To some extent a rival of Graves, a man of positive convictions and of fearless utterance. He was, take him all in all, the greatest mind of all those distinguished names that adorn the Baptist denomination of the West and South. With less vigor and capacity for physical effort and endurance, he could not visit different regions or great gatherings and impress his personality or his teaching on the denomination as Graves did. His plans often failed from sheer physical inertion. His purposes to write were fixed and extensive, but he rarely had anything ready for the paper he edited until his printers were waiting for copy. After turning the Baptist Banner to W. C. Buch [Buck], he projected and published the Western Baptist Review at Frankfort, Ky., a monthly publication. But it took two years to bring out the first volume of twelve numbers and the suspension and renewal followed. It was finally changed to the Christian Repository. In the meantime Waller held a debate with Nathen L. Rice, at Georgetown, Ky,. and Rice admitted, years afterwards that he had an abler man to meet in Dr. Waller, by far, than Alexander Campbell.
Waller had known Graves from his coming to Kentucky. It was by the church which Waller’s father had ling been pastor that Graves was ordained. He knew him well, and he differed with him in various points, especially on which the reception of "alien immersions["], on what was termed pulpit communion. Waller lived in Louisville, where the pressure of Methodists was not felt. There was no Methodist paper in Kentucky, and Methodism was nowhere dominant in the state. Very different was the condition of things in Tennessee, the center of Methodist power in the Southwest. Waller was, therefore, in none of those personal conflicts which continually assailed Graves. Yet he could fully realize his situation. I, he wrote, just as these conflicts were at the highest, these work. (January, 1852.) "J. R. Graves, our distinguished brother of the Tennessee Baptist, is again at his post after a protracted absence of some months during which he has had full many a logomachic tilt with the champions of Pedobaptism, and in every encounter his opponents were made to bite the dust. Every means and every weapon which wickedness could suggest have been employed for his destruction, but he has escaped without a wound and without a scar."
And again, (July, 1853), appeared the following in the Recorder: "Rev. J. R. Graves, the distinguished editor of the Tennessee Baptist, spent the Sabbath in our city. He spent some hours in our revival, (the present writer was there and took part in the converse) and we had lunch. The interview was every way pleasant and agreeable. We have known Brother Graves long and intimately, and a kinder but bolder heart throbs not in the breast of any man. He combines the meekness of a lamb with the boldness of a lion. He is yet young, but has done great good. May he live long to bless the cause of truth by his labors."
The words, kind but bolder heart we have capitalized. They describe the man for few gentler, kinder men in private intercourse, could be found; and we hold that had any heresy lurked in Graves’ teaching Waller must have known it and would have denounced it.For he was a man Who would not flatter Neptune for his trident Nor Jove for his power to thunder.He lifted his voice in the defence of the slandered man, and pronounced the forgoing high eulogy upon his talents, his orthodoxy and his personal character.
[From Ford's Christian Repository and Home Circle, January, 1900.]
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