discovered
duty, the ministers first baptized each other, and then their
congregations. The practice of immersion soon prevailed generally among
the churches.

Shortly after having reached the conclusion that the immersion of
believers is the only Scriptural baptism, at a great meeting at Concord,
when mourners were daily invited to collect around for prayer, as was
their custom then, and many persons were prayed for without receiving
the expected comfort, the words of Peter rolled through Stone’s
mind—“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the
Holy Spirit”—and he thought, “were Peter here he would thus address
these mourners.” So he quickly arose and addressed them in the same
language and urged them to comply with this demand. The effect, however,
was the reverse of what he intended. Instead of comforting the mourners,
it only perplexed and confused them by directing their attention to an
untried course of procedure utterly unknown to “revivals,” and for which
they were wholly unprepared. “While their hearts were filled with ardent
desires for special operations of the Holy Spirit and of fire, this
unexpected presentation produced a chilling effect, and tended to cool
the ardor of their excited imagination. Mr. Stone himself, indeed,
quoted Peter’s language on this occasion evidently more from his anxiety
to suggest some means of relief, and from his unbounded confidence in
the Word of God, than from any proper understanding of the relation of
baptism to remission of sins.”

The independent stand that Stone took on the Bible alone greatly
increased his labors. Kindred spirits speedily rallied to his support.
The Presbyterians forbade their people to associate with them in their
worship, on pain of censure or exclusion, but this caused many to cast
their lot with them. Churches quickly sprang up over a wide region,
rejecting all standards but the Bible and refusing to wear any name but
that of “Christians.” Stone and his co-laborers now devoted themselves
to encouraging and strengthening these widely-scattered churches.


                              “SHAKERISM”

Scarcely had the work been inaugurated, however, before the very life of
the churches was threatened by the appearance of a strange delusion. A
semi-religious, socialistic movement, known as “Shakerism,” had some
years before this established several communities in the State of New
York. Its leaders, hearing of the revolt against Calvinism led by Stone,
sent three missionaries—Bates, Mitchum and Young—among them. They were
eminently qualified for their work, and soon made sad havoc of the
newly-planted churches. Stone thus describes them and their work:

  Their appearance was prepossessing, they were grave and unassuming at
  first in their manners; very intelligent and ready in the Scriptures,
  and of great boldness in their faith. They informed us that they had
  heard of us in the East, and greatly rejoiced in the work of God among
  us—that as far as we had gone we were right, but we had not gone far
  enough into the work—that they had been sent by their brethren to
  teach the way of God more perfectly, by obedience to which all should
  be led into perfect holiness. They seemed to understand all the
  springs and avenues of the human heart. They delivered their testimony
  and labored to confirm it by the Scriptures. They promised the
  greatest blessings to the obedient, but certain damnation to the
  disobedient. They urged the people to confess their sins to them,
  especially the sin of matrimony, and to forsake all
  immediately—husbands must forsake their wives and wives their
  husbands.... Many said they were the great power of God, confessed
  their sins to them and forsook their marriage state. Among them were
  three of our preachers—Matthew Houston, Richard McNamar and John
  Dunlavy. Several more of our preachers and pupils, alarmed, fled from
  us, and joined the sects around us. (Biography, page 62)

It was only by the great effort of Stone that the churches were saved
from this vortex of ruin. He labored day and night, far and near, among
the churches where the Quakers went. By this means the evil influence
was checked and their broken ranks were rallied, and soon led once more
to victory.


                           THE WORK PROSPERS

Soon after the trouble with the Quakers had been quelled and the
churches were once more in a prosperous condition, another trouble arose
which threatened their entire overthrow. Two of the preachers, who with
Stone had thrown off the yoke of Presbyterianism, abandoned the
movement, reaffirmed their faith in the Westminster Confession of Faith,
and returned to the Presbyterian fold. “Of the five of us,” as he wrote
at a later date, “that left the Presbyterians, I only was left, and they
sought my life.” Conscious of the integrity of his purpose, and
convinced of the scripturalness of his position, Stone continued to
preach to the churches far and near, to any who would listen to him,
rendering his services gratuitously, and earning as best he could the
support of his family out of his little farm. Preaching the Gospel as he
now understood it, multitudes flocked to his standard, and many
flourishing churches were established by him in Ohio, Kentucky and
Tennessee.

As an evangelist among the pioneer population of newly-settled States he
was without a rival. His large, generous nature quickly won the
confidence of the hardy inhabitants. His zeal and originality awakened
their interest and fixed their attention. His warm sympathies and strong
emotions melted them to repentance and led them to obedience. Seldom did
he preach a sermon that did not result in conversions, sometimes scores
coming forward at the close of a single address. At other times the
wayside cabin with its lonely occupant received with gladness the
message of life. Here is a scene as he describes it:

  One day as I was riding along slowly to an appointment at night, I was
  passing by a small hut, when a woman ran out and called to me. I
  stopped my horse. She told that she had heard me preach the day
  before, and with a heavenly countenance thanked God for it. “For,”
  said she, “the Lord has blessed my soul. Will you stop and baptize
  me?” “Yes,” said I, “gladly will I do it.” I dismounted, and walked
  into the hut. “Oh,” said she, “will you wait till I send for my
  sister, a short distance off. She was with me, and the Lord has
  blessed her, too. She wants also to be baptized.” “Oh, yes,” said I;
  “I will gladly wait.” She quickly dispatched a little boy to call her
  husband from the field near the house, and to tell the sister to come.
  In the meantime she was busy preparing dinner for me. It was no doubt
  the best she had, but such as I had never seen before. I never more
  thankfully, more happily, and more heartily dined. The husband soon
  came in, and the wife beckoned him out, and informed him of her
  intention of being baptized. He obstinately opposed it. In tears and
  distress she informed me. I talked mildly with him of the impropriety
  of his conduct, and at length gained his consent. Her countenance
  brightened with joy, and her sister came in shortly.

There, in the depths of the forest, in a stream that flowed near by, was
witnessed a scene that rivals in picturesqueness and simple beauty any
recorded in the Word of God.

On another occasion as he was returning from an appointment he was
overtaken by a gentleman returning from the same meeting, and the two
continued the journey together. Stone introduced the subject of
religion, which was found not to be disagreeable to the stranger, though
he made no profession of religion. He urged him with many arguments to a
speedy turning to the Lord. It was very evident that his mind was deeply
troubled and that he was vacillating as to his choice of life or death.
At length they came to a clear running stream, when he said to Stone:
“See, here is water. What doth hinder me to be baptized?” To which he
replied in the language of Philip to the Eunuch: “If thou believest with
all thine heart, thou mayest.” The ready response came: “I believe that
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and am determined hereafter to be his
servant.” Without anything further passing between them, they dismounted
and Stone baptized him.

About 1812 Stone filled an appointment of long standing in Meigs County,
Ohio. The Separate Baptists, by previous appointment, held their annual
association at the same time and place. They agreed to worship together.
The crowd of people was great, and early in the meeting Stone baptized
William Caldwell, a Presbyterian preacher, in the Ohio River. This drew
the cords of friendship more closely between him and the Baptists. By
this united effort the excitement became very great. The elders and
members of the association met daily in a house near the stand, where
they transacted their business, while worship was carried on at the
stand. Stone was asked and urged to assist them in their deliberations
in the association, and frequently requested to give his opinion on
certain points, which he did to their acceptance and approbation. They
had a very difficult case before them, on which they could come to no
decision. He was urged to speak on it, and to speak freely. He spoke
freely and fully on the point, showing it to be a party measure, and
unscriptural, at the same time exerting himself against sectarianism,
formularies and creeds, laboring all the while to establish the
scriptural ground of union among Christians, and the name they should
wear, and that until Christians were united in spirit on the Bible there
would be no end to such difficult cases as now confronted them. Having
closed his speech, he went at once to the stand.

The mind of the association was withdrawn from any further consideration
of the knotty cases before them to the consideration of what had been
presented to them in the speech which they had just heard, with the
result that they agreed to forever lay aside their formularies and
creeds and take the Bible alone for their rule of faith and practice—to
drop the name “Baptist” and take the name “Christian”—and to disband
their association and join Stone and others in their efforts to return
to apostolic Christianity. They then marched to the stand, shouting the
praises of God and proclaiming aloud what they had done. They embraced
each other with Christian love, by which the union was cemented. This
gave a mighty impetus to the work and multitudes were added to the Lord.


                              CHAPTER III.
                            Thomas Campbell

For the present I turn from the work of Stone to that of the Campbells.
Chiefly because of failing health, Thomas Campbell, an humble, but
intellectually and spiritually-gifted minister of the Seceder
Presbyterian Church in the parish of Ahory, Armaugh County, Ireland,
determined to seek for himself and for his family a home in this
country. He came alone, intending to send for his family as soon as he
had established himself. He arrived in Philadelphia May 27, 1807. The
Seceder Synod of North America was in session in that city when he
landed. He at once presented his credentials to that body, was cordially
received, and at once assigned to the Presbytery of Chartiers, in
Southwestern Pennsylvania. As soon as he became settled in his new home
he began in a very earnest way to exercise his ministry as a member of
the presbytery, which embraced a number of counties. He had come to this
country as a zealous missionary of the cross, filled with the love of
souls. Already in Ireland, through various influences, he had learned to
cherish a liberal religious spirit, to esteem as of little value the
barriers that separate into sects.


                       CONFLICT WITH THE SECEDERS

The Seceders constitute one of the “straitest sects” of the Calvinistic
faith, and even to this day they will not affiliate in full fraternal
fellowship with other Presbyterians. It was in the matter of the
communion that the severe test of fellowship was applied. Thomas
Campbell had come to this country with his heart filled with a burning
zeal to labor in the Lord’s vineyard, and in largest charity for all
communions, while still maintaining sincerely and fully his relations to
his particular communion. He believed that in this freest land men’s
hearts would necessarily be emancipated from the unyielding sectarian
prejudices and animosities of the Old World. While eminently prudent and
peace-loving, he was a man of heroic temper. He would not temporize nor
bow to the tyrannous dictates of human traditions or human policy. “This
grave spirit he had already shown in his early youth, when he decided
from conviction not to follow the religion of his father, who was
attached to the Church of England, and preferred, as he used to say, ‘to
worship God according to act of Parliament.’ ‘The law of the Lord, in
the word and spirit of the Gospel, which is ‘the law of liberty,’ was
Thomas Campbell’s supreme rule of life.”

It is interesting to unfold the events which led to the final crisis
that inaugurated actually and in a formal manner the restoration
movement. The Seceders were not very numerous within the limits of the
Chartiers Presbytery; the power of expansion was not in them. Mr.
Campbell at once gained a wide and strong influence. His natural
ability, his scholarship and literary culture, made him much superior to
the preachers in that region; and his deep religious fervor and zeal and
his rare courtesy of manner won the hearts of the people. He did not
respect in his labors the narrow spirit and strict, illiberal rules and
habits of the Seceder Church. Besides this, he had found near him a
number of excellent people who had come over from Ireland, Presbyterians
and Independents, some of whom had been his acquaintance and cherished
friends in his native land. These gathered around him, and he promptly
took them to his heart in his ministrations as brethren. This kind of
freedom, however, was not in harmony with “the usages” of the Seceders.
Later on he took a step which went even further than this, and thus in a
very decided way transgressed the established custom of the Church.

He was sent on a missionary tour with a young preacher, a Mr. Wilson, up
the Allegheny Valley, above Pittsburgh, “to hold a celebration of the
sacrament among the scattered Seceders of that then sparsely-settled
region. He found there many members of other Presbyterian bodies who had
not for a long time enjoyed the privilege of these by them so
highly-cherished occasions. His heart urged him to deplore in his
introductory sermon the existing divisions among Christians, and to
invite all the pious among his hearers, who were prepared for it, to
unite in the participation of this sacred feast of God’s people; and
many accepted the invitation. This was a bold infraction of Seceder
custom.” Campbell could have no fellowship with such bigotry. Mr. Wilson
soon discovered that Campbell had no regard for sectarian differences
and prejudices and that he was not sound in the Seceder faith. “His
conduct of inviting those not of his Church to partake of the communion
was an overt act of extreme transgression that could not be overlooked;”
but he made no objection at the time this grave offense was committed.
He felt it his duty, however, to bring the matter before the presbytery
at its next meeting. The charge contained several complaints, but the
principal one was this public act in regard to the communion. It
recited, moreover, that “Campbell had expressed his disapprobation of
things in the ‘Standards’ and of the practical application of them.”

The presbytery, already much dissatisfied with his liberal course,
readily took up Wilson’s charges. But they had before them a man who,
although ever remarkably inclined to peace and warmly attached to the
Seceder Church, would, nevertheless, not yield to any human authority
against his convictions in matters of serious import. The present was a
decisive moment in his life, reaching in its effects far beyond what was
then thought.

After an investigation, which called from him a most earnest plea in
behalf of Christian liberty and fraternity, he was found deserving of
censure. In vain did he protest the treatment he had received at the
hands of his brethren. In vain did he appeal from the presbytery to the
synod. Party spirit was unyielding. He had expressed sentiments, it
insisted, which were “very different from sentiments held and professed
by the Church.” This, it held, was an altogether sufficient ground of
censure. From that time many of his fellow ministers became inimical to
him and were disposed to inflict on him at every opportunity their petty
persecutions.

Unjust as he felt the censure of the synod to be, yet so strong was his
love of peace and his desire to continue to live and labor with his
brethren that he submitted to it; the condition, however, expressed in a
written form to this tribunal “that his submission should be understood
to mean no more, on his part, than an act of deference to the judgment
of the court; that by so doing he might not give offense to his brethren
by manifesting a refractory spirit.” After this concession he hoped that
he would be permitted to continue his labors in peace; but, much to his
regret, the hostility of his opponents continued. Misrepresentations,
calumny, anything that would detract from his influence, were employed
against him. Spies were employed to attend his meetings, that, if
possible, they might find fresh ground of accusation in his utterances.
At last, worn out with these efforts, and having satisfied himself that
corruption, bigotry and tyranny were inherent in existing clerical
organizations, he decided to sever his connection with the religious
body to which he had given life-long support, renouncing the authority
of the presbytery and synod. That this final decisive step caused him
much grief can not for a moment be doubted; but it is certain, also,
that the freedom which it gave him, as a servant of God, must have been
to him a genuine joy and an impartation of a strength of soul he never
knew before.

These painful experiences soon led to important consequences. By his
forced withdrawal from the presbytery he found himself without church
affiliations. But this only quickened his zeal in the efforts to extend
Christ’s kingdom. He had gained a wide and strong influence in the
region in which he lived. No meeting houses were at his command; but he
held his assemblies, after the pioneer fashion, in private dwellings,
barns, schoolhouses and under green trees. In these labors it was no
part of his plan to organize a separate religious party. Such parties
were already too numerous. At first it seems that he had no definite
plan of action. He had simply determined to use his strength in such
ways as Providence should open to him, in putting an end to partyism, by
inducing the different denominations to unite together on the Bible. In
this purpose many of his neighbors heartily sympathized with him, though
shrinking from the conclusions to which they were being irresistably
driven.

At last the time seemed ripe for some forward movement. He therefore
determined to adopt what he believed to be the best course to promote
the interest of his Master’s cause. He saw that many of his hearers
sincerely, some ardently, had accepted the principles he was advocating
and were constant in attendance on his ministry. He consequently
proposed to them that they meet together and consult on the best method
to give more order, definiteness and permanency to their efforts. This
met with ready and general approbation. A day was named and at the
appointed hour a large company assembled in an old farmhouse in the
neighborhood. The company was composed of thoughtful men and women,
deeply conscious of the importance of the occasion. They were plain,
hard-working pioneers, but they were men and women of faith, whose
hearts were pained at the division into warring sects and parties.
Though belonging to different religious parties, they had met to seek a
pathway of closer fellowship.

A feeling of deep solemnity pervaded the entire assembly, when at length
Mr. Campbell arose to address them. The theme of the occasion had grown
to be the burden of his heart. He gave a clear exposition of the
situation and of the object of the assembly. The events that had led to
the calling of this meeting, well understood by all, had made a deep
impression upon them. The discourse was a strong argument against
sectarian divisions and in behalf of Christian unity on the Bible as the
only infallible standard of doctrine and practice, to the rejection of
all human traditions. He concluded this remarkable discourse by urging
with great earnestness the adoption of the following principles as the
rule of their future action and life as Christians: “_Where the
Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are
silent._” This bold maxim was so just that no one of the audience,
prepared as they were by previous teaching, could for a moment hesitate
to accept it as right. These people could not help seeing the effect of
this law on some of the most familiar practices of the denominations to
which most of them belonged.


                      THE DECLARATION AND ADDRESS

This discourse to which reference has been made, closed with: “Where the
Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are
silent,” and produced a profound impression on the audience. The
majority of the audience were ready, unhesitatingly, to give a hearty
assent to this great declaration. But the troublesome question arose,
“Where will it lead us?”

When Mr. Campbell had concluded, opportunity was given for free
expression of views, whereupon Andrew Munro, a shrewd Scotch Seceder,
arose and said: “Mr. Campbell, if we adopt that as a basis, then there
is an end of infant baptism.” This remark and the manifest conviction
that it carried with it, produced a great sensation, for the whole
audience was composed of pedobaptists who cherish infant baptism as one
of their cardinal doctrines. “Of course,” said Mr. Campbell, in reply,
“if infant baptism is not found in Scripture we can have nothing to do
with it.” This bold declaration came like a new revelation to the
audience. Thomas Acheson, one of Mr. Campbell’s closest friends, in a
very excited manner arose and said: “I hope I may never see the day when
my heart will renounce that blessed saying of the Scripture, ‘Suffer the
little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the
kingdom of heaven!’” Upon saying this he burst into tears, and was about
to retire to the adjoining room when James Foster, well informed in the
Scriptures, called out, “Mr. Acheson, I would remark that in the portion
of Scripture you have quoted there is no reference to infant baptism.”
Without offering a reply Mr. Acheson passed into the adjoining room to
weep alone.

This new turn of things, so unexpected to them, did not lessen their
confidence in the position they had taken, or in the man who was leading
them onward. At the end of the conference the great principle was
adopted without any real opposition. It would have been difficult for
them to object to a profession so manifestly loyal to God and so
impregnably founded in the Holy Scriptures. The principle, so universal
in its application, and its controlling authority in all things that
concern the faith and practice of the followers of the Lord Jesus
Christ, became henceforth the watchword and directive law of action of
those endeavoring to restore apostolic Christianity. Some of those who
started out in this great movement, when they saw more clearly the
inevitable, logical result of the great principle now adopted, one after
another broke off all connection with this work.

They now began to feel that in order to carry out with successful effect
this noble purpose they must organize themselves into a well-ordered,
permanent association. At a meeting held August 17, 1809, it was decided
that they would formally unite themselves into a regular body, under the
name of “The Christian Association of Washington.” They then appointed
twenty-one of their number to meet and confer together, and, with the
assistance of Thomas Campbell, to determine upon the proper means to
carry into effect their purposes. As it was found to be very
inconvenient to hold meetings in private houses, it was deemed advisable
to provide some regular place of meeting. The neighbors, as was
customary in those days, all moved by good will for the excellent man
and his purposes, assembled and erected a log building three miles from
Mount Pleasant, Washington County, Pa. This building was designed, also,
for the purpose of a common school, which was much needed in that
neighborhood. No ecclesiastical aspirations, no sectarian ambition, no
party purpose or name, entered into the erection of this humble
building. The name and cause of Christ alone prompted and sanctified the
act of these honest souls.

Near by, in the house of Mr. Welch, a worthy farmer who was friendly to
the association, Mr. Campbell had a home. A little chamber upstairs was
assigned to him as his apartment. Here he spent his leisure time in
quiet study, for he felt that he needed these days of undisturbed
retirement to prepare himself to meet, in wisdom and the fear of God,
the crisis through which he and those united with him were passing. The
writing with which he was at this time engaged was designed to set forth
to the public at large, in a clear and definite manner, the character
and purposes of the association. In the “prophet’s chamber” Thomas
Campbell wrote the “Declaration and Address” which became so famous in
the early history of the effort to restore apostolic Christianity. When
it was finished he called a special meeting of the chief members and
read it to them for their approval and adoption. This meeting
unanimously approved it and ordered its publication September 7, 1809.

This production is, in its substance and spirit, as well as in its
vigorous and scholarly style, the most notable historical production of
the initiatory period of the effort to restore the apostolic church in
its doctrine and practice, and is worthy of diligent and thoughtful
study at the present day. It is proper, therefore, that I should note
the essential principles therein set forth. The admirable introduction
setting forth and deploring the divided state among the professed
followers of the Savior concluded as follows:

  Our desire, therefore, for ourselves and our brethren would be that,
  rejecting human opinions and the inventions of men as of any
  authority, or as having any place in the Church of God, we might
  forever cease from further contentions about such things, returning to
  and holding fast by the original standard, taking the divine Word
  alone for our rule, the Holy Spirit for our teacher and guide to lead
  us into all truth, and Christ alone as exhibited in the Word for our
  salvation; and that by so doing we may be at peace among ourselves,
  follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see
  the Lord.

Then follows a statement of the purpose and program of the association:
To form a religious association for promoting simple and evangelical
Christianity, under the name of the “Christian Association of
Washington”; to contribute a certain sum to support a pure Gospel
ministry and supply the poor with the Scriptures; to encourage the
formation of similar associations; to consider itself not a church, but
as a church reformation society; to countenance only such ministers as
adhere closely to the example and precept of Scripture in conduct and
teaching; to entrust the management of the association to a standing
committee of twenty-one; to hold two meetings a year; to open each
meeting with a sermon; and to look to the friends of genuine
Christianity for the support of their work.

This is followed by the address, with the following dedicatory heading:
“To all that love our Lord Jesus Christ, in sincerity, throughout all
the churches, the following address is most respectfully submitted.”
After an arraignment of the evils of divisions and an indictment of
sectarianism, he pleads with his “dearly beloved brethren” of “all the
churches” “to unite in the bonds of an entire Christian unity—Christ
alone being the head, the center, his word the rule; and explicit belief
of and manifest conformity to it in all things—the terms.” Thus to “come
firmly and fairly to original ground, and take up things just as the
apostles left them.” In this way they could become “disentangled from
the accruing embarrassments of intervening ages,” and stand “upon the
same ground on which the church stood at the beginning.” “Here, indeed,
was the startling proposition to begin anew—to begin at the beginning;
to ascend at once to the pure fountain of truth, and to neglect and
disregard, as though they had never been, the decrees of popes,
cardinals, synods and assemblies, and all the traditions and corruptions
of an apostate church. Here was an effort not so much for the
reformation of the church as was that of Luther and of Calvin and of
Haldanes, but for its complete restoration at once to its pristine
purity and perfection. By coming at once to the primitive model and
rejecting all human imaginations; by submitting implicitly to the divine
authority as plainly expressed in the Scriptures, and by disregarding
all the assumptions and dictations of fallible men, it was proposed to
form a union upon a basis to which no valid objection could possibly be
offered. By this summary method the church was to be at once released
from the controversies of eighteen centuries, and from conflicting
claims of all pretenders to apostolic thrones, and the primitive Gospel
of salvation was to be disentangled and disembarrassed from all those
corruptions and perversions which had heretofore delayed or arrested its
progress.”

There were certain “fundamental truths” of the nature of “first
principles,” “truths demonstrably evident in the light of Scripture and
right reason,” which _underly_ the proposal for a union of the professed
followers of Christ. These are so interesting and important that I deem
it wise to give them, for they need to be diligently and profoundly
studied by the present generation. They are summed up in the following
propositions:

  1. That the Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally
  and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that
  profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things
  according to the Scriptures, and that manifest the same by their
  tempers and conduct, and of none else; as none else can be truly and
  properly called Christians.

  2. That although the Church of Christ upon earth must necessarily
  exist in particular and distinct societies, locally separate one from
  another, yet there ought to be no schisms, no uncharitable divisions
  among them. They ought to receive each other as Christ Jesus hath also
  received them, to the glory of God. And for this purpose they ought
  all to walk by the same rule, to mind and speak the same thing, and to
  be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
  judgment.

  3. That in order to this nothing ought to be inculcated upon
  Christians as articles of faith, nor required of them as terms of
  communion, but what is expressly taught and enjoined upon them in the
  Word of God. Nor ought anything to be admitted as of divine
  obligation, in their church constitution and management, but what is
  expressly enjoined by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and his
  apostles upon the New Testament Church, either in express terms or by
  approved precedent.

  4. That although the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are
  inseparably connected, making together but one perfect and entire
  revelation of the divine will, for the edification and salvation of
  the Church, and therefore in that respect can not be separated, yet as
  to what directly and properly belongs to their immediate object, the
  New Testament is as perfect a constitution for the worship, discipline
  and government of the New Testament Church, and as perfect a rule for
  the particular duties of its members, as the Old Testament was for the
  worship, discipline and government of the Old Testament Church, and
  the particular duties of its members.

  5. That with respect to the commands and ordinances of our Lord Jesus
  Christ, where the Scriptures are silent as to the express time or
  manner of performance, if any such there be, no human authority has
  power to interfere, in order to supply deficiency by making laws for
  the Church; nor can anything more be required of Christians in such
  cases, but only that they so observe these commands and ordinances as
  will evidently answer the declared and obvious end of their
  institution. Much less have any human authority power to impose new
  commands or ordinances upon the Church, which our Lord Jesus Christ
  has not enjoined. Nothing ought to be received into the faith or
  worship of the Church, or be made a term of communion among
  Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.

  6. That although inferences and deductions from Scripture premises,
  when fairly inferred, may be truly called the doctrine of God’s holy
  Word, yet are they not formally binding upon the consciences of
  Christians farther than they perceive the connection, and evidently
  see that they are so; for their faith must not stand in the wisdom of
  men, but in the power and veracity of God. Therefore no such
  deductions can be made the terms of communion, but do properly belong
  to the after and progressive edification of the Church. Hence, it is
  evident that no such deductions or inferential truth ought to have any
  place in the Church’s confession.

  7. That although doctrinal exhibitions of the great system of divine
  truths and defensive testimonies in opposition to prevailing errors be
  highly expedient, and the more full and explicit they be for those
  purposes the better; yet, as these must be in a great measure the
  effect of human reasoning, and of course must contain many inferential
  truths, they ought not to be made terms of Christian communion, unless
  we suppose, what is contrary to fact, that none have a right to the
  communion of the Church, but such as possess a very clear and decisive
  judgment, or are come to a very high degree of doctrinal information;
  whereas the Church from the beginning did, and ever will, consist of
  little children and young men, as well as fathers.

  8. That as it is not necessary that persons should have a particular
  knowledge or distinct apprehension of all divinely-revealed truths in
  order to entitle them to a place in the Church, neither should they,
  for this purpose, be required to make a profession more extensive than
  their knowledge; but that, on the contrary, their having a due measure
  of scriptural self-knowledge respecting their lost and perishing
  condition by nature and practice, and of the way of salvation through
  Jesus Christ, accompanied with a profession of their faith in the
  obedience to him, in all things, according to his Word, is all that is
  absolutely necessary to qualify them for admission into his Church.

  9. That all who are able through grace to make such a profession, and
  to manifest the reality of it in their tempers and conduct, should
  consider each other as the precious saints of God, should love each
  other as brethren, children of the same family and Father, temples of
  the same Spirit, members of the same body, subjects of the same grace,
  objects of the same divine love, bought with the same price, and
  joint-heirs of the same inheritance. Whom God hath thus joined
  together no man should dare put asunder.

  10. That divisions among the Christians is a horrid evil, fraught with
  many evils. It is anti-Christian, as it destroys the visible unity of
  the body of Christ; as if he were divided against himself, excluding
  and excommunicating a part of himself. It is anti-scriptural, as being
  strictly prohibited by his sovereign authority, a direct violation of
  his express command. It is anti-natural, as it excites Christians to
  condemn, to hate and oppose one another, where bound by the highest
  and most endearing obligation to love each other as brethren, even as
  Christ has loved them. In a word, it is productive of confusion and of
  every evil work.

  11. That (in some instances) a partial neglect of the expressly
  revealed will of God, and (in others) an assumed authority for making
  the approbation of human opinions and of human inventions a term of
  communion, by introducing them into the constitution, faith or worship
  of the Church, are, and have been, the immediate, obvious and
  universally acknowledged causes of all corruptions and divisions that
  ever have taken place in the Church of God.

  12. That all that is necessary to the highest state of perfection and
  purity of the Church upon earth is, first, that none be received as
  members, but such as, having that due measure of scriptural
  self-knowledge described above, do profess their faith in Christ and
  obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures; nor,
  secondly, that any be retained in her communion longer than they
  continue to manifest the reality of their profession by their temper
  and conduct. Thirdly, that her ministers, duly and scripturally
  qualified, inculcate none other things than those very articles of
  faith and holiness expressly revealed and enjoined in the Word of God.
  Lastly, that in all their administrations they keep close by the
  observance of all divine ordinances, after the example of the
  primitive Church, exhibited in the New Testament, without any
  additions whatever of human opinions or inventions of men.

  13. Lastly, that if any circumstantials indispensably necessary to the
  observance of divine ordinances be not found upon the pages of express
  revelation, such, and such only, as are absolutely necessary for this
  purpose should be adopted under the title of human expedients, without
  any pretense to a more sacred origin, so that any subsequent
  alteration or difference in the observance of these things might
  produce no contention nor division in the Church. (“Memoirs of Thomas
  Campbell,” pages 48-52.)


                              CHAPTER IV.
                           ALEXANDER CAMPBELL

Alexander Campbell, the son, arrived in this country September 29, 1809,
just as the proof sheets of the Declaration and Address were coming from
the press, and as a matter of the first concern with him, Thomas
Campbell gave a full detail of the events already related to his son,
and desired especially that he should read and consider the Declaration
and Address. This Alexander did, and fell in heartily with the action of
his father and the principles set forth therein. A new world of thought
and life was now opened to him. He had spent one of the two years of
separation in study at the University of Glasgow, where his father had
formerly studied, and while there came more intimately under the
influence of the new ideas and movements of the country. There he had
met Greville Ewing, the Haldanes, and other religious leaders of the
time who were pressing for larger liberty of religious service under the
rule of a stricter conformity to the Scriptures, and had in a large
measure imbibed these principles. He had not had the courage to write to
his father of his change of convictions from the old church, and now
feared that his changed course would bring him deep pain. In this
attitude of mind the meeting between father and son took place. Happy
was the surprise when each learned that the other no longer adhered to
the old religious party in which they had been reared.


                   SUBJECT AND ACT OF BAPTISM SETTLED

While reading the proof sheets of the Declaration and Address, Alexander
Campbell had a conversation on the principles set forth therein with a
Mr. Riddle, of the Presbyterian Church, whom he accidentally met. When
the proposition that “nothing should be required as a matter of faith or
duty for which a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ could not be produced either in
express terms or by approved precedent,” was introduced, Mr. Riddle very
promptly replied that the words, however plausible in appearance, were
not sound; for if that were followed it would be necessary to abandon
infant baptism. To which he replied, “Why, sir, is there in the
Scriptures no express precept nor precedent for infant baptism?” “Not
one, sir,” was the prompt reply.

This reply startled and mortified Mr. Campbell, and shortly afterward he
mentioned the suggested difficulty to his father, who replied, “We make
our appeal to the law and the testimony. Whatever is not found therein
must of course be abandoned.” Not willing to remain in uncertainty on
the subject, he procured all the books and tracts he could favorable to
the practice. On reading them he was disgusted with the assumptions and
fallacious reasonings to sustain the practice, and threw them aside with
the faint hope of finding something more convincing in the Greek New
Testament. “This, however, only made the matter worse, and upon again
entering into a conversation with his father on the subject he found him
entirely willing to admit that there were neither ‘express terms’ nor
‘precedent’ to authorize the practice. ‘But,’ said he, ‘as for those who
are already members of the church and participants of the Lord’s Supper,
I can see no propriety, even if the scriptural evidence for infant
baptism be found deficient, in their unchurching or paganizing
themselves, or in putting off Christ, merely for the sake of making a
new profession; thus going out of the church merely for the sake of
coming in again.’”

From this it seems that he was disposed only to concede that they ought
not to teach nor practice infant baptism without divine authority, and
that they should preach and practice scriptural baptism in regard to all
who were to make, for the first time, a profession of faith. In
deference to his views, the son dismissed the subject for the time,
“seemingly satisfied with the fallacious reasoning imposed by
circumstances, which prevented his father from seeing then the real
position which baptism occupied in the Christian economy, and
consequently from making, in regard to it, a practical application of
his own principles.” With this Alexander Campbell seems to have
suspended his investigation of the subject, and to have foreborne giving
to it that impartial and continued attention necessary to the discovery
of truth. In a discourse delivered June 5, 1811, on Christ’s commission
to his apostles (Mark 16:15,16), he said, in reference to baptism: “As I
am sure it is unscriptural to make this matter [baptism] a term of
communion, I let it slip. I wish to think and let think on these
matters.”

But circumstances came up later which compelled him to give it a most
painstaking examination. He was married March 12, 1811, and on March 13,
1812, his first child was born. Soon after this event a great change
took place in his views in regard to baptism. His wife, with her father
and mother, was still a member of the Presbyterian Church, and, as the
child grew, it was natural that the subject of infant baptism should
become one of immediate practical interest. As viewed from the viewpoint
of his early education, infant baptism was a rite justified,
inferentially at least, and not to be neglected; but viewed from the
principles set forth in the Declaration and Address it possessed no
divine authority, yet as an ancient and venerated practice, and for the
sake of peace, it seemed to his father and to himself expedient to allow
its continuance in the case of such members as conscientiously believed
it proper. Most of the members of the church, furthermore, supposed
themselves to have been baptized into the church in their infancy. From
the occasional discussions of the subject among the members of the Brush
Run Church, there was an increasing conviction on the part of many that
baptism was a matter of much more importance than had been generally
supposed, and now his changed relationship caused him to share in this
conviction. Admitting that infant baptism is without divine warrant
assumed a very different aspect, and was no longer, “May we safely
reject infant baptism as a mere human invention?” but, “May we omit
believers’ baptism, which all admit to be divinely commanded?” In other
words, if infant baptism is without divine warrant, it is invalid, and
they who receive it are as a matter of fact still unbaptized. “When they
come to know this in after years, will God accept the credulity of the
parent for the faith of the child?” “Men may be pleased to omit faith on
the part of the person baptized, but will God sanction the omission of
baptism on the part of the believer, on the ground that in his infancy
he had been the subject of a ceremony which had not been enjoined?” “On
the other hand, if the practice of infant baptism can be justified by
inferential reasoning on any sufficient evidence, why should it not be
adopted or continued by common consent, without further discussion?”

Such were some of the thoughts which at this time passed through the
mind of Alexander Campbell. Desiring to maintain “a conscience void of
offense toward God and men,” and sensible of the responsibilities
resting upon him in the new relationship which he sustained as a father,
he was led to think more earnestly and seriously upon the whole subject,
so that he might not come short in any duty that God had placed upon
him. At this point he parted company with all uninspired authorities and
turned to the Greek New Testament and diligently applied himself to the
meaning of the words translated into the English by the words “baptize”
and “baptism,” and soon became thoroughly satisfied that the act
indicated by them could not be performed short of a burial of the
subject in water. By further investigations he was led to the strong
conviction that believers, and believers only, were the scriptural
subjects of the ordinance. “He now fully perceived that the rite of
sprinkling to which he had been subjected in infancy was wholly
unauthorized, and that he was, consequently, in point of fact, an
unbaptized person, and hence could not consistently preach a baptism to
others of which he had never been a subject himself.” The subject was of
such serious and anxious inquiry that he frequently conversed with his
wife on the subject; she also became interested in it, and finally
reached the same conclusion.

Having now reached such a definite conclusion in regard to the matter,
he could not long refrain from putting his convictions into practice, so
he resolved to obey what he now found to be a positive, divine command.
Some time prior to this he had formed an acquaintance with Matthias
Luce, a Baptist preacher, who lived some thirty miles distant, to whom
he now decided to apply to perform the rite. On his way to see him he
called to see his father and the family. Soon after his arrival his
sister, Dorothea, took him aside and told him that she had been in great
trouble for some time in regard to the validity of her baptism, as she
could find no authority whatever in the New Testament for infant
baptism, and as she had received nothing else, could not resist the
conviction that she had never been baptized, and requested him to lay
her difficulties before her father. To this unexpected announcement he
responded that he also had reached the same conclusion and was then on
his way to arrange with Mr. Luce to immerse him, and that he would lay
the whole matter before their father. Accordingly he sought and obtained
an interview with him; discussed the subject at some length, and
concluded with these words: “I now fully and conscientiously believe
that I have never been baptized, and consequently I am, in point of
fact, an unbaptized person; and hence can not consistently preach
baptism to others, as I have never submitted to it myself.” To this his
father responded, “I have, then, nothing further to add. You must please
yourself.”

As Alexander was leaving the next morning, his father said: “When,
where, and by whom do you intend to be immersed?” To which Alexander
replied: “As to the place, I prefer to be baptized near home, among
those who are accustomed to hear my preaching; as to the time, just as
soon as I can make arrangements with a suitable Baptist preacher. I will
let you know as soon as I make the necessary arrangements.” The
interview with Mr. Luce was satisfactory and everything was
satisfactorily arranged. Mr. Richardson gives the following interesting
account of the baptism:

  Wednesday, June 12, 1812, having been selected, Elder Luce, in company
  with Elder Henry Spears, called at Thomas Campbell’s on their way to
  the place chosen for the immersion, which was the deep pool in Buffalo
  Creek, where three members of the Association had formerly been
  baptized. Next morning, as they were setting out, Thomas Campbell
  simply remarked that Mrs. Campbell had put up a change of raiment for
  herself and him, which was the first intimation that they also
  intended to be immersed. Upon arriving at the place, as the greater
  part of the Brush Run Church, with a large concourse of others,
  attracted by the novelty of the occasion, were assembled at David
  Bryant’s house, near the place, Thomas Campbell thought it proper to
  present, in full, the reasons which had determined his course. In a
  long address he reviewed the entire ground which he had occupied, and
  the struggles that he had undergone in reference to the particular
  subject of baptism, which he had earnestly desired to dispose of, in
  such a manner that it might be no hindrance in the attainment of that
  Christian unity which he had labored to establish on the Bible alone.
  In endeavoring to do this he admitted that he had been led to overlook
  its importance, and the very many plain and obvious teachings of the
  Scriptures on the subject; but having at length attained a clearer
  view of duty, he felt it incumbent upon him to submit to what he now
  saw an important Divine institution. Alexander afterwards followed
  with an extended defense of their proceedings, urging the necessity of
  submitting implicitly to all God’s commandments, and showing that the
  baptism of believers only was authorized by the Word of God.

  In his remarks, he had quoted, among other scriptures, the command of
  Peter to the believers on the day of Pentecost: “Repent and be
  baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the
  remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit;”
  and had dwelt at length upon the gracious promises of God to all who
  should obey him. When he had concluded, James Hanan, who, with his
  wife, had also concluded to be baptized, took his child from its
  mother’s arms and requested her to walk aside, asked her what she
  thought of the declaration of Peter, “You shall receive the gift of
  the Holy Spirit,” and how she understood it. Mrs. Hanan, being well
  acquainted with the Scriptures, soon gave a satisfactory reply, and
  both were accordingly baptized along with the rest, consisting of
  Alexander Campbell and his wife, his father and mother, and his
  sister—in all, seven persons. Alexander had stipulated with Elder Luce
  that the ceremony should be performed precisely according to the
  pattern given in the New Testament, and that, as there was no account
  of any of the first converts being called upon to give what is called
  “a religious experience,” this modern custom should be omitted, and
  that the candidates should be admitted on the simple confession that
  “Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” These points he had fully discussed
  with Luce during the evening spent at his house when he first went up
  to request his attendance, and they had been arranged as he desired.
  Elder Luce had, indeed, at first objected to these changes, as being
  contrary to Baptist usage, but finally consented, remarking that he
  believed they were right, and he would run the risk of censure. There
  were not, therefore, upon this occasion, any of the usual forms of
  receiving persons into the Church upon a detailed account of religious
  feelings and impressions.... All were, therefore, admitted to
  immersion upon making the simple confession of Christ required of the
  converts in the apostolic times. The meeting, it is related, continued
  seven hours. (Memoirs of A. Campbell, Vol. I, pages 396-398.)

Within a week of the immersion of the Campbells and their group,
thirteen other members of the Brush Run Church asked to be immersed, and
it was done by Thomas Campbell, upon a simple confession of their faith
in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It was not long before the entire
church of thirty or more members were immersed, for those who did not
accept immersion withdrew from the church and united with some of the
denominations in the community. Immersion became a condition of union
and communion with the Brush Run Church. Its conversion into a company
of immersed believers did not bring them any favor from the pedobaptist
churches of the community.

The Brush Run Church had come to its position under the guidance of
primitive apostolic example and its application to every item of faith
and practice which is adopted in its order. It was not seeking agreement
with any religious body, but “the old paths,” agreement with the
“original standard,” “that it might come fairly and firmly to original
ground upon clear and certain premises, and take up things just as the
apostles left them.” It was feeling its way and making sure of its
ground as it went. It knew of no religious body that stood upon original
ground; none that dared to return to the original standard. The sense of
freedom which it enjoyed in being bound only by the New Testament with
respect to all doctrines and practices, was equaled only by the sense of
certainty it enjoyed in being infallibly guided by the New Testament to
the true conditions of unity and communion.


                        THE REDSTONE ASSOCIATION

As was to be expected, the attitude of the Brush Run Church in becoming
a body of immersed believers awakened a storm of opposition from the
pedobaptist ranks, and its members became the subjects of no little
persecution. Misrepresentations of all kinds, were freely circulated
among the people. Family and friendship ties were broken, and the common
civilities of society were denied to this new order of “heretics.” It is
related that Alexander Campbell, returning after nightfall from one of
his appointments about this time, was overtaken by a violent storm.
Calling at the house of a member of the Seceder Church, he asked for
shelter from the violence of the storm. Before granting his request she
desired to know his name. On being informed she promptly refused him
admittance, giving as her reason her hostility to his religious views.
So he was forced to continue his journey through an almost trackless
forest, until he reached his home. These trials, so far from
discouraging this feeble band of earnest searchers for the truth, served
rather to strengthen their faith and zeal. Convinced of the correctness
of their course, they were drawn more closely to each other by the petty
persecutions which they were now called upon to suffer. “They often
visited each other’s houses, frequently spending the greater portion of
the night in social prayer, in searching the Scriptures, asking and
answering questions, and singing hymns of praise.” Thus was laid, in
obscurity and adversity, the foundation of the great work of returning
to the “example of the primitive Christians exhibited in the New
Testament; without any addition whatever of human opinions or inventions
of men.”

A new situation now confronted them. When the Baptists heard of the
action of the Brush Run Church in submitting to immersion and adopting
it in their practice, they were highly elated and began to urge the
church to join the Redstone Association, which embraced all the Baptist
churches of that region. Alexander Campbell had not been favorably
impressed with the Baptists, either as ministers or people, and had no
idea of uniting with them. He, however, liked the people better, and the
preachers less, the more he became acquainted with them. He did not
press himself upon their attention, but they knew his power as a
preacher and often sent for him to preach for them. He visited their
association which convened at Uniontown, Pa., in the autumn of 1812. He
went as a spectator, and returned more disgusted than when he went. He
was invited to preach, but he declined, except one evening in a private
family, “to a dozen preachers and twice as many laymen.” He returned
home not intending ever to visit another association. Later on he
learned that the Baptists themselves did not appreciate the preaching or
the preachers of that association. They regarded the speakers as worse
than usual, and their discourses as not at all edifying. Then they
pressed on Mr. Campbell from every quarter to visit their churches, and
preach for them. He often spoke to Baptist congregations for sixty miles
around.

The matter of joining the Redstone Association was laid before the Brush
Run Church in the fall of 1813. They discussed the propriety of the
measure. After much discussion and earnest desire to be directed by the
wisdom that cometh down from above, they finally concluded to make an
overture to that effect, and to write out a full view of their
sentiments, wishes and determinations on the subject. They did so,
exhibiting their remonstrance against all human creeds as bonds of
communion and union among Christians, and expressing a willingness, upon
certain conditions, to co-operate or unite with that association,
provided always that they should be allowed to teach and preach whatever
they learned from the Holy Scriptures, regardless of any creed or
formula in Christendom.

The proposition was discussed at the association, and, after much
debate, was decided by a good majority in favor of their being received.
Thus a union was formed. But the party opposed, though small, began
early to work, and continued with a perseverance worthy of a better
cause. But for three years they could do nothing. The situation in which
Mr. Campbell found himself, soon after his connection with the Redstone
Association of the Baptist churches, was not at all inviting. The
originality of his method in dealing with the Scriptures, and his utter
disregard for customs, however time-honored, which were not sanctioned
by primitive precept or example, awakened the suspicion of the more
narrow-minded of the Baptist preachers, who were not slow in manifesting
their disapproval. His popularity among the churches of the association
no doubt added to their displeasure, and at every opportunity he was
made to feel the sting of their resentment. This hostility, which at
first manifested itself in slights and little annoyances, at last led to
an open attack upon his teachings.

When the association met at Cross Creek in August, 1816, in spite of the
intrigues of his enemies he was appointed as one of the speakers, on
which occasion he preached his great “Sermon on the Law.” In that
discourse he sharply discriminated between the law of Moses and the
Gospel, showing that the former had served its purpose, and that its
authority had passed away when the kingdom of the Messiah was
established. This marked another important advance in the progress of
the efforts to return to apostolic Christianity. The distinction between
the law and the Gospel, the old covenant and the new, the letter and the
spirit, the Jewish commonwealth and the kingdom, had been greatly
obscured in popular thought. It was claimed that the law was still
alive, and that Christians come under its provisions as such, with the
exception of its strictly ceremonial parts, and that the church under
the Christian dispensation is the same that existed under the Jewish
dispensation. The sermon, though containing but plain Scripture
teaching, was such a bold assault upon the theology and style of
preaching current among the Baptists that it created a great sensation
in the association, and raised a storm of persecution. The common people
were, for the most part, pleased with his simple, natural presentation
of the truth, but this only added fuel to the flame of bitterness which
some of the preachers cherished against him. “This will never do,” they
said, “this is not our doctrine.”

In consequence of the views presented in this sermon, Mr. Campbell was
“brought up for trial and condemnation” at the next meeting of the
association in the autumn of 1817. At that time but few were ready to
accept the conclusion in the sermon, and the actual adherents of the
teaching, scattered among the Baptists of three States, did not number
more than one hundred and fifty persons; but notwithstanding this feeble
support, upon investigation he was acquitted of the charge made against
him. Opposition to him increased in the Redstone Association, and some
of the preachers determined to manufacture a sentiment that would thrust
him out when the association should meet in September, 1823. In
pursuance of this purpose certain influential men canvassed all the
churches and secured the appointment of messengers who were in sympathy
with themselves in opposition to Mr. Campbell; and when the association
met all things were in readiness to exclude the author of the “Sermon on
the Law” from the fellowship of the association. But to the astonishment
and chagrin of the plotters, when the letter from the Brush Run Church
was read, Mr. Campbell, though present, was not mentioned as a
messenger. This cooled the ardor of his enemies who had hoped to close
Baptist ears against him by a decree of excommunication, and crush his
influence generally by putting him in the discreditable position of one
expelled from the association. A motion being made to invite him to a
seat in the body, his enemies opposed it, and demanded to know why he
had not been sent as a messenger. After much discussion Mr. Campbell
relieved the situation by stating that the church of which he was then a
member did not belong to the Redstone Association. In describing the
chagrin of his enemies when this announcement was made, Mr. Campbell
says:

  Never did hunters, on seeing the game unexpectedly escape from their
  toils at the moment when its capture was sure, glare upon each other a
  more mortifying disappointment than that indicated by my pursuers at
  that instant, on hearing that I was out of their bailiwick, and
  consequently out of their jurisdiction. A solemn stillness ensued, and
  for a time all parties seemed to have nothing to do.

Foreseeing the storm that was gathering, and learning, just a few weeks
before the time for the association to convene, the plans that were
being so industriously laid to exclude him from the association, he
determined to defeat the project in a way which his enemies little
expected, but which was in strict accordance with Baptist usage. As he
had been frequently solicited by Adomson Bently to leave the Redstone
Association and unite with the Mahoning, and as a number of the members
of the Brush Run Church lived in Wellsburg and vicinity, he decided this
was an opportune time to form a separate congregation in which he would
have his membership, and which might afterward unite with the Mahoning
Association. He announced, therefore, to the church at Brush Run that he
desired from them letters of dismission for himself and some thirty
other members in order to constitute a church at Wellsburg. This request
was granted and a congregation was at once formed in the town of
Wellsburg, and continued to assemble regularly ever afterward in the
house which had been previously erected for that purpose. Thus were the
unrighteous attempts of wicked men defeated.


                             A WIDER FIELD

Shortly before the events already mentioned, Mr. Campbell was very
unexpectedly drawn into a discussion with John Walker, a minister of the
Seceder Presbyterian Church. It came about in this way: The jealousy of
rival religious parties at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, led to a controversy
between Mr. Walker and Mr. Birch, a Baptist preacher, which ended in a
challenge by Mr. Walker to meet any Baptist preacher of good standing in
the public discussion of the question of baptism. The high opinion
entertained throughout that region for Mr. Campbell’s ability led to his
selection as the most suitable champion of the Baptist cause. Owing to
the circumstances under which he was placed, he did not give an
immediate answer. In the meantime Mr. Birch renewed the appeal, and
finally made it more urgent by stating that it was the unanimous wish of
all the Baptist churches throughout that region that he should be their
representative in the discussion. Being thus called upon by the church,
and urged by personal friends, he could no longer refuse to yield to his
own convictions of public duty.

His hesitancy was not due to his own disinclination, but in deference to
his father, who did not regard “public debates the proper method of
proceeding in contending for the faith once delivered to the saints.”
He, however, finally succeeded in convincing his father that, however
much the usual unprofitable debates upon human theories were to be
deplored and avoided, no objection could lie against a public defense of
revealed truth, for which the Scriptures afforded abundant precedent.
Having gained this point with his father, he finally informed Mr. Birch
of his willingness to enter the discussion.

All preliminaries having been arranged, the discussion began on Monday
morning, June 19, 1820, at Mount Pleasant, Ohio. It was attended by a
large concourse of people and created great interest. Mr. Walker’s first
speech was very brief, and as it gives the gist of his whole contention
throughout the debate, I will give it in full:

  My friends, I do not intend to speak long at one time, perhaps not
  more than five or ten minutes, and will, therefore, come to the point
  at once: I maintain that baptism came into the room of circumcision;
  that the covenant on which the Jewish Church was built, and to which
  circumcision is the seal, is the same with the covenant on which the
  Christian Church is built, and to which baptism is the seal; that the
  Jews and the Christians are the same body politic under the same
  lawgiver and husband; hence the Jews were called the congregation of
  the Lord; and the bridegroom of the church says, “My love, my
  undefiled is one”—consequently the infants of believers have a right
  to baptism.

In response to this speech Mr. Campbell said that the pedobaptists acted
as if they did not themselves believe infant baptism to be true, since,
in point of fact, they did not put baptism in the room of circumcision,
as they did not confine it to males only and extend it to servants as
well as to children, perform it on the eighth day, etc.; and then
proceeded to point out various differences between the two institutions
which rendered the supposed substitution of the one for the other
impossible. Among these he particularizes the fact that circumcision
required only carnal descent from Abraham, but that baptism demanded
faith in Christ as its indispensable prerequisite; and that baptism
differed from circumcision in the nature of the blessings it conveyed,
which were spiritual and not temporal: “Baptism is connected with the
promise of the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This
utterance is his first public recognition of the importance of baptism.
While he then distinctly perceived and asserted a scriptural connection
between baptism and remission of sins, he seems at this time to have
viewed it only in the light of an argument and to have but a faint
conception of its great practical importance in the economy of grace.

As the discussion proceeded, all recognized that he was an invincible
defender of what he believed the Scriptures taught. His whole training
had fitted him for such an arena. His liberal education, his extensive
reading, his wonderful memory, his faultless diction, his remarkable
self-control, sustained as they were by deep earnestness of purpose,
gave him at once a vantage ground which he never relinquished. But such
was the originality of his method in handling the truth and his freedom
from the accepted terms of the theological schools that even the
victory, which was universally admitted to be with him, was not accepted
by many of the Baptists as an unmixed blessing. The opportunities and
issues of the debate were such as to convince Mr. Campbell of its
practical utility in disseminating the truth and he gave the following
challenge in his concluding speech.

  I this day publish to all present that I feel disposed to meet any
  pedobaptist minister of any denomination, of good standing in his
  party, and I engage to prove in a debate with him, either orally or
  with the pen, that infant sprinkling is a human tradition and
  injurious to the well-being of society, religious and political.

Such a challenge was well calculated to make a deep impression on all
who heard it, and this was what he designed it to do. In the frankness
of his independent spirit he, from that time forward, held himself in
readiness to meet in public discussion any worthy champion who might
rise in opposition to the truths he taught, or in defense of popular
religious error.

The effect of this discussion, however, was to aid Mr. Campbell’s
growing reputation. His fame was widely extended by the publication of
the debate, which was read by thousands, and began soon to produce
results far beyond his fondest hopes. The printed debate circulated very
widely among the Baptists, who felt that they had the best of the
argument. While some Baptists “remained extremely dubious in regard to
the orthodoxy of their champion,” others took grateful pride in him, and
felt, as one Baptist declared, that “he had done more for the Baptists
in the West than any other man.”

The printing and circulation of the debate opened the eyes of Mr.
Campbell to the power and usefulness of the press. From that time
forward he cherished the hope that he might do something upon a more
extended scale to rouse the people from their spiritual lethargy. Step
by step he had been brought to an eminence from which he could survey
the wide field in which he was destined to labor, and he now nerved
himself for the undertaking. After maturing his plans, he conferred with
his father and others concerning the advisability of issuing a monthly
publication in the interest of religious truth. They heartily approved
his plan, and he issued in the spring of 1823 a prospectus for the work
which he proposed to call “The Christian Baptist.” In this prospectus
the nature and objects of the publication were candidly and clearly
stated, as follows:

  The “Christian Baptist” shall espouse the cause of no religious sect,
  excepting that ancient sect “called Christians first at Antioch.” Its
  sole object shall be the eviction of the truth and the exposing of
  error in doctrine and practice. The editor, acknowledging no standard
  of religious faith or works other than the Old and New Testament, and
  the latter as the only standard of the religion of Jesus Christ, will,
  intentionally at least, oppose nothing which it contains, and
  recommend nothing which it does not enjoin. Having no worldly interest
  at stake from the adoption or reprobation of any articles of faith or
  religious practice, having no gift nor religious emolument to blind
  his eyes or to pervert his judgment, he hopes to manifest that he is
  an impartial advocate of truth.

He dedicated the work “to all those, without distinction, who
acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be a true
revelation from God, and the New Testament as containing the religion of
Jesus Christ; who, willing to have all religious tenets and practices
tried by the divine Word, and who, feeling themselves in duty bound to
search the Scripture for themselves in all matters of religion, are
disposed to reject all doctrine and commandments of men, and to obey the
truth, holding fast the faith once delivered to the saints.”


                    The Campbell-McCalla Discussion

While making preparations to issue The Christian Baptist, he received a
letter from Mr. McCalla, a Presbyterian preacher of Augusta, Ky.,
accepting his challenge given at the conclusion of the Walker debate.
Mr. McCalla had been a lawyer and had gained a high reputation among the
Presbyterians for his polemical powers. It was therefore greatly desired
by his friends and the pedobaptists of the community that he should have
an opportunity to retrieve, if possible, the injury which had been done
to their cause by the generally-admitted failure of Mr. Walker. After
having ascertained his standing, Mr. Campbell agreed to meet him, and
arrangements were made for the discussion to take place at Washington,
Ky., beginning October 15, 1823. As the Ohio River was too low for
navigation at the time, Mr. Campbell made the entire distance of about
three hundred miles on horseback.

Here, as in his former discussion, the entire bearing of the baptismal
question was carefully canvassed. Each controverted point was hotly
contested in the presence of a vast assemblage, which had been drawn
together by Mr. Campbell’s reputation and their own interest in the
question at issue. During this discussion, which continued seven days,
in addition to his defense of the scriptural act and subject of baptism,
the design and importance were set forth and examined in a systematic
form, and with such critical ability as to astonish his hearers. In the
discussion with Walker he barely touched the design of baptism, but
either during that debate or while transcribing it for publication, an
impression was made on his mind that it had a very important meaning and
that it was in some way connected with remission of sins, but he was so
engaged in other matters that it passed out of his mind till he received
the challenge to meet McCalla in debate, when he resolved to settle its
true import before he ever debated the subject again. In the
investigation, he examined the New Testament with great care and
discussed the subject with his father for several months, and formed his
conclusion after thorough examination and reflection, and after he saw
that it was the way marked out by the Holy Spirit he had no hesitancy,
on the second day of the debate with McCalla, in saying:

  Our third argument is deduced from the design or import of baptism. On
  this topic of argument we shall be as full as possible, because of its
  great importance, and because perhaps neither Baptists nor
  Pedobaptists sufficiently appreciate it. I will first merely refer to
  the oracles of God, which show that baptism is an ordinance of the
  greatest importance and of momentous significance. Never was there an
  ordinance of so great import or design. It is to be but once
  administered. We are to pray often, praise often, show forth the
  Lord’s death often, commemorate his resurrection every week, but we
  are to be baptized but once. Its great significance can be seen from
  the following testimonies: The Lord saith, “He that believeth and is
  baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). He does not say, “He that
  believeth and keeps my commandments shall be saved,” but he saith, “He
  that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” He placeth baptism on
  the right hand of faith. Again, he tells Nicodemus that “unless a man
  be born of water and of the Spirit he can not enter into the kingdom
  of God.” Peter, on the day of Pentecost, places baptism in the same
  exalted place. “Repent,” says he, “and be baptized, every one of you,
  for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Ananias saith to Paul, “Arise
  and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the
  Lord” (Acts 22:16). Paul saith to the Corinthians, “Ye were once
  fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, thieves, covetous,
  drunkards, rioters, extortioners, but ye are washed in the name of the
  Lord Jesus,” doubtless referring to their baptism. He tells Titus,
  “God our Father saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing
  of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). See again its dignified importance.
  Peter finishes the grand climax in praise of baptism: “Baptism doth
  now also save us ... by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
  dead” (I Peter 3:21).

  It was this view of baptism misapplied that originated infant baptism.
  The first errorists on this subject argued that if baptism was so
  necessary for the remission of sins, it should be administered to
  infants, whom they represented as in great need of it on account of
  their “original sin.” Affectionate parents, believing their children
  to be guilty of “original sin,” were easily persuaded to have them
  baptized for the remission of “original sin,” not for washing away
  sins actually committed. Faith in Christ is necessary to forgiveness
  of sins, therefore baptism without faith is an unmeaning ceremony.

  Our argument from this topic is, that baptism being ordained to be to
  a believer a formal and personal remission of all his sins, can not be
  administered unto an infant without the gravest perversion and abuse
  of the nature and import of this ordinance. Indeed, why should an
  infant that never sinned—that, as Calvinists say, is guilty only of
  “original sin,” which is a unit—be baptized for the remission of sins?
  (“Campbell-McCalla Debate,” pages 116, 117, 136.)

For a number of years prior to the debate Mr. McCalla had taken great
delight in assailing the distinctive tenets of the Baptists, and gave
them no little annoyance. As the debate progressed his defeat became
more and more manifest and raised Mr. Campbell to great popularity among
them; but as it was not his intention to seek popularity among them by
catering to their admiration, by fostering their favorite but defective
views of the Gospel and its institutions, he deemed it wise on the
evening of the fifth day of the debate to candidly inform the principal
Baptist preachers present of the exact position which he occupied. Being
assembled in a room where he had called them together, he introduced
himself fully to their acquaintance in the following manner, as related
by himself:

  “Brethren, I fear that if you knew me better you would esteem and love
  me less. For let me tell you that I have almost as much against you
  Baptists as I have against the Presbyterians. They err in one thing
  and you in another; and you are each nearly equidistant from original
  apostolic Christianity.” I paused; and such a silence as ensued,
  accompanied by a piercing look from all sides of the room, I seldom
  before witnessed. Elder Vardeman at length broke the silence by
  saying: “Well, sir, we want to know our errors or your heterodoxy. Do
  let us hear it. Keep nothing back.” I replied: “I know not where to
  begin; nor am I in health and vigor after the toils of the day to
  undertake so heavy a task; but I am commencing a publication called
  The Christian Baptist, to be devoted to all such matters, a few copies
  of which are in my portmanteau, and, with your permission, I will read
  you a few specimens of my heterodoxy.” They all said: “Let us hear—let
  us hear the worst error you have against us.” I went upstairs and
  unwrapped the first three numbers of the Christian Baptist that ever
  saw the light in Kentucky. I had just ten copies of the first three
  numbers. I carried them into the parlor and read a sample, the first
  essay on the clergy—so much of it as respected the “call to the
  ministry” as then taught in the “kingdom of the clergy,” and
  especially among the Baptists. This was the first essay ever read from
  it in Kentucky. After a sigh and a long silence, Elder Vardeman said:
  “Is that your worst error, your chief heterodoxy? I do not care so
  much about that, as you admit that we have a providential call,
  without a voice from heaven or a special visit from some angel or
  spirit. If you have anything worse, for my part I wish to hear it.”
  The cry was, “Let us hear something more.” On turning to and fro, I
  read an article on “Modern Missionaries.” This, with the “Capital
  Mistake of Modern Missionaries,” finished my reading for the evening.
  On closing this essay, Elder Vardeman said: I am not so great a
  missionary man as to fall out with you on that subject. I must hear
  more before I condemn or approve.” I then distributed my ten copies
  among the ten most distinguished and advanced elders in the room,
  requesting them to read these numbers during the recess of the debate,
  and to communicate freely to me their objections. We separated. So the
  matter ended at that time. (“Memoirs of A. Campbell,” Vol. II, page
  88.)

At the close of the debate the Baptist preachers were so much pleased
with the results, and so tolerant of what they found in the “Christian
Baptist,” that they requested Mr. Campbell to furnish them with the
printed proposals for its publication, in order to extend its
circulation, and urged him to make an immediate tour through the State.

Previous engagements prevented, and he could only comply with their
wishes so far as to visit Bryan’s Station, Mayslick, and Lexington;
promising, if possible, to make a more extended tour through the State
the following year.

As Mr. McCalla’s character for ability was well established and equally
well sustained by his Presbyterian brethren, the results of the
discussion were less damaging to his reputation than to the cause which
he advocated, which to this day has never recovered from the withering
defeat which it then suffered. But Mr. McCalla labored for some time
after the debate to change public sentiment by preaching on the subjects
discussed in various parts of Kentucky, endeavoring at the same time to
prejudice the minds of the people in advance against the report of the
debate which Mr. Campbell was soon to publish.

Mr. Campbell was fully satisfied with his part in the discussion, and
was now thoroughly satisfied that debates were a great means of reaching
the people with the truth, for he wrote:

  Public discussion, is, we are convinced, one of the best means of
  propagating the truth and of exposing error in doctrine or practice.
  We now reap the benefits of public debates of former times, and we
  have witnessed the beneficial results of those in our own time. And we
  are fully persuaded that a week’s debating is worth a year’s
  preaching, such as we generally have, for the purpose of disseminating
  truth and putting error out of countenance. There is nothing like
  meeting face to face in the presence of many witnesses and “talking
  the matter over”; and the man that can not govern his spirit in the
  midst of opposition and contradiction is a poor Christian indeed.
  (Christian Baptist, Vol. 1, page 189.)


                      VISITS THE KENTUCKY BAPTISTS

The debate was attended by great crowds of people from far and near. Mr.
Campbell’s reputation as one of the first pulpit orators of the day was
fully established; and wherever he could be induced to speak he was met
by throngs of hearers. His most important reception on this trip was at
Lexington, where he spoke in the Baptist meetinghouse, of which Dr.
Fishback was minister. At the hour for the meeting the house was crowded
to its utmost capacity. When Mr. Campbell rose he was not able to stand
erect during the delivery of his discourse. “This was based on the first
chapter of Hebrews, and led him to dwell upon the divine glory of the
Son of God—a theme on which he was almost surpassingly eloquent. It
lasted two hours, during which the audience sat in rapt attention.” He
made a very profound impression on the entire audience. They recognized
in him the mightiest intellect that had ever visited their city. The
freshness of his thoughts, the extent and accuracy of his Biblical
knowledge and his grand generalizations of the wonderful fact of
redemption opened up trains of reflection wholly new, and presented the
subject of Christianity in a form so simple and yet so comprehensive as
to fill every one with admiration; so that from this time forward Mr.
Campbell was esteemed by the people of Kentucky as great among the
greatest of her public men, and without a rival in the department to
which he had devoted his powers.

Immediately after the close of the debate with Mr. McCalla, Mr. Campbell
made preparations for its publication. This was done from his own notes
and those taken by Sydney Rigdon during the debate, and notwithstanding
Mr. McCalla’s effort to discredit it before its appearance, its general
accuracy was attested by those who heard the discussion. Its publication
and circulation proved the severest blow that pedobaptism ever received.

In the fall of 1824 Mr. Campbell made his promised visit to Kentucky,
visiting a large portion of the State, addressing everywhere large
audiences, and extending his acquaintance and influence with the
Baptists. This more intimate acquaintance led him to esteem them very
highly, and to regard them as much nearer the apostolic model than any
other of the denominations with which he had formed acquaintance, and he
felt that it would not be difficult to eliminate from the Baptist
churches such erroneous theories and usages as had gained currency among
them. With these convictions in mind, he now visited the Baptists in
Kentucky, to impart to them, as well as to the community at large, those
clearer views of the Gospel to which he had been led by diligent and
prayerful study of the Bible. These he had, to some extent, already
presented through the pages of The Christian Baptist, which, since the
debate, had been read throughout Kentucky with interest and had produced
intense excitement among the churches. “Some individuals were favorably
impressed with the plea for reform; others remained in perplexity and
doubt, while not a few were disposed to cling tenaciously to their
cherished opinions.”


                              CHAPTER VII.
                               JOHN SMITH

Among the Baptist preachers whom Mr. Campbell met on this visit was John
Smith, who, on account of the prominent part he afterwards had in
presenting apostolic Christianity to the people, deserves more than a
passing notice. He was born October 15, 1784, in a log cabin in East
Tennessee, whither his parents had moved a short time before his birth
on account of religious persecution. His father and mother had espoused
the Baptist faith. But as Virginia, at that time, had an established
form of religion, the Episcopal, Baptists were a despised, hunted,
persecuted people. They were described by their persecutors as
“schismatical persons, so averse to the established religion, and so
filled with new-fangled conceits of their heretical inventions, as to
refuse to have their children baptized.” To escape from this galling
oppression and to secure religious privileges which were so dear to him,
George Smith took his little flock into the wilderness, seeking mercy at
the hands of the savage tribes of the forest, which was not accorded him
by the savage spirit of religious intolerance. In his new home he was at
least free to work out the great problem of his own destiny in harmony
with “the dictates of conscience” and the leadings of Providence. He was
humble-minded and earnestly pious. He held firmly every dogma of the
Philadelphia Confession of Faith as it was expounded in his day. “He
conscientiously sought, too, to impress his own severe faith on the
minds of his children. To labor for their daily bread and to wait, with
humbleness of heart, for the Holy Ghost, were the two great commandments
on which hung all his precepts and admonitions. He exhorted them to seek
after God, if, haply, they might find him; yet to esteem themselves dead
and to abide the good time when, unless predestinated to eternal wrath,
the mysterious Spirit would give them life and open their eyes to the
beauties of the Saviour.”

When John was in his twelfth year the migratory spirit again seized
George Smith, who determined to plunge into the wilderness once more,
with a view of securing cheap lands and providing for the future of his
growing family. Having sold his Tennessee farm, he set out, in the
autumn of 1795, accompanied by John and an older brother, on the trail
that led across the Cumberland Mountains in the unsettled territory of
Kentucky, in search of a “goodly spot where he might build a cabin,
plant a patch of corn, and prepare as well as he could for the family”
that was to join him in the coming summer.

In the new home the life of the boy continued its developments along
such lines as its rude surroundings stimulated. Of work there was
plenty, and from his daily tasks he never shrank. Of opportunity for
intellectual development there was none, and the thirst of the ambitious
youth was unquenched. At this period John Smith’s spiritual nature gave
promise of being as untamed as the forest that surrounded his home.
Unhallowed sports crept into the backwoods. Sunday horse races and
card-playing became the pastime of the young men. For the latter John
had a fondness, and would creep away on Sundays to spend the day with
idle companions in his favorite game; but the grief and patience of the
father at last touched his heart, and he threw away his cards, saying,
“It is wrong to distress so good a father as ours; it is a sin and a
shame!”


                             SOUL STRUGGLES

This proved to be the turning point in the young man’s career, and with
it came the question of religion demanding his consideration. Indeed the
subject had been kept before him in some form from his earliest
recollection. But the doctrine taught at that time was not very
attractive to young hearts. Calvinism in its severest type was
prevalent. It taught a “hell of the most appalling type, into which even
little children might be cast; an unalterable destiny for every one,
regardless of his conduct or his creed, as God might have chosen him for
heaven or doomed him to hell before he was born; a dread uncertainty
that rested on his fate; his utter inability to understand the
Scriptures, to believe or repent, to love God or to obey him, until
endued with power from on high; the necessity of some supernatural sign
or sensation, some miraculous voice or vision, as an evidence of pardon
and acceptance with God.”

It was natural that John should imbibe the spirit of his father’s creed
and for him to expect, should he be among the elect, that some visible
or audible manifestation of divine approval should be given him. The
great revival which swept the country in the beginning years of the
nineteenth century was at its height as he began seriously to think upon
the subject of religion. It was the theme he heard discussed on every
hand, and he determined to investigate it as far as his limited
resources would permit. Failing to find the way to assured salvation, he
at last appealed to a Baptist preacher, Isaac Denton, a friend of the
family, for light upon the subject which was beginning to agitate his
mind. According to the prevailing notion, conversion was a change of a
mysterious nature wrought out in the soul by supernatural agency. This
change young Smith now most sincerely desired to experience. With this
in mind the following conversation took place:

  Smith—What must I do in order to have this change of which you speak?

  Denton—Nothing, John; God’s grace is sovereign and unconditional. If
  you are his sheep you will be called, and you will hear his voice and
  follow him.

  Smith—But when, Mr. Denton, will the Lord call?

  Denton—In his own good time, John. He has worked out your whole life,
  and determined your destiny according to his own wise, but hidden and
  eternal, purpose.

  Smith—How then may I know whether I am one of his sheep or not?

  Benton—You will know it by your change when it comes; till then you
  can only wait on the Lord and hope.

  Smith—If I am left to perish I know it will be on account of my sins;
  but if I should be saved, will it not be on account of my goodness?

  Denton—The Lord sees no goodness in you, John. If you are ever brought
  to life, it will be solely because it was his good pleasure to choose
  you before the foundation of the world, and that, too, without any
  reference to your character or works foreseen by him. True, if you
  should be lost, if you perish, it will be on account of your sins, and
  to the praise of his glorious justice.

  Smith—My destiny, you say, is fixed and I can not change it. I need
  not, then, give myself any concern; I have nothing to do.

  Denton—Ah, great is the mystery of godliness. There is something for
  you to do.

  Smith—What is it, Mr. Denton?

  Denton—You must pray, pray, pray in the dust and ashes to the Lord.

  Smith—Pray for what, sir?

  Denton—That the blinding scales may fall from your eyes, and that you
  may see and feel what you really are in the sight of God; for you are
  yet in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity.

It is not strange that a young man with keen intellect of John Smith
should have turned from such instruction, saying, “Since my destiny is
fixed and I can not change it, I need not, then, give myself any
concern. I have nothing to do.”

But his heart was not to be stifled by the forbidding theology. While
stoutly for a season he maintained his unbelief, his position was not
satisfactory to himself, and he resolved at last to examine the subject
in the light of the Scriptures. Though failing to find proof of the
doctrines taught, he became convinced of his duty to be a Christian,
and, knowing no way to approach to Christ, he began earnestly and
persistently to seek religion after the manner of the times. The illness
and death of his venerable father in the spring of 1804, deepened his
interest in personal salvation, and from that time through many weary
months he sought for assurance of saving grace. In his fruitless search
his agony was indescribable.

He had been taught that an indispensable step to salvation was to feel
himself the greatest of sinners. This he desired to do, and then
despaired of salvation, simply because he could not feel that he was
“too wicked to be saved.” A gloomy cloud overshadowed his sunny temper.
His nights were sleepless and his days filled with torment. In vain he
prostrated himself alone in the forest and prayed for the blessed
assurance of his pardon. Finally, after a night spent in agonizing
prayer, his heart seemed to throw off its burden, and he was happy.
Returning home and relating his experience to his brother William, the
latter replied with joy, “You are converted, John, at last.” He went to
a meeting, expecting to offer himself for membership, but the weird
experience of others sent him away in sorrow and disgust. His mind was
again beclouded by doubts and despair, and he prayed the Lord to keep
his poor heart from error and to lead him by the right way into the
everlasting kingdom.

Religious friends who had watched with solicitude the long and painful
struggle of the young man believed that a work of grace had already been
wrought in his heart, and urged him to relate the facts before the
congregation. This he did on December 26, 1804, giving a plain statement
of his religious struggles, and though his experience was lacking in the
marvelous element which characterized the conversion of that time, the
congregation unanimously voted him the subject of a work of grace. The
next day he was baptized, and at once entered into the active service of
the Master to find in doing the peace he had failed to receive in
seeking.


                           DESIRES TO PREACH

No sooner had John Smith been received into the Baptist Church than he
became exceedingly anxious to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.
But two obstacles rose before him which seemed an insurmountable barrier
to the realization of his desires. One was his ignorance. In his brief
term of schooling he had barely learned to read and his surroundings and
occupation had left him without further means of self-improvement, as he
looked with yearning heart toward the ministry, he “wept at the thought
that he was now a man without an education.” No less was the hindrance
which the popular sentiment of the day threw across his pathway. It was
regarded as an almost unpardonable act of presumption to stand before
the people as an expounder of the Scriptures without a supernatural
call, and yet he was without evidence of such a call to preach the
gospel. No voice spoke to his listening ear. No answer came to his
earnest prayer. No sign met his expectant vision.

In the face of these obstacles the way seemed completely blocked, so
nothing remained for him to do but to continue in his labors on the
farm. At last circumstances opened up before him for larger usefulness
for God. His widely scattered neighbors were pious people, and, in the
absence of churches and ministers, often gathered at night after a day
of toil, in each other’s cabins, to sing and pray, and talk about their
religious interests. At these meetings he was present, when
circumstances would permit, and his native ability, gave him
pre-eminence among them. As they met from house to house they often
constrained him to lead in prayer. In these religious meetings his
confidence increased, his heart warmed, and he greatly desired to enter
into more active service. But still he waited for some audible call
which should assure him of the Lord’s will. His brethren urged that when
God gave man a talent, he gives the right to use it. He was finally
persuaded to lay aside his scruples, and at the prayer meeting he
consented to make a short talk. The appointment was made, the people
came together, filling the house to its utmost capacity, the light from
the fire fell full upon his face as he arose and stood near the table,
but as he looked into the faces of his neighbors, he was seized with
stage fright, and forgot everything he had hoped to say. He fled from
the house and sought the darkness outside, but in his hurried flight he
stumbled and fell to the ground. As he arose his mind cleared, and he
returned and delivered a thrilling address, and from that time he
continued in his humble way to lead those who were as sheep without a
shepherd.

He waited anxiously for the call, but it came not. But the call from his
brethren was so strong that he continued to exercise the gift of
exhortation, with increasing desire to devote his life to the work of
proclaiming the Gospel to his fellowmen. In deference to the judgment of
his brethren, who urged him to lay aside all scruples and become their
preacher, he at last consented to be ordained, and entered at once upon
the duties of his new calling, while continuing to provide for his
family by his labors on the farm. He was marvelously endowed for the
work of a pioneer preacher. “His well-toned voice and earnest manner,
his fine common sense and unaffected piety, rendered him pre-eminently
popular as a speaker; his genial humor, too, threw its sunny influence
on all around him and made him the delight of every fireside.” As his
reputation spread flattering offers came to him from the more favored
portions of Kentucky, through which he was induced to travel on a
preaching tour. Wealthy congregations, pleased with his originality and
genius, offered him what was then regarded as a handsome salary to labor
with them. But, conscious of his lack of education and culture, he
declined these offers, while his soul, for the time lifted up with
pride, planned ambitiously for the future.


                           TERRIBLE CALAMITY

Just here occurred the saddest episode of his life. The South was being
opened up, and many were drawn thither by what seemed to be a most
promising picture. He sold his farm and stock for $1,500, with which he
hoped to enter ten thousand acres of land, which, with the advance in
price, he was sure would make him a wealthy man. In the fall of 1814, he
located his family in a log hut, in what is now Madison County, Alabama,
and went out to select his land. During his absence, in one awful night,
his hopes and happiness were dashed to pieces. The house which contained
his possessions and wife and children, was burned to the ground, and two
of his children and all his money were consumed in the flames of that
awful night. His poor wife escaped, only to die of a broken heart and be
buried with the ashes of her children. The husband, though a strong man,
was so shocked that he was at last stricken with fever, and for weeks
lingered near the grave. But he finally recovered, and with a sad heart,
he retraced his steps, empty-handed and alone, to the old home in
Kentucky.


                        PREACHES AT CRAB ORCHARD

Immediately after his return to Kentucky he began preaching again; but
he was from that time harassed by doctrinal difficulties which gave him
no rest until he turned from his creed to the Bible in its primitive
simplicity. His appearance, as he joined his brethren in the meeting of
the Baptist Association, shortly after his return, is thus described by
his biographer:

  He reached Crab Orchard on Saturday, with the dust of the journey
  thick upon him. He wore a pair of homespun cotton pantaloons, striped
  with coperas—loose enough, but far too short for him—and a cotton
  coat, once checked with blue and white, but now of undistinguishable
  colors; these had been given him in Alabama. His shapeless hat was
  streaked with sweat and dust. His socks, too large for his shrunken
  ankles, hung down upon his worn shoes. His shirt was coarse and dirty
  and unbuttoned at the neck; his white cravat was in the coffin with
  his wife. (Life of John Smith, page 96.)

But if the exterior of this vessel was rough, within it was garnished
and adorned with all the graces of truth. He was pressed upon to speak
on the occasion. He lifted his head and sat erect, he arose, and, with
firm step, walked to the stand and stood up before the people. As he
looked around upon them his eyes kindled and his spirit was stirred
within him. The multitude stared curiously for a moment at the uncouth
figure before them. Some laughed outright, while others were withdrawn
from the assembly. His first work was to stop them. Raising his voice so
that all could hear, he said: “Stay, friends, and hear what the Great
Augustine said. Augustine wished to see three things before he died:
Rome in her glory, Paul on Mars’ Hill, and Jesus in the flesh.” A few
sat down, but many moved on.

In louder tones he cried: “Will you not stay and see what the great Cato
said. Cato repented of three things before his death: First that he had
ever spent an idle day; second, that he had ever gone on a voyage by
water when he might have made the same journey by land; and, third, that
he had ever told the secrets of his bosom to a woman.” Many more were
seated.

But he continued: “Come, friends, and hear what the great Thales thanked
the gods for. He thanked the gods for three things: First, that he was
endowed with reason, and was not a brute; second, that he as a Greek,
and not a barbarian; and third, that he was a man, and not a woman.” By
this time all were seated and the sermon began.

His theme was redemption. His analysis was threefold: (1) Redemption as
conceived; (2) Redemption as applied; (3) Redemption as completed. He
seemed inspired for the occasion. His voice like a trumpet reached and
thrilled the most distant hearer, and his thought swept the audience
like the storm sweeps the sea. The people crowded closer to hear him,
and some who could find neither sitting nor standing room, climbed the
trees, so that even the forest swayed to and fro as if under the magic
spell in the third division, and portrayed the final glory of the
redeemed, every heart was filled with emotion, every eye as weeping,
every face was radiant with hope, and at the close one loud “Amen”
ascended to the heavens.

In the course of time he again married, choosing as a companion a
sensible and consecrated woman who lived in the neighborhood where he
ministered, and who cheerfully joined him in all his plans for the
betterment of human society.


                         THE CHRISTIAN BAPTIST

Though preaching the doctrine of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith,
he now found himself ill at ease. The strange inconsistency of his
position embarrassed him. Why urge sinners to repent if they were
already safe, and if among the non-elect they could not repent. As the
situation flashed upon him in the midst of an impassioned exhortation,
he immediately closed his remarks and sat down, saying: “Brethren,
something is wrong; I am in the dark—we are all in the dark; but how to
lead you to the light, or to find the way myself, before God I know
not.” Retiring on his knees he prayed that he would take God’s Word as
his only guide, examine it carefully, and follow its teachings wherever
they might lead him. In the keeping of this pledge he began anew to
study the Bible. When his day’s work in the field was done, he would sit
by his candle with his Bible upon his knees, and often spend the whole
night in solemn meditation in his search for light.

It was while in this state of mind that the prospectus of The Christian
Baptist fell into his hands, and he read it with profound interest. He
ordered the paper sent to him and induced others to subscribe for it. He
hoped that Mr. Campbell’s discussion of scriptural themes would greatly
assist him in solving his own doctrinal difficulties. The first numbers
were read with great interest, and through them light began to break
along his darkened pathway. He read each succeeding number with great
care to ascertain to which of the contending parties Mr. Campbell
belonged, and soon found himself in a realm of truth entirely beyond the
range of the popular systems. Among other things that specially appealed
to him was the following from the trenchant pen of Mr. Campbell:

  We have no system of our own, nor of others, to substitute in lieu of
  the reigning systems. We only aim at substituting the New Testament in
  lieu of every creed in existence; whether Mohametan, Pagan, Jewish or
  Presbyterian. We wish to call Christians to consider that Jesus Christ
  has made them kings and priests to God. We neither advocate Calvinism,
  Arminianism, Arianism, Socinianism, Trinitarianism, Unitarianism,
  Deism, or Sectarianism, but New Testamentism. We wish, we cordially
  wish, to take the New Testament out of the abuses of the clergy, and
  put it into the hands of the people. (Christian Baptist, Vol. 1, page
  90.)


                            FETTERS CAST OFF

So thorough did these views accord with his that he determined at the
first opportunity to meet Mr. Campbell and learn from him by personal
interview more of the new order that he was advocating. During his visit
to Kentucky in 1824, to which I have already referred, the opportunity
presented itself. Mr. Campbell was to speak at Flemingsburg, and Smith
rode twenty miles on horseback that he might see and hear him. He
reached the town on the day that Mr. Campbell was to preach. Shortly
after his arrival he met William Vaughn, a Baptist preacher, with whom
he was well acquainted, when the following conversation took place:

  Vaughn—Brother John, have you met Bro. Campbell yet?

  Smith—No, sir, I have not. Have you seen him?

  Vaughn—Why, I have been with him for eight days and nights, through
  Mason and Bracken counties, and have heard him every day.

  Smith—Do, then, tell me what his views are on doctrinal points. Is he
  a Calvinist or an Arminian, or Arian, or a Trinitarian?

  Vaughn—I do not know. He has nothing to do with any of these things.

  Smith—Well, I can tell when I hear him just what he is.

  Vaughn—How?

  Smith—If a man of sense and takes a position, even though he should
  not run it out into any ism, I can do it for him, and tell exactly
  where he would land. But tell me, Bro. Vaughn, does he know anything
  about heartfelt religion?

  Vaughn—Lord bless you, he is one of the most pious, godly men that I
  was ever in company with in all my life.

  Smith—But do you think he knows anything about a Christian experience?

  Vaughn—Bless you, he knows everything. Come, I want to introduce you
  to him.

Of this meeting with Mr. Campbell he afterward said: “I then felt as if
I wanted to sit down and look at him for one hour, without hearing a
word from any one. I wanted to scan him who had been so much talked of,
and who had in _The Christian Baptist_ and in his debates introduced so
many new thoughts.” But the hour appointed for the address had come, and
they walked into the house together. Smith was determined now to
ascertain the theory of religion to which he held, if, indeed, he held
to any; for he was still full of doubt and suspicion.

Mr. Campbell read the fourth chapter of Galatians. After giving a
general outline of the whole epistle, he took up the allegory of Sarah
and Hagar, and in a simple, plain and artless manner, leaning with one
hand on his cane, he delivered his discourse. “He seemed,” as Smith
afterward remarked, “to move in a higher sphere or latitude than that in
which the isms of the day abounded.” At the conclusion of the services
Smith remarked to Mr. Vaughn, “Is it not hard, Bro. Vaughn, to ride
twenty miles, as I have done, just to hear a man preach thirty minutes?”
“You are mistaken,” said Mr. Vaughn; “look at your watch, for it
certainly has been longer than that.” He looked at his watch, and, to
his surprise, saw that the discourse had been two hours and a half long.
On discovering this he said, “I have never been more deceived. Two hours
of my life are gone, I know not how, though wide awake, too, all the
time!” On being questioned as to whether he had ascertained whether he
was a Calvinist or an Arminian, he replied: “No, I know nothing about
the man; but be he saint or devil, he has thrown more light on that
epistle, and on the whole Scripture, than I have received in all the
sermons that I have ever heard before.”


                  RESOLVES TO PREACH THE SIMPLE GOSPEL

For several days he accompanied Mr. Campbell from place to place, an
enraptured listener to every discourse, and earnestly engaged him in
conversation as they traveled along the way or sat under some hospitable
roof. At last his mind cast off its fetters. The way hitherto so clouded
became plain, and he left the company of Mr. Campbell, resolved
henceforth to devote his life to preaching the simple Gospel as
exhibited in the New Testament.

The step was, as he had anticipated, attended with great sacrifices. Old
friends forsook him. He had always stood high among his preaching
brethren, but now he was regarded with undisguised suspicion. Soon the
storm gathered furiously about him. At the annual meeting of the
association in which he held his membership charges were preferred
against him, among the most serious of which was that, instead of the
King James translation of the Scriptures, “he had on two or three
occasions in public, and often in his family, read from Alexander
Campbell’s translation.” Without being given an opportunity to defend
himself, he was placed under censure, and given a year in which to
correct his views and change his ways.

Returning to his home, the way for a time seemed to close before him.
The little farm was covered with a heavy mortgage. The churches that had
obligated themselves to pay his debt in compensation of his services,
now refused to make further payment. Nothing apparently remained but for
him to cultivate his farm with his own hands, and for a time to abandon
the work of the ministry. Taking his ax he went into the forest with the
heroic purpose, first to free himself from debt, and then to return to
the defense of the faith which he now felt to be the teaching of the
Word of God. But one day as he was bending to his labors he thought of
the cause that he loved, and remembered that there was no one in all the
land to advocate it but himself. He also thought of the construction
that would be put on his silence by his enemies. He dropped the ax, went
to the house, and threw down his coarse apron at the feet of his wife,
exclaiming:

  Nancy, I shall work no more! Get whom you please to carry on the farm,
  but do not call on me! In all the land there is not one soul to open
  his mouth in defense of the best cause under the sun! I am determined,
  from this time forth, to preach the Gospel, and leave the consequences
  to God.

With the courage of his convictions, he immediately began to preach the
truth as he now felt it and saw it. No personal consideration was
allowed to interfere with the course he had marked out for himself. His
heroic wife readily caught his spirit and as cheerfully accepted the
responsibilities of her new position—agreeing to take the oversight of
the farm, care for the family, and to relieve him of every temporal
care, while he should give himself wholly to the ministry of the Word.

But from a course so radical and perilous his friends earnestly sought
to dissuade him. They argued: “Your more influential brethren will
abandon you; you will get nothing for your preaching; your debts will
press you to the earth, and your farm and house eventually given up.”
“Conscience,” said he, “is an article that I have never yet brought into
the market; but should I offer it for sale, Montgomery County, with all
its lands and houses, would not be enough to buy it, much less that farm
of one hundred acres.”

As he now went from house to house, and neighborhood, to plant the cause
of Christ, his zeal knew no bounds. His heart was all aglow with his
new-born knowledge of the truth, and with tireless effort he sought to
win men to respect and obey the simple claims of the Gospel. So intense
was his desire that he scarcely allowed himself time to eat and sleep.
After a busy day he would often spend a greater part of the night
answering questions or meeting objections which his public discourses
had aroused, or in helping some half-persuaded inquirer to a full
acceptance of the Gospel; often going the same hour of the night to some
near-by stream to administer baptism, when a surrender had been made.
Or, if at home, the burden that was upon his heart, and his thirst for
the knowledge of the Word of God, would often interfere with his sleep,
and he would arise and light his candle at midnight “to examine some
word or text not yet understood, and which, perhaps, had confused him in
his dreams.”

The preaching of John Smith, so different from that of the times, so far
removed from the conventional forms, and so new and strange in doctrine,
at once awakened new interest in languishing churches. Calls now came to
him from so many quarters that he seldom had an opportunity to enjoy the
fellowship of his family, to which he was warmly attached. He
endeavored, if possible, to visit his home once a week; but this purpose
he was not always able to accomplish. “He would tarry at some distant
place, preaching and baptizing till the week was nearly gone, and then,
dismissing the people at a late hour, ride hurriedly through the
darkness, sometimes through mud and cold and tempest, in order to keep
his promise with his wife. At other times, when going from one part of
the district to another, he would pass along by his own house, but, too
much hurried to stop and rest, would linger a while at the gate, and,
gathering strength from her words of cheer, press on to his distant
appointment.” On one occasion, as he thus hurried from one appointment
to another, he stopped at home just long enough to change his soiled
linen for clean. As he was about to leave his wife remarked with a touch
of sadness in her tone, “Is it not time that you were having your
washing done somewhere else? We have attended to it for you a long
time.” “No, Nancy, I am pleased with your way of doing things, and I do
not wish to make any change.” After a kind good-bye to her and a few
playful words to the little ones, he passed on to meet the congregation
that would wait for him that day in some young convert’s house, or
perhaps, in some hospitable grove.

The patient heroism of faith finds few better illustrations than in the
wife of this tireless pioneer. Upon Nancy Smith rested the burden of the
family and the farm. When help could not be secured, she would go forth
herself into the busy field to tend the growing crop, or to superintend
the gathering of the harvest, that her faithful husband might devote all
his energies to the cause to which they were both so much devoted. His
preaching brought no material recompense to relieve their pinching
poverty. Though he labored incessantly for the salvation of his fellow
men, no one ever thought of contributing to his support, or if they felt
inclined to minister to him in temporal things were probably too poor.
During the years 1825-1830, in which he laid the foundation of primitive
Christianity in Kentucky, he never received a dollar for his services,
or compensation of any kind, save the remittance to a friendly merchant
in a neighboring town for a small bill of goods.

The result of such zeal, such labor, such sacrifice, brought its reward
to this devoted messenger of truth in a richer blessing than any that
material prosperity had to offer. His message was gladly received.
Multitudes gathered to hear him, and many received with joy the glorious
Gospel of the Son of God which he now felt himself commissioned to
preach. A revival of religious interest began to follow the track of his
ministry, and he had the satisfaction of seeing hundreds, who had held
aloof from the religious systems of the day, now turn to the Lord. So
fruitful were his labors that within a short period of six months he was
able to report seven hundred conversions and five new churches
organized. But greater still, he had established a great cause in the
hearts of the people.

Although he had renounced the Calvinistic theory of conversion, and had
laid aside its unyielding creed for the New Testament, he still
considered himself a Baptist, and lived in fellowship with those who
“stood resolutely by the old church covenant”, hoping that his brethren
would one day accept the primitive Gospel. But his genial fraternal
spirit was far from being reciprocated by the Baptist preachers with
whom he associated. Once, meeting an old acquaintance, Smith said to
him, kindly, “Good morning, my brother.” To which the other scornfully
replied, “Don’t call me brother, sir! I would rather claim kinship with
the devil himself.” “Go, then,” said Smith, “and honor thy father.”

But the bitterness of opposition did not always end in harmless railery.
It too frequently resorted to misrepresentations and other unchristian
means to check his growing popularity and influence. Churches were
closed against him, compelling him to take his audience to some
neighboring house, or hall, or, in fair weather, to a grove. But,
whatever the discouragement or hindrance, he continued to preach.
“Usually he divided his discourses, which were two or three hours long,
into three divisions, according to the objects he had in view; in the
first he corrected misrepresentations; in the second he exposed popular
errors, and in the third he presented the simple Gospel to the people.”
Having taken his stand upon the Bible, he felt himself secure. The truth
made him fearless, and his courage at last won respect for the unpopular
position to which he held.


        “Ancient Order of Things” Among the Baptists In Kentucky

The years 1828-1830 were great years in the ministry of John Smith. In
them was witnessed the fruition of years of self-sacrificing labor, and
the triumph of the ancient Gospel on the soil of Kentucky. The year 1828
was a notable one among the Baptist associations. At the meetings of
three of the largest associations the Reformers were in control, due in
a very large degree to Smith’s preaching. As we have already seen, his
influence over the people was tremendous. The churches for which he
preached regularly—Spencer’s Creek, Grassy Lick and Mount
Sterling—reported in their annual letters of 1828 to the North District
Association of which they were members, the baptism of 392 persons
during the year. The twenty-four churches of the Association reported
the baptism of about nine hundred persons, “the greater part of whom had
been immersed by Smith.” Five new churches had been organized by Smith
on the Bible alone and became members of the Association.

The North District Association met in July, 1828. At its meeting the
previous year the Lulbegrud Church had sent the following charges aimed
at John Smith, but veiling the object of their charge under the
designation, “one of their preachers.” The accusations were:

  1. That, while it is the custom of Baptists to use as the Word of God
  the King James translation, he had on two or three occasions in
  public, and often privately in his family, read from Alexander
  Campbell’s translation.

  2. That while it is the custom in the ceremony of baptism to
  pronounce, “I baptize you”, he, on the contrary, is in the habit of
  saying, “immerse you”.

  3. That in administering the Lord’s Supper, while it is the custom to
  break the loaf into bits, small enough to be readily taken into the
  mouth, yet he leaves the bread in large pieces, teaching that each
  communicant shall break it for himself.

Without waiting for himself to be singled out, Smith arose and said, “I
plead guilty to them all.” After bitter debating and wrangling over the
charges it was finally voted that they be laid over for another year.
The meeting of 1828 was the time when these charges should be brought
up. Smith had been unceasingly engaged in preaching, and marvelously
successful in winning men to Christ during the years. Still, when the
Association met, he was in doubt at first as to which side had the
majority of messengers. In the registration of messengers, it was soon
found that the majority were favorable to him. The messengers, from the
five new churches he had established turned the scale in his favor. The
charges were not mentioned on the floor of the Association. In 1830 this
Association divided, ten churches voluntarily withdrawing and forming a
new association on Baptist principles. The North District Association
met for the last time as an advisory council in 1831, and was dissolved
one year later. Fourteen churches and four parts of churches were
enrolled on the occasion of the dissolution. On the same day the
churches that had withdrawn from the Association two years before met
and formed a new association under the same name.

The Bracken Association was the next to meet, in 1828. Licking
Association, rigidly Calvinistic and devoted to the Philadelphia
Confession of Faith, desired to enter into mutual correspondence with
Bracken, but had determined as a condition of it to require from Bracken
a pledge to support the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, which no doubt
would have been given in 1827; but in the meantime Smith had gone into
that district, and preached among the churches; and such men as Walter
Warden and Jesse Holton, already moved by the plea of Alexander
Campbell, and encouraged by the boldness and success of Smith, were
already favoring the return to the “ancient order of things.” The letter
came from Licking requiring the pledge and was read before the
Association. After a prolonged discussion by various members, during
which Smith sat in silence, he finally saw his opportunity to speak.
This opportunity was given when James Arnold, a messenger from the North
Bend Association, moved that the terms proposed by Licking be rejected,
and that all further correspondence with that body be dropped. Smith
supported the proposition, and as he rose to do so took from his saddle
bags a copy of the Confession of Faith, and said.

  Brethren, Licking requires of Bracken an utter impossibility. No one
  can maintain inviolate the doctrine of grace as revealed in the
  Scriptures, and at the same time, defend that which is taught in the
  Philadelphia Confession of Faith; for the doctrine of the creed is not
  the doctrine of the Bible. No two books in the world differ more than
  these; and in no point do they differ more widely than on the doctrine
  of salvation by grace.

He then contrasted the teaching of the New Testament with that of the
Confession of Faith, and his argument was so convincing that practically
all seemed satisfied that the terms proposed by Licking were
contradictory, and when the vote was taken the proposition to reject was
carried almost unanimously. A prominent witness of these events said:

  It was John Smith that gave impulse and tone to the reformation in
  Bracken, as he had already done in North District, Boone’s Creek and
  other associations.

It was decided while the Association was in session that Bracken would
recommend no creed or confession of faith but the New Testament. Bracken
did not, however, remain long of this mind; but went back into regular
fellowship in 1830; yet not without great loss by defection to the side
of those contending for the “ancient order of things”. Benedict, the
Baptist historian, informs us that “the number of members was reduced
from 2,200 to 900 on account of the sweeping inroads of the Reformers.”

The next association to take action in 1828 was the Boone’s Creek. The
letter sent out by the Association in 1827 said to the churches
composing it: “We hear from some of the churches that they are
endeavoring to return to ‘the ancient order of things’, and they
recognize the Scriptures alone as an entire and sufficient rule of faith
and practice.” During the spring and summer of 1828 there was an
increase of about 870 members by immersion, many of whom had been
brought in through the preaching of John Smith. The Association,
composed of thirteen churches, met on the third Sunday in September. The
question before it, raised in letters of two churches, was concerning an
amendment to the constitution to bring it into harmony with the Word of
God. The following action was taken by the Association and reported back
to all the churches:

  We, therefore, recommend to the churches an abolition of the present
  constitution, and, in lieu thereof, an adoption of this resolution:
  Resolved, That we the Churches of Jesus Christ, believing the
  Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, and the
  only rule of faith and obedience given by the great Head of the Church
  for its government, do agree to meet annually on every third Saturday,
  Lord’s day, and Monday in September of each year, for the worship of
  God, and on such occasions voluntarily communicate the state of
  religion amongst us by letter and messenger. (Christian Baptist, Vol.
  6. page 420.)

Such men as John Smith, William Morton, Jeremiah Vardeman and Jacob
Creath, Jr., all under the influence of the restoration movement, were
the leading spirits in this meeting. The report of the action of
churches with reference to the resolution was made a year later. The
result showed that seven churches voted to retain the constitution, six
voted to abolish it. At the meeting in 1830 these six churches were
dropped from the Association, and both the North District and Tate’s
Creek messengers were rejected.

In 1829 Tate’s Creek Association was under the controlling influence of
the restoration movement. A minority of orthodox Baptist churches
withdrew and called a meeting for the month of June, 1830, at which they
drew up a bill of errors against certain preachers and churches of the
Association. This Association was composed of delegates from ten of the
twenty-six churches. They organized and proceeded to meet as the “Tate’s
Creek Association”, and resolved to cut off correspondence with the
churches that “tolerated the heresy of Campbellism”. Thus we see that
the majority of this Association was in line with the effort to restore
the “ancient order of things”.

The Franklin and Elkhorn Associations were, however, not friendly to the
movement, though there was a strong and influential minority committed
to those principles. In 1829 Franklin Association adopted decrees
rejecting as heretical all those who sought to return to apostolic
Christianity and all churches were warned not to harbor any such errors.
The Elkhorn Association at its meeting in 1830 dropped from further
correspondence two churches, and refused to recognize the messengers
from the North District, thus excluding from Baptist fellowship eighteen
churches and 1,427 members.

The Russell Creek and South Concord Associations took action against
“Campbellite heresy”, the latter passing a resolution advising all
churches to lock their doors against “the followers of Alexander
Campbell, who deny the agency of the Spirit”. Very few of the Kentucky
Baptist Associations escaped the influence of the effort to return to
primitive Christianity.

The success of the movement only increased the bitterness and hate of
the opposition. No longer satisfied with misrepresentation, and with
closing the doors of their meeting places against Smith, the leaders of
the Baptist churches formulated measures for the forcible expulsion of
all who gave heed to the teaching of Smith and his co-workers. As this
purpose spread from church to church and from association to
association, Smith threw himself fearlessly into the breach, and with
his rugged eloquence sought to stay any attempt at disruption, and to
preserve the peace and order of religious society. As the heat of this
controversy grew intense, his genial spirit and good-fellowship were
only the more manifest. In the excitement of the times he alone was
calm. Amidst the cloud of angry faces that often denied him a hearing,
his countenance alone was lit up with a friendly smile. When the doors
were locked against him by some unfriendly hand, he would speak to those
who gathered to hear him on such occasions in the woods, refusing to
sanction any act of violence by which admittance might be gained. Though
from this time in the thickest of the fight, he was a man of peace; and
while others “gnashed on him with their teeth”, he only replied in
pleasantries. The principles for which he now contended were the right
of free speech and private judgment. As railing accusations were brought
against him and those who shared his views, he would usually seek the
opportunity of replying, but was invariably refused the simple privilege
claimed.

The effort of John Smith, therefore, to maintain the unity of the
Baptist Church on the broad platform which he had framed for himself was
soon found unavailing. The unyielding policy of those who were
antagonistic to apostolic Christianity was to deny fellowship to those
who joined in the search to learn the way of the Lord more perfectly.
“Seek first to reclaim these reformers from their error”, was the method
now suggested; “if your efforts should fail, invite them to leave you,
and to practice their reformation to themselves. If they will not go at
your request, separate them from you in the best way you can.”

Henceforth his whole energy and strength were consumed in setting in
order the things lacking and strengthening the faith of the brethren. At
this time there were about eight thousand intelligent, pious men and
women in the State standing with Smith. During the winter and spring of
1831 he gave himself unreservedly to the rejected churches of the old
North District Association, organizing them after the New Testament
model, and pressing the claims of the primitive Gospel of larger
conquest.


                             CHAPTER VIII.
                              WALTER SCOTT

Inasmuch as the name of Walter Scott is inseparably linked with the
movement to restore apostolic Christianity, I now give a sketch of his
life and work. He was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, October 31, 1796.
He was carefully trained in the Scotch Presbyterian Church by his
mother. At the very early period in his life he gave evidence of a
decided talent. Though the resources of the family were only moderate,
his watchful parents gave him every educational advantage, the mother
praying that the church might enjoy the service of his rare gift of mind
and heart. The Scotch family of the old school sought no greater honor
than to have a son at the university. Though a collegiate education at
that time was regarded within the reach of the sons of the wealthy only,
in his devoted family the slender resources were so husbanded as to
enable Walter, after a preparatory course at the academy, to enter the
University of Edinburgh. Here he pursued his studies with a zeal and
success that fully justified the labors and sacrifices of his parents.
After completing his university course, while casting about for a place
to plant his feet and enter the service of his race, an unexpected turn
of affairs changed the channels of his life. His mother’s brother,
George Innis, had some years before emigrated to this country, and by
faithfulness and integrity advanced himself to a place of responsibility
in the governmental service in New York City. Anxious to assist his
relatives still in Scotland, he wrote his sister to send one of her
sons, promising what assistance he could render in his advancement.
Walter, as the best fitted by education for the opportunities of a new
country, was the one selected to go; and as the plan was in perfect
harmony with his own wishes, he at once started on the voyage, reaching
New York on July 7, 1818, and on his arrival was kindly welcomed by his
uncle, through whose influence he soon obtained a position as Latin
tutor in a classical academy, for which he was eminently qualified. But
in this position he did not long remain. He had made some acquaintances
in the city, and from them heard glowing reports of the West, as all the
region beyond the Allegheny Mountains was then called; and had resolved
to see for himself the land of which he had heard so much. On foot, with
a light heart and a light purse, with a young man about his own age as a
traveling companion, he set out for the regions beyond. After a long
journey he reached Pittsburgh in the early spring of 1819. He sought
employment, and soon had the good fortune to fall in with George
Forrester, a fellow countryman, and the principal of an academy, by whom
he was immediately engaged as an assistant in his school. Somewhat to
the surprise of young Scott, he soon made the discovery that his
employer, though a deeply religious man, differed very much in his views
from those which he himself had been taught to regard as true. Mr.
Forrester’s peculiarity consisted in making the Bible his only authority
and guide in religious matters, while Scott had been trained to regard
the Presbyterian Standards as the true and authoritative exposition and
summary of Bible truth.


                         A SINCERE TRUTH SEEKER

Mr. Forrester had been trained under the Haldanes of Scotland before
coming to this country, and had in connection with his school duties,
built up a small congregation who shared his views. Differing, as they
did, they were, nevertheless, both lovers of the truth, and the frequent
and close examinations which they made of the Scriptures resulted in
convincing Scott that human standards in religion were, like their
authors, imperfect; and in impressing him deeply with the conviction
that the Word of God is the only true and sure guide. Better soil for
the planting was not to be found than that presented in the heart of
Walter Scott. He was a sincere truth seeker. He loved the Bible and was
ready to accept whatever it clearly taught. No sooner, therefore, did he
learn of this new religious movement than he set about diligently to
test the correctness of his employer’s views. Together they made an
earnest, prayerful search of the Scriptures. Often, after the labors of
the day had closed in the school room, they would prosecute their
examinations of the Scriptures far into the night; not in the spirit of
controversy, however, but with an earnest desire to know the will of
God, and a determination to follow wherever his Word, the expression of
his will, should lead.

The result of this painstaking search was that in a few weeks he turned
his back upon his past religious training, convinced that human
standards of belief were without the sanction of God’s Word. This
conclusion was not reached without much anguish of spirit. He further
discovered that though he had adhered, in all strictness, to the church
traditions, he had not obeyed some of the important commands of the
Bible. Among his first discoveries, in his conscientious search of
truth, was the absence of scriptural authority for infant baptism, and
his need of personal obedience to a command so repeatedly enforced as
that of baptism into Christ. He, therefore, announced his purpose to
reject all authority but that of Christ, and in obedience to the divine
command he was immersed by Mr. Forrester and immediately entered into
hearty co-operation with the small congregation planted by Mr.
Forrester.

He at once proved himself a valuable addition to this struggling
congregation. Although he did not immediately take a public part in the
services, his genial presence, zealous devotion, and Christian culture
were an inspiration to the whole congregation. He humbly accepted the
position of learner, continued his diligent search of the Scriptures and
rejoiced in his new-found faith. In the meantime Mr. Forrester, desiring
to devote himself exclusively to religious work, turned over the
management of the school to his talented assistant.

Mr. Scott’s original methods of instruction, his pleasing manner and
faultless character won for his school a wide reputation and patronage.
Had success in this line been the goal of his ambition, his situation
would have proved eminently satisfactory; but this was not his ambition.
The more he studied the Bible the more he felt drawn toward the ministry
of the Word. A new world of religious truth was gradually unfolding
before him. He soon found that even his teachers in this new religious
school but partially apprehended the divine purpose and method in the
world’s salvation. From his study of the Bible, especially Acts of
Apostles, which now enlisted his attention, the plan of redemption began
to take form in his mind. Conversion had always been a perplexing
subject to him, but in the light of this book all mystery fled. He now
found that all who heard, believed and obeyed the glad message of
salvation were filled with peace and joy in believing.

While pursuing this line of investigation a small tract, sent out by an
obscure congregation in New York, fell into his hands. The views
expressed in it so perfectly coincided with those he now held that he
determined to get acquainted with its authors, feeling that such an
association would add greatly to his Christian knowledge. He, therefore,
at once severed his connection with the school and set out in search for
more light upon the great religious problems that now consumed his
thought. The visit proved a keen disappointment. He found the practice
of the church much different from what he had been led to expect from
their publication. So after a short sojourn in the city, with a heavy
heart he continued his journey, visiting Baltimore and Washington, in
each of which he had learned of small congregations of independent
believers; but these visits only added to his disappointment. These
early attempts at religious reformation were not always successful and
frequently resulted in a caricature of the thing attempted. In
describing his fruitless journey he said:

  I went thither, and having searched them up I discovered them to be so
  sunken in the mire of Calvinism that they refused to reform; and so
  finding no pleasure in them I left them. I then went to the Capitol,
  and, climbing up to its lofty dome, I sat myself down, filled with
  sorrow at the miserable desolation of the Church of God.

His drooping spirit was cheered by his return to Pittsburgh, after a
journey on foot of three hundred miles. He received a warm welcome from
those who had learned his true worth, and, as a suitable successor in
the school room had not been found, a handsome salary was pledged to
secure his services once more. Broken in spirit and purse, he accepted
the position and continued in the management of the school for several
years with remarkable success. But his chief delight now was to minister
to the little church, which, deprived of its leader by the sudden death
of Mr. Forrester, looked to him for leadership. This period marks his
growth in spiritual things. His reverence for Christ and his Word led to
the constant study of the Bible. His chief delight was in the Holy
Scriptures. It was in these hours with the Spirit of truth that he made
the final dedication of himself to God, promising “that if he, for
Christ’s sake, would grant him just and comprehensive views of his
religion he would subordinate all his present and future attainments to
the glory of his Son and his religion.”


                       TURNING POINT IN HIS LIFE

It was while thus engaged singlehanded in working out the problem of
human redemption as revealed in the Word of God that he first met
Alexander Campbell, with whom his own history and efforts in the future
were to be so intimately blended. They possessed many elements in
common, had been reared in the same school of religious thought, had
been driven by the same burning thirst for truth to the Bible, and
through its message were led to pursue a similar path in their search
for acceptance with God. The following, from the pen of Dr. Richardson,
beautifully presents the predominating characteristics in contrast at
the time of their first meeting:

  The different hues in the characters of these two eminent men were
  such as to be, so to speak, complimentary to each other, and to form,
  by their harmonious blending, a completeness and a brilliancy which
  rendered their society, peculiarly delightful to each other. Thus,
  while Mr. Campbell was fearless, self-reliant and firm, Mr. Scott was
  naturally timid, diffident and yielding; and, while the former was
  calm, steady and prudent, the latter was excitable, variable and
  precipitate. The one, like the north star, was ever in position,
  unaffected by terrestrial influences; the other, like the magnetic
  needle, was often disturbed and trembling on its center, yet ever
  returning or seeking to return to its true direction. Both were nobly
  endowed with the powers of higher reason—a delicate
  self-consciousness, a decided will and a clear conception of truth.
  But, as it regards the other departments of the inner nature, in Mr.
  Campbell the understanding predominated, in Mr. Scott the feelings;
  and, if the former excelled in imagination, the latter was superior in
  brilliancy of fancy. If the tendency of one was to generalize, to take
  wide and extended views and to group a multitude of particulars under
  a single head or principle, that of the other was to analyze, to
  divide subjects into their particulars and consider their details....
  In a word, in almost all those qualities of mind and character, which
  might be regarded differential or distinctive, they were singularly
  fitted to supply each other’s wants and to form a rare and delightful
  companionship. (Memoirs of A. Campbell, Vol. 1, p. 510.)

They at once recognized in each other kindred spirits and joined hands,
and, with Thomas Campbell, formed a trio of unsurpassed genius,
eloquence and devotion to truth.


                              WALTER SCOTT

The turning point in the life of Walter Scott came in 1827, when
Alexander Campbell, on the way to the annual meeting of the Mahoning
Association, visited him at his home in Steubensville, Ohio, and
prevailed upon him to attend the meeting at New Lisbon. Scott, though
not a member of the Association, was chosen evangelist.

The Association was organized in 1820 and was composed of ten Baptist
churches. The number was doubled later, seventeen of whom were
represented at the New Lisbon meeting. These churches in the main were
in eastern Ohio, near the Pennsylvania line, and between the Ohio River
and Lake Erie, and were known as the Western Reserve. One of the
churches—Wellsburg—was in Virginia. Spiritually they were almost dead.
This, perhaps, was the result of extreme Calvinistic teachings and their
elaborate man-made creeds. At this association fifteen churches reported
only thirty-four baptisms, and eleven of these were at Wellsburg, the
church home of Alexander Campbell.

The new evangelist threw the full force of his ardent nature into the
work. He had long been an earnest, faithful, and prayerful student of
the Word of God. He had drunk deep into its spirit, and became fully
convinced of the weakness and inefficiency of modern systems, in all of
which “there seemed to be a link wanting to connect an avowed faith in
Christ with an immediate realization of the promises of the gospel.
These seemed placed at an almost infinite distance from the penitent,
bowed down under a sense of guilt, and longing for some certain evidence
of acceptance, which he often vainly sought in the special spiritual
illuminations upon which men were taught to rely.”

The Association had imposed upon him no particular course whatever, and
it was his duty, therefore, to consider how the proclamation of the
gospel could be rendered most effective for the conversion of sinners.

In view of all the circumstances, this was a very difficult and
perplexing question with which to grapple. He was aware of the fact that
Mr. Campbell had spoken of baptism in his debate with McCalla as a
pledge of pardon, but in this point of view it was, as yet, contemplated
only _theoretically_. However, his knowledge of the Scriptures led him
to think that baptism was in some way intimately connected with the
personal enjoyment of the blessings of the gospel, but as yet he was
unable to perceive just what position it occupied in relation to other
requirements.

After a more diligent and prayerful study of the Word of God, and many
conferences with other pious and godly men, it became clear to Scott
that the Gospel contained facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed,
and promises to be enjoyed. But in its specific application it was
five-fold: (1) Faith to change the heart; (2) Repentance to change the
life; (3) Baptism to change the state; (4) Remission of sins to cleanse
from guilt; (5) The gift of the Holy Spirit to help in the Christian
life and make one a partaker of the divine nature. This arrangement of
these items was so manifestly in harmony with the Scriptures that he was
transported with the discovery. The key of knowledge was now in his
possession. The things that before were dark and perplexing were now
clear and he resolved to preach the same Gospel preached by inspired
men, and to preach it in the same way. From his present viewpoint the
Word of God was for the salvation of the world, and the inspired
teachers made no mistake in their method of preaching it. This was a
bold and novel thing to do, but he believed it to be right, and he had
the courage of his convictions, and proceeded to do it.

Fearing that he might give cause of offense to the churches which had
employed him, he sent an appointment outside the limits of the
Association, and with some misgivings, but in an earnest and interesting
manner, laid before the audience his analysis of the Gospel, and at the
close he gave a formal invitation to any one so disposed to come
forward, confess his faith in Christ and be baptized for the remission
of sins; but no one came. To his audience this was like the proclamation
of a new religion, so different did it seem from the orthodoxy of the
day. They regarded him as an amiable but deluded enthusiast, and looked
upon him with wonder, pity, and even scorn. This result was not
unexpected, for the whole community was filled with the idea that
something supernatural had to occur before any one could become a fit
subject for baptism. Instead of giving way to this traditional
prejudice, he said to himself “This way is of God, and ought to succeed,
and with his help it shall.” He was right, and God gave him success, as
he gives to all such men. He accordingly announced that he would deliver
a series of discourses on the Ancient Gospel at New Lisbon, Ohio, the
place at which he had been selected as evangelist by the Association a
few months before. Here he was to witness the removal of the barriers
and the triumph of the cause that was so near his heart.

When he arrived on Sunday to begin the series of meetings every seat in
the building was literally packed, soon even standing room was at a
premium, and the doorway was blocked up by the eager throng. Scott was
just the man to be moved to the highest point by such an occasion. The
following is a vivid description of the events of that day:

  His theme was the confession of Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son
  of the living God” (Matt. 16:16), and the promise which grew out of
  it, that he should have entrusted to him the keys of the kingdom of
  heaven. The declaration of Peter was a theme upon which he had thought
  for years; it was a fact which he regarded the four gospels was
  written to establish; to which type and prophecy had pointed in all
  the ages gone by; which the Eternal Father had announced from heaven
  when out of the waters of Jordan and the Spirit descended and abode
  upon him, and which was repeated again amid the awful grandeur and
  solemnity of the transfiguration scene. He then proceeded to show that
  the foundation truth of Christianity was the divine nature of the Lord
  Jesus—the central truth around which all others revolved, and from
  which they derived their efficacy and importance—and that the belief
  of it was calculated to produce such love in the heart of him who
  believed as would lead him to true obedience to the object of his
  faith and love. To show how that love and faith were to be manifested,
  he quoted the language of the great commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark
  16:15,16), and called attention to the fact that Jesus had taught his
  apostles “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in
  his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
  He then led his hearers to Jerusalem on the memorable Pentecost and
  bade them listen to an authoritative announcement of the law of
  Christ, now to be made known for the first time by Peter to whom
  Christ had promised to give the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt.
  16:16), which he represented as meaning the conditions upon which the
  guilty might find pardon at the hands of the risen, ascended, and
  glorified Son of God, and enter his kingdom.

  After a rapid yet graphic review of Peter’s discourse, he pointed out
  its effect on those that heard him, and bade them mark the inquiry
  which a deep conviction of the truth they had heard forced from the
  lips of the heart-pierced multitudes, who, in their agony at the
  discovery that they had put to death the Son of God, their own
  long-expected Messiah, “said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles,
  Brethren, what shall we do?” and then with flashing eyes and
  impassioned manner, as if he fully realized that he was but re-echoing
  the words of one who spake as the Spirit gave him utterance, he gave
  the reply, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of
  Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the
  gift of the Holy Spirit.” He then, with great force and power, made
  his application; he insisted that the conditions were unchanged, that
  the Word of God meant what it said, and that to receive and obey it
  was to obey God and to imitate the example of those who, under the
  preaching of the apostles, gladly accepted the gospel message. His
  discourse was long, but his hearers marked not the flight of time. The
  Baptists forgot, in admiration of its scriptural beauty and
  simplicity, that it was contrary to much of their own teaching and
  practice; some of them who had been, in a measure, enlightened before,
  rejoiced in the truth the moment they perceived it; to others, who had
  long been perplexed by the difficulties and contradictions of the
  discordant views of the day, it was light like light to weary
  travelers long benighted and lost.

  The man of all others, however, in that community who would most have
  delighted in and gladly accepted those views, so old and yet so new,
  was not there, although almost in hearing of the preacher, who, with
  such eloquence and power, was setting forth the primitive gospel. This
  was William Amend, a pious, God-fearing man, a member of the
  Presbyterian Church, and regarded by his neighbors as an “Israelite
  indeed.” He had for some time entertained the same views as those Mr.
  Scott was then preaching in that place for the first time, but was not
  aware of the fact that any one agreed with him. He was under the
  impression that all the churches—his own among the number—had departed
  from the plain teachings of the Word of God. He had discovered, some
  time before, that infant baptism was not taught in the Bible, and,
  consequently, that he was not a baptized man; the act of baptism
  seemed also to him to have been changed, and he sought his pastor, and
  asked to be immersed. His pastor endeavored to convince him that he
  was wrong, but finding that he could not be turned from his purpose,
  he proposed to immerse him privately, lest others of his flock might
  be unsettled in their minds by his so doing, and closed by saying that
  baptism was not essential to salvation. Mr. Amend regarded everything
  that Christ had ordained as being essential, and replied that he
  should not immerse him at all; that he would wait until he found a man
  who believed the gospel, and who could, without any scruple,
  administer the ordinance as he conceived it to be taught in the New
  Testament.

  He was invited a day or two before to hear Mr. Scott, but knowing
  nothing of his views, he supposed that he preached much as others did,
  but agreed to go and hear him. It was near the close of the services
  when he reached the Baptist Church and joined the crowd at the door,
  who were unable to get into the house. The first sentence he heard
  aroused and excited him; it sounded like the gospel which he had read
  with such interest at home, but never had heard from the pulpit
  before. He now felt a great anxiety to see the man who was speaking so
  much like the oracles of God, and pressed through the throng into the
  house.

  Mr. Dibble, the clerk of the church, saw him enter, and knowing that
  he had been seeking and longing to find a man who would preach as the
  Word of God read, thought within himself, “Had Mr. Amend been here
  during all this discourse I feel sure that he would have found what he
  has so long sought in vain. I wish the preacher would repeat what he
  said before he came in.” Greatly to his surprise Mr. Scott did give a
  brief review of the various points of his discourse, insisting that
  the Word of God meant what it said, and urging his hearers to trust
  that Word implicitly. He rehearsed again the Jerusalem scene, called
  attention to the earnest, anxious cry of the multitude, and the
  comforting reply of the apostle, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one
  of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins;
  and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” He invited any one
  present who believed with all his heart to yield to the terms proposed
  in the words of the apostle, and show by a willing obedience his trust
  in the Lord of life and glory. Mr. Amend pressed his way through the
  crowd to the preacher and made known his purpose; made a public
  confession of his faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God
  and expressed his desire to obey him, at once, and on the same day, in
  a beautiful, clear stream which flows on the southern border of the
  town, in the presence of a great multitude, he was baptized in the
  name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. (Life of Walter Scott,
  pages 104-108.)

From that day the meeting continued with increasing interest. Seventeen
persons, “hearing, believed, and were baptized.” The whole community was
aroused and began to search the scriptures, some in the same spirit of
the Bereans of old to see whether these things were so; others with no
higher purpose than to file objections to that which was so boldly
proclaimed, and many of these were forced to admit that if the teaching
were false the Bible could not be true, for the preacher could read
everything that was demanded from the Word of God.

It was a fortunate thing that a man with such an unsullied character and
reputation as that of Mr. Amend should be the first to render obedience
to the apostolic teaching at New Lisbon. He was a man with more than
ordinary intelligence, and his scriptural knowledge was far beyond that
of most men in his station in life. His action was not the result of an
impulse produced by Mr. Scott’s discourse, for that he had not heard;
but from a careful study of the Word of God. He was not aware of the
fact that there was another person in the world who held similar views
to his own.

Although Mr. Scott was pleased with the initial success, it was still a
mystery to him why his first discourse had failed to convince any one,
and that at the close of the second, Mr. Amend, who had heard neither of
them, should come forward so intelligently; hence he wrote a letter
requesting him to state the facts which induced him to respond to the
invitation so promptly, to which he replied:

  Now, my brother, I will answer your questions. I was baptized November
  18, 1827, and I will relate to you a circumstance which occurred a few
  days before that date. I had read the second chapter of Acts when I
  expressed myself to my wife as follows: “Oh, this is the gospel—this
  is the thing we wish—remission of our sins! Oh, that I could hear the
  gospel in these same words—as Peter preached it! I hope I shall some
  day hear it; and the first man I meet who will preach the gospel thus,
  with him will I go.” So, my brother, on the day you saw me come into
  the meeting-house, my heart was open to receive the Word of God, and
  when you cried, “The scriptures no longer shall be a sealed book. God
  means what he says. Is there any man who will take God at his word,
  and be baptized for the remission of sins?” at that moment my feelings
  were such that I could have cried out, “Glory to God! I have found the
  man for whom I have long sought.” So I entered the kingdom where I
  readily laid hold of the hope set before me. (Life of Walter Scott,
  page 113.)

Within three weeks after the close of the meeting at New Lisbon, Mr.
Scott returned and found the interest there greater than when he left,
and seven others were baptized. Soon after this he visited there again,
and baptized more than thirty others. The members of the Baptist Church
gladly accepted the truth, and resolved that thenceforth the Bible
should be their only rule of faith and practice.

The ice was now broken, and a new era was inaugurated which was marked
by a quiet thoughtfulness, and an unwonted searching of the Scriptures,
“whether these things were so,” and a final decision to obey the
personal Christ, expressed in public confession of faith in Christ and
baptism. The country was aroused as never before. The conversion of Mr.
Amend confirmed Mr. Scott in his conviction that the way preached and
practiced by God’s inspired messengers at Pentecost was the right way.
His labors and success aroused much inquiry and great opposition, and
the wildest rumors were circulated concerning his preaching and work.
The interest in the public mind swelled to a torrent which swept
everything before it. Not only individuals by the hundreds became
obedient to the faith, but often entire congregations would wheel into
line with the “ancient order of things.” Baptist congregations voted out
the Philadelphia Confession of Faith and substituted the New Testament
in its place. And not only the Baptists, but Presbyterians,
Universalists, Lutherans, Christian Connectionists, Methodists, and
Episcopalians in large numbers were reached. The Deerfield Methodist
Church came in as a whole.

Exaggerated reports concerning the teaching and practice of Mr. Scott
reached Mr. Campbell and he became fearful lest his zeal and youthful
inexperience should lead him into serious error. He therefore decided
that it would be well for his father, Thomas Campbell, to visit his
field of labor and ascertain the truth concerning the state of affairs.
Upon arriving, he heard Mr. Scott’s presentation of the gospel and
witnessed his method of procedure with surprise and great pleasure. It
at once became apparent to him that what he and his son had taught was
now reduced to practice, and that the rumors that had reached him were
untrue. He therefore remained in this promising field some time, and by
his earnest and efficient labors gave great assistance to the work. On
April 9, 1828, from New Lisbon, he wrote to his son giving his
impressions of the work, as follows:

  I perceive that theory and practice in religion, as well as in other
  things, are matters of distinct consideration. It is one thing to know
  the art of fishing—for instance the rod, the line, and the hook, and
  the bait, too; and quite another thing to handle them dextrously when
  thrown into the water, so as to make it take. We have spoken and long
  known the former (the theory), and have spoken and published many
  things correctly concerning the ancient gospel, its simplicity and
  perfect adaptation to the present state of mankind, for the benign and
  gracious purpose of his immediate relief and complete salvation; but I
  must confess that, in respect to the direct exhibition and application
  of it for that blessed purpose, I am at present for the first time
  upon the ground where the thing has appeared to be practically applied
  to the proper purpose. “Compel them to come in, saith the Lord, that
  my house may be filled.”

  Mr. Scott has made a bold push to accomplish this object, by simply
  and boldly stating the ancient gospel, and insisting upon it; and then
  by putting the question generally and particularly to male and female,
  old and young: “Will you come to Christ and be baptized for the
  remission of your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you
  believe this blessed gospel? Then come away.” This elicits a personal
  conversation; some confess faith in the testimony, beg time to think;
  others consent, give their hand to be baptized as soon as convenient;
  others debate the matter friendly; some go straight to the water, be
  it day or night, and upon the whole none appear offended. (Life of
  Walter Scott, pages 158, 159.)

By the end of the first year many languishing churches had been brought
into living activity, many new ones had been organized, and a thousand
persons had been baptized into Christ. Mr. Scott was unanimously chosen
to continue in the work, and he consented, stipulating only that he
should have William Hayden, a zealous young preacher and sweet singer,
to assist him. But his second year was one of great conflict. By this
time, those bound by sectarian traditions began to realize if Scott were
allowed to continue preaching what they called “heresy” unopposed as he
had been allowed to do during the preceding year, sectarianism was
doomed, hence the opposition became extremely fierce. That you may have
some idea of the conflict that ensued all over the country, I give a
brief history of the introduction of the ancient gospel at Sharon, Pa.
Just a short distance over the state line in Ohio, the Baptist churches
at Warren and Hubbard had accepted it almost in a body, so generally
indeed, that both houses of worship passed quietly out of the hands of
the Baptists; and in the case at Warren, not only the greater part of
the congregation, but the preacher also accepted the truth so ably and
eloquently urged by Scott, and became himself an earnest and successful
advocate of the same. Some of the Baptists had heard of the great
changes that had taken place in the two churches mentioned; some of the
members had even gone so far as to visit them, and could find no
well-founded objections to what they had heard stigmatized as heresy;
nay, it even seemed to them like the things they had read in the Bible;
and some of them went so far as to sit down at the Lord’s table with
them. Such an element in the church, of course, soon made itself felt.
The Scriptures were closely searched, and the light began to spread.
Suspicion was aroused—was the hated “heresy” about to break out among
them and destroy their peace? Several were soon marked men; the views
they held were assailed and loudly condemned, when some one suggested
that, as it was not the custom to condemn without a hearing in ancient
time, they had better send for the public advocates of the new doctrine
and learn the best or worst at once. This suggestion prevailed and Scott
and Bently were invited to preach at Sharon. They came and Scott
preached every night for three weeks. The curiosity which at first
characterized many who attended soon deepened into sincere interest, and
some began to inquire, “Brethren, what shall we do?” The inspired answer
was given, and, in response to the gospel invitation, several persons
presented themselves and were immediately, on a confession of their
faith in Christ as the Son of God, baptized.

Shortly after this meeting closed the cry was raised that what had been
done was not according to “Baptist usage.” Those who had been baptized
had not been required to relate an experience of grace prior to baptism,
and the church had not been allowed to pass on their fitness for
membership, and so they were not received as members. But there was
another serious trouble that could not be so easily settled. They could
refuse to receive into their fellowship those baptized by Mr. Scott; but
what was to be done with those who received with gladness the message
delivered by him as the word of God? Some of these were the most
influential members, and to make the case more perplexing, were tolerant
of the views held by the Baptists. As they had formerly held the same,
they desired that the others should see as they did; but they did not
attempt to force their views upon the church; they wished to hold them
in peace, however, but at the same time did not want to be bound by the
creed and church articles. All this class sympathized with those who had
been refused membership. In their view, if the Lord, as they believed,
had accepted them, why should the church reject them?

Those who were still attached to the Baptist views were of a different
spirit. And they were fully determined that all who even sympathized
with those whom they regarded as heretics should either repent or be
excluded from their fellowship. This naturally produced serious trouble,
and many of the leading members left the church and cast their lot with
those endeavoring to restore the apostolic church. But the opposition
only stirred the evangelists to greater zeal and power, and created for
them a sympathy which opened the doors to thousands of hearts hitherto
closed to their message. Like fighting fire in the stubble, the stroke
of the flail only increased the flame. Throughout the country they went
“turning the country upside down,” like the apostles of old. So great
was their influence that, when the Mahoning Association met in 1830, it
disbanded, and ceased its connection with the Baptist Church, that
church having repudiated all who were set for a return to apostolic
simplicity.

The three years spent by Mr. Scott in the Western Reserve; the great
audiences that greeted him, and the marvelous success that crowned his
labors, stimulated his fervent nature to the highest and drew from his
rich soul the rarest wealth. His mind was filled with truth, and his
thought was illuminated with the finest imagery. He knew the Bible as
few men, and loved it with a passionate love. His life was wholly given
to the Savior, and never was a sacrifice more unreservedly made. No
wonder that a preacher like this should revolutionize the hearts of men.


                       REFORMERS IN OTHER STATES


                              JOHN WRIGHT

In our study so far we have learned of several independent movements, in
widely separated localities, making strenuous efforts to throw off the
shackles of sectarianism and to stand wholly on apostolic ground, and it
is fitting that I should give a brief sketch of others.

John Wright was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, December 12, 1785.
When he was about twelve years old his father moved into Powell’s
Valley, Va., where he grew to manhood. From Virginia the whole family
emigrated to Wayne County, Ky., where he was joined in marriage to Miss
Nancy Beeler, who proved to be a most excellent helpmeet, ever ready
with him to make any sacrifice for the cause of Christ. In the latter
part of 1807, he moved from Kentucky into Clark’s Grant, Indiana.

In August, 1808 he and his wife were baptized by William Summers, and
they immediately united with the Baptist Church, and in the latter part
of the same year he began to preach. This was long before the current
Reformation was heard of by the inhabitants of the West. He was,
therefore among the very first to break the stillness of Indiana’s
forest with the glad tidings of salvation. In January, 1810, he moved to
Blue River, four miles south of Salem, and was shortly afterwards joined
by his father, where they organized a congregation of Free-Will
Baptists. They exerted great influence in behalf of Christianity, and it
was not long until they had organized ten Baptist Churches which they
organized into what was called Blue River Association.

From the very first, John Wright was of the opinion that all human
creeds were heretical and schismatical, and in that region there has not
come after him a more persistent contender for the word of God as the
only and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice. He labored to
destroy all divisions and promote union among all professed followers of
the Lord; and in this difficult and most important service he was very
successful. Though at first he tolerated the name Baptist, he afterwards
waged a war of extermination against all party names. This war was
declared in the year 1819, when he offered at the church at Blue River a
resolution in favor of discarding all party names. As individuals, he
contended that they should be called “friends,” “disciples,” “brethren,”
“saints,” “Christians;” and, as a body, “Church of Christ,” or “Church
of God.” He opposed the term “Christian” as applied to the church,
because it is not so applied in the writings of the apostles.

The resolution was adopted, and, having agreed, also, to lay aside their
speculative opinions and contradictory theories, they were prepared to
plead consistently for Christian union, and to invite others to stand
with them upon the one broad and sure foundation. They then began in
earnest the work of reformation, and with such success that by the year
1821 there was not a Baptist Church in all that region.

About this time a spirited controversy over the subject of Trine
Immersion was being waged among the Tunkers, of whom there were fifteen
congregations in that section of country. The leading spirits in
opposition to that doctrine were Abram Kern, of Indiana, and Peter Hon,
of Kentucky. At first they contended against great odds, but so many of
their opponents finally surrendered that they finally gained a decisive
victory in favor of one immersion. At the close of the contest, while
both parties were exhausted by the conflict, Mr. Wright recommended to
his brethren that they should send a letter to the Annual Conference of
the Tunkers, proposing a union of the two bodies on the Bible alone. The
letter was written and John Wright, his brother, Peter, and several
others, were appointed as messengers to convey it to the conference and
there advocate the measures it proposed. So successful was the effort
that at the first meeting the union was permanently formed.

About the same time Mr. Wright proposed a correspondence with the
Newlights, for the purpose of forming with them a more perfect union. He
was appointed to conduct the correspondence on the part of his brethren,
which he did with so much ability and discretion, that a joint meeting
was assembled at Edinburg, where the union was readily consummated.

A few years subsequent to this, the work of reformation began to
progress rapidly among the Regular Baptists of the Silver Creek
Association. This was directly through the influence of Absolom and J.
T. Littell, and Mordecai Cole, the leading spirits of that locality.
Through their teaching hundreds of individuals and some whole churches
renounced all human creeds and boldly took a stand on the Bible alone.
But still there was a shyness existing between them and those who had
done the same thing under the labors of Mr. Wright. The former having
held Calvinistic opinions, stood aloof through fear of being called
Arians; while the latter feared to make any advances lest they should be
stigmatized as “Campbellites.” Thus the two parties stood when Mr.
Wright became their mediator communicating the sentiments of each to the
other. By this means it was soon ascertained that they were all
endeavoring to preach and practice the same thing. The only important
difference between them was in regard to the design of baptism, and on
this point Mr. Wright yielded as soon as he was convinced of his error.
This move resulted in the permanent union of these two large and
influential bodies of believers. In consequence of this effort at peace
making, more than three thousand united in the bonds of peace, agreeing
to stand together on the one foundation and to forget all minor
differences in their devotion to the great interests of the Redeemer’s
kingdom. This was the greatest achievement of Mr. Wright’s long and
eventful life; and he deserves to be held in high esteem for his love of
truth, for his moral courage in carrying out his convictions of right,
and for the meek and affectionate spirit which gave him such power in
leading people out of sectarianism and uniting them together in the
bonds of love in Christ Jesus.


                        HERMAN CHRISTIAN DASHER

The parents of Herman Christian Dasher came to this country from
Salzburg, Germany, to escape the persecution of the Roman Catholic
Church, and located near Savannah, Georgia. They were Lutherans and had
Herman christened in infancy and brought up in that faith. When he
arrived at manhood and began to be impressed with the importance of
uniting with a church, and of living the Christian life, he was deeply
perplexed by the existence, and by the proclaiming of so many
contradictory doctrines. Fortunately, instead of becoming an infidel, as
so many do under like circumstances, he turned to the Holy Scriptures
for light. He soon became thoroughly convinced that immersion is
baptism, and that affusion is not, and that therefore he ought to be
immersed.

He could not cast his lot with the Baptists, as he could not tell an
experience of grace which they required, for he had seen no marvelous
light, neither had he heard any marvelous sounds. He was by no means
convinced “that God had for Christ’s sake forgiven his sins,” though he
did not then understand the doctrine of baptism for remission of sins,
as he afterwards did; nor did he think that God demanded any such
experience as a prerequisite to baptism and church membership. But he
desired most earnestly to become a Christian, believing in his heart
that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God, the Savior of
sinners.

This brought before him a new difficulty, for within the whole range of
his acquaintance, there was not one who would immerse him on a simple
confession of his faith in Christ. All demanded that he should profess
to have a miraculous and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit within him,
in taking away his heart of stone and giving him a heart of flesh.

Providentially, about this time, while he was most earnestly engaged in
studying the Bible, he was thrown into the company of a Mrs.
Threadcraft, of Savannah, who informed him that in her city a Mr. S. C.
Dunning, who had formerly been a Baptist preacher, but had recently
seceded from that body, because he did not believe it taught and
practiced as the Word of God required. In this movement he had been
accompanied by eight or ten others. This lady further informed him that
Mr. Dunning preached the Scriptures as he did, and that at his hands he
could obtain baptism upon a simple confession of his faith in Jesus
Christ as the Son of God. This information filled him with such great
joy that he did not delay in making the journey into Savannah to see Mr.
Dunning, who baptized him without further delay. This was during the
year 1819.

Immediately after returning to his home he immersed his wife, her sister
and her husband. These “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching
and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers,” meeting every
Lord’s Day in the house of Mr. Dasher. The little church grew and
prospered, being occasionally visited by Mr. Dunning, who assisted in
building it up by his teaching and exhortations.

Some time after this, Mr. Dasher, accompanied by a number of the members
of the church, moved into Lowndes County, and located where the city of
Valdosta now stands. In this new field he continued the work of
preaching the word and built up a congregation which met in his own
residence. This was the beginning of the work in Valdosta and the region
around about. It was many years after the baptism of Mr. Dasher before
he knew that there were any others in any place contending for the
“truth as is in Jesus,” as he and those associated with him were doing.


                              CHAPTER IX.
                   THE CHRISTIANS AND REFORMERS UNITE

A new period has now dawned in the movement for the union of all
Christians by the restoration of primitive Christianity. The Baptists
had thrust from their fellowship those who had embraced it and they were
forced into a separate existence. Every preacher among them was filled
with a zeal to plant churches after the primitive order wherever they
could get a large enough company together.

The work spread principally from two centers, Ohio and Kentucky. From
Ohio it was carried into New York and Pennsylvania; and westward into
Michigan, northern Ohio, and Indiana, and Wisconsin. From Kentucky it
was carried eastward and southward into Virginia, Maryland, the
Carolinas, Tennessee, and Alabama; and westward into Indiana, Illinois
and Missouri. The movement spread chiefly in a westward direction from
Kentucky and Tennessee along the lines of emigration. Very often a
sufficient number of emigrants to establish themselves into a
congregation after the primitive order found themselves together in the
same neighborhood and began at once to meet together for mutual
edification and the spread of the truth.

While it was well known that there were many things received and
practiced in common there had been no special effort to bring about a
union between them. In 1824, at Georgetown, Ky., Mr. Stone and Mr.
Campbell first met. When they compared views, it seemed that there were
irreconcilable differences between them. Stone thought Campbell was
heterodox on the Holy Spirit, and Campbell suspected Stone’s soundness
on the divinity of Christ. But on a more careful investigation, they
found these differences more imaginary than real, and they joined hearts
and hands and God blessed them with the most important work since the
apostolic age. With the kindly feelings towards each other, the work of
union between their brethren was well on the way when it was begun. And
so, after a number of friendly conferences, it was decided to have a
meeting of representative men at Georgetown, Ky., to continue for days,
including December 25, 1831. The results of this conference were so
satisfactory that another was convened in Lexington, January 1, 1832. In
these gatherings the spirit of the Master was supreme.

At the Lexington meeting, at an early hour the house was crowded. Stone,
John T. Johnson, Samuel Rogers, G. W. Elley, Jacob Creath, “Raccoon”
John Smith, and many other worthy men were there, all guarded in thought
and purpose against any compromise of truth, but all filled with the
spirit of the Master: “That they may all be one; even as thou, Father,
art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world
may believe that thou didst send me.” It was decided that one man from
each party should speak, setting forth clearly the grounds of union, and
Smith and Stone were selected as the speakers. After this had been
announced, the two brethren went aside, and conferred in private.
Neither knew what the other would say in the critical hour which had now
come upon the churches; nor did either, in the moment of solemn
conference, ask the other to disclose his mind, touching their
differences, more fully than he had already done. It was decided between
them that Smith should speak first.

The occasion was to Smith the most important and solemn that had
occurred in the history of the reformation. “It was now to be seen
whether all that had been written and said and done in behalf of the
simple gospel of Christ and the union of Christians was really the work
of the Lord, or whether the prayers of Stone and Johnson were but the
idle longings of pious, yet deluded hearts; whether the toils and
sacrifices of Smith were but the schismatic efforts of a bold
enthusiast, and whether the teachings of Campbell were only the
speculations of a graceless and sensuous philosophy. The denominations
around mocked, and declared that a church without a constitution could
not stand, and that a union without a creed was but the chimera of a
dreamy and infatuated heresy.”

At the appointed hour, Smith, realizing the tremendous importance of the
occasion, arose with simple dignity, and stood before the mingling
brotherhoods. He felt the weight that rested upon him. Every eye turned
upon him, and every ear leaned to catch the slightest tones of his
voice. He said:

  God has but one people on the earth. He has given to them but one
  Book, and therein exhorts and commands them to be one family. A union
  such as we plead for—a union of God’s people on that one Book—must
  then be practicable. Every Christian desires to stand complete in the
  whole will of God. The prayer of the Savior, and the whole tenor of
  his teaching, clearly show that it is God’s will that his children
  should be united. To the Christian, then, such a union must be
  desirable. But an amalgamation of sects is not such a union as Christ
  prayed for and God enjoins. To agree to be one upon any system of
  human invention would be contrary to his will, and could never be a
  blessing to the church or the world: therefore the only union
  practicable or desirable must be based on the Word of God as the only
  rule of faith and practice. There are certain abstruse and speculative
  matters—such as the mode of the divine existence and the ground and
  nature of the atonement—that have for centuries, been themes of
  discussion among Christians. These questions are as far from being
  settled now as they were in the beginning of the controversy. By a
  needless and intemperate discussion of them much feeling has been
  provoked, and divisions have been produced. For several years past I
  have tried to speak on such subjects only in the language of
  inspiration, for it can offend no one to say about those things just
  what the Lord himself has said. In this scriptural style of speech all
  Christians should be agreed. It can not be wrong; it can not do harm.
  If I come to the passage, “My Father is greater than I,” I will quote
  it, but will not stop to speculate upon the consubstantial nature of
  the Father and the Son. “Have this mind in you, which was also in
  Christ Jesus: who existing in the form of God, counted not the being
  on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,” I will not stop to
  speculate upon the consubstantial nature of the Father and the Son. I
  will not linger to build a theory on such texts, and thus encourage a
  speculative and wrangling spirit among my brethren. I will present
  these subjects only in the words which the Lord has given me. I know
  he will not be displeased if we say just what he has said. Whatever
  opinions about these and similar subjects I may have reached in the
  course of my investigation, if I never distract the church of God with
  them or seek to impose them on my brethren, they will never do the
  world any harm.

  I have the more cheerfully resolved on this course, because the gospel
  is a system of facts, commands, and promises; and no deductions or
  inferences from them, however logical or true, forms any part of the
  gospel of Jesus Christ. No heaven is promised to those who hold them,
  and no hell is threatened to those who deny them. They do not
  constitute, singly or together, any items of the ancient and apostolic
  gospel. While there is but one faith, there may be ten thousand
  opinions; and hence if Christians are ever to be one, they must be one
  in faith, and not in opinion. When certain subjects arise, and even in
  conversation or social discussion, about which there is a contrariety
  of opinion and sensitiveness of feeling, speak of them in the words of
  the Scriptures, and no offense will be given, and no pride of doctrine
  will be encouraged. We may even come, in the end, by thus speaking the
  same things, to think the same things.

  For several years past I have stood pledged to meet the religious
  world, or any part of it, on the ancient gospel and order of things as
  presented in the words of the Book. This is the foundation on which
  Christians once stood, and on it they can, and ought to, stand again.
  From this I can not depart to meet any man, or set of men, in the
  world. While, for the sake of peace and Christian union, I have long
  since waived the public maintenance of any speculation I may hold, yet
  not one gospel fact, commandment, or promise will I surrender for the
  world. Let us, then, my brethren, be no longer Campbellites or
  Stoneites, New Lights or Old Lights, or any other kind of lights; but
  let us all come to the Bible, and to the Bible alone, as the only book
  in the world that can give us all the light we need.

When Smith had concluded, Stone arose, with his heart filled with love
and hope, said:

  I will not attempt to introduce any new topic, but say a few things on
  the subject presented by my beloved brother. Controversies in the
  church sufficiently prove that Christians can never be one in their
  speculations upon these mysterious and sublime subjects, which, while
  they interest the Christian philosopher, can not edify the church.
  After we have given up all creeds and taken the Bible, and the Bible
  alone, as our rule of faith and practice, we met with so much
  opposition that I was led to deliver some speculative discourses upon
  these subjects. But I never preached a sermon of that kind that really
  feasted my heart; I always felt a barrenness of soul afterwards. I
  perfectly accord with Bro. Smith that these speculations should never
  be taken into the pulpit; and when compelled to speak of them at all,
  we should do so in the words of inspiration.

  I have not one objection to the ground laid down by him as the true
  Scriptural basis of union among the people of God, and I am willing to
  give him, now and here, my hand.

And as he spoke these words, he extended his hand to Smith, and it was
grasped by a hand full of the honest pledges of love and fellowship, and
the union of these two bodies was virtually accomplished. It was then
proposed that all who felt willing to unite on the principles enunciated
should signify it by giving to each other the hand of fellowship, and at
once the audience joyfully joined hands in joyful accord. A song was
sung, and, amid tears of inexpressible happiness, the union was
confirmed.

Following this meeting, some further friendly conferences were held by
means of committees, and by arrangement the members of both churches
communed together on February 19, agreeing to consummate the formal and
public union of the two churches on the following Lord’s day. During the
week, however, some began to fear a difficulty in relation to the choice
of elders and the practical adoption of weekly communion, which they
thought would require the constant presence of an ordained
administrator. The person who generally ministered to the Christian
Church at Lexington at this time was Thomas Smith, a man of more than
ordinary abilities and attainments, and long associated with the
movement of Barton W. Stone. He was at first, apprehensive that the
proposed union was premature, and that disagreements might arise in
regard to questions of church order. The union was therefore postponed,
and matters remained for a short time stationary, but it soon became
apparent to the Christians that there were no exclusive privileges
belonging to the preacher as it concerned the administration of the
ordinances, and Thomas M. Allen, who enjoyed the esteem and confidence
of the entire brotherhood, induced them to complete the union and to
transfer to the new congregation, thus formed under the title of the
“Church of Christ;” the comfortable church house which they had
previously held under the designation of “the Christian Church.” This
wise measure secured entire unanimity, and the formal and public union
was consummated on February 26, as had been previously arranged, when
they again broke bread together, and in that sweet and solemn communion
again pledged to each other their brotherly love.

At Paris, Mr. Allen also effected a union of the two churches and the
union at Georgetown, Lexington, and Paris soon led to union throughout
the state. This desire for unity was greatly furthered by the efforts of
John Smith and John Rogers, who had been appointed at the Lexington
meeting to visit all the churches and hold meetings in conjunction with
each other. Their work was wonderfully successful throughout Kentucky in
uniting the two bodies. The effect of this union was very great on those
who had never made any profession of religion. Multitudes became
obedient to the faith throughout Kentucky, and an impetus was given to
the cause by the union of the two peoples, which served to illustrate
the overwhelming power which the gospel would exert upon the world if
all the sad divisions among those who claim to follow Christ were
healed. The sectarians of Kentucky, who had foretold a speedy disruption
of the union, were surprised to find their prophecies unfulfilled, and
not less grieved at the inroads continually made upon their own power,
which, from this period steadily and rapidly declined. It is worthy of
mention that at the time these events were happening in Kentucky, the
spirit of union was prevailing over sectarianism in a number of other
states also. Every preacher among them was a missionary and traveling
evangelist.

“This union of the Christians and Reformers was not a surrender of one
party to the other; it was an agreement of such as already recognized
and loved each other as brethren to work and worship together. It was
the union of those who held alike the necessity of implicit faith and of
unreserved obedience; who accepted the facts, commands, and promises as
set forth in the Bible; who conceded the right of private judgment to
all; who taught that opinions were no part of the faith delivered to the
saints; and who were now pledged that no speculative matters should ever
be debated to the disturbance of the peace and harmony of the church,
but when compelled to speak on controverted subjects, they would adopt
the style and language of the Holy Spirit.” It was an equal and mutual
resolution to meet on the Bible as on common ground and to preach the
gospel rather than to propagate opinions.



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

--Added some entries to the Table of Contents to correspond to section
  headings.

--Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

--In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by
  _underscores_.





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