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ANECDOTES, INCIDENTS, AND FACTS, Connected with the History of the Current Reformation, never before
published-No. VI. No remarkable incident or event occurred from the notices and allusions in our last reference to the progress of the cause of reformation, till the year 1827. The only publications then in circulation in the community were our Debates on first principles in reference to Christian Baptism and the Acient Order of Things, found in our 'Christian Baptist,' then in its fourth volume.
Brother Scott and myself attended at the Mahoning Baptist Association, meeting at Canfield, in 1826. He was then first introduced to the brethren on the Western Reserve. On the Lord's day he, Sidney Rigdon and myself, addressed a very large congregation, composed of Messengers from all the churches on the Western Reserve, and some from other Associations. I have no distinct recollection of the subjects of their addresses. I followed them on the subject of the Progress of Light, from the last chapter of Malachi and the mission of John. It was a discourse upon the star-light, moon-light, twi-light, and sun-light ages of the world, instituting and carrying through a comparison of the developments of divine revelation, with the progress of natural light from midnight to noon. The period from the transgression of Adam to the annunciation of the SEED of the woman bruising the serpent's head, made to our first parents, was the midnight darkness of the human race in the persons of Adam and Eve. The stars that ensued, or that rose upon a benighted world, were Abel, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedeck, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses. The legal dispensation with the subsequent Prophets constituted the moon-light age. The mission and ministry of John was the twi-light age, extending from John's first appearance to the personal coming of the Messiah as a teacher sent from the immediate presence of Jehovah, but not fully developed till he ascended to heaven and sent down the Holy Spirit in the bright radiance of the risen day on the first Pentecost after the crucifixion.
The effect of this presentation of the subject, providentially opportune, was not momentary, but memorable and abiding. It was never forgotten by the ministry then present. But as yet there was nothing done in the way of sending out a proper evangelist to proclaim the word and to convert the people. The spirit, however, of evangelizing was stirred up amongst the brethren, and during the next year the subject was much talked of, but nothing was yet effected.
In 1827 the Mahoning Association met at Fairfield, Columbiana county, Ohio. On my way thither I called for brother Scott, then teaching a school in Steubenville, Ohio, and preaching once-a-week to a few Baptists in that town. Through much solicitation on my part, he was finally prevailed upon to accompany me to said Association; and while there, after much deliberation, the Association was prevailed upon to appoint an evangelist to labor for one year within its bounds; and brother Scott, too, finally consented to pull up his stakes in Steubenville to locate within its bounds and to become its evangelist. He was commissioned merely “to preach the word,” without regard to any creed, or sect, or party; and in a few weeks was actually in the field, calling upon sinners to repent, believe, and obey the gospel.
Little or nothing had been done for some time within that region of country in the work of conversion. But very few additions to any of the churches had been made during the preceding year. The Baptists, ministry and people, were in debate with themselves upon the subject of primitive apostolic Christianity. They were much more in the mood of investigating truth and examining their own tenets and the apostolic writings with reference to their own duties and privileges, than in devisiag the way and means of proselyting or converting the world.
The people called “Christians,” first in New England, led by Elias Smith of Boston, were zealous, warm, and enthusiastic on the subject of proselyting the people. They were the only people then doing any thing worthy of notice in Ohio in the way of proselyting. Elders Secrest and Gaston, of that people, attended our Association at Fairfield, and professed much respect for the views then in discussion amongst our brethren. The latter was an honest, indefatigable, and very efficient laborer in the word as he then understood it. They were both much pleased with the proceedings o the Mahoping Association and with brother Scott, and appeared willing to meet us on the Bible alone,” and to labor in the same cause. They had, however, more zeal than knowledge, and knew not how to preach the gospel. Hence the mourning bench, or the praying bench, or some other penitential bench, was that to which they urged sinners to come in order to be prayed for and to be converted to the Lord.
Brother Gaston, indeed, occasionally left his own field of Jabor and accompanied brother Scott in his. The crisis was all-important, and the people, both Baptists and Christians, were favorably disposed to know and do what the Lord desired them to do. They felt that something was wanting, but knew not precisely what.
Brother Scott had long been devoted to the study of his Bible, and with great zeal and much eloquence engaged in the work of the Lord. Ardent, sanguine, and laborious, he preached repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He had not been long in the field of labor before he felt the need of something to propose to the alarmed and inquisitive sinner, more evangelical, more scriptural, and consoling, than the mourning bench or the anxious seat of modern revivalists. He had thought much of the ancient or original state of things in the church, but now his attention was specially and practically called to the ancient order of things in the proclamation of the gospel in practical reference to the conversion of the world. He repudiated the mourning bench and the anxious seat, and for these substituted what? Baptism for the remission of sins! We had, indeed, agreed that we would say to any person or persons inquiring what they should do, just what Peter said, Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus in order to the remission of sins.” Nay, that we would "tell the disciples,” those desiring to serve the Lord, “to rise in haste and be baptized, and wash away their sins, calling on the name of thə Lord.'* But it was to him, now in the actual field of labor, as a new revelation; and, with great warmth and power, he persuaded the people, and many turned to the Lord.
During that single year many hundreds were baptized; for, with the excitement, the number of laborers increased. The Baptist ministry of the whole Mahoning Association with, I believe, one single exception, and he a weak and irresolute old man, stood by their evangelist, countenanced, and sustained him, and some of them actually and efficiently put their hands to the work. It was a glorious time! That some things were both said and done that had better not been said and done, is only saying what is true of all such occasions and of all human efforts. Even common sense and reason are sometimes but feeble and unavailing remonstrants against the too great warmth of a lawful enthusiasm and the eccentricities of a fervent zeal. But on this occasion I presume there was much less of this than is usually witnessed in great revivals, as such scenes are sometimes called in the present day.
Many very valuable accessions to the cause of reformation were inade during that year and the two following, which still endure as monuments of the power of the gospel. Some, indeed, have apos
* MCalla's Debate, page 144.
tatized, and many are fallen asleep. But a great community, increasing from year to year, still occupies the theatre of the great achievements af the years 1827, 1828, and 1829.
COMMUNINGS IN THE SANCTUARY—N. VIII. God is the Lord who hath shown us light: bind the sacrifice with cords
even to the horns of the altar. Ps.cxviii. 27. THERE is presented to our natural vision no difference so great and striking as that beiween the heavens and the earth. The little child even who sports upon the green, and culls the familiar flowers of early spring, gazes with mysterious awe into that azure expanse so bright and pure, filled with the dazzling splendors of the sun, or darkening with the approaching tempest. The thoughtless youth, revelling amidst the well-known scenes and pleasures of life, grows serious for a moment when he
where worlds unnumbered roll, and shed their distant light. How bold and clear the line which marks the boundary of earth! How dense the mists that can obscure it! How dusky and opaque those rugged mountains which seem to serve as the abutments of the heavenly arch of azure light! How different in materials; how opposite in character; how unlike in every feature, the earth beneath us from the heavens above! However great the differences of earth’s varied scenes around us—of field and forest; of hill and valley; of land and water, their boundaries are dim and indistinct compared with that so deeply and abruptly marked by the dark line of the horizon.
But Nature not only distinguishes with strikiug clearness the things of earth from those of heaven, but teaches us by experience also that other precious lesson, that "every good and perfect gift cometh from above.” From thence flow light and life with all their joys. Innumerable and mysterious influences thence irradiate the earth, and grateful showers descend to bless the fruitful plains. And thither, too, all beauteous living objects tend. Each tree and shrub and flower lifts itself aloft from the dark clods of earth towards the bright and glorious sky, as though it desired to approach the unwasting fountain whence it derives its being and its beauty.
In all these respects, as well as in others, “Nature is Christian; preaches to mankind,” and seems to emulate in clearness the teachings of that divine word which distinguishes the world and the things of the world, from the spiritual heavens and the things that SERIES III.-VUL. VI.
are of God; and which counsels us to "seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God,” and to place our affections upon these.
Surely it is impossible to confound the glorious realities of true religion with the fleeting vanities of life! How plain the landmarks! How broad the distinctions! How evident the line which separates them! How unlike the one to the other in all that gives character and identity! Darkened, indeed, by the mists of error, must be the vision which is unable to descry the spiritual horizon, or to distinguish the bright and beautiful realms of life and glory, from the dark and dreary abodes of death and shame!
But oh! how important that in distinguishing, we should place our affections upon the things that are above! If the fair living forms of perishable matter that spring from the earth beneath, may rise up to meet and enjoy the solar rays that vivify them, how should not they who have "tasted that the Lord is gracious," be lifted up above the world, and approach nearer and nearer to that “Sun of Righteousness” whose beams impart unfading beauty and eternal life! How should not we seek the things that are above where Christ sitteth, in whom our life is hid; from whom our life proceeds; with whom are all our hopes, our treasures, and our joys!
And how shall we thithern ard direct our love? How shall we disengage ourselves from our attachments to the world? Not by willing it; not by desiring it. We love not at our own pleasure; we acquire not by a wish. If the light of the glorious gospel of Christ hath shone upon us; if its heavenly influences have revived us; if we have arisen from the dust of error's death, and our hearts have been opened to receive the holy impressions of divine truth, then shall we be drawn by irresistible attractions, and strengthened more and more by added grace to ascend above the world, and to approach the bright source of being and of blessedness. It is by dwelling upon the glorious image of our Redeemer; by maintaining inviolate our relations with that “Eternal Life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us;" by cherishing that divine communion by which our souls are nourished, that we shall be filled with light and life and love, and become participants of that glory upon which we gaze; heirs of that life by which we live; and indwellers in that love through which we love!
And it is now when we are thus assembled to commemorate what Christ has suffered for us, that we realize the most intimate rela. tions of the spiritual life. It is when he is thus set forth crucified before us, that he should command our homage and our affections.