Images de page
PDF
ePub

The proposition was discussed at the Association; and, after much debate, was decided by a considerable majority in favor of our being received. Thus a union was formed. But the party opposed, though small, began early to work, and continued with a perseverance worthy of a better cause. There was an Elder Pritchard, of Cross Creek, Virginia; an Elder Brownfield, of Uniontown, Fayette county, Pennsylvania; an Elder Stone, of Ohio; and his son, Elder Stone, of the Monongahela region, that seemed to hạve confederated to oppose our influence. But they, for three years, could do nothing. We boldly argued for the Bible, for the New Testament Christianity, vex, harrass, or discompose whom it might. We felt the strength of our cause of reform on every indication of opposition, and constantly grew in favor with the people. Things passed along without any very prominent interest for some two or three years.

At the close of 1815 and beginning of 1816, the town of Wellsburg, the capital of our county, had not a meeting-house of any sort whatever. I had often spoken there in the court-house, and was favorably heard. A Baptist church, three miles above, on Cross Creek, under the pastoral care of Elder Pritchard, a Maryland minister, of very high Calvinistic views, was the only Baptist meetinghouse in the county. We had two or three families in Wellsburg, with some five or six members; and so not only the Baptist cause, but all forms of Christianity in Brooke county, were very low.I proposed the building of a meeting-house in Wellsburg, and volunteered my services for three or four months to raise a portion of the

To these our few friends in time consented; and accordingingly, by our conjoint labors— I raising 1000 dollars by solicitationthe house was reared. But this became the cause of my heterodoxy, and of a seven years' persecution. I soon ascertained that Elder Pritchard regarded his little church on Cross Creek, with its little frame building, enongh for the Baptists in Wellsburg and Cross Creek also; and that my proposing to build a house in Wellsburg was done with intent to undermine and nullify his influence and church.

I could not at first assent to such a representation. I had, indeed, been repeatedly solicited to speak to his church; but on my second visit, being treated discourteously by Elder Pritchard, I was constrained to believe there was some fleshly principle at work. I never again visited them as a church. Reports of my heterodoxy began to radiate to Uniontown, Monongahela, and Ohio. A co alition was formed. The next Association convened at Cross Creek.

means.

On being nominated to preach on the Lord's day, I was objected to by Elder Pritchard on the ground that I was "living in the neighborhood, as it were, and that, according to Baptist custom in Maryland, the church at whose house the Association was held always had the privilege of selecting out of all the members present, any one whom they chose to speak on the Lord's day; and that custom decrced that those from a distance ought to be heard rather than those in the neighborhood—such as brother Campbell-whom the church could hear at any time." By this objection the Association substituted for my name that of Elder Stone, of Ohio. Thus I was disposed of from the same principle which inhibited the building of a meeting-house in Wellsburg—that is, I was too near Cross Creek meeting-house, living only ten miles distant.

But Elder Philips, of Peter's Creek, the oldest and best preacher in the Association, as I thought, called on me next morning and insisted on me to preach because of a multitude that had come from a distance, who had deputed him to have the decision reversed, and in whose behalf he spoke to me. I was constrained to refuse, as I would not violate the decision of the Association on the appeal of Elder Pritchard. He went away with much reluctance. Meanwhile, Elder Stone was suddenly taken sick, and Elder Philips came a second time to urge me to yield to their request. I still refused, unless a special and formal request was tendered to me by Elder Pritchard in person. He assured me it would be tendered me.Accordingly, soon as I appeared on the ground, I was invited and enjoined to preach by the Elder Pritchard himself.

Not having a subject at my command, I asked to speak the second discourse. Elder Cox preceded me. At the impulse of the occasion, I was induced to draw a clear line between the Law and the Gospel, the Old Dispensation and the New, Moses and Christ. This was my theme. No sooner had I got on the way, than Elder Pritchard came up into the tent and called out two or three of the preachers to see a lady suddenly taken sick, and thus created much confusion amidst the audience. I could not understand it. Finally, they got composed, and I proceeded. The congregation became much engaged; we all seemed to forget the things around us and went into the merits of the subject. The result was, during the interval (as I learned long afterwards) the over-jealous Elder called a council of the preachers and proposed to them to have me forthwith condemned before the people by a formal declaration from the stand-repudiating my discourse as “not BAPTIST DOCTRINE.” One of the Elders, still living and still a Baptist, said: “Elder Pritchard, I am not yet prepared to say whether it be or be not Bible doctrine; but one thing I can say, were we to make such an annunciation, we would sacrifice ourselves, and not Mr. Campbell.”

Thus originated my Sermon on the Law, republished, a year or two since, in the Millennial Harbinger. It was forced into existence; and the hue and cry raised against it all over the country obliged me to publish it în print. It was first issued from the press in 1816, and became the theme of much discussion; and by a conspiracy of the Elders already named, it was brought up for trial and condemnation at the next Association at Peter's Creek in 1817. I may, I presume, regard its existence as providential; and although long unwilling to believe it, I must now think that envy, or jealousy, or some fleshly principle, rather than pure zeal for divine truth, instituted the crusade which for seven successive years was carried on against my views as superlatively heterodox and dangerous to the whole community.

Till this time we had labored much amongst the Baptists with good effect--so far, at least; as to propitiate a very general hearing, and to lay a good foundation for, as we conceive, a more evangelical and scriptural dispensation of the gospel amongst them. Till this time, however, we had literally no coadjutors or counsellors without the precincts of our little community, amounting only to some hundred and fifty persons.

Sometime in-1814 or 1815, I have not a very certain recollection of the precise date, a certain Mr. Jones, from England, and a Mr. George Forrester, from Scotland, appeared in Pittsburg--the former an English Baptist; the latter, rather a Haldanian than a Scotch Baptist. They were both much in advance of the Regular Baptists of Redstone Association, and I had hoped for assistance from them. But neither of them could found a community in Pittsburg. Elder Jones migrated westwardly, and Mr. Forrester went into secular business. Neither of them, however, had progressed beyond the limits of James Haldane or Andrew Fuller.

A.C.

MORAL SOCIETIES, Having religious rites and secrets, "Sons of Temperance,Odd

Fellows" and "Free Masons." —No. III. It is alleged, and it is denied on the part of both the friends and opponents of Moral Societies, that they propose themselves either as substitutes for, or auxiliaries to, the Christian church in works of

SERIES. III.-VOL v.

30

humanity and mercy. We do not assume that they propose themselves as substitutes for the Christian church in an unqualified sense of these words. True, a majority of their members, it is believed, make them a complete substitute for the Christian church; for they have neither taste nor time for any connexion with the Christian church. Practically they are anti-church and pro-masonry, pro-tempeiance, or pro-anything, rather than pro-church. Still, we do not assume that they are essentially, or in design, set forth as substitutes for the Christian church. They are, then, to be contemplated merely as auxil'aries to the Christian church. This, indeed, may be as startling to some minds as to others would be the assumption or profession that they are substitutes for the Christian church. For if the Christian church require auxil'aries in works of humanity, benevolence, and mercy, she is, most unquestionably, a defective and imperfect institution; and on the assumption that her Founder was, and is, the supreme philanthropist, how can this idea be entertained by any one believing in him? A person must become in fact, if not in theory, an infidel before he can entertain for a moment the opinion that the hristian church needs any auxiliary in any one of the objects or purposes for which she was instituted by her Founder.

The question, then, is, Are works of humanity and mercy assigned to the church by her Founder as one great end of her existence in the world? Let us hear what the Spirit saith. Christ's disciples are said to be “the lights of the world”--the salt of the earth.” They are commanded, therefore, to let their “light shine before men, that men” (or the world) “seeing their good actions, may glorify their Father in heaven.". The church is, therefore, called to make a grand display of GOOD ACTIONS. She is even commanded to do good to them that hate her; how much more to those who profess to be her friends! Now to “do goolis not to talk good, nor to profess good. It is not to contend for opinions or theories, but to confer benefits on men. “Pure religion and undefiled before God, even The Father, is this—to take care of widows and orphans in their aillictions," as well as “to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” “Do good to all men, but especially to the household of faith,” is one of its most palpable precepts, as well as one of its most distinguishing ends and aims.

This being as evident as the divine mission of its Author, who came into the world and assumed our nature to confer the benefits of im nortality and eternal glory or man, with what propriety can

[ocr errors]

any of its members regard, in theory or practice, any one of these ephemeral moral societies as an auxiliary to the Chistian church?

In what respects are “the Sons of Temperance,” for example, auxiliary to the church of Jesus Christ? And who gave them this commission? These are questions which will be answered by a denial of the assumption, or by alleging that the church of Christ has failed to discharge her duties; and, in that case, as philanthropists, they step forward in aid of suffering humanity.

First, we say, it will be answered by a denial of the assumption. The Sons of Temperance say, “We are not auxiliaries to the church; we do not, as Sons of Temperance, recognize the church any more than the Jews or the Samaritans." very good argument, then, gentlemen, why the church or the Christian community should allow you to act without them, and have nothing to do with you.

But, in the second place, we say that you allege that "the church has failed to discharge her duties.” Of course, then, whosoever from the church goes over to you, confirms this judgment by avowin the fact itself, that the church to which he belongs has failed to do her duty. His application to you, is, therefore, a direct impeachment of the church to which he belonged. For wliy add your institution to the church, or go over from the church to you, unless either the church was in its constitution radically deficient or had neglected her duty? In either case, he has rendered himself obnoxious to the censure of the church. He impeaches her constitution, or he impeaches her as an apostate.

Well, say the Sons of Temperance, you say the church of the present day is apostate; and, therefore, you plead for church resormation. Why, then, censure us for saying, by our actions, what you say in word? But even this defence of your course makes such of you as belong to our church, on our own principles from which you now argue, still more inexcusable: for in protesting against other professing communities as more or less apostate from the primitive church, we, of course, in our own views, at least, are seeking to reform in those particulars in which we suppose other communities to have fallen off from the primitive profession. If, then, you, as our brethren, pleading for a return to primitive Christianity, do leave our community to join Odd Fellows, Sons of Temperance, or Free Masons, for the sake of doing a new species of good that we are neglecting to do, you are guilty-first, for not testifying to us that we are neglecting to do our duty in that particular; or if you have testified to us that we are neglecting to do our duty, and we

« PrécédentContinuer »