The Campbellite Schism
THE seed of anti-missionism, sowed by Campbell, Parker and Taylor, found a genial soil in the territory of Licking Association. As early as 1819, that fraternity declared itself out of the General Union of the Baptists in Kentucky. The next year it withdrew correspondence with Elkhorn Association, assumed the title of Particular Baptists, tabled a circular received from the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, and agreed to receive John Taylor's pamphlet, written against Foreign Missions, and recommend its perusal. This clearly exhibited the spirit of the body, although no direct action was taken on the subject of benevolent societies, till fifteen years later.
At this meeting of Licking Association (1820), a new charge was alleged against Elkhorn Association, to the effect that "They hold in connection with them, churches and preachers that hold and advance doctrines contrary to those on which that association, as well as this, was constituted." The doctrines complained of, had reference to the extent of the atonement. Some, perhaps all, of the preachers in Elkhorn, preached to the unconverted, indiscriminately, that they should repent and turn to God, and that Christ tasted death for every man, while the Licking Association held the doctrine of a limited atonement, and deemed it unsound to preach repentance indiscriminately. It will be remembered that one item in the terms of General Union, was "That preaching Christ tasted death for every man shall be no bar to communion." But Licking Association had declared herself out of the general union. This was the second rupture of the General Union, since its formation, in 1801; South Kentucky Association had rent itself off, in 1803, taken the name of Separate Baptists and gone to the extreme of Arminianism, in doctrine; and now, Licking Association had
rent itself off, assumed the name of Particular Baptists, and gone into Antinomianism. Opposition to all enterprises, having for their object the salvation of men, was a natural result. This action of Licking had but little immediate effect upon the surrounding associations, but yielded some bitter fruits, a score of years afterwards.
A little previous to this period, some discontent was manifested in Red River Association, on the same subject. The beginning of this trouble is related as follows, in the minutes of Bethel Association, of 1826: "In the year 1816, an unpleasantness was manifested by some of our elder brethren an the ministry, towards some of our doctrinal views, namely, the calling on sinners in our congregations, to repent of theirsins, and believe the gospel; and that the invitations of the gospel were to all, to whom it was preached. The nature and extent of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, then became a matter of controversy; though not serious, until certain Baptists, from the upper counties of this State, settled among us. At first, they manifested an appearance of friendship and fellowship towards our churches and ministers, which led us to suppose they were desirous to return into the General Union again. We, therefore, upon their application, received them into our churches." The "Baptists from the upper counties," referred to above, were Absalom Bainbridge and perhaps some private members. Bainbridge had been one of the leading spirits in Licking Association. On moving to the territory of Red River Association, probably about the year 1818, he united with the church called West Fork of Red River. As "soon as they obtained a standing among us," continues the narrative, "[they] manifested a party spirit, which soon found its way into our Association. Things now became serious; a want of brotherly love and christian forbearance was soon manifested in the deportment of a number of the preachers and lay members, especially, at the Association, from year to year. Instead of meeting in love, for the mutual edification and comfort of each other, and to preach the glorious gospel to sinners, our meetings became scenes of contention, which reflected on us, as a religious society, and greatly injured the cause of God among us.
"This state of things continued to grow worse, until the the year 1824, when the association proposed to the churches
to meet in convention, and in a brotherly and Christian spirit, to discuss these doctrinal points, at issue between us. Accordingly, 24 churches sent delegates, who met at Union meetinghouse, in Logan county, Ky., November 24, 1824. After being organized, the causes of grief were called for, and the only one exhibited was, 'The preaching of the Atonement to be general or universal in its nature.' After discussing the subject, the convention, by a unanimous vote, resolved as follows: 'We agree, after all that has been said on the subject of the atonement, although some little difference of opinion exists, to live together in peace and harmony, bearing and forbearing with each other.'"
The convention then recommended to the churches, to bury all the weapons of contention. When the proceedings of the convention reached the churches, there was much joy among the friends of peace. But the rejoicing was of short duration. The spirit of Licking Association was too prominent in some of theministers to be satisfied with anything less than a complete victory. When the association met, in 1825, it was found that sixteen of the churches had rejected the advice of the convention, and some of their letters breathed a spirit of bitterness, not before manifested. It now became apparent to all, that a reconciliation was hopeless. Accordingly, it was agreed to divide the association into two fraternities, the upper, or eastern division, was to retain the old name, Red River. Each church was to have the privilege of uniting with the division it might elect, and the minorities of churches, not agreed on the issue involving the separation, should have letters of dismission to join the churches with which they agreed.
In accordance with this agreement, messengers from eight churches met at the Gilead meeting-house in Todd county, and formed themselves into an association, under the style of Bethel Baptist Association, October 28, 1825. Three other churches were received into the new fraternity, immediately after its organization. They adopted the constitution, abstract of principles, and rules of decorum of the mother fraternity, which were in harmony with the terms of general union. Among the ministers of the new association were the illustrious names of Reuben Ross, John S. Wilson and Wm. C. Warfield, to which that of Wm. Warder was soon afterwards added.
Red River Association was now out of the General Union, and henceforth harmonized with Licking. The schism stopped here, for the present. But the leaven was in many associations in the State, and ultimately produced its legitimate effects, which will be noticed in their appropriate place. These theological subtilties, which had occupied too much of the time, thought and sermons of a certain class of minds, among the Baptists of the West, were being pushed aside by the more novel, if not more practical, issues presented in the current writings of Alexander Campbell. The Christian Baptist did not enter into discussion of the shadowy differences of opinion among the Baptists, but boldly attacked their fundamental doctrines, both of theory and practice.
The first positive fruits of Mr. Campbell's attempted reformation, appear to have been gathered in North Carolina. The following extract is from a letter, printed in the Christian Baptist of December 4, 1826: "I have before me a letter received from a Baptist preacher in Wake county, N. C., stating that nine churches of the Raleigh Baptist Association have rent themselves from that association, in consequence of the annoyance they have met with from missionary schemes and missionary beggars. They call themselves the 'Reformed Baptist churches.' I also saw, a few days since, a respectable Baptist preacher from the Neuse Baptist Association, who stated that he thought therewere as many as fifteen churches, in that association, ready to separate from the association for the same reasons. He also stated that one church in the Kehukee Association had pointedly declared against the missionary and money-begging system."
It is probable that the reformation effected by these "Reformed Baptist churches," consisted in their adopting Mr. Campbell's current views on the subject of missions, Bible and tract societies, the support of ministers, and theological education, which led, as in most other similar cases, to Antinomianism. But it was not long before Mr. Campbell's theological tenets began to yield fruits nearer home. Up to August, 1829, Mr. Campbell was a member of a society, recognized as a Baptist church. This church was a member of Mahoning Baptist Association. Mr. Campbell's influence was so great, both in the church of which he was a member, and the small association to
which it belonged, that, notwithstanding his known and publicly avowed heterodoxy, neither had he been disciplined by his church for heresy, nor his church by its association for retaining him as a member. The Baptist denomination was, therefore, held responsible for his teaching. The Baptists, generally, were becoming very restless under this exceedingly odious responsibility, while his disciples were daily multiplying in the Baptist churches, and becoming more bold and confident in proclaiming his heresies, under the pseudonym of the "ancient gospel."
In August, 1829, Beaver Association, a small Baptist fraternity in Pennsylvania, met at Providence meeting-house, near Pittsburg, and, after discussing the subject of Mr. Campbell's teaching, resolved to withdraw fellowship from Mahoning Association, on account of its maintaining, or countenancing, the following sentiments, or creed:
1. They maintain that there is no promise of salvation without baptism.
2. That baptism should be administered to all who say that Jesus Christ is the son of God, without examination on any other point.
3. That there is no direct operation of the Holy Spirit, on the mind, prior to baptism.
4. That baptism produces the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
5. That the Scriptures are the only evidence of interest in Christ.
6. That obedience places it in God’s power to elect to salvation.
7. That no creed is necessary for the church but the Scriptures as they stand.
8. That all baptized persons have a right to administer the ordinance of baptism.
This is believed to have been the first official declaration of nonfellowship for Mr. Campbell and his followers. The other associations corresponding with Mahoning, withdrew fellowship from it, during the same, and the following month. The Appomattox Association in Virginia, at its meeting, in May, 1830, recorded the following item:
"Whereas, there is satisfactory evidence, that the writings
of Alexander Campbell have exerted what we consider a mischievous influence upon numbers of churches, fomenting envy, strife and divisions among those who had before lived in fellowship and peace. Therefore, Resolved, That this association most cordially approves the course pursued by the Beaver and her sister associations in withdrawing from Mahoning."
Frankfort church, of which Silas M. Noel was pastor, was the first Baptist organization, in Kentucky, that took action on the subject. A newspaper war had been waged, about five years, over the differences between the teachings of Mr. Campbell and those of the Baptists; they had been discussed perpetually, in the social circle, and in all the pulpits in the land, and the parties were now pretty clearly defined. The churches had hoped that the strange enthusiasm, enkindled by Mr. Campbell's fertile pen, and plausible preaching, would subside, and the schismatics he reclaimed. Their indulgence had been misconstrued by the "reformers," and tended to increase their aggressiveness. The pastor of the church at Frankfort saw the mistake, and its evil consequences, and induced his charge to send a letter to Franklin Association, of which it was a member, to endeavour to induce that body to take a decided stand against Campbellism, and advise the churches to exclude from their membership, such of its adherents as could not be reclaimed. The letter was, without doubt, written by the pastor. The following extracts from this letter, the first official document written against Campbellism in Kentucky, will exhibit something of the spirit of the "reformation," as well as the excited temper of the Baptists, at that stormy period:
"We have high authority to count those who preach another gospel accursed; to mark them who stir up strife and cause divisions." "We have no authority to receive such into our houses, or bid them God speed."
"At this crisis, those who seek inglorious repose, by making truce with the adversaries, should have their furlough. They are unworthy of the service, unfaithful to the King. We admire charity, but let it be the uncompromising charity of the Bible. All beside is hypocrisy and spiritual venality.
"We viewed them [the Campbellites] as impotent, and unworthy of notice, until they have scattered discord and corruption through many churches. By our forbearance, and their
partial success among the Baptists, they have become vain and impudent. They have, as they think, waged a war of extermination against our altars, our church constitutions and our faith. They blaspheme the Holy Spirit, by denying and deriding his direct and invincible influence in the work of regeneration, before baptism. [They deny] that sinners are saved by grace, sovereign and free, and justified by the righteousness of Christ, imputed. Even these fundamental doctrines are ridiculed, reviled; and the final perseverance of the saints is made the subject of a jeering, taunting sneer. An apostle would deliver such apostates unto Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme; for, like Alexander, concerning faith they have made shipwreck. They calculate on success by fomenting strife among us, by stratagem and guile.
"While they pour contempt upon our views of the plan of salvation, they have neither candor, honesty, nor magnanimity to disclose their own." "In this struggle we do not expect much from Latitudinarian Baptists. The annals of the church furnish no instance in which they have sacrificed much in defense of truth." "Even, now, they are seen casting a leering, wishful eye towards the enemy's camp. How often have they mutinied and become our worst enemies? In the Arian war, many of them went out from us, and in this war with the Pelagians, and Sandemanians,1 called Campbellites, many of them may in like manner desert us. God has his own way to cleanse his sanctuary. In Great Britain, some of them have become Socinians; in New England, Unitarians; in Kentucky, Arians and Campbellites."
"Through the minutes of the Beaver Associasion. . . . we learn that Mahoning Association has fallen; that Mr. A. Campbell, his church and Association, have been solemnly excluded by the decision of the proper tribunal, the neighboring associations."
After inserting the errors, for the countenancing of which Mahoning Association was excluded from the fellowship of the neighboring associations, the writer of the letter continues:
"For these destructive conceits, Mahoning has suffered excision from the fellowship of her sister associations. Add to
these. . . [Mr. Campbell's teaching] in regard to the office and work of the ministry,experimental religion, and the abrogation of the ten commandments, and you then have Campbellism unmasked -- the creed of the no creeds. Can any real Baptists abide this? Will not this Association consider it her duty, to say to the churches, these corruptions are to be discountenanced, and republish in her minutes, the report in regard to Mahoning, as contained in the minutes of Beaver? We can do nothing less than request it, and instruct our members to vote for this, and every other measure, calculated to suppress these upas sprouts of the dark ages, nick-named 'Ancient Gospel.' George Whitfield, in speaking of Robert Sandeman, to a Scotch audience, emphatically remarked: 'He is an Ishmaelite; his hand is against every man; and every man's hand ought to be against him.'
"Brethren, the reckless spirits of the day have opened wide the floodgates of detraction, and abuse against your church order, your covenants, your constitutions and your faith. They sacrilegiously insult the spirits of the pious dead, by deriding the sanctity of their hope and the triumphs of their faith. The men who have borne the burden and heat of the day, who have preached Christ crucified through the iron grates of prisons, and hymned his praise amid the blaze of kindling fires, are numbered with bigots and enthusiasts. . . . All these heralds of mercy are ranked with lying prophets, and you are modestly invited to record your infamy by abjuring their faith and hope."2
This letter was presented to Franklin Association at its meeting at the Forks of Elkhorn, September 19, 1829. But the Association was not yet ready for any decisive action on the subject. They still vainly hoped that the storm would blow over, and the schismatics be reclaimed. They published in their minutes, "the report relative to Mahoning Association, as contained in the minutes of Beaver," and "the churches were advised to discountenance the several errors and corruptions for which Mahoning Association had suffered excision." This appears to have been done merely to gratify Frankfort church. No reference is made to its errorists and corruptors, in Kentucky.
Even the circular letter made no reference to the turbulent contentions that were convulsing the churches. It was evident that the Association was not yet ready for decisive action. The far-seeing Dr. Noel saw the evil of delay, but could not arouse the Association to a sense of the impending danger to the peace of the churches. Elkhorn Association took one wise precaution, this year. Hitherto the churches had been allowed to send any number of messengers to the association, they might desire. Several of the churches, in the body were supposed to have a majority of Campbellites. Against another year, by the arts, which it was known they did not scruple to use, the schismatics might have a majority in the Association. To guard against these arts, the Association, at its meeting in Lexington, in 1829, passed the following:
"Resolved, That hereafter the churches composing this association shall be represented by votes in the following manner, viz: Every church shall be entitled to two votes; if composed of one hundred members, three votes, and one vote for every additional hundred members. There seems to have been no direct action taken at this meeting in regard to the prevailing heresy. The precaution taken by Elkhorn may have been caused by the action of Boones Creek Association the year previous. The Campbellites, having gotten the ascendency in that body in 1828, it entered upon the minutes for that year the following record:
"This association, having taken into consideration the request of some of the churches for an amendment of her constitution, after mature deliberation, is decidedly of opinion that the Word of God does not authorize or prescribe any form of constitution for an association in our present organized state; but we do believe that the Word of God authorizes the assembling of saints together for his worship. We, therefore recommend to the churches the abolition of the present constitution, and, in lieu thereof, the adoption of the following 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 the third Saturday, Lord's Day and Monday in September, for the worship of God; and, on such occasions,
voluntarily communicate the state of religion among us by letters and messengers."
This proceeding gives sufficient evidence of a Campbellite majority in the associational meeting. The churches, however, refused to comply with the advice. At the meeting of the association at Hinds Creek, in Madison county, the next year, the constitution was sustained by a small majority.
North District Association had, in 1829, a decided majority in favor of Campbellism. The leading issue in that body was the question of creeds. On this question a victory over creeds was easily obtained. The old churches of which the fraternity was composed, was, before the general union, Separate Baptists, and were strongly opposed to all written articles of faith. They had, for the sake of union, assumed the appellation of united Baptists, and subscribed to the terms of general union. But they had by no means purged out the old leaven. Under the artful leadership of John Smith, they threw off whathe easily pursuaded them was a yoke of bondage. Having thus severed themselves from the general union of the Baptists, they fell an easy prey to the new doctrine. Ten churches were rescued from the wreck, and were acknowledged by the neighboring associations to be the orderly part of North District Association.
Licking Association adopted the policy of Mr. Campbell in regard to missions, benevolent societies and theological education, but rejected his theology. In her circular letter of 1830, she says: "It is a matter of pleasing astonishment that the schisms and divisions prevailing so extensively in the Baptist ranks, have been kept from among us, and that we have been permitted to enjoy uninterrupted harmony."
Bracken Association appears to have taken no action on the subject of "the Reformation," is 1829. Concord, North Bend and some others of the small associations in the northern part of the State, appear to have been silent on the subject. Sulphur Fork copied into her minutes the action of Beaver Association, and warned the churches against the errors for which Mahoning was exceeded.
The confusion was introduced into Long Run this year in a little different way. Two new churches, Pond Creek and Goose Creek, petitioned for membership in the body without presenting
written articles of faith. Their petition was laid over till the next association, and a committee was appointed to labor with them. No action was taken concerning the prevailing heresy. The churches in Salem Association seem not to have been affected by the heresy, and all the more Southern associations were silent on the subject. The followers of Mr. Campbell were largely in the majority in Tates Creek Association, and the most the Baptist's hoped for was to save a remnant of the churches composing it.
Baptist Association copied into her minutes the erroneous tenets pointed out by Beaver Association, and advised the churches to receive no applicant into membership nor preacher into their pulpits, who held these errors.
It will be observed that, notwithstanding the reckless daring of the schismatics, and the urgent vehemence of some of the church letters to the association, the actions of the latter had all been conservative. This was construed by the schismatics, and especially by their adroit leader, as a confession of the weakness of their cause. The success of the "Reformers" in proselyting Baptists to their views was remarkable. They already had large majorities in Tates Creek and North District Associations; Boones Creek was nearly equally divided; Bracken was doubtful, and their progress had been so great in Elkhorn that they had little doubt that they would, by prudent management, have a majority in the next meeting of that old mother fraternity. With these five associations under their control, they felt confident that they would be able speedily to unite the Baptists of the whole State under their banner. Their aspiration and expectation was to bring the whole christian world into one glorious union "on the Bible alone," in an incredible short time. They did not dream of a separation from the Baptists. They expected to bring the Baptists out of the darkness and smoke of Babylon, and were confident that all that was necessary to accomplish this was to get the Baptists to hear them. This they must do at any cost. Their enthusiasm knew no bounds. They fancied that they could already see the dawning of the Millennium. To confirm them in this happy anticipation, Mr. Campbell started a new periodical (or changed the name of the old one), to which he gave the name of the MILLENNIAL HARBINGER. As John the Baptist came to proclaim the speedy
coming of the Messiah, this Harbinger was established to hail the Millennium at hand.
But one more year's labor was to decide the question, as to whether the Baptists were to be brought in to the light, and, with united voice, hail the rising of the morning star, or whether, like Beaver Association, they would remain in Babylon, and cast out the sons of light to wage war against missions, Bible societies, theological education, clergymen, creeds, confessions of faith, associational constitutions, church covenants and other gigantic evils, alone. It was hardly a question with the Millennialists. They were fully assured of the righteousness of their cause, and as confident of the near approach of the Millennium, as McNemar, Dunlavy, Stone and their coadjutors had been twenty-seven years before, and were correspondingly confident of success. The Baptists were hopeful, but not sanguine that the enthusiasts would return to sober thought, and be reclaimed; but if this now feeble hope was not realized, they were determined to exclude the disturbers of their worshiping assemblies and deliberative councils, from their churches and associations. For the present, the contest was for the prominence in Bracken, Elkhorn, Boones Creek, Franklin, Long Run, Baptist and South District Associations, North District and Tates Creek having already been brought under the control of the "Reformers." Each party felt from its own standpoint, the importance in the contest, and both prepared for the struggle. The leaders of the contest on the part of the Campbellites, were John Smith, Jacob Creath, Sr., and Jacob Creath, Jr., on the part of the Baptists, Silas M. Noel, George Waller and Wm. Vaughan; Jeremiah Vardeman and Walter Warder seemed undecided.
Never was there a time when religious controversy caused greater or more unremitting excitement on this continent, than was manifested in Kentucky during the years 1829, and 1830. The contest was a civil war. The contending parties were all members of the same churches and associations. The strifepervaded every department of society. The mad spirit of the hour entered the council chamber, pervaded the worshiping assembly and invaded the sacred precincts of the hearthstone and family altar. Every form of public worship became a subject of wrangling and debate. Songs of praise, prayers for divine
mercy, the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost, preaching from Scripture texts, exhorting sinners to pray, and relating the dealings of God with the soul were made subjects of jeering, contempt and derision. The Baptist division of North District Association complain, in their minutes of 1830, that the schismatics "even deny the special operation of the Spirit in quickening the dead sinner, and by way of ridicule, ask, where did the Spirit hit you? whether in the shoulder or under the fifth rib, etc."3 It is not to be wondered at, if the bitterest feelings of which Christians are capable, were engendered.
There was the widest conceivable difference in the spirit and temper of the two parties. The Baptists were like Moses when he looked upon Aaron’s golden calf; the Campbellites exhibited the spirit of those who danced around it. The former were overwhelmed with sorrow and mortification, the latter were buoyant, hopeful and enthusiastic. The Baptists wept, prayed and confessed their sins, in the saddest perplexity, were perhaps, too often indignant against the ridiculer of their doctrines and their worship, and longed for peace on any terms that would not compromise their conscience, or their honor. The Campbellites boasted of their superior intelligence and piety, looked forward as to certain and speedy victory, and moved onward as with a show and flourish of trumpets, proclaiming everywhere their successes and triumphs. Their boastful confidence is fitly illustrated by the assertion of John Smith, that, within a few months, he had "baptized seven hundred sinners, and capsized fifteen hundred Baptists,"4 and the intensity of their enthusiasm may be gathered from the circumstance of the same John Smith and "two pious Christian women who loved the word that he preached publicly shaking the dust from their feet as a testimony against Stony Point Baptist church, on account of their refusing Mr. Smith permission to preach in their house.5
It is probable that the proceedings of Franklin, Sulphur Fork, Long Run, Baptist and Boones Creek Associations, tame and conservative as they were, checked in some degree, the progress of Campbellism which threatened to carry everything before it, in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. But they do not appear to have moderated the zeal, enthusiasm and persistence of its advocates.
It was doubtful whether a majority of the Baptists in the bounds of Bracken Association favored the new doctrine, or not. It was on the territory of this small but intelligent and respectable, fraternity, that Mr. Campbell first made his appearance in Kentucky, and held his debate with McCalla. He had here many admirers and his followers could not fail to feel a deep interest incarrying the churches of this Association, into the "Reformation." During the revival of 1827-9, the aggregate membership of the churches had increased, from 1,103 to 2,303. Walter Warder was the chief laborer during the revival, but Vardeman, Creath, Jr. and John Smith had visited, and preached among, the churches, and the latter had exerted his full strength in opposing Calvinism, as he termed it, and advocating Campbellism. In 1829, Jesse Holton, known to be a Campbellite, was elected moderator of the Association, over Walter Warder, who had filled that position during the nine years preceding. This and the rejection of correspondence with Licking Association, on the same terms that Elkhorn corresponded with that body, afford sufficient evidence that the Campbellites were in the ascendency in the Association. John Smith, having been requested by Walter Warder to be present, was invited to a seat in the body, and made a speech against the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Immediately after the Association adjourned, Smith made a tour among the churches composing it, preaching the doctrine of the Christian Baptist. He was followed by crowds, and received with enthusiasm. The Campbellites were confident that they had the Association and its churches, fully under their control.
About this time, in the fall of 1829, Wm. Vaughan moved back from Ohio, where he had lived a year or two, and settled again within the bounds of Bracken Association. Heat once began to visit the churches and expose the sophistries of Campbellism. His first sermon was at Lees Creek, where Blackstone Abernathy had succeeded him as pastor, on his removal to Ohio, and had led a majority of the church into Campbellism. Soon after this he went to Mayslick church, of which Walter Warder was pastor, and exposed what he deemed the dangerous heresy of Mr. Campbell, in two masterly sermons. Whatever of the delusion of Campbellism had found a place in Walter Warder's creed, was swept away by these two sermons,
and henceforth he took his position firmly on Baptist ground. Vardeman also shook off the enchantment of "the Reformation."
Mr. Vaughan, during this stormy period, had no pastoral charge, except for one Sunday in the month, at Carlisle. He gave his time to visiting the churches in Bracken and the adjoining associations, and combatting the prevailing heresy. In January, 1830, he and Warder were called upon to ordain John Holliday, at Millersburg. They resolved to say nothing about Campbellism on the occasion, and hoped to have a season of spiritual devotion, for which their souls were hungry. But such privileges were seldom enjoyed in the public assemblies, at this period, and their hopes were disappointed on this occasion. When they reached Millersburg, they found Jacob Creath, Jr. there, uninvited, but insisting on taking part in the ordination. This was denied him. That night he preached a Campbellite sermon. Next day Mr. Vaughan answered him in a sermon twoand three-quarter hours in length. This, says the subsequent historian, saved Millersburg church from the meshes of "the Reformation."
In the following May, Mr. Campbell sought a personal interview with Mr. Vaughan, in which he endeavored to win him over to "the Reformation," by representing to him, that he would have more friends and be better sustained, if he would join "the Reformation."6 He added in the same conversation: "If you and Walter Warder will join the Reformation, this whole country will go into it." No inducement, however, could move this good and great man from what he deemed his duty to his Master. He and Warder continued to labor diligently, during the spring and summer, to bring the churches to order, and reclaim the dissenters.
Bracken Association met in Washington, on the first Saturday in September, 1830. There was an intense interest felt by both the parties of which it was composed. The election of a Moderator would determine who held the balance of power. The vote was taken, and Mr. Vaughan was declared elected. This showed a Baptist majority. The Church at Mayslick having divided, and each party presenting letters to the Association, claiming to be the original Church, it was,
Resolved, That the majority be recognized as such; the minority having embraced a system of things called Reformation, thereby departing from the principles of the United Baptists in Kentucky, and of the Association.
The Church at Bethel also sent two letters, The minority was recognized as the church, the majority having departed from the principles of the United Baptists. North District Association having divided, each party sent a letter and messengers to Bracken. The party composed of ten churches, which held to the original principles of the United Baptists, was recognized as North District Association.
In Elkhorn and Franklin, the confusion and strife were greater than in Bracken. The church at Versailles, between Frankfort and Lexington, and a little nearer the latter than the former, had fully adopted the views of Mr. Campbell, in 1829. The two Creaths and Josephus Hewett were members of this church, and hence were beyond the danger of discipline for prosecuting the work of reformation. The tenets of Mr. Campbell had been adopted by some members, in most, or all of the churches in Franklin and Elkhorn Associations. The policy of the Creaths and Hewett was to watch for any strife that might occur in any of the churches, [as their conduct proved], foment the strife till a division was produced, "take sides" with the party most favoring Campbellism, and, if it should be in the majority, abolish the creed of the church; if in a minority, constitute it a church "on the Bible alone."
At South Elkhorn, the oldest church north of Kentucky river, a division had been produced twenty years before, by the rupture in Elkhorn Association, caused by a contention between Jacob Creath, Sr. and others. Jacob Creath, Jr. became pastor of the majority party. This party which had been recognized by Elkhorn Association as South Elkhorn church, recorded the following proceedings of its July meeting, in 1828:
"WHEREAS, this church, in its original constitution, agreed to receive and adopt the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the church having taken the subject into consideration, after deliberation thereupon, has resolved to dispense with the Philadelphia Confession, and, from this time forth, takes the Word of God as contained in the Old and New Testaments, in their own statements and connections, as the constitution, and to be guided
and directed by them in all things, believing them to be an allsufficient rule of faith and practice for the government of the church. And, further, we retain the name of the Baptist church of Christ at South Elkhorn."7 The association took no notice of this disorderly act till 1830, when a committee was appointed to visit the church and endeavor to reclaim her from this and other disorders. Failing in this attempt, the church was dropped from the association in 1831, and has since remained a Campbellite church. The next opportunity afforded the Creaths and Hewett to meddle with a church difficulty was at South Benson in Franklin county. As this affair led to very important consequences, it is deemed proper to give the circumstances somewhat in detail. South Benson church is located on the south side of Kentucky river, about five miles south-west of Frankfort. It was constituted of six members by William Hickman, Sr., Warren Cash and John Penny, February 28, 1801. William Hickman, Jr., son of the famous old pioneer preacher of the same name, was one of the six who was in the constitution, and was ordained and became pastor of the young church in 1802. The church was very prosperous under his ministry till 1829, when it numbered 298 members. A little previous to this date, Elder John Brown, a son-inlaw of the pastor, manifested some jealousy, had formed a small party in the church, and set on foot a plan to supplant his father-in-law. His plan did not succeed. When Franklin Association, of which South Benson church was a member, took action against Campbellism, in 1829, it became apparent that several members of the church sympathized with that heresy. Mr. Brown seized upon thiscircumstance to augment his party. He began to denounce creeds and confessions of faith. Meanwhile, the Creaths and Hewett, like job’s war-horse, scented the battle from afar off, and hastened to the scene of action. At the November meeting, in 1829, owing to the inclemency of the day, but few of the members were present. Creath, Sr., and Hewett were on hand. A motion was made “That no creed is necessary for the church but the scriptures as they stand.” The motion was carried by a small majority. At the December
meeting, this action was reconsidered, and reversed by an overwhelming majority. At the meeting of January, 1830, the malcontents moved a reconsideration of the reversal, both the Creaths being present. The motion was lost. A last effort was now made to reconcile the minority. They demanded a total erasure from the church book of every thing in regard to the advice of the association, and that John Brown should be permitted to preach such doctrine as he had heretofore preached, or pleased to preach, and that the doors should not be closed against any that they might choose to invite. This proposition the church rejected, upon which Creath, Sr., rose, put on his hat and pronounced the minority absolved. Creath, Jr., then rose and proclaimed that he would renew his appointment to preach in that pulpit on the creed question. Another leader rose and vociferated -- "All you who are in favor of meeting here on Monday to constitute on this book, (holding up the Bible), say aye." The leaders of the malcontents responded, "aye." On Monday following, the Schismatics assembled in the meeting-house, and were "constituted on the scriptures as they stand," by the two Creaths. John Brown was appointed "Bishop," and two others, Deacons.8
These high handed proceedings aroused the churches to a sense of danger that they had not felt before. All order and decorum had been set at defiance. A call was made for an extra session of the association to consider what could be done to check the disorder. The call was promptly responded to by the churches. Franklin Association met in extra convention at Frankfort on the second Friday in July, 1830. All the (19) churches of the body were represented. Seventy-four messengers were present. Elkhorn, Long Run, Concord, Licking and Sulphur Fork Associations were represented by corresponding messengers. Among the ministers present, not belonging to the body, and who were invited to seats in the council, were John Bryce, George Blackburn, George Waller, Ryland T. Dillard, George C. Sedwick, Joel S. Bacon, Herbert C. Thompson and James Seymore. The introductory sermon was preached by George C. Sedwick. William W. Ford was elected moderator and Henry Wingate clerk.
This was probably the most important association ever held in Kentucky. The principle object of its meeting was to define Campbellism, which, on account of the ingenious ambiguity of Mr. Campbell's writings, had not been generallyunderstood by the Baptists, and to warn the churches against its devastating influence. This was done in a circular letter, printed in the minutes of the proceedings of the association, and sent to the churches of which it was composed. The circular letter was written by the learned, profound and eminently godly Silas M. Noel, D.D. The letter is lengthy, but it is a clear, unequivocal statement of what Mr. Campbell’s teachings were, at that time, as set forth in his own writings, and deserves to be preserved in a permanent form. Mr. Campbell, in the Millennial Harbinger, Vol. I, Page 276, in his usual equivocal style, denies that the circular letter correctly represents him; but, as he does not tell his readers in what particular he is misrepresented, and as the circular refers to the page in Mr. Campbell's publications where each quotation may be found, the reader, who can get access to the Christian Baptist and the Millennial Harbinger, in their original form, can judge for himself. To those who can not gain access to Mr. Campbell's writings, it may truthfully be said that no man ever had a higher character for truth and integrity than Silas M. Noel.
The following is the circular letter:
TO THE CHURCHES COMPOSING THE FRANKLIN ASSOCIATION
You will learn from our minutes, the result of this called session of our Associations. Before Alexander Campbell visited Kentucky, you were in harmony and peace; you heard but the one gospel, and knew only the one Lord, one faith and one baptism. Your church constitutions were regarded, and their principles expounded and enforced, by those who occupied your pulpits. Thus you were respected by other denominations, as a religious community. Often were you favored with refreshing seasons from on high, and many of your neighbors and of your families were brought to a knowledge of the truth. How delightful were your morning and evening interviews, cheered by the songs, prayers and exhortations of brethren, and by the
presence of Him who has promised that where two or three are gathered together in his name, to be in their midst. Have not these happy days gone by? In place of preaching, you now may hear your church covenants ridiculed, your faith, as registered upon your church books denounced, and yourselves traduced; while the more heedless and unstable abjure the faith, and join with the wicked in scenes of strife, schism and tumult. The fell spirit of discord stalks in open day through families, neighborhoods and churches. If you would protect yourselves as churches, make no compromise with error, mark them who cause divisions; divest yourselves of the last vestige of Campbellism.
"As an Assocation, we shall deem it our duty to drop correspondence with any and every Association or church, where this heresy is tolerated. Those who say they are not Campbellites, yet countenance and circulate his little pamphlets, are insincere; they are to be avoided. When they say they are persecuted, because they will not swallow the Philadelphia Confession of Faith," you are not to believe it, for no church has called one of them in question on that point so far as we know. It is not so much their objection to this book, but rather our objections to their Confession of Faith, that makes the difference. When they tell you that the Holy Spirit begins the work of salvation, that he carries it on, and that he perfects it, they may only mean that all this is done, by the words of the Holy Spirit, that is, by the Testament read or heard, and not by the quickening energies of God's Spirit, directly. All supernatural, immediate influences are discarded by them, as mere physical operations. All that we have esteemed religion, the work of God's grace in the soul, directly, is rejected. Mr. Campbell calls it a whim -- a metaphysical whim! And that you may know the full extent of our objections, we herewith send you several articles gathered from the Christian Baptist, and Millennial Harbinger, 9 with a reference to the pamphlet and to the page, where you can read and judge whether they are, or are not, the reformation tenets. It may be said that these scraps are garbled from many volumes. Verily, they are but scraps; but each
scrap embodies an opinion easily understood; so that this may with some propriety, be called a confession of opinions. We are not obliged to republish his pamphlets. Were we, however, to do it, the nature and bearing of these opinions would not be changed.
THE THIRTY NINE ARTICLES; OR,
A NEW EDITION OF OLD ERRORS, EXTRACTED FROM ALEXANDER CAMPBELL'S
CHRISTIAN BAPTIST AND MILLENNIAL HARBINGER.
1. "That there has been no preaching of the gospel since the days of the apostles"
2. "That the people have been preached to from texts of Scripture until they have been literally preached out of their senses.
3. "That all public speaking now necessary, is to undo what has already been done."
4. "That John Calvin taught as pure Deism as was ever taught by Voltaire or Tom Paine; and that this Deism is taught in all the colleges in Christendom."
5. "That all the faith that men can have in Christ, is historical."
6. "That the words 'little children,' in the phrase, 'I write unto you, little children,' (in the epistle of John) are to be understood literally" [M. H. p. 100 compared with p. 104-5.]
7. "That faith is only an historical belief of facts stated in the Bible."
8. "That Baptism, which is synonymous with immersion and for which every such believer is a proper subject, actually washes away sin, and is regeneration." [For last two articles, see M. H., pp. 117, 119.]
9. "That in the moral fitness of things, in the evangelical economy; baptism or immersion is made the first act of a Christian's life, or rather the regenerating act itself, in which the person is properly born again-born of water and spirit-without which, into the kingdom of heaven he cannot enter." [C. B. vol. v.p. 223.]
Note No prayers, no songs of praise, no acts of devotion, in the new economy, are enjoined on the unbaptized.
10. "Most certainly, where a man is born of water, there is the bath of regeneration. Jesus gave himself for his bride, the church, and that she might be worthy of his affection, he cleansed her with a bath of water and with the word, etc." [C. B. vol. v.p. 123.]
11. "That there is but one action ordained or commanded in the Testament, to which God has promised or testified, that he will forgive our sins. This action is Christian immersion." [C. B. vol. vi. p. 158.]
12. "That by the mere act of a believing immersion into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are born again, have all our sins remitted, receive the Holy Spirit, and are filled with joy and peace. [C. B. Vol. V.P. 213.]
"QUERY. Is a believer in Christ not actually in a pardoned state before he is baptised?
"ANSWER. Is not a man clean before he is washed!! Where there is only an imaginary line between Virginia and Pennsylvania, I can not often tell with ease whether I am in Virginia or Pennsylvania; but I can always tell when I am in Ohio, however near the line; for I have crossed the Ohio river. And blessed be God! he has not drawn a mere artificial line between the plantations of nature and of grace. No man has any proof that he is pardoned until he is baptized. And if men are conscious that their sins are forgiven, and that they are pardoned before they are immersed, I advise them not to go into the water, for they have no need of it. [C. B. vol. vi. p. 188.]"
13. "That Christian immersion is the gospel in water. The Lord's Supper is the gospel in bread and wine." [C. B. vol. v. p. 158.] "As water saved Noah, so baptism saves us. He had faith in the resurrection of the earth; and we have faith in the ressurection of Jesus. He believed in God's promise of bringing him out of the water, and we his promise of raising from the dead. We leave our sins where Noah's baptism left the ungodly." [C. B. vol. vii. p. 123.] "As in the natural world a child cannot be said to be born of his father until he is first born of his mother, so in the spiritual world, no one can be said to be born of the Spirit until he is born of the water." [M. H. vol. i. p. 206.]
14. "Can men, just as they are found when they hear the
gospel, believe? We answer boldly, yes; just as easily as we can believe the well attested facts concerning the person and the achievements of General George Washington." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 187.]
15. "We rejoice to know that it is just as easy to believe and be saved as it is to hear or see." [C. B., vol. 5, p. 221.]
16. "All the sons of men cannot show that there is another faith, but the belief of facts either written in the form of history or orally delivered. Angels, men or demons cannot define anything under the term faith, but the belief of facts or of history; except they change it into confidence. While men are talking and dreaming and quarreling about a metaphysical whim, wrought in the heart, do you arise and obey the Captain of Salvation. And my word -- nay more, the word of all the apostles for it, and of the Lord himself, you will find peace and joy, and eternal salvation, springing from the obedience of faith." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 186.]
17. "That to be born children of wrath means only to be born Gentiles." [same page.]
18. "Millions have been tantalized by a mock gospel, which places them as the fable places Tantalus, standing in a stream, parched with thirst, and the water running to his chin, and so circumstanced that he could not taste it. There is a sleight-of-hand or religious legerdemain in getting around the matter. To call any thing grace, or favor, or gospel, not adapted to man, as it finds him, is the climax of misnomers. To bring the cup of salvation to the lips of a dying sinner, and then tell him for his soul he cannot taste it without some sovereign aid beyond human control, is to mock his misery and torment him more and more." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 187.]
19. "That baptism is the only medium, divinely appointed, through which the efficacy of the blood of Christ is communicated to the conscience. Without knowing and believing this, immersion is as empty as a blasted nut. The shell is there, but the kernel is wanting." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 160.]
20. "No person on earth believed that the Messiah would die a sin offering or rise from the dead, from Eve to Mary Magdalene. If we do not make this assertion good before we finish the essays on the Jewish and Christian dispensations, we shall eat it up." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 217.]
21. "The election taught by the college men contemplated all the righteous, from Abel to the resurrection of the dead, as standing in the relation of elect persons to God; than which nothing can be more opposed to fact and scripture; for though Abel, Enoch and Noah were worshipers of the true God, they were not elect men; nay, though Melchisedec himself, King of Salem, was at once priest of the most high God, and the most illustrious type of the Messiah; though he received tithes of Abraham, blessed him, and, as Paul informs us, was greater than he; yet neither Melchisedec nor any of the numerous worshipers for whom he officiated in the quality of God's priest, did ever stand in the relation of elect worshipers in the scripture sense of the word elect. Abraham was the first elect man; and it remains for those who assert the contrary of this to prove their proposition -- a thing they never can do by scripture." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 228-9.]
22. "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were not chosen of God, for the mean, partial purpose of being dragged into heaven, will or no will, on the principle of final perseverance." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 230.]
23. "Whether a man can believe, i.e. imbibe the electing principle, is never answered in the holy scriptures, for this substantial reason: It is never asked. This is an unlearned question of modern divinity, i.e. (deviltry, if such a word or thing there be,) and could be agitated only by fools and philosophers; all the world knowing that we must believe what is proved." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 231.] (Query -- Does he believe there is a Devil?)
24. "The 'moral law' or decalogue, is usually plead as the rule of life to believers in Christ; and it is said that it ought to be preached 'as a means of conviction of sin.' The scriptures never divide the law of Moses into moral, ceremonial and judicial. This is the work of school men, who have also divided the invisible world into heaven, hell and purgatory." [C. B., vol. 1, p. 147.]
25. Look at this. The spirit of God insulted, and his word deceitfully handled, in glossing away the force and meaning of another text, proving the inhabitation of the spirit and his direct agency upon the souls of believers. "Likewise the spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should peay for as we ought; but the spirit itself maketh intercession for
us, with groanings which can not be uttered." Romans viii:26. Look now at the glossing:
"The spirit referred to in this text is the spirit of man, and not the spirit of God; or rather, it is the spirit of patience; for there is no adjunct or epithet attached to the term spirit, which would authorize the conclusion that the spirit of God is referred to; and why should the spirit of God use groans which can not be expressed in words? Does this weakness belong to that divine agent." [M. H., vol. I, p. 115.]
26. "I have never spent, perhaps, an hour in ten years in thinking about the trinity. It is no term of mine. It is a word which belongs not to the Bible, in any translation of it I ever saw. I teach nothing, I say nothing, I think nothing about it, save that it is not a scriptural term, and consequently, can have no scriptural ideas attached to it." [C. B., vol. 7, p. 208.]
27. "Trinity. This is one of these untaught questions which I do not discuss, and in the discussion of which I feel no interest. I neither affirm nor deny anything about it. I only affirm that the whole controversy is about scholastic distinctions and unprofitable speculations."
28. 'Come Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,
With all thy quick'ning powers!
Kindle a flame of sacred love,
In these cold hearts of ours.'
"In the singing this hymn, which is very ingeniously adapted to your sermon and prayer, you have very unfortunately fallen into two errors. First -- you are singing to the Holy Spirit, as you prayed to it, without any example from any one of the old saints, either in the Old or New Testament; and without the possibility of ever receiving an answer to your prayer. The second error into which you have fallen, is this: You acknowledge your church to be the church of Christ; and if the church of Christ, its members of course have the spirit of Christ." [C. B., vol. 7, p. 129.]
29. "Does the preacher preach up Sinai instead of Calvary, Moses instead of Christ, to convince or convict his audience? Then he sings. --
'Awak'd by Sinai's awful sound,
My soul in awful guilt I found,
And knew not where to go;
O'erwhelm'd with sin, with anguish slain,
The sinner must be born again;
Or sink to endless woe.'
&c., &c., &c.
"I know of nothing more anti-evangelical than the above verses; but they suit one of our law convincing sermons, and the whole congregation must sing, suit or non-suit the one-half of them. But to finish the climax, the exercise is called praising God." [C. B. vol. 5, p. 105-6.]
"When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I'll bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes."
Queries for the Thoughtful. 1. What title is this? 2. What would make it more clear? 3. Who issued this title? 4. Where is it filed? 5. Why does its dubiety forbid to part with every fear, and to banish tears? 6. Could you not make it more clear by instituting a new action, or course of action?
"Without being prolix, or irksome in filing objections to all these specimens of hymn singing, I shall mention but two or three: They are, in toto, contrary to the spirit and genius -- of the Christian religion . . . They are an essential part of the corrupt systems of this day, and a decisive characteristic of the grand apostacy." [C. B., vol. 5., p. 107]
30. "To separate and distinguish the spirit from its own word, is the radix of unhallowed speculation. What the gospel, written or spoken, does, in regenerating or purifying the heart, the spirit of God does, and what the spirit of God does, the gospel spoken or written does. Those who reject the gospel proclamation, resist the spirit of God; and thosewho resist the spirit of God, resist and reject the gospel proclamation." [C. B., vol. 4, p. 282.. ]
Whoever, then, hears a verse or chapter of the New Testament read, hears the spirit's voice. Such is Mr. C's creed, in regard to the Holy Spirit's energies-that spirit which he imagines is nothing else than the word of Revelation!
31. "The ancient gospel reads thus: 'Unless ye believe, ye cannot receive the Holy Spirit.' . . . 'When ye believe ye receive the Holy Spirit' . . . What does the expression Holy Spirit mean? Ans. In scripture, it stands first, for God the Holy Spirit; and secondly, for the holy mind or spirit of the believer. For illustration: 'Why has Satan tempted you to lie unto the Holy Spirit; ye have not lied unto men, but unto God.' And the Savior says, 'How much more will your heavenly father give a Holy Spirit (as it should be translated), to those that ask him.' Again, 'Praying in a Holy Spirit.'" [C. B., vol. 4, p. 249.]
32. "THE BELIEF OF ONE FACT, and that upon the best evidence in the world, is all that is requisite as far as faith goes, to salvation. The belief of this one FACT, and submission to ONE INSTITUTION, expressive of it, is all that is required of Heaven to admission into the church. The one fact is, that Jesus, the Nazarene is the Messiah: The evidence upon which it is to be believed, is the testimony of twelve men, confirmed by prophecy, miracles, and spiritual gifts. The one institution is, baptism into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Every such person is a Christian, in the fullest sense of the word." [C. B., vol. i., p. 221.]
33. "Revivals. Enthusiasm flourishes, blooms, under the popular system. This man was regenerated when asleep by a vision of the night. That man heard a voice in the woods, saying, 'Thy sins are forgiven thee.' A third saw his Savior descending to the tops of the trees at noon day. A thousand form a band, and sit up all night to take Heaven by surprise. Ten thousand are waiting for a power from on high, to descend upon their souls; they frequent meetings for the purpose of obtaing this power." [C. B., vol. i, p. 187.]
To show Mr. Campbell's utter contempt for Christian experiences, it is enough to notice the following narrative written and published by him in the C. B. vol. 7, p. 191.
34. "Relating experiences. A good old Virginia negro, and a very regular and orthodox professor, of more than ordinary attainments among the sable brotherhood, was accustomed to prepare 'experiences' for such of his friends as wished to join the church. He disclosed to them, how they ought to feel in
order to make good converts, and how they ought to relate their feelings in order to make a good confession. His usual fee was a good fat chicken, for each convert that passed the ordeal of the church. But as he insured his converts for a chicken a piece, if any one was rejected, he got nothing. No cure, no pay, was his motto. Once, a negro, more stupid than the others, was rejected; he tried a second and a third time, but was rejected. Sambo then declared he would not insure him, unless he would promise him three chickens. To this he acceded; and by great exertions, he got him able to repeat how bad he felt, how dark it was with his soul, how a great light broke into his mind, how happy he was, and how much he loved Jesus. He was received -- and Sambo eat his chickens with joy and a good conscience."
Now this ridiculous, impious fiction, is signed by the editor, A. Campbell, as if it were true. And what is it, but the most pitiful aping of Thomas Paine and Voltaire, in heaping slander upon the regenerating energies of God's Spirit.
35. "Some look for another call, a more powerful call than the written gospel presents. They talk of an inward call, of hearing the voice of God in their souls. This special call is either a lie or it makes the general call a lie. This is where the system ends. The voice of God, and the only voice of God which you will hear, till he calls you home, is his written gospel." [M. H., vol. i, p. 126-7.]
36. "Did humanity die, and divinity leave the Son of God? To this the scriptures do not respond. It has arisen from the dissecting knife of theological anatomists. They are as skillful to separate and treat of humanity and divinity in the Son of God, as is Col. Symmes in forming this globe into so many hollow spheres, each having its own properties and inhabitants." [C. B., vol. 2, p. 287.] "Is Jesus Christ the very and eternal God? Ans. If men could debate such a question upon their knees it would be scarcely admissible. It is an untaught question, a scholastic one in its form, and terms, and tends to perpetuate a controversy, and a peculiar style of speaking, which, the sooner it could be forgotten, the better for both saint and sinner." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 282.] "We pray to the same God and Father, through the same Lord and Savior, and by the same Holy Spirit." [M. H., vol. i, p. 175]
Thus, it seems, he will not pray directly either to Christ or the Holy Spirit.
37. "The Holy Spirit begins, carries on, and consummates the salvation of men." [M. H., vol. i, p. 139.]
But mark it, reader, for here lies the deception. It is done simply and wholly by reading or hearing the scriptures, which are the words of the Holy Spirit, and not by an immediate work of God's grace in the heart.
38. "In the natural order of the evangelical economy, the items stand thus: 1st, Faith; 2d, Reformation; 3d, "Immersion; 4th, Remission of sins; 5th, Holy Ghost; 6th, Eternal life." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 66.] "There are three kingdoms; the Kingdom of Law, the Kingdom of Favor, and the Kingdom of Glory; each has a different constitution, different subjects, privileges, and terms of admission. The blood of Abraham brought a man into the Kingdom of Law, and gave him an inheritance in Canaan. Being born, not of blood, but through water and the spirit of God, brings a person into the Kingdom of favor; which is righteousness, peace, joy, and a holy spirit, with a future inheritance in prospect. But if the justified draw back, or the washed return to the mire, or if faith die and bring forth no fruits, into the Kingdom of Glory he cannot enter. Hence good works through faith in Jesus, gives a right to enter into the holy city." [C. B., vol. 6, p. 255]
By this, can we understand any thing else, than the entire rejection of the doctrine of the final perseverance of saints, and justification by the righteousness of Christ, imputed to the believer?
39. "There is no democracy or aristocracy in the governmental arrangements of the church of Jesus Christ. The citizens are all volunteers when they enlist under the banners of the great King, and as soon as they place themselves in the ranks, they are bound to implicit obedience in all the institutes and laws of their sovereign. So that there is no putting the question to vote, whether they shall obey any particular law or injunction. Their rulers and bishops have to give an account of their administration, and have only to see that the laws are known and obeyed." [C. B. Vol. v. p. 121.]
Truly, this is not democracy; nor is it a moderate aristocracy. What is it, short of Episcopacy or Papacy!
BRETHREN: Can you read this, and say or think that it is not, even now, high time to "march out of Babylon?" Doubtless, you can not hesitate. In February, 1825, Mr. Campbell denounced reformation. 'The very name," said he, "has become as offensive as the term 'Revolution,' in France." He is now in a paroxysm about reformation. In all the extravagance of unbridled fanaticism, he fancies that he has already introduced the millennium, as far as his tenets have prevailed. The millennium, he dreams, has bursted in upon South Benson, Versailles, Clear Creek, David's Fork and Shawnee Run. Who besides himself, and those who have sold their birth right have -- who have committed their heads and hearts for reformation pottage, can indulge in a conceit so silly and ridiculous. From such frenzy and quackery, and above all from such a millennium, may a kind Providence deliver us.
This letter of Franklin Association was published in time to circulate among the churches in Central Kentucky and produce its effects before the fall meetings of the other associations. The great struggle was to be in Elkhorn.
The Campbellites expressed themselves as being confident of success in having a majority in the Association. They attributed their failure in Franklin Association, to the fact that they were not permitted to speak during its discussions. Both the Creaths and John Smith were present, and each, in turn, endeavored to speak on the motion to adopt the circular letter, but were refused the privilege, 10 probably on account of their disorderly conduct at South Benson and other churches. At Elkhorn, the Creaths and Hewitt would be members of the body, and could not be refused the privilege of speaking.
It was one of the fond delusions of Mr. Campbell's early disciples, that they had so much and such clear light that they only needed an opportunity of exhibiting it to convince all the intelligent and candid, of the truth and righteousness of their cause. In a discourse at Silas Meetinghouse, where Elkhorn Association was to meet within a few weeks, Jacob Creath, Sr.,
said: "In this house, twenty-two years ago, a great battle was fought, and I was victorious Another great battle is to be fought, and as I have the same mouth I had twenty-two years ago, I shall be victorious again."11 About this time a strategic movement was made by the Creaths and Hewlett, that can be justified in Christian ministers, only upon the plea that they were insane, from religious enthusiasm. They were all members of the church at Versailles. But now, to be ready for the "Great Battle" as Creath, Sr. styled the approaching conflict, Creath, Jr. took a letter and joined the church at Providence; Hewitt in like manner, joined South Elkhorn church, while Creath, Sr., remained at Versailles. Each of these churches which, according to a resolution of the Association of 1829, was entitled to only three messengers to that body, now sent ten.
Elkhorn Association met at Silas, Bourbon county, Aug. 14, 1830. The Creaths and Hewett, with ten messengers from each of their churches, demanded seats in the body. This caused considerable confusion for a time. But finally, on being publicly remonstrated with, by their friends, the supernumerary messengers withdrew, and an orderly organization was effected. John Smith and nine other corresponding messengers from the majority party of North District Association asked for admission into the body, but they were rejected, and the minority party was recognized. By these means the schismatics were deprived of the influence, in the body, of twentyone voters and ten corresponding members, and, among the latter was John Smith, at that time the most influential Campbellite preacher in Kentucky.
The vote, which tested the comparative strength of the parties in the Association, was on a motion, made by Jeremiah Vardeman, to drop Versailles church from the body. The circumstances which led to the making of this motion, were these: In the fall of 1829, the Creaths constituted a church in Clear Creek meeting-house in Woodford county, of about forty persons who had split off from Clear Creek church. The aggrieved church brought complaint against the Creath’s before Versailles church, for their disorderly conduct. Failing to obtain
satisfaction, they preferred a charge against Versailles church, in the Association, of which they were both members. At the same time, Franklin Association preferred a charge against the same church for holding in membership the Creaths, who had constituted a church of the disorderly party at South Benson. The Association took up the charges, and Mr. Vardeman made the motion referred to above, in the following form:
"Resolved, That the church at Versailles be dropped from further correspondence with this Association.” R.T. Dillard supported the resolution in the opening speech. Jacob Creath sr., spoke about an hour on the other side. The vote was taken, and resulted in 42 for, and 14 against the resolution. Providence church was cut off in the same way for receiving Jacob Creath jr., into its membership. The Association also passed a resolution that it would withdraw correspondence from any church or association that should hold certain errors taught by Mr. Campbell contrary to the faith and constitution of this Association, whenever occasion should require. All the associations in the northern and central parts of the state, took decided grounds against Campbellism.
Baptist Association met at Fox Creek in Anderson county. John Penny was the introductory preacher and Moderator. The Association "Resolved, . . . To express their decided disapprobation of certain novel opinions entertained and extensively propagated by persons styling themselves teachers of christianity."
South District Association met at Shawnee Run in Mercer county, the third Saturday in August, 1830. John S. Higgins preached the introductory sermon. Ex-Governor Gabriel Slaughter was chosen moderator. The following resolution was adopted: "Whereas Alexander Campbell's writings have exerted a destructive influence over many of the Baptist churches in Kentucky, so as to produce schism and division among the brethren: Therefore, Resolved, That this Association advise and recommend to the churches composing her body the propriety of discountenancing the aforesaid writings, together with such preachers as propagate the disorganizing sentiments of Alexander Campbell." Tates Creek Association was reduced to five churches, aggregating only 159 members. These occupied original grounds, and strongly protested
against the system that had reduced their once prosperous fraternity, from 25 churches with an aggregate membership of 2,661, to five churches, aggregating only 159 members. However, at another meeting of the body, later in the same year (1830), she had increased to nine churches with 532 members. North District Association was also reduced, from 24 churches, with an aggregate membership of 2,265, to ten churches with about 800 members. They complain in their minutes of this year, of the bitter taunts and sneers of their triumphant destroyers, the Campbellites, who "even deny the special operation of the spirit in quickening the dead sinner; and by way of ridicule, ask, where did the Spirit hit you? whether in the shoulder, or under the fifth rib, etc."
Concord Association met at Hopewell, in Henry county, October 27, 1830. The following extract from her minutes of that date, will show her position in reference to the new doctrine:
"From the request of a majority of the churches composing this Association, expressed in their letters and some of them directly requesting the Association to devise a proper course to be pursued by them towards those modern teachers of theology, commonly called Campbellites, we offer the following advice:
1st. We believe the churches should not invite them to preach in their meeting-houses.
2d. That we should not invite them into our homes to preach, nor in any way bid them God speed, nor their heretical doctrine.
We advise you, brethren, to be particularly on your guard. When they are talking about the Spirit, we believe they only mean the written word, and when they speak of regeneration, they only mean immersion in water."
The proceedings of Franklin Association, at its extra session, in July, 1830, have already been noticed. At its regular meeting in October, of the same year, at South Benson, it recorded the following item: "In answer to the request of the church at Frankfort, in regard to communing with those who have departed from original principles, the Association unanimously answer: We wish it to be distinctly understood that all persons aiming to prostrate our constitutions and the union, by declaring against creeds, or by sapping and mining the pillars
of our constitutions, by innovations on our faith, customs and usages, ought to find no place in our pulpits, or at our communion tables. Our members should plainly understand that by approaching any table, set by these people, to commune, they would thereby forfeit the fellowship of all Regular or United Baptist churches.” This Association and Frankfort church, from the first, uttered no uncertain sound, and hence, during the life of their honored standard bearer, S. M. Noel, they had little trouble from the innovations of Campbellism, except the schism at South Benson, which first aroused the Association to action.
Long Run Association met at New Castle, the 1st Friday in September, 1830. Pond Creek and Goose Creek churches, which had petitioned for membership in the body the year before, again, under the leadership of Benjamin Allen and Zacheus Carpenter, sought admission into the Association, without any written expression of their faith. They were rejected. The following extracts from the minutes of the Association of that year, defines her position on the subject referred to:
"The request from Bethel and Buck Creek churches, respecting Campbellism, was then taken up and the following answer adopted: . . . . As the writings of Alexander Campbell are in direct opposition to the existence and general dictates of our constitution, we, therefore, advise our brethren that they discountenance those writings, and all those who support that course of rebellion against the principles of our associational existence."
This was clear and unmistakable, and had they stopped there, they would have saved the churches much confusion. But through a mistaken notion of that charity which “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth,” they must needs give further advice. "That they exercise great tenderness in relation to those among us, who think differently from us." This attempt to pet the crying babies of reformation, only emboldened them, to enlarge their demands, and ultimated in the loss of two churches in the Association, and greatly weakened a number of others.
Sulphur Fork rejected a party of Friendship church for holding the doctrines, That the Holy Spirit in the conversion of sinners, is confined to the Scriptures. That we are under
no obligations to the moral law. That Christ did not suffer in his death, the penalty due to sinners. That all that it is necessary for a sinner to relate in order to become a church member, is that he believes Jesus Christ is the son of God; for denying the authority of our articles of faith, and for retaining in their membership, a minister who communed with the Unitarians. This association had been sufficiently explicit in her condemnation of Campbellism the previous year.
Licking Association rejoiced in an entire exemption from the confusion and annoyances that afflicted her sister fraternities. Boones Creek Association was reduced from thirteen churches with a total membership of 1,800, in 1829, to seven churches with 439 members, in 1832. Of Salem Association, Samuel McKay wrote, under date of October 3, 1830: "On Friday last, the Salem Association met in the new Baptist meeting house in Bardstown. It will be gratifying to the friends of sound principles, to learn that this old and respectable Association stands unmoved. The same unanimity that has prevailed in her councils for forty years, was strikingly manifested in this meeting. Not a preacher of her body has imbibed the mania of the would be reformers. Every church seems to be determined to maintain the good old Baptist sentiments. The reforming schemes of the day were not spoken of, or even hinted at, during the session.
Russells Creek Association met at Pitman's Creek, Sept. 18, 1830. John Steele had been appointed to preach the introductory sermon, but, on account of his having adopted the views of Alexander Campbell, was not permitted to preach. John Harding was chosen Moderator, and Horatio Chandler, Clerk. The following extracts from her minutes are worthy of being preserved. "In answer to the request of the churches at Gilead and Columbia, relative to Campbellism. -- This Association, as well as all others with which we correspond, knowing that heretical and contradictory tenets are maintained by many who profess to believe the Scriptures to be the word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice, have deemed it necessary to adopt certain principles of union, expressing their views of the fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures. Therefore, should any member of the Association discard said principles of union, and maintain the propriety and expediency of uniting upon a
bare profession of a belief of the Scriptures, that such an individual is at war, not only with the Association, but with the whole connection; and the Word of God declares that a house divided against itself cannot stand. We have more to fear from internal than external enemies. Therefore,
Resolved, That we advise the churches, that if any member shall, after admission, persist in discarding said principles of union, to exclude such members from fellowship, And further,
Resolved, That no church, nor any members thereof, invite, or permit any teacher or preacher to preach in their private houses, or meeting houses, who is known to be hostile to the principles of union; who maintains the abrogation of the moral law, or denies the agency of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of sinners, and in the sanctification and perseverance of believers. "We beseech you brethren to mark those who eause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them." "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached, let him be accursed." Galatians i:8. "Turn away from such as have a form of godliness, but deny the power." 2 Timothy 3:5. "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, (i.e. the doctrine of Christ) receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed, for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." 2 John 10, 11.
These decisive measures of the Associations, prompted by the churches of which they were composed, led to a separation of the Campbellites from the Baptist churches. This was accomplished speedily in the northern and central portions of the State, but in the more southern and western regions of the commonwealth, the division took place at a somewhat later period: So that the separation was barely completed at the meeting of the associations, in 1832, at which time I. M. Allen published his first Register of the Baptists in the United States. This was a very valuable work, it being the first statistical register of the Baptists in this country, since Mr. Benedict published the first edition of his History of the Baptists, in 1812. Mr. Allen's account of the Baptists of Kentucky is defective. He gives the names of only thirty-one Kentucky associations, (Eagle Creek, the name of which he gives, being in Indiana or
Ohio) whereas there were thirty-eight of these fraternities, in the State, besides about half the churches of Red River Association, the remainder of which were in Tennessee. He also registers a second North District Association, with eighteen churches and a total membership of 1,382, which was the Campbellite division of old North District Association -- not quite out of Babylon at that time. He gives no statistics of South Kentucky and Red Bird, and leaves out of his list the names of Drakes Creek, New Salem, Laurel River, Little River, Clarks River, Cumberland River and West Union.
Diligent research has enabled us to procure a complete list of the associations. There are some defects in the satistics of a few of the small fraternities. But our estimate may be relied on as coming within a few hundreds of the exact aggregate in the numbers giver below.
It has been observed that the revival of 1827 added great numbers to the churches, a large proportion of whom were brought in under the teachings of Mr. Campbell's followers. It could not be expected that such would be very stable members of Baptist churches, when seasons of religious declension and trial came on. The Campbellite schism began with the close of the revival, and with it, commenced a religious dirth, that continued eight years. From the apostacy of the new converts, and the Campbellite defection, the Baptist denomination lost nearly all it gained by the revival. The statistics of the denomination, in Kentucky, for 1829, gives 34 associations, 614 churches, 45,442 members. At the associational meetings of next year, the reports showed the same number of Associations, besides one, newly constituted, 574 churches, and only 39,957 members: a loss, in one year, of 40 churches and 5,485 members. In 1832, the reports showed 37 associations, 608 churches, and 35,862 members: an additional loss, in two years of 4,095 members. This was a total loss of 9,580 in three years. In 1835, there were 599 churches, and 39,806 members: a gain of only 3,947, in three years. In 1830, the population of the State was 687,917; this gave in round numbers one Baptist church to 1,158 of the population, and one Baptist to every 17 of the population.
The other principal religious denominations in the State had increased rapidly during the last decade. The statistics of
the Methodist church, for 1830, showed 6 districts, 51 circuits and stations, 93 preachers, and 28, 189 members.
The Presbyterians numbered 5 presbyteries, about 50 ministers, and near 6,000 members. The Cumberland Presbyterians kept no statistics, but they had enjoyed twenty years of almost uninterrupted prosperity, and were probably more numerous in Kentucky, at that time, than the sect from which they sprang. The Campbellites, who were severed from the Baptists during this, and the preceding year, probably numbered from 8,000 to 10,000, and the Newlights were about as numerous. The other sects in the State were still insignificant in numbers. The Baptists were still the most numerous sect in the State, but not, as heretofore, equal to all others combined. ________________
1 It will be seen that Dr. Noel identifies Campbellism with Sandemanianism. 2 Christian Baptist, Vol., p. 34, et. ser. 3 Baptist Chronicles, Vol. I, p. 140. 4 Life of Elder John Smith, p. 250. 5 Ibid., p. 271. 6 Taken down from Mr. Vaughan's lips, in 1868. See also Baptist Chronicles, V. II, p. 37. 7 Christian Repository, April, 1858, p. 283. 8 Baptist Chronicles, Vol. I, p. 83-84. 9 When reference is made to the , in the thirty-nine Articles, the first Volume of that periodical is meant. C. B. stands for Chrsitian Baptist, and M. H. for Millennial Harbinger. 10 Life of John Smith, p. 349. 11 Bapt. Chronicles, Vol. I, p. 166. =================
[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984.]
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