The man of God reads the book of God to commune with God, ‘to feel after him and find him,’ to feel his power and divinity stirring within him; to have his soul fired, quickened, animated by the spirit of grace and truth. He reads the Bible to enjoy the God of the Bible. … such a one converses with God as one who speaks by signs. His readings are heavenly musings. God speaks: he listens.
Among the things that happened on this week in American Restoration Heritage history:
June 7, 1838 – Today, a preacher gets a hearing – while losing much of his own.
The Stone-Campbell movements have now been officially unified as one for the past six years. And today, in Indianapolis, Indiana, a gathering of Restoration Heritage churches gets under way. No less than one hundred and fifty churches are represented by those present. Naturally, this is deeply gratifying and thrilling to the featured speaker, Barton W. Stone. He addresses the crowd five times during the course of this six-day meeting (June 7-12).
However, during the course of this conference, Stone inexplicably suffers a sudden and significant loss of hearing. His health had been seriously challenged by illness two years previous, but he had long since made a full recovery. Three years from now he will suffer a stroke and be partially paralyzed, but he will make a full recovery from that, too. However, Stone will never regain any of the hearing he loses during this week’s conference. In fact, he will steadily lose much of the hearing he has left during his six remaining years of his life, a hard blow to one who has helped so many hear the good news of Christ.
June 8, 1814 – Never underestimate the power of granddaughters.
The three year-old Brush Run Church is located in Washington County, Pennsylvania (near the southwestern corner of the state) and Alexander Campbell has been its preacher for the past two-and-a-half years. Alexander, having resolved when he entered ministry to never accept money from a church for his work, serves the church “for free.” He had gone against his father’s advice when he had made that decision, and so, his father (Thomas) had predicted that Alexander would wear many a tattered coat through the course of his days. Thus far, Thomas’ prediction has proven correct; Alexander is anything but a prosperous man and his father can do precious little about it.
Now, to the west, in neighboring (eastern) Ohio, opportunities for growth are developing. Consequently, many of the members of the Brush Run Church have their heads turned that way, so much so that they’re seriously considering relocating the church to Zanesville, Ohio (a hundred miles to the west). And today, the little church votes on that very matter. Their decision? Move to Ohio.
Now at this time, Alexander and his wife, Margaret (Brown) Campbell, have been married just over three years. They have two children: two year-old Jane and eight month-old Eliza. Margaret’s father, fifty-two year-old John Brown [no, not that John Brown] is a very well-to-do farmer and carpenter who owns no small amount of land in several places. Margaret is the apple of his eye and his two young granddaughters have a hold on his heart. To say that he is disheartened by the thought of them moving far off is an understatement.
And so, John makes Alexander an offer he can’t refuse: he’ll give Alexander a 140 acre farm in nearby Bethany, Virginia (about ten miles from Brush Run) if he’ll just not make the move to Ohio.
When all is said and done, Alexander and his family are set for life with a farm in Bethany, the church doesn’t move … and John Brown gets to keep bouncing his two granddaughters on his knees far more often than might have been. Land for granddaughters; good trade. And especially so since John will outlive his daughter, Margaret (who dies in 1827 at the age of 36) and one of these two granddaughters, Jane (who dies in 1834 at the age of 22).
June 9, 1851 – I say, preacher, when are you ever going to get around to talking about dancing … and how on earth are you going to do it?
Today, a frustrated John Rogers pens Alexander Campbell a letter, a portion of which reads:
“It is now seven years since I felt myself called upon, in view of the increasing disposition to frivolity in our churches, to prepare and publish a discourse against dancing, as an amusement. … most certainly it is still on the increase in this section of Kentucky. … ‘Watchman, what of the night?’ I call upon you, my dear Bro. Campbell, in the name of God – the the name of the crucified one – in the name of poor, bleeding Zion; upon Bros. Richardson, Pendleton, and every editor and every scribe who can lift a pen, and every orator in this Reformation, to speak out in a voice of thunder, and say, O say! is this the goal to which you have been driving the car of this Reformation! … to introduce … the elegant, healthful, inoffensive, improving practice of social dancing into our families! …
“Bro. Campbell, more than a year ago I wrote you in reference to some of these matters, and urged you strongly to present your views concerning them. You promised me you would; but a press of business, I suppose, has prevented. … Are Christian parents to be allowed to send their children to dancing school, and have social dancing in their houses? Is the church to tolerate and encourage all this? Circus going, card playing, as an amusement – theatre going, and all kindred practices? Give us, my dear brother, your best thoughts on this subject.”
Campbell publishes Rogers’ letter in the August 1851 issue of the Millennial Harbinger (MH) and responds:
“The subject laid before us in the above communication from its excellent author, merits our profound consideration and that of all the brethren. We will attend to it in our next. – A.C.”
Campbell does just that in the September 1851 issue of the MH (pp.503-507). He confesses that he has not:
“… for more than forty and five years, seen a dance [Campbell is 63 years of age at this time], and but once before that, (having been, by mere accident, precipitated in its midst;) and, still more unfortunate, having, during its progress, fallen most profoundly asleep, acquired no accurate knowledge of the curious affair.”
To fill in his gap in understanding, Campbell then turns to Webster’s dictionary and references to dancing in the Bible “to make amends” for his “shameful ignorance of the mystery.” Having done so, he continues:
“… in New Testament manners and customs, in evangelical ordinances and usages, the word, nor the idea of dancing, is not found. ‘Is any one merry,’ says the Apostle James, ‘let him dance.’ That is an Episcopalian Testament. It is not our version of it. We read it by authority of King James, ‘Is any merry, let him sing psalms.’ He does not say let him dance. Still, if I saw a Christian man or woman hymning or singing psalms and dancing, I could not condemn him, because I read of one so joyful in the Lord that he entered into the temple walking, and leaping, and praising God. …
“But why introduce Bible authorities in this case? Who claims precedent in Holy Writ for courtly balls and midnight masquerades? Surely no disciple of Christ!! To play the fool at a masquerade, is no very honorable amusement for a saint or sinner. … Why look to Paris, the metropolis of atheism, sensuality and crime, for any other fashion or custom than those which drown men in destruction and perdition? I would say, if need there be, to every brother in the land, ‘Lift up your voice like a trumpet, cry aloud and spare not. Show Israel their transgressions and Jacob their sins:’ for because of these things ‘iniquity abounds – the love of many waxes cold.'”
June 10, 1880 – Today, as both a close friend and fellow brother in Christ within the Restoration Heritage, Jeremiah Sullivan Black writes a letter to James A. Garfield. At the time, Garfield is running for nomination as the Republican candidate for the office of the President of the United States. Jerry Rushford continues the story, and as he does so, he quotes an excerpt from Black’s letter to Garfield:
“Another Disciple who could not conscientiously give his support to the Garfield candidacy was Jeremiah Sullivan Black. When Black heard the news of Garfield’s nomination, he was torn between old Democratic loyalties and his strong personal friendship with Garfield. But he could not bring himself to vote for the Republican party.
“‘I am sure that if elected you will try your best to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God,’ he wrote Garfield. ‘But to a certain extent you are bound to fail, for in our country the leader of a party is like the head of a snake—it can only go as the tail impels it , and your tail will be a very perverse one.’
“When Black was called upon to campaign for the Democratic ticket, he willingly complied. In the heat of the closely contested race, Black took the stump aggressively against Garfield.”
“I know how grounded you are in the ways of political thinking which seem to you just and for the highest good of your country — and so all the more for that reason I prize your words of personal kindness. … Succeeding or failing I shall none the less honor your noble character, great intellect, and equally great heart.”
And Rushford tells us the rest of the story:
“When the Credit Mobilier scandal [of 1872] became an issue [just a little later] in the campaign, Black testified that Garfield had actually held stock in the company and had received dividends as well. This accusation seriously damaged the Garfield-Black friendship. They never saw or wrote to one another again.”
[Aside: Garfield faces William H. Hancock, another former Union General of the Civil War, as his Democratic opponent in the 1880 Presidential election. Hancock’s running mate (for Vice-President) is William H. English. English had edged out Richard M. Bishop in the bid for the VP nomination and Bishop, like Garfield and Black, was a fellow Christian within the Restoration Heritage.]
June 11, 1835 – Today, the tension between the kingdom that is not of this world and the kingdoms that are of this world manifests itself in the life of a man.
Today, in Overton County, Tennessee, William Harrison Fleming is born to a veteran of the War of 1812 and his wife, William & Mary (Hall) Fleming. God grants son William seventy-five years of life. In 1859, at the age of twenty-four, he marries. The following year he is baptized into Christ and, soon after, decides to become a preacher. However, before he can take up preaching, the passions that flame up into the Civil War build and on July 30, 1861, Fleming chooses to enlist as a Corporal in Co. B of the CSA, 25th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. Just short of a year later (August 10, 1862) he is simultaneously transferred to Co. D and promoted to serve as its Captain.
During the war the 25th will experience some of the worst the war has to offer. In January, 1862, the 25th reports that it has six hundred and eighty-three men present for duty. During the Battle of Murfreesboro (aka: Stone’s River; Dec. 31, 1862 – Jan. 3, 1863), over one-third of the 25th’s men become casualties. Nine months later at Chickamauga (September 19-20, 1863) the regiment loses so many of its men (nearly forty percent) that it is necessary to consolidate those who remain with those of the 44th Tennessee. [Chickamauga is the Civil War’s second bloodiest battle. In it the 25th is a part of Fulton’s Brigade, a force that engages John T. Wilder’s famed “Lightning Brigade’ at the Log School House on the first day of battle. During the battle’s second day of fighting, the 25th engages, among others, W.C. Whitaker’s command at Horseshoe Ridge. Many of Whitaker‘s troops are from Ohio and a percentage of them are a part of the Restoration Heritage. Whitaker himself is a graduate of Bethany College (though he spends this day “deep in his cups ” [drunk]). And, during the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff (aka: Fort Darling; May 12, 1864) the 25th/44th again loses over a third of its men.
At the time of the 25/44th’s surrender in April 1865 only four officers and twenty-one men are present.
Regarding Fleming’s service in the military, H. Leo Boles writes (in 1930):
“He was reputed to be a gallant soldier who commanded the respect of his fellow soldiers and superior officers. The scenes of a soldier’s life were registered vividly upon his mind, and he never forgot the hardships which he and his comrades had to endure.”
“Scenes” and hardships.” Such understatement for man’s inhumanity to man.
After the war, Fleming returns to his wife, Martha, and to farming and, in 1868, begins to preach. Boles tells us something of his ministry:
“He preached in Kentucky, Texas, and Tennessee. However, most of his work was done in Tennessee, in the counties of Jackson, Overton, Clay, Putnam, Pickett, Fentress, and White. … Brother Fleming was a farmer by occupation. He cultivated his farm and made his support for himself and family on his farm. He received very little for his preaching and expected nothing. … Brother Fleming worked through the week during ‘crop time’ and preached on Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes he would ride horseback more than twenty miles on Sunday morning and preach twice on Sunday, and return home the same night and be ready for his farm work early Monday morning. … Brother Fleming baptized hundreds of people, and is said to have married more couples than any other preacher in that part of the country.”
Fleming dies in 1910. His body is interred in the cemetery of Flat Creek Church of Christ in Overton, Tennessee. The stone is the most prominent one in the cemetery, located close to the center of it and towering over all of the other stones. A person is naturally drawn to it by its appearance to take special note of it; however, it is not grandly adorned. Other than the text of inscriptions, a single image is engraved on it: an open Bible. And like many gravestones, aside from the usual listing of name, birth, and death, a quote is included. However, the quote on W.H.’s grave are the words of Scripture (2 Timothy 4.7-8a):
“I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course
I have kept the faith
henceforth there is laid up
for me a crown of
Another Scripture quotation is included for W.H.’s wife, Martha (d. 1933). The words are those of Jesus in Matthew 5.8:
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
From what is included – and what is not – on the Fleming family gravestone it is quite clear exactly which kingdom and which battles in life the Flemings wanted emphasized and remembered should a person stands at their grave: life, death, and the word of God. The utter simplicity of it and the emphasis on the rule of God “preaches” still.
However, many years later, no doubt with many good intentions, some well-meaning soul(s) added something to the grave, something Fleming and his immediate family had deliberately elected not to include: a large bronze marker noting W.H.’s allegiance to the Confederacy, his military rank, and unit. Indeed, a small Confederate flag often adorns the site. And so, at least as it seems to me, the subject has been changed; changed from pointing toward the holy and good deeds of God to the horrific and deadly deeds of men. And so, the struggle between kingdoms continues. And so, let us preach the word, the good news of peace.
June 12, 1812 – Today, a church witnesses the baptism of their preacher and six others.
In Buffalo Creek, Washington County, Pennsylvania, about noon today, Thomas & Jane (Corneigle) Campbell, Alexander & Margaret (Brown) Campbell, Dorothea Campbell, and James & Sarah Hanen (Henon), are immersed by a Baptist minister, Matthias Luse (Luce). Most of the members of the Brush Run Church, as well as a large number of others “attracted by the novelty of the occasion,” witness the event. The following excerpt from Robert Richardson’s Memoirs of Alexander Campbell gives us a glimpse into the moment.
“[In days prior to their baptisms, Thomas] … suggested … that in view of the public position they [Thomas and Alexander] occupied as religious teachers and advocates of reformation, it would be proper that the matter should be publicly announced and attended to amongst the people to whom they had been accustomed to preach; and he requested Alexander to get Mr. Luce … at whatever time might be appointed.
“[As everyone was gathered for the baptisms] … Thomas Campbell thought it proper to present, in full, the reasons which had determined his course. In a very long address, he accordingly reviewed the entire ground which he had occupied, and the struggles that he had undergone in reference to the particular subject of baptism, which he had earnestly desired to dispose of, in such a manner, that it might be no hindrance in the attainment of that Christian unity which he had labored to establish upon the Bible alone. In endeavoring to do this, he admitted that he had been led to overlook its importance, and the very many plain and obvious teachings of the Scriptures on the subject; but having at length attained a clearer view of duty, he felt it incumbent upon him to submit to what he now plainly saw was an important Divine institution. Alexander afterward followed in an extended de fence of their proceedings, urging the necessity of submitting implicitly to all God’s commands, and showing that the baptism of believers only, was authorized by the Word of God. …”
“Alexander … stipulated with … Luce that the ceremony should be performed precisely according to the pattern given in the New Testament, and that, as there was no account of any of the first converts being called upon to give what is called a ‘religious experience,’ this modern custom should be omitted, and that the candidates should be admitted on the simple confession that ‘Jesus is the Son of God. …’
“The meeting, it is related, continued about seven hours …”
“At the next meeting of the church of Brush Run, which was on the Lord’s day [Sunday, June 16] succeeding the baptism of the seven, thirteen other members … requested immersion, which was accordingly administered by Thomas Campbell, each one making the simple confession of Christ as the Son of God. On subsequent occasions, some others came forward in like manner, so that the great majority of the church speedily consisted of immersed believers, upon which, the other individuals who had been in the Association abandoned the cause, being unwilling to follow the reformatory movement any further. …
“Immersion had been unanimously adopted as the only true scriptural baptism; infant baptism had been finally and absolutely rejected as a human invention, and the simple confession of Christ, made by the early converts to Christ, was acknowledged as the only requirement which could be scripturally demanded of those who desired to become members of the Church.”
These baptisms are not the first for Brush Run Church members. On July 4 the preceding year (1811), Thomas Campbell had baptized Abraham Alters, Joseph Bryant, and Margaret Fullerton in Buffalo Creek.
Earlier today, one of those previously baptized, Joseph Bryant, had received word that war had been declared on Great Britain and that a muster of volunteers was to take place. Bryant had ridden off to be a part of this muster, only to learn on his arrival that the word is false (the declaration of war will not occur for another two weeks yet). Galloping back to Buffalo Creek, he arrives in time to hear just a bit of preaching before witnessing the baptisms. One of those baptized, seventeen year-old Dorothea, is one of Alexander Campbell’s little sisters … and Bryant’s future wife.
June 13, 1803 – Today, a man is born who rises to mightily influence many who will touch the lives of far many more.
Today, Benjamin Franklin (“B.F.”) Hall is born in Nicholas County, Kentucky. During the course of his years of ministry, Hall, among other things, influences John Mulkey and Barton W. Stone on the matter of baptism being “for the remission of sins,” is instrumental in the baptism of Tolbert Fanning (the future editor of the Gospel Advocate) and John A. Gano (father of R.M. Gano), mentors Mansel W. Matthews (a fellow dentist, Sam Houston’s physician, and a preacher in north Texas), plants the Restoration Heritage in Little Rock, AR, keeps company with men like Alexander Campbell, T.W. Caskey, and Jacob Creath, Jr., and becomes a long-time, close friend of Collin McKinney (planter of many Restoration churches in north Texas).
However, between grave financial difficulties, a torturous second marriage that ends in divorce, and his spirit during the Civil War that can perhaps best be described as macabre, his influence for good becomes seriously crippled and wanes through the years. In his autobiography, Hall laments:
“Owing to my second marriage my life has been a sad disappointment.”
Hall’s fascinating autobiography is available for reading online.
[cf. the post for March 7 in this series for more on B.F. Hall]
Among the things that happened this week in American Restoration Heritage history:
May 31, 1858 – Today, the cornerstone is laid for a new, main building for Bethany College (the old building having burned down not quite six months ago on December 10, 1857). Alexander Campbell and son-in-law W.K. Pendleton (W.K.’s first wife, Lavinia, Campbell’s daughter, died in 1846) had set out on a tour of the South in January to do fund-raising for the building’s construction. However, due largely to effects of the run up to and recovery from the Civil War, it takes fourteen years to complete the building (1872). However, this structure still stands today and, referred to as “Old Main,” is on the National Register of Historical Places.
June 1, 1823 – Today (or very close to it), a young Hispanic teen by the name of José María Carbajal, having been mentored by Stephen F. Austin, arrives in Kentucky and soon comes under the influence of Alexander Campbell.
During the winter of 1822/1823 in San Fernando de Béxar (what will in future years become known as San Antonio, Texas), Stephen F. Austin befriends a young Hispanic widow, María Gertrudis Sánchez Soto. Austin arranges for one of her sons, José María Carbajal, to go to Frankfort, Kentucky with Littlebury Hawkins and learn the trade of tanner. Carbajal lives with his instructor in leather-working, a brother-in-law of Hawkins, a “Mr. Blanchard.” However, after two years, young Carbajal has had enough of Mr. Blanchard – Carabajal says “him and I could not agree” – and so, leaves him and winds up under the care of a “Peter Hedenbergh” in Lexington, Kentucky. Hedenbergh teaches him saddle-making and Carbajal enjoys it. Those who know him take a shine to him and speak well of him. The local postmaster, a “Mr. Ficklin,” describes young Cabrajal’s conduct as “affectionate and praiseworthy” and that such “endeared him to his acquaintances.”
While in Lexington, Carbajal leaves his Catholic faith behind and is baptized in the Baptist church. In 1826, he hears Alexander Campbell, Sr. preach in the Baptist church and winds up going back to Bethany, Virginia with Campbell. He lives with the Campbell family for two years. Selina Campbell, reminiscing in her later years of this time and Carbajal, writes:
“… he was very bright and prepossessing in his manners. He was a member of the church, and quite consistent as such. He became a great reader of Mr. C’s writings, and when he returned home [to Texas in 1830] he took many of them with him.”
In the spring of 1830, at about the age of twenty, Carbajal makes his way back to Texas. He is engaged in selling Spanish Bibles. However, through his continued connections with Stephens F. Austin, his life is soon swept up in the whirlwind of political and military activity of the time and place. After briefly working as a land surveyor (he laid out the city of Victoria), Carbajal works his way through several government positions and becomes increasingly sympathetic to those who want to separate the region from Mexico. Arrested in 1835 by Mexican authorities as one trying to stir up rebellion, Carbajal manages to escape and becomes something of a force with those seeking revolt. However, his loyalty is ultimately misunderstood and through the course of complicated events, Carbajal and his family, as well as his wife’s family (the powerful De Leon family), are ejected from their property in Victoria in July 1836 by Thomas Jefferson Rusk. Needless to say, this burns Carbajal’s toast with the newly formed Republic of Texas.
Understand that Carbajal is his own man. Referring to himself as “a true Mexican,” he has no use for either the Mexican dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna, the advance of the interests of the United States government, or now, the Republic of Texas. Carbajal believes the best way forward is the establishment of a new republic in northern Mexico, independent of those three governments: the Republic of Sierra Madre. He spends the remainder of his life serving in whatever capacity he can, to further that interest, which gets him in trouble with the authorities on a number of occasions. For example, in one instance, Carbajal is arrested by Juan Davis Bradburn and brought to Anahuac (in what is now Chambers County, Texas). Relating something of Carbajal’s actions and his response to them, Bradburn writes to Commandant General Vicente Filisola of the Eastern Interior States, Republic of Mexico:
“Carbajal, speaking English, promoted discord and absolute disobedience among the colonists. In my opinion, this was the only certain way to insure tranquillity there, and also to protect against an attack on the small military troop under my command. These events resulted in continuing ill feelings towards the General Government by many of the settlers. My conduct in this affair was approved by His Excellency, Señor General Don Manuel Mier y Terán and the General Government.”
And yet, over a decade later in the mid-1840’s, Carbajal supports the Mexican Army in its fight against the United States in the Mexican-American War. In time, Carbajal is twice arrested by U.S. authorities, but twice he is released. He spends nearly the last thirty years of his life (1846-1874) in a variety of military and political posts, always seeking the way of “a true Mexican.”
Little is known of Carbajal’s involvement with faith after he gives up selling Spanish Bibles in Texas in 1830. We do know that during the American Civil War, Carbajal enrolls two of his sons, Antonio and Joseph, in Bethany College and these young men live with Alexander & Selina Campbell, the older of the two actually graduating from Bethany College.
What might have been for the Restoration Heritage had Carbajal given over his intellect and passion for independence for his people not to the forces of politics and military service, but to the Christ of the cross! If so, it would not be hard to imagine Carbajal having become something of “a Hispanic Alexander Campbell” to the people of Mexico.
June 2, 1828 – In today’s issue of the Christian Baptist, Alexander Campbell speaks with unrestrained excitement over how he perceives God at work in tearing down denominational walls.
“This is one of the most momentous and eventful periods of the history of christianity since the commencement of our recollection of the religious world, and, we think, from the commencement of the present century. All religious denominations are shaking. Christians in all parties are looking with inquisitive eyes into the sacred books, and examining the platforms of their respective schismatical establishments. Many run to and fro, and knowledge is increasing. What religious sect is not at this moment waking from its slumber? Even the establishments of Rome, of England, of Scotland, fed and feasted as they are with political patronage, and bolstered up with their charming antiquity, are not likely long to retain their place in the veneration of their own children. The peaceful Quaker and the dogmatical Presbyterian, the zealous Methodist and the orthodox Baptist, together with the little hosts of more recent origin, are all on the tiptoe of expectation, and the cry of ‘Reform!’ is now loudest and longest which falls upon the ear from all the winds of heaven. …
“The Bible, the fountain of religious light, is more generally distributed and more generally read now than at any former period. Even the measures often designed to uphold religious sects, are becoming battering rams to break down the walls of separation. Every day’s report brings to our ears some new triumph of light over darkness – of truth over error – and of liberal minds over the enslaved and enslaving genius of sectarian despostism. …
“… of all the good means which can be employed to promote peace on earth and good will among men, which have any influence to destroy sectarianism, or when are at all adapted to introduce the Millenium, there is none to compare with the simple proclamation of the ancient gospel. … Whatever real good is now done in the world is now done by the simple narration of God’s love of men, and all the mischief is done by the dogmas of human speculation or the regulations of schismatical establishments.If the former is universally attended to and the latter abandoned, all christians would be one in name, in affection, in faith and hope. …
“Many hundreds [in Ohio recently] have have received the ancient gospel within a few months, and have been immersed for the remission of sins, and have been filled with joy and peace in believing. Some of all religious parties embrace it and turn unto the Lord, and it has wrought effectually in the hearts of all to produce the same benign and cheering influences. …
“All sects that believe in revivals have then occasionally. The Lord is supposed to grant them. If then the Lord bestows these favors indiscriminantly upon all the sects, does he not pour contempt upon all their little shibboleths by breaking through the cobweb fences when about to bestow his benefits? If the Lord makes no difference between the Presbyterian, the Methodist, and the Baptist, in these special interpositions, why should they keep up those schismatic walls when God overleaps them in his distributions?”
June 3, 1863 – Today, a large army sets out on an invasion and we follow the life of one of those men.
On June 3, 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by General Robert E. Lee, sets out on its invasion of the North. The CSA, 4th Georgia Infantry Regiment makes up a portion of Lee’s men. One of the 4th’s men is 4th Corporal Alexander C. Lloyd of Company D (aka: “West Point Light Guards”). Company D is composed of men recruited from Troup County, Georgia, located on the western edge of central GA. Lloyd is a seasoned veteran, being one of the first to enlist in the 4th GA. He has fought in many a bloody battle, among them Gaines’ Mill, Malvern Hill, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and, most recently, Chancellorsville.
However, on this particular march, near a small town in Pennsylvania called “Gettysburg,” Lloyd finds himself not only engaged in combat, but as ultimately a prisoner of war. Though it certainly must not have seemed like it at the time, in becoming a POW Lloyd is one of the fortunate ones. This is true in at least two respects. First, fifteen percent of the 4th GA’s 341 engaged at Gettysburg fall as casualties there. Second, the 4th GA is decimated the year following in especially vicious hand-to-hand combat at the “Mule Shoe” during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 1864). Lloyd remains a POW for a year and a half, but is paroled at Point Lookout, Maryland in mid-January 1865, a little less than four months before the war’s end.
Now despite the fact that more than one generation of Lloyd’s family are members of the Spring Road [Christian] Church in West Point, GA, during the course of the war Lloyd is not a Christian. However, in rather short order following the war’s conclusion, Lloyd bows his knee to King Jesus and begins to follow him. Except for his obituary (which appears in the November 17, 1927 issue of the Gospel Advocate) – and the fact that Christian faith his found in several generations of his direct descendants – we know little of the specifics of Lloyd’s life following his conversion. His death notice reads:
“A. C. Loyd (‘Un’ Sandy’) died in the ninetieth year of his life here below. He entered the army of the South in the early part of the Civil War, from the State of Georgia. He was a soldier his comrades were proud of. He was captured at the battle of Gettysburg. He was a Mason in good standing. He located near Bridgeport, Ala., after the war and was married to Miss Tennie Johnson. To this union ten children were born, five sons and five daughters, all living except two, and all are Christians. He knew that being a Mason or a soldier would not save him; so he became a member of the church soon after the war, at Rocky Springs, where he served as long as he lived. He was a peacemaker, always helping to adjust troubles when they would arise among his neighbors. He was affable, hospitable, and always took an interest in having the gospel preached. He was a strong believer in helping the needy. Throughout his life he was an active and busy man. I talked to him much in his last sickness. He talked with intelligence, retaining his mental faculties to the end. He said he was ready to go, and was buoyant in hope and strong in faith till the end. He had forty-two grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Several of these he helped to rear. Funeral services were conducted at the Rocky Springs Church [Jackson County, Alabama] by Brother Charles Holder and myself in the presence of a large crowd. – R. W. Jernigan”
Two incidental notes. First, the Rocky Springs Church claims to be the oldest Restoration Heritage church in the state of Alabama, dating its beginning back to the early 1800’s. Second, I have been unable to determine if the “C” in Alexander Lloyd’s middle name is “Campbell’, but I strongly suspect it is just that. At least one other young contemporary of Lloyd’s in the Spring Road Church is named after Alexander Campbell, Sr. (Alexander Campbell Lanier).
June 4, 1827 – If you ever used a “handle” on a CB radio or if your e-mail address today utilizes some moniker other than your name, then you can appreciate today’s blast from the past as Alexander Campbell reveals the identity of one who has been writing in his paper under a pseudonym. In a section of the Christian Baptist (CB) noting three new publications to watch (Barton W. Stone’s Christian Messenger, a Mr. Saxton’s The Inquirer for Truth, and Walter Scott’s The Millenium Herald), Campbell writes:
“Mr. Walter Scott, now of Steubenville, Ohio, has issued proposals for publishing a monthly paper, at one dollar per annum, to be entitled The Millenium Herald. The best recommendation we can give of the probable ability with which this work may be edited, and of its public utility if suitably encouraged, is, that brother Scott is the author of those essays signed ‘Philip,’ in the Christian Baptist. The first number to appear in July next, is suitably encouraged.”
Though it seems, at best, a bit odd to us today, it was not at all unusual for writers in the nineteenth century to sign their work with a “fake name.” Whether to avoid having to deal directly with fallout from a piece, attempt to gain a fair hearing on a particular point, to add a bit of mystery and literary interest or wit, or just for the sheer fun of it, a number of writers, especially in Campbell’s Christian Baptist and Millennial Harbinger made use of such. And, just as you might have multiple e-mail addresses today, or once used different handles on different channels on the CB back in the day, Restoration Heritage writers of the 1800’s sometimes utilized a variety of pseudonyms.
Of course, in some instances we know today who wrote what under what pseudonym (e.g. – Walter Scott being known as “Philip”). However, as we might also expect, we remain clueless as to the identity of others. Following is a list of some of the pen-names several authors within the Restoration Heritage made use of in the 1800’s:
- Alexander Campbell – Bonus Homo, Candidus, Clarinda, Reformed Clergyman
- Thomas Campbell – T.W.
- Isaac Errett – Eusebius
- Philip S. Fall – Querens
- Archibald McKeever – Christianos
- Robert Richardson – Alumnus, Disciplus, E, K, L, Luke, R, Silas, U
- Walter Scott – Partenos, Philip
- Joseph Thomas – The White Pilgrim
June 5, 1826 – Today, a preacher reminds us that it is unhealthy to concern ourselves with, or engage in speculation about, things not explicitly revealed in Scripture, and that Scripture’s objective is for us to behave differently. Or, to put it another way: when the Bible is silent about something, that silence says something, and when the Bible speaks of a matter, it is to be acted upon. What God has revealed is for our living out, not merely knowing about.
Today, in the Christian Baptist, in part two of an article series entitled “Christian Morality,” Alexander Campbell writes:
“There is as much wisdom exhibited in concealing some things as there is in revealing others. Parents, in relation to their own children, have incontestible proofs of this, if they are parents of discernment. Our heavenly Father in revealing himself and his designs to the children of men, has purposefully concealed many things which it would have been unwise in relation to all ends and results to have discovered. …
“… the inference is unavoidable, viz: – That the Bible is designed for, and adapted to, the children of men in their present circumstances, to improve their condition here, and to fit them to become members of a pure, refined, and exalted society hereafter.
“Curiosity has prompted a thousand queries to which the Bible designs no reply. And why? because if answered, they would contribute nothing to the purification of the heart, or to the reformation of the life – God’s sublime and glorious scheme of ameliorating and reforming the world is predicated upon the actual condition of man. And as intelligence, purity of heart, and rectitude of life, are as inseparably connected with present and future happiness, as ignorance and guilt are with bondage and wretchedness both here and hereafter, the Bible is prepared, was bestowed, and is adapted, to the promotion of intelligence and purity, as prerequisites, as indispensibles, as a sine qua non to happiness. … Intelligence, purity of heart, and uprightness of life are the sole objects for which the Bible was bestowed on the world. …
“Christians then eggregiously mistake, who value themselves on the account of their superior intelligence; or who pursue information in the things revealed, merely for its own sake. Unless this knowledge is conducive and allied to the art of living well, it merely puffs up and avails nothing. … In fact, a man who glories in his intellectual attainments in the Bible (and of this class there are not a few) and pursues the knowledge of volume for its own sake, resembles a foolish husbandman who boats of his thousand measures of wheat, and his thousand measures of corn, who, as yet, has ploughed his fields, and intends nothing more until harvest.”
June 6, 1800 – Today, Thomas Campbell prays to Jesus and writes it down. From an entry in his diary we read of his emotions in the moment as well as his prayer:
“Spent this day in study, with great barrenness; little spirituality or love; feel a sense of deep depravity of my heart before God. I desire to lie in the dust at his feet, and even to feel his precious mercy lifting me up. That, I may be low in mine own eyes, and forever ascribe free, saving, abundant mercy unto my God, Lord Jesus reveal thyself in me, manifest thyself to me; make me strong through thy strength. I do heartily and forever resign myself to thee, as the fruit of they purchase.”
Among the things that happened this past week in the American Restoration Heritage history:
May 24, 1879 – A pioneer preacher, summing up his experiences to his son, speaks of what was and what should be.
Nathan Williamson Smith is one of the earliest preachers from within the Restoration Heritage to minister in the state of Georgia, serving there since the mid-1830’s. In a series of six letters written to a son, sixty-five year-old Smith relates what life for him was like “back in the day.” These letters are then published in the May and June issues of the Christian Standard. The fourth of the six letters is published today. In that letter Smith writes, in part:
“In 1836 I spent the summer months in traveling and preaching in some of the adjacent counties; but with very little success. Also in 1838 I spent about half of the year evangelizing; received four dollars for my salary, but thank the Lord that year, among others, I immersed two of the best of brothers we ever had in Georgia. One is gone to his reward with the Lord; the other is away in Texas, proclaiming the glad tidings as his health will permit; has been sorely afflicted of late.
“In 1849 I traveled around at my own expense, and got up the first cooperation meeting held by our brethren in the State. The delegation was small, and nothing practical accomplished, more than to make a beginning in that direction, and appoint another meeting for the same place twelve months thereafter.”
Smith continues this same thought in his next letter (May 31):
“Since the year 1849 there have been several cooperation or yearly meetings. But as far as my information extends, they have not been very successful in their results. And if I had to guess the reason, would say, too many resolutions, only on paper.
“During my labor as preacher I have served as pastor in different places, 14 churches in Georgia, when not engaged as an evangelist. While some of them paid a very small salary and some paid nothing, I do not think I exaggerate by saying that near one half my labors have been given to the good cause gratuitously; but do not complain at all, although I am now old and afflicted, and not able to support my family by manual labor.”
Smith’s final letter (June 7) gives us a snapshot of the state of things for our heritage at the time in Georgia, as well as some of Smith’s take on it all:
“So far as my information extends there are abut twenty-five preachers now in Georgia, and about six of them are devoting all their time to preaching. The rest are laboring now in various callings to support themselves and family, some of them preaching monthly pretty regularly, others preaching very little. …
“I am not able to say positively how many organized churches we have in our State, but I would say, to the best of my knowledge there are between fifty and seventy-five, varying in numbers, some of them not having a great many, and others from one to two hundred. During my observations our churches have lost many members, both by death and emigration to the West. There are a goodly number of brethren that are scattered in the country, not convenient to any church for worship. I am sorry to say that among the churches very few of them meet regularly on each Lord’s day to worship, read, and study the Scriptures; and furthermore, I am sorry to say that there is not that interest manifested in the Sunday-school cause, that I would like to see and know. Oh, when will our brethren learn that their spiritual life, grow in grace, peace and prosperity as churches, does not depend entirely on this old fashioned way of monthly meetings, waiting and depending on the preacher to come and do the work? If allowed to express an opinion, I must say that I do not think that our Georgia churches have increased and prospered as they might, even with the many difficulties they have had to encounter. I know the opposition has been courageous, more zealous, more humble and devoted, and, withal, more benevolent to the poor and more liberal with our means in sustaining the cause of the Lord – his word and his word alone.”
What advice would Smith offer to young preachers in preparation for ministry? Marry well. In his first letter (May 7), Smith says:
“In the year 1834 I married your mother in the county of Wilkes, Georgia … She was an orphan whose parents both died when she was a child. She, like myself, had but a very limited chance to go to school and improve her mind when young. But possessing naturally a strong mind and untiring energy, she was well calculated for a preacher’s wife, for a truth, I confess, that I am more indebted to my wife for what I am and what I have done as a preacher, than any other human instrumental in it. And I would say to all young men that expect to preach, be careful as to the disposition of the lady you choose for a wife. Many a good preacher’s usefulness is destroyed by the conduct of his wife. I knew once a very talented and fine preacher, whose wife would use every stratagem in her power to keep him at home, and from going to his appointments. One Saturday, trying to prevail on him not to go to meeting, and finding she was not successful, she secretly got some fire and went out and set the woods on fire, so that her husband had to go to fighting fire to save his fence.”
After penning these letters, Smith lives another twenty years. His body is buried in Cobb County, Georgia. His ministry took him to forty of Georgia’s counties and at different times, he was the only preacher from among the Restoration Heritage in those counties.
May 25, 1894 – Today, the author of the first “study Bible” produced by a Restoration Heritage author goes on to be with the Lord and his body is buried in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Or, to put it another way: today, a man who helped shaped the mind of many of your church members with gray hair today, passes on.
The man is B.W. Johnson. His initials stand for his namesake: “Barton Warren” Stone. His mind is largely shaped by his education at Bethany College, the president of which is Alexander Campbell. His professors there include such men as Robert Milligan, W. K. Pendleton, and Robert Richardson. In 1863 he serves as the corresponding secretary of the American Missionary Society (let the reader understand). He works for years as the editor of the paper begun by Walter Scott, The Evangelist (aka: the Christian Evangelist).
And in 1891, the second volume of the first edition of Johnson’s two-volume work entitled The People’s New Testament: The Common and Revised Versions with References and Colored Maps, with Explanatory Notes, rolls off the press. Johnson’s Notes, as the work comes to be popularly known, quickly becomes a part of the library of many an average-Joe-in-the-pew within Restoration Heritage churches. This holds true for something close to a century in time.
I can’t recall with certainty if a copy of Johnson’s Notes was given to me as a gift by a fellow church member or if I purchased it at the recommendation of one of the staff ministers with our congregation (me thinks it was likely the latter), but I do recall it was one of the very first books to be added to my library upon my baptism at the age of seventeen. In the same way one never notices just how many cars on the road are identical to your own until you own a particular car, I never noticed how many fellow church members toted a one-volume edition of Johnson’s notes to Sunday class and worship services until I acquired my copy. At the time, the fact struck me that this was something like “the Church of Christ Bible.” Nearly forty years have passed since my baptism and I now live over four hundred miles further south, but I still occasionally encounter a church member referencing or quoting Johnson’s Notes today.
May 26, 1833 – Today, a preacher learns that his writing has led people unknown to him to a closer walk with the Lord and has resulted in the planting of a church.
In faraway Calloway County, Missouri, a man by the name of Greenup Jackson sits down and pens a letter to Alexander Campbell. He writes:
“I have your Christian Baptist and a few numbers of the Millennial Harbinger; also your Debates with Owen and M’Calla, and have read them with peculiar delight. I have been more instructed in the Christian religion by them than by any other composition of human origin. I have laid aside my ‘Discipline,’ to which I have been a slave for four years, and have vowed allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Seven of us have been immersed in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of our sins, and are trying to exhibit the primitive order of Christianity. We expect a considerable increase.”
May 27, 1893 – One Bible scholar hammers another – rather, a whole group of others – with satire today.
In the late 1870’s, Julius Wellhausen publishes two volumes that come to dominate the field of Old Testament scholarship for decades following. The first volume concerns the JEDP theory of the source origins of the Pentateuch and the second volume deals with the history of the people of Israel. The effects of Wellhausen’s work reverberates throughout Christendom, the Restoration Heritage being no exception.
Within the Restoration Heritage, J.W. McGarvey is deemed the champion of conservative Biblical scholarship. And, by means of articles published on a weekly basis in the Christian Standard, McGarvey continually takes liberal scholarship to the woodshed. Today, a certain “Professor Nordell” [presumably P.A. Nordell] is McGarvey’s whipping boy.
May 27, 1893
“I commend to the consideration of Professor Nordell and his class of critics a specimen of criticism on an English classic, which he has probably never seen, and which may be of service to him in his future efforts at literary criticism. As the document has not yet been copyrighted, I will not disclose the name of the book from which it is an extract. It is entitled “The Literary Analysis of an Ancient Poem.” As the poem is a brief one, we shall quote it in full:
“‘Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard,
To get her poor dog a bone.
When she got there, the cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.’
“In the uncritical ages of the past this poem was believed to be the composition of a single person — a very ancient English woman by the name of Goose. Whether we should style her Mrs. Goose, or Miss Goose, we have no means of deciding with certainty, for the stories which have come down to historical times concerning her are mostly legendary. It might be supposed that the title “mother” would settle this difficult question; but, as in certain convents of our own day, venerable spinsters are styled Mother, so may it have been in the days of Goose.
“But, leaving this interesting question as one for further historical inquiry, we turn to the poem itself, and by applying to it the scientific process of literary analysis, we find that the document did not originate, as our fathers have supposed, from a single author, but that it is a composite structure, at least two original documents having been combined within it by a Redactor. This appears from the incongruities between the two traditions which evidently underlie the poem.
“One of these traditions represents the heroine of the poem, a venerable Mrs. Hubbard, as a benevolent woman, who loved her dog, as appears from the fact that she went to the cupboard to get him some food. If we had the whole of this story, we should doubtless find that she did this every time the dog was hungry, and as she would surely not go to the cupboard for the dog’s food unless she knew there was some in the cupboard, we can easily fill out the story of her benevolence by assuming that she put something away for the dog when she ate her own meals.
“Now, in direct conflict with this, the other tradition had it that she kept the dog “poor;” for he is called her “poor dog;” and, in keeping with this fact, instead of giving him meat, she gave him nothing but bones. Indeed, so extreme was her stinginess toward the poor dog that, according to this tradition, she actually put away the bones in the cupboard with which to mock the poor dog’s hunger.
“A woman could scarcely be represented more inconsistently than Mrs. Hubbard was by these two traditions; and consequently none but those who are fettered by tradition, can fail to see that the two must have originated from two different authors. For the sake of distinction, we shall style one of these authors, Goose A, and the other, Goose B. In these two forms, then, the traditions concerning this ancient owner of a dog came down from prehistoric times. At length there arose a literary age in England, and then R put together in one the accounts written by the two gooses, but failed to conceal their incongruities, so that unto this day Mother Hubbard is placed in the ridiculous light of going to the cupboard when there was nothing in it; of going there, notwithstanding her kindness to her dog, to tantalize him by getting him a mere bone; and, to cap the climax, of going all the way to the cupboard to get the bone when she knew very well that not a bone was there.
“Some people are unscientific enough to think, that in thus analyzing the poem, we are seeking to destroy its value, but every one who has the critical faculty developed, can see that this ancient household lyric is much more precious to our souls since we have come to understand its structure; and that, contradictory as its two source documents were, it is a blessed thing that, in the providence of God, both have been preserved in such a form that critical analysis is capable of separating and restoring them.”
May 28, 1830 – Today, a law is passed that results in the death of thousands upon thousands of people in the United States … and the resulting virtual silence on the matter by prominent leaders of the Restoration Heritage is deafening today.
Today, United States President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act (IRA) into law. The bill has been a controversial measure, passing the House and Senate by a total of only thirteen votes. However, its passage now gives Jackson the authority to do what he wants done: the removal of all Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River and their relocation to what is known today as Oklahoma. Though the IRA is extremely popular with Southerners, the result of the IRA’s implementation is devastating to Native Americans, resulting in, among other things, what is known as “The Trail of Tears.”
While I am anything but a top-shelf Restoration Heritage historian or researcher, I have been reading my eyes out and Googling my fingers off … and have yet to find much at all penned by one of the primary leaders of the early years of the Restoration Heritage regarding the relocation, and resulting decimation, of Native American people. However, one article has been pointed out to me, an article penned by Alexander Campbell not quite six months before the passage of the IRA. And significantly, this article, entitled “The Cherokees,” appears in the very first issue of Campbell’s paper, the Millennial Harbinger (Jan. 4, 1830; vol.1, no.1). Campbell’s take on things is 180 degrees opposite of those of President Jackson. The article reads:
“The ‘rights of man,’ one would think, are any thing and every thing which any body and every body pleases to make them, if we yield to the opinions of those who maintain that any state in this Union has a right to seize the property and exile or banish the owner, because he is red, or yellow, or some other unfashionable color. But that is not the question–it is this: Have treaties any sanction, any validity, any faith? Have the parties to any covenant or compact any right? Or is it the right of the strong always to plunder the property and insult the person of the weak. Has one man, because he is rich and has many friends, the right to seize the farm of his poor neighbor and give him a tract in the moon, or in ‘No Man’s Island’ for it, just as he pleases? All this, and even more than this, is assumed by Georgia in reference to the Cherokee Indians, as I understand her wishes respecting this most important community of the aborigines, to whom God gave this continent. I am glad that the eyes of christendom and of the world, are now upon the representatives of this nation of republics–this government of principles and laws; for if none but the eyes of God were upon some of them, I think they would send these poor defenceless Indians beyond the Rocky Mountains, if it would not cost too much.
“On the question whether the Cherokees, in part civilized, and some say, in part a christianized tribe of Indians, now residing within the territory of Georgia, are under its jurisdiction, ipso facto, in despite of all treaty, Mr. [William Lloyd] Garrison, junior editor of the Genius of Universal Emancipation [a Quaker, abolitionist newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland] makes the following very pertinent and forcible remarks:–
“‘Questions of national justice are above the spirit of party: their discussion, therefore, is within the province, and becomes the duty, of every editor. In the selections of candidates men may honestly differ, without impeaching their integrity or discernment; but the principles of equity are too broad and palpable to be misapprehended, or to render division excusable.
“‘The question of INDIAN RIGHTS should unite the hearts and voices of the American people, from Maine to the Rocky Mountains. It is simple, significant, weighty. It is not whether the Indians would gain or lose by emigration–whether their removal would better secure the safety of Georgia or Alabama–whether they have cultivated ten or ten thousand acres of their lands–whether they have been reclaimed from their former savage habits, and are now a civilized and christian people; but it is simply, Whether the faith of the United States is not only solemnly plighted to protect them, for ever, from invasion, violence, and fraud? Expediency and policy are convertible terms, full of dishonesty and oppression. Justice is eternal, and its demands cannot safely be evaded.”
“‘It is not a fact that the Cherokees are within the jurisdiction of Georgia, or of any other state. They are as distinct as any member of the Union, and as national and independent as Great Britain itself. A hundred and fifty treaties can be produced to sustain their pretensions. The laws of Georgia can no more be justly imposed on them, than upon individuals residing in Massachusetts or Maine, or in the Persian Empire. They have never submitted themselves to the government of the whites–they probably never will submit–and no power, we trust, will compel them to submit. They do not infringe upon state or national rights. Their location interferes with nothing but the avarice of Georgia, and a better one, for themselves and the country, cannot be found this side of the Pacific. In fine, their forcible removal would brand this country with eternal infamy, and expose it to the accumulated vengeance of heaven.’
“I humbly trust there is yet so much justice, so much pure republicanism, so much regard to truth and national faith, in the bosoms of the American people and of their representatives in congress, as will not permit them to give up an innocent and harmless nation to the cupidity of a few capitalists in Georgia or any where else.”
The preacher in me enjoys Campbell’s alliteration in his sentence of summation: “the cupidity of a few capitalists.” And the historian in me appreciates Campbell quoting from Benjamin Lundy‘s paper, The Genius of Universal Emancipation. Lundy’s name is not well-remembered today, but he was a loud voice crying in the wilderness in his time, arguably the first person in the U.S. to deliver lectures in speaking tours across the country against slavery. It is Lundy who, just a very few years later, helps carry the flag, as it were, in the denunciation of the Texas Revolution. Why? Because he believes he sees it for what it is actually about: an attempt to continue, and further, slavery (Mexico having outlawed it). Lundy, if anything, is a consistent and courageous man, and these are traits that Campbell greatly admires.
While Campbell apparently said precious little regarding the eviction of Native Americans from their homes after the publication of this article, one wonders what else could have been said. Campbell’s position is candid and clear, leaving no room for compromise. Indeed, it makes this part-Cherokee proud that he said what he did and when he did. Jackson had outlined his policy in his Second Annual Message to Congress less than a month earlier (Dec. 6, 1829) and this article, in effect, is Campbell’s “reply” to Jackson. That Campbell spoke at all, especially with the knowledge that his position would be exceedingly unpopular with many – and would prove to be in vain – is significant. Campbell spoke at the crucial moment, while the matter was still yet to be decided, and in a prominent way, in the first issue of his new paper. No small thing.
And yet, there were more leaders in the Restoration Heritage than Campbell who write and/or who were editors – and where were their voices on this matter? We can’t help but wonder what future generations will wonder about our near silence today on matters that will appear large in their eyes.
May 29, 1913 – Death, like life, can be very complicated. And today, by means of words of eulogy, we learn a strong lesson in honesty, grace, humility, hope, and brotherly love through the complicated, intertwined lives of two brothers in Christ: one a courageous pacifist, the other a military hero.
Richard Montgomery (“R.M”) Gano is the most prominent of Restoration Heritage veterans who served the Confederacy. And during the Civil War, there is hardly a more vocal pacifist in our heritage than David Lipscomb. During the war, Gano leads no small number of the men Lipscomb had helped lead to the Lord to their deaths in combat. Men Lipscomb taught to be peacemakers, Gano trained to become killers, and in a great many instances we know, killers of fellow brothers in Christ. A significant portion of that fighting took place in the heart of Lipscomb’s primary place of influence: Middle Tennessee. Make no mistake about it: there is a pool of blood, deep and wide, between R.M. Gano and David Lipscomb.
However, aside from Gano’s and Lipscomb’s dramatic differences as to the relationship of the Christian toward military service, there is no question as to either man’s sincerity, service, and strength in the Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is obvious to all in the lives of them both. And, Lipscomb owes Gano much in that after the war he helped lead some of Lipscomb’s kin to the Lord … and thousands of others. Yes, here is another pool of blood.
And so, upon Gano’s death, David Lipscomb, editor of the brotherhood’s most prominent paper, the Gospel Advocate, must say something; he cannot not write about the passing of such a figure. But, what will he say and how will he say it? Lipscomb writes:
“We have seen notice of the death of Gen. R.M. Gano, of Dallas, Texas. He was in his eighty-fourth year. He was born in Bourbon County, Ky., a son of John Allen Gano, a preacher of force and power. The Ganos were of a family of preachers. They were from the French Huguenots. Two or three members of the family were Baptist preachers of note in New York before and during the Revolutionary War. Some of the family removed to the blue-grass region of Kentucky; and when the division between the Baptists and disciple of Christ came up, John A. Gano, the father of R.M. Gano, stood with the disciples firmly for the sufficiency of the word of God to lead and guide men in the way of righteousness and truth.
“The Ganos, so far as their lives are known, possessed a happy combination of qualities and characteristics. They were men gentle and kind in spirit, with true courage of convictions and strength and force of character. They could be strong and firm for the truth and the right, yet kind and gentle toward all men, especially toward those who opposed the truth. The Christian religion is intended by God to school and train men for these qualities, that they may be effective in exhorting and persuading men to become Christians. It is a happy condition when men inherit these helpful qualities. They could speak in kind and gentle tones, yet be steadfast in their convictions. Such men make good exhorters and are successful in persuading men to do their duty. The Ganos were good exhorters and successful preachers. General Gano was gentle and suave in his manner, but firm in his convictions and steadfast in his purposes.
“He graduated at Bethany College with a degree of honor, studied medicine, and began practice at Baton Rouge, La. Though no a preacher at that time, he soon gathered a band of disciples who met to worship God. After a year or so he moved to Grapevine, Texas. The Indians gave the people trouble, and he raised a company of soldiers and began a military life. About this time he was elected to the Legislature of Texas and served a term in this position.
“The Civil War came on; he entered the army, was put forward as a soldier, and made for himself a military character. He was through Middle Tennessee, and figured at Lebanon, Gallatin, and Hartsville. He was pleasant and popular as an officer with the soldiers and with the people.
“After the close for the war, he went to preaching. His reputation as a soldier commended him to the mass of the people in this country, and he held meetings at the placed mentioned and in Odd Fellows’ Hall in East Nashville, which gave the churches of Christ a start in East Nashville. Prof. James F. Lipscomb [one of David Lipscomb’s older brothers], who died in Texas a few years ago; Horace G. Lipscomb [another older brother of Lipscomb], who died in this city about a year ago; and Mrs. L.V. Clough, of Fort Worth, Texas [relationship unknown to me], were staying at my house, and all, with others, became obedient to the faith during this meeting. I became well acquainted with General Gano during the meeting and learned to respect and honor him for his earnestness and fidelity to what he thought was right. I used to boast sometimes of abstemious habits; that I had never drunk a cup of coffee, smoked a cigar, or took a chew of tobacco or a drink of spirits as a beverage. I told this to the general. If I mistake not, he added that he never had drunk a cup of tea, in addition to my restraints. I yielded the palm of praise to him, as he had been through the war, and especially as he had been in the Legislature. He was entitled to higher credit than I could claim.
“There was a year’s difference in our ages. He spent the years of the war in fighting for his country and took and active interest in the political affairs of the country. I spent the years of the war in teaching that Christians cannot fight for the kingdoms of earth and give their lives to building up these kingdoms. I trust God for approval of my course. I hope the General may be justified and saved. This my seem strange, ‘But with God all things are possible.’ (Matt. 19:26). The last years of this life he served as an elder in the church of Christ in Dallas, Texas and died respected and honored by those who knew him.”
As one who has read hundreds and hundreds of death notices of Civil War veterans, I can say this eulogy is truly unique; I have seen nothing quite like it anywhere else. Conspicuously absent are any words lauding the veteran’s exploits in the military. Rather, the emphasis here is on the man’s exploits in the harvest fields for Christ. No mention is made of what the veteran gave for his patriotic beliefs; instead, it is Gano’s faith in Christ and his submission to him in even the smallest of matters of conscience that is highlighted. There is no name-dropping or list of associations, only how Gano helped steer men and women to the One who alone is Great. And in place of remarks as to how noble it was for Gano to “serve his country” for some days, there is stress on how the deceased sought to serve Christ as he saw best until his dying day.
What Lipscomb did in this piece, in effect, is nothing short of turning a frequently used template for a veteran’s funeral service on its head! This reversal of praise would certainly not be lost to the general public of 1913. I have to wonder what Lipscomb’s contemporaries said to him about it. I suspect it received a mixed review: some thinking it inspiring and others likely seeing it as insufficient. To me it comes across as one Lipscomb’s finest pieces of writing; indeed, it is my personal favorite. It’s gutsy, grateful, gracious, personal, and real; not glib, grasping, grandiose, distant, and forced … as some eulogies were then, and are now. And in it all, Lipscomb honors the truly best of his brother in Christ while not watering down or compromising any of his own convictions. Such is very difficult ground to traverse, but Lipscomb stumbles not at all, rather, he blazes the trail for us to follow.
Lipscomb himself dies four years later in 1917. I wish I knew what the Gano family said of Lipscomb at his passing.
Among the things that happened on this day in American Restoration Heritage history:
* May 30, 1810 – Today, Eliza (Campbell) Stone, Barton W. Stone, Sr.’s first wife, dies at the age of twenty-six. Stone is now a widower at the age of thirty-seven. Years later, Stone writes of Eliza:
“In the winter of 1809, my only son, Barton Warren, died; and in the spring following, May 30, my dear companion Eliza, triumphantly followed. She was pious, intelligent and cheerful, truly a help-meet to me in all my troubles and difficulties. Nothing could depress her, not even sickness, nor death itself. I will relate an incident respecting her of interest to me, and may be to her children. When my mind began to think deeply on the subject of the Atonement, I was entirely absorbed in it, yet dared not mention it to any, lest it might involve other minds in similar perplexities. She discovered that something uncommon oppressed me. I was laboring in my field — she came to me and affectionately besought me not to conceal, but plainly declare the cause of my oppression. We sat down, and I told her my thoughts on the Atonement. When I had concluded, she sprang up and praised God aloud most fervently for the truth. From that day till her death, she never doubted of its truth.
“At her death, four little daughters were left to me, the eldest not more than eight years old. I broke up housekeeping, and boarded my children with brethren, devoting my whole time gratuitously to the churches, scattered far and near. My companion and fellow laborer was Reuben Dooley, of fervent piety, and engaging address. Like myself he had lately lost his companion, and ceased house-keeping, and boarded our his little children. We preached and founded churches throughout the Western States of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Occasionally we visited our children. All my daughters when young, professed faith in Jesus, and were baptized. The youngest, Eliza, has long since triumphantly entered into rest.” [cf. the post for March 11 in this series for more information regarding this preaching tour of Dooley and Stone]
Oh, and did you know that Eliza (Campbell) Stone was a niece of Patrick Henry (yes, that Patrick Henry; the “Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry)? ‘Tis true: Barton W. Stone, Sr.’s mother-in-law, Elizabeth Henry Campbell Russell, was a younger sister of Patrick Henry.
The year following the death of his wife and his preaching tour with Dooley (1811), Stone remarries. His second wife, Celia Wilson (Bowen) Stone, is one of Eliza’s cousins. God will grant them several children, one of them a son, whom they name “Barton Warren Stone, Jr.”
* May 30, 1856 – Today, in an address before the Henry Female Seminary in New Castle, Kentucky, Alexander Campbell tells us that women are the “better half” of humanity – although he does qualify his statement – and he then goes on to specify precisely why.
“What is woman? She is … only the one-half of humanity. But she is, or may be, the better half. She is of a finer tissue, in body, soul, and spirit. The last, and, we think … that she is decidedly the better half. … in delicacy of thought, in sensitiveness of feeling, in patient endurance, in constancy of affection, in moral courage, and in soul-absorbing devotion.”
May 17, 1823 – Today a challenge is answered.
Alexander Campbell receives word today from a preacher in the Presbyterian Church, William Latta McCalla of Augusta (Mason County, Kentucky), that he is interested in meeting Campbell in public debate on the topic of baptism. Following an earlier debate on infant baptism with another Presbyterian minister, John Walker in 1820, Campbell had stated that he was ready to meet anyone who wanted to discuss the matter further. McCalla, keen to defend the practice of infant baptism, now takes up Campbell’s challenge. After several months of correspondence between the two following today’s letter, the two engage in a week long debate at an outdoor campground in Augusta, Kentucky in mid-October 1823. Campbell travels by horseback to Augusta for the debate, but he does not travel alone: Sidney Rigdon is his sidekick.
In the Campbell-McCalla debate, Campbell tackles the topics of baptism’s action (immersion, not sprinkling or pouring), design (for the forgiveness of sin), and subjects (believing adults, not passive infants). This is the first truly extended and public airing of Campbell’s take on baptism as being for a person’s forgiveness.
Despite the fact that Campbell is, at the time, relatively unknown in Kentucky (certainly in comparison to his opponent), the clear consensus of those hearing the debate is that Campbell is the winner. Campbell’s logic and extemporaneous communication skills, McCalla’s decision to make reply to Campbell’s points by reading from a manuscript he prepared prior to the debate (an exceedingly odd and awkward thing to do when arguing the negative in debate), and Campbell’s introduction of “new” information for the benefit of the crowd all work together to form the perfect storm that is McCalla’s undoing. Campbell works his speaking skills “magic” with the crowd, too, by employing humor at critical junctures. For example, when McCalla asserts that baptism by immersion can be dangerous to a person’s physical health, Campbell points to McCalla’s moderator, Jeremiah Vardeman, as rebuttal. Understand: Vardeman weighs about three hundred pounds. The crowd eats it up.
As a result, Campbell gains hundreds and hundreds of new subscribers from the state of Kentucky for his paper (Christian Baptist) and the stage is set for him to make a preaching tour through the state the year following (1824). And it is while he is on that trip that Campbell will meet Barton W. Stone for the first time.
May 18, 1858 – Today, a man becomes a newcomer to Christ, and sees to it to keep coming to him, for life.
At the age of twenty-six, Alexander Newcomer becomes a Christian. He becomes an embodiment of love. And so, through the course of his life, the fruit of God’s Spirit becomes abundant in him.
Alexander loves people, especially the vulnerable. He frequently visits the sick and the poor. Poor children receive his special attention; he buys them clothes and books and teaches them music. In return, he receives a nickname frequently used by them over the course of the years: “Uncle Aleck.” The poor are generously remembered in his will.
He loves to be with God’s people and is faithful and humble toward them. It is said that no matter what the weather, Alexander will “be at church.” When he drops his offering in the plate ($20 each week; no small sum), he makes sure the amount is always broken down into small bills lest anyone think that he, or any one person, is the giver of twenty dollars.
He loves animals and his horse, Jin, knows it; Jin will allow no one to care for her or ride her except Alexander. Birds are a special delight to him.
He loves nature. Flowers and sunshine never fail to make him smile.
He loves books and papers. Coupled with this love for writings is a memory that is nothing short of astounding. It is said that he can “refer to any article in the Millenial Harbinger, the Christian Baptist, or Lard’s Quarterly.” He knows large portions of the Bible by heart and is often called upon in church to do the Scripture reading – always doing so from memory. The prophets, the psalms, and the writings of Paul are his forte. And so, earning a reputation for being the best informed and wise person in the area, adults tag him with a nickname of their own: “Judge.”
He never marries, choosing instead to live with, and help care for, his blind sister, Ellen.
When he dies in Washington County, Maryland in 1903, a fellow church member writes of him in J.H. Garrison’s The Christian Evangelist:
“He was a happy soul. God sent ten thousand singing truths into his heart which were singing there day and night. To every selfish, discontented, ungrateful, and querulous nature his life was a perpetual rebuke. Sunshine and peace were in his heart and shown out irresistibly in his face and in every word an action of his life. As much of heaven as any man could bear about him without being in heaven itself he showed us in every way.
“Socially, he was a charming companion. His uniform cheerfulness, his sweet music, his freedom from every semblance of harsh criticism, of gossip, of all uncharitableness; his constant an unconscious illustration of what a Christian gentleman must be; his perfect courtesy; his kindly consideration for all men – these were felt by all who came in touch with him. …
“Best and noblest was his Christian character and life. How he always lived in communion with his Maker, how he stored up in mind and heart the imperishable riches of the inspired Word, how he lifted us to the throne in his prayers so simple and reverent and beautiful, how he exhorted us in words of great wisdom, how day by day he lived these things – we that knew him can never forget.”
Oh, and Alexander Newcomer lived out all of his days in darkness, having been born blind.
May 19, 1816 – A man becomes a Christian, and no one thinks otherwise.
William Hayden is baptized today and in doing so, becomes a member of the Baptist church. He will become an early Restoration Heritage pioneer preacher and sidekick of Walter Scott. His baptism – like those of a great many of the pioneer preachers in our heritage – is not “administered by someone within our heritage,” but is unquestioningly accepted. It is not until decades later that “rebaptism” of the previously immersed becomes anything even remotely like “an issue” among “us.” [cf. the post for March 2 in this series for more info on William Hayden]
May 20, 1859 – Today, a sixty year-old preacher consults a phrenologist.
Surely he does so just so for grins but, he does not tell us. And, he records the matter in his journal, the length of entry for which is hardly equaled by any other and far exceeds the average entry’s length.
According to Webster, phrenology is “the study of the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character.” It is a popular topic of discussion in the mid-1800’s. And today, in Memphis, Tennessee, Jacob Creath, Jr. receives a “phrenology chart” from Professor Orson Squire Fowler of New York, one of the leading proponents of phrenology in the United States. His chart reads:
“Strength, power, efficiency, go-ahead, and the utmost indomitability, is your predominant trait, and is remarkable. You inherit it from your father, whom you resemble; and are adapted to carry on some great undertaking requiring the utmost perseverance; and have made your mark on the intellect of the community where you reside, partly because of your strong, active sense; more because of your tremendous energy of character.
“You have extraordinary lungs, great muscles, a splendidly-balanced constitution, and have a world of vitality; can go through Herculean labors, and have not a lazy bone in your body. You are excitable a little, though not much; rarely ever let your feelings get the better of your judgment.
“You have not any thing like as much culture, in proportion, as you have natural talents. You have excellent digestion, but have over-eaten all your life. You have extraordinary breathing power, and hardly know what fatigue is, and must be out of doors most of the time. You have an organism more favourable to judgment than brilliancy.
“You are a ladies’-man, almost worship the sex, and appreciate female beauty. You should marry a woman who was dependent, not obstinate, for you could never tolerate an obstinate women.
“You have one of the best wives that ever was, because you know how to select a woman, and because you would live well with any woman; and would so live with a poor woman as to make her a good wife, even if poor; and your wife would lay down her life for you. You are thoroughly sexed, are pre-eminently manly, and have a high, noble bearing.
“You have a very strong love for children, especially daughters, literally doting on them as if they were angels. You are devotedly attached to home, are one of the most indulgent of husbands and parents, are a true, warm, generous friend, and have a warmer heart than often comes under my hands. You are a true patriot; are wanting in continuity; are able to attend to a great diversity of business in short order and without mistake.
“You have great fortitude to bear up under disease, and will not allow yourself to be sick, and will not give up.
“You never quarrel with others, but stand your ground like a man. You are determined to conquer, but never punish a fallen foe. You have an excellent appetite; go in for the plain and substantial; can make money, but it must be in a large way.
“You can never dabble. You are perfectly candid, never act in a cunning way to attain your end; but always straightforward and correct. You are barely cautious enough to prevent improper action.
“You are not particular as to what people say about you; pursue an independent course; do as you please, and let people say what they life. You are most uncompromising when your mind is once made up, yet are judicious when making it up. You are rather conservative. You are a true worshiper of the Deity, but always under your own vine and fig-tree; skeptical, and never admit any thing unless proved to a demonstration. You ought to be a judge. You are a true philanthropist; are generous; too kind for your own good. Don’t let your friends put their hands too deep into your pockets; and don’t indorse, unless you are willing to lose. Don’t confide too much in friends. Learn to say no. I would not wonder if you have lost half you have made. So turn a corner.
“You are better informed than one in a thousand with your means of knowledge. You have a poor memory as regards names and dates, but good at recollecting countenances, facts, and ideas. You ought to be a speaker, not because you have so great a flow of words, but because you say impressively what you say at all.
“You have a wonderfully accurate eye to judge of bulk and proportion, and cannot tolerate architectural disproportion. You never lose your way in city or country.
“Your forte lies in the adoption of ways and means to ends, in originality, forethought, forethought, contrivance, and penetration. You lack the agreeable; you pass no compliments, not enough; but read a man right through the first time, and are happy in what you say; it just hits the nail on the head. Your criticisms are remarkable. You illustrate well.
“The fact is, sir, you are, by nature, a great man; and need only circumstances to make you a great man. And you, certainly, are one of the best men I have ever examined, and are universally beloved.”
In truth, Creath is as independent a spirit as can be found among the early preachers within the Restoration Heritage. Indeed, in his lifetime he earns the nickname of “The Iron Duke of the Restoration.”
May 21, 1856 – Today, the distant violence in Bleeding Kansas comes home all the more to the Campbell family back east.
Lawrence, Kansas is a community establisahed by abolitionists (i.e. – Free-Staters). And today that community is attacked and sacked by pro-slavery men (i.e. – Border Ruffians). Learning of this, abolitionist John Brown promises revenge and within days will make good on his promise.
Now Matthew & Jane (Campbell) McKeever are good friends with John Brown. Jane, you understand, is one of Alexander Campbell’s sisters. The McKeever’s are more than just a little sympathetic with Brown’s views on abolition; they, like Brown, are deeply involved in The Underground Railroad for runaway slaves. However, with Brown’s distinct turn toward the use of violence this week (he shoots a man in the head during the Pottawatomie massacre to insure that he is dead), Brown and the McKeevers choose two very different paths as to how to go about freeing the nation’s slaves: one path violent, the other not.
Did Alexander Campbell and John Brown ever meet face-to-face? I’ve not yet found evidence of such, but it seems most likely. For example, just a few months later (February 1857) Alexander Campbell, Sr. serves as chairman of a convention of “wool-growers” (sheep farmers) in Steubenville, Ohio and we know that John Brown, renowned for his expertise with sheep, is one of those attending the convention. The McKeevers are wool-growers, too. Given the McKeever-Brown connection and the status of Campbell, would Brown have not sought him out? If they ever did meet, one wonders what that conversation must have been like.
A bit over three years from today, John Brown leads a raid on an arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Seriously wounded in the attack, Brown survives his wounds, only to be tried, convicted, and hanged by the neck until dead in December 1859.
Ironically, the name of Campbell’s first father-in-law is also John Brown, but he is not to be confused with the John Brown of today’s post.
* May 22, 1801 – Today, strange things begin to happen.
Today, a Friday, a thirty year-old preacher by the name of Richard McNemar is preaching at his church, the Cabin Creek Presbyterian Church in northern Kentucky. “Revival” suddenly breaks out and the “various operations and exercises” that accompany the revival for four days and three nights are quite a sight to see. McNemar tells us some of what transpired:
“The scene was awful [which means then what we mean today by the word “awesome”] beyond the description; the falling, crying out, praying, exhorting, singing, shouting, &c, exhibited such new and striking evidences of a supernatural power, that few, if any, could escape without being affected. Such as tried to run from it, were frequently struck on the way, or impelled by some alarming signal to return: and so powerful was the evidence on all sides, that no place was found for the obstinate sinner to shelter himself …
“No circumstance at this meeting, appeared more striking, than the great numbers that fell on the third night: and to prevent their being trodden under foot by the multitude, they were collected together and laid out in order, on two squares of the meeting house; which, like so many dead corpses, covered a considerable part …”
Now exactly what sort of “operations and exercises,” what “new and striking evidences of a supernatural power,” are we talking about here? McNemar, and others, speak of eight distinct expressions of such, namely: barking, dancing, falling, “the jerks,” laughing, rolling, running, and experiencing either a trance or vision. McNemar says “the falling exercises was the most noted.” An estimated three thousand people experience the “falling” exercise.
After reading the descriptions of these experiences, I’d opt for laughing or running, thank you very much. Following is McNemar’s description of “the jerks” exercise:
“Nothing in nature could better represent this strange and unaccountable operation, than for one to goad another, alternately on every side, with a piece of red hot iron. The exercise commonly began in the head, which would fly backward and forward, and from side to side, with a quick jolt, which the person would naturally labor to suppress, but in vain. The more one labored to stay himself, and be sober, the more he staggered, and the more his twitches increased. He must necessarily, go as he was stimulated, whether with a violent dash on the ground, and bounce from place to place like a football, or hop around with head, limbs and trunk twitching and jolting in every direction, as if they must inevitably fly asunder. How such could escape without injury, was no small wonder to spectators. By this strange operation, the human frame was so transformed and disfigured, as to lose every trace of its natural appearance. Sometimes the head would be twitched right and left to a half round, with such velocity that not a feature could be discovered, but the face appeared as much behind as before. In the quick, progressive jerk, it would seem as if the person was transformed into some other species of creature. Headdresses were of little account among female jerkers. Even handkerchiefs bound around the head, would be flirted off almost with the first twitch, and the hair put into the utmost confusion. This was a great inconvenience, to redress which the generality were shorn, though directly contrary to their confession of faith. Such as were seized with the jerks, were wrested at once, not only from under their own government, but that of every one else, so that it was dangerous to attempt confining them, or touching them in any manner, to whatever danger they were exposed; yet few were hurt, except it was such as rebelled against the operation, through willful and deliberate enmity, and refused to comply with the injunctions which it came to enforce.”
“Well, that’s all well and … odd, but what does this have to do with the Restoration Heritage?,” you ask.
In a word: much. In a few words … McNemar and twenty-eight year-old Barton W. Stone are close friends. Less than three months later (August 6), this revival spreads from Cabin Creek to Stone’s Church, the Cane Ridge Presbyterian Church. Thus, the Cane Ridge Revival. McNemar, Stone, and others will soon make a clean break with the Presbyterian Church, first by forming their own presbytery (the Springfield Presbytery), then by dissolving that presbytery (hence, The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery, drafted by McNemar in 1804). After that, you know what happens with Stone, but what of McNemar? Perhaps not surprisingly, he joins the Shakers in 1806 and remains with them until his death in 1839. His account of the events associated with the revival that are reproduced here are taken from his book The Kentucky Revival, first published in 1808. That book is the first bound volume published by the Shakers.
* May 22, 1807 – The first foreign missionary in our heritage, James Turner Barclay, is born to Robert & Sarah Coleman (Turner) Barclay at Hanover Courthouse, Virginia .. maybe. The date of May 22 is recorded by his friend and biographer, John T. Brown. However, the date of May 7 is what is engraved on Barclay‘s headstone in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany, West Virginia. [Given my own experience of comparing the records of literally hundreds and hundreds of gravestones with written records of Civil War veterans in three different states, something being “engraved in stone” means nothing more in terms of accuracy than what is written on paper or family tradition. In my mind, it’s a coin flip as to which date, May 7 or May 22, is correct. cf. the entry for Feb. 10 in this series for more info on Barclay]
* May 22, 1848 – Today, Selina Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Sr.’s second wife, suffers the death of her seventy-seven year old mother (Ann Marie Bakewell) and welcomes the birth of a grandson, Alexander Overton Ewing, to her daughter, Margaret Ewing. However, the grandson’s health is poor and he will live only eighteen months.
May 23, 1861 – A wife is unhappy with the way her husband votes on a matter of great importance.
A law passed in Virginia in January 1861 results in the creation of a state convention to consider secession from the Union. The law requires that if the convention votes for secession (which it does), the voters in the state must then vote on the matter in a referendum. The referendum is today and Alexander Campbell, Sr. casts his vote, voting against secession. However, to his wife, Selina, secession is the way to go.
Selina’s viewpoint is held by only a tiny minority of the residents of Brooke County, but is in keeping with the vast majority of fellow-Virginians. Along with his wife, we know that at the very least Alexander’s namesake son (Alexander Campbell, Jr.), two of his daughters (Virginia and Decima), a son-in-law (William K. Pendleton), and a grandson (Joseph Pendleton) favor secession.
Alexander votes the same way the vast majority of his immediate neighbors do. His choice is greeted with delight by others in his family, among them being two of his sisters and brothers-in-law (Joseph & Dorthea Bryant and Matthew & Jane McKeever), a son-in-law (John Campbell), and a nephew (Archibald Campbell).
In voting against secession, Alexander is not softening his opposition to slavery; it’s that he hates the thought of the needless slaughter of war even more. Just the day before the referendum, a Union soldier on picket duty, Thornbury Bailey Brown, was killed, becoming the first official fatality of the Civil War. And, just a few days later (June 3), at Philippi, a little over one hundred miles southeast of Bethany, the first skirmish of the war between Union and Confederate troops takes place. Ill-equipped and poorly prepared Confederates are defeated. Given the flight of Confederates from the field, Union troops come to refer to the battle as “The Philippi Races.”
Soon after marking his ballot, Alexander publishes the June issue of the Millenial Harbinger. In it he writes:
“Of all the monstrosities on which our sun has ever shone, that of professedly Christian nations, glutting their wrath and vengeance on one another, with all the instruments of murder and slaughter, caps the climax of human folly and gratuitous wickedness. Alas! Alas! Man’s inhumanity to man has made, and is still intent on making countless millions mourn!!”
Among the things that happened this past week in the American Restoration Heritage history:
Today, death is close at hand. Very close, indeed.
* May 10, 1816 – Having made a recent trip to Kentucky, eighteen year old Thomas Miller (“T.M.”) Allen and a young female friend are making their way back to Virginia on horseback. However, they are caught out in the open as a storm envelops them. The storm’s strong winds blow over a large tree which lands on them, killing Allen’s friend and the horse. Allen escapes death, but suffers injuries to an arm that will leave that arm crippled for the rest of his life.
Seven years later, Barton W. Stone, Sr. will baptize Allen into Christ and he will come to be used as a mighty instrument of God for the advance of the Restoration Heritage in the state of Missouri. [cf. the entry for March 24 in this series for more information on Allen]
* May 10, 1863 – With his army outnumbered two-to-one near Chancellorsville (Spotsylvania County), Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee risks all and defies conventional military wisdom by dividing his troops in the face of his foe, Union General Joseph Hooker. Sending many of his men out on an attempt to outflank the Union Army of the Potomac, Lee selects Lieutenant General Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson to lead the effort. Jackson’s attack is more than just a little successful and the Union Army is served one of its greatest defeats of the entire American Civil War.
However, the victory comes at great price to Lee and the Confederacy for Jackson himself is one of the battle’s casualties, suffering three wounds, all of them from a volley of friendly fire. In efforts to save his life, surgeons amputate Jackson’s left arm, and though the surgery is a success, the doctors are no match for the case of pneumonia that follows. Still, death does linger long enough in claiming its victim for Jackson’s wife to arrive and be at her husband’s side at his passing. Jackson’s last words are: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” Upon learning of his friend’s death, Lee says: “I have lost my right arm.”
Jackson’s deathbed is on Fairfield Plantation, the property of a man by the name of John Chandler .. and Chandler is one of the elders of a nearby Restoration Heritage church in Guinea Station. Just before what was to become known as the Battle of Chancellorsville, Chandler, sympathetic to the Confederate cause and having sons in Confederate service, had offered his home to Jackson to use as his headquarters. Jackson graciously declined that offer, but he now has no say in the same serving as his deathbed. Ironically, the following spring (1864), this same elder’s home is taken over by the staff of Union General U. S. Grant for use as their headquarters during the Battle of the Wilderness.
To this day, the National Park Service maintains John Chandler’s home, Fairfield Plantation, as a shrine to Stonewall Jackson. The property is located just south of Fredericksburg.
May 11, 1800 – Today, William P. DeFee, the first Restoration Heritage preacher known to regularly minister in Texas, is born to William & Delilah DeFee in Darlington County, South Carolina. He will labor hard for Christ’s kingdom for several decades among people who are largely unreceptive, his most effective sermon being his godly life.
We know precious little about DeFee’s youth; however, we do know that at the young age of fourteen he serves with General Andrew Jackson’s army in the Battle of New Orleans. He marries Nancy Ann Partee in 1820 and he determines to become a doctor, and so, enters a medical school in Tennessee. And it is there, in Dyer County, Tennessee in 1827, that a man by the name of “Goodman,” an elder in a Stone-Campbell Movement church, baptizes DeFee into Christ.
Making his living now as a travelling physician, DeFee’s growing family (William and Nancy will come to have at least fourteen children) move to east Texas in 1833. As DeFee travels and treats people’s physical ills, he also seeks to address their spiritual health through sharing Scripture and preaching in homes. And it is somewhere in the region we know today as Sabine, San Augustine, and Shelby counties in Texas that DeFee takes a moment to pen an ever so brief report of his ministry for publication in Barton W. Stone’s Christian Messenger. The note reads:
“I have started a society on the Christian doctrine.”
We would likely refer to such today as a “community Bible class.” Three years later (1836), in Rhoddy Anthony’s home just a few miles outside of San Augustine, DeFee gathers enough members together so as to organize a church known as “Antioch.”
DeFee continues to practice medicine and preach throughout the area. In Shelby County in 1847, DeFee and W.K. Withers plant a church in the home of Richard Hooper in Shelby county. The little flock of eight charter members put forth the following statement of their intent (church covenant):
“We, the Christians of the church called Zion, have met together this day, the 18th of July, 1847, and give each other our hearts and hands and all agree to take the Bible as the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”
However, not everything is roses. In brief reports through the years during this time, DeFee communicates to the brotherhood that the work in east Texas is more than just a little difficult. Preachers are exceedingly few and far between and DeFee describes Christian faith in general as being in a “cold state” in that portion of the world. Indeed, if one judges by the number of Christians of the heritage and the number of congregations, east Texas lags behind any other portion of Texas in terms of growth even as late as 1860, and the coming of the Civil War decimates what is found there. In the words of one preacher, J.H. Cain, in 1866:
“Our churches in East Texas, most of them, have come to nothing.”
The following year (1867), DeFee concurs, once again using the word “cold” to describe the difficulty of the field and the state of the churches in East Texas.
But, DeFee is made of tough material and he soldiers on, sowing the seed of the kingdom until his dying days. J.A.A. Hemphill authors Defee‘s obituary notice that appears in the Nov. 4, 1869 issue of the Gospel Advocate. In it Hemphill notes:
“Never, perhaps, at least not in modern times, has any man lived nearer the cross, for near a half century than did Father Defee. Always hopeful and cheerful, he went forth battling for the cause of his blessed Redeemer. When he began preaching he was completely alone in contending for the faith and for the Gospel as the power of God to salvation. He lived to be able to count good and true brethren by hundreds among his acquaintances. He was possessed of a piety that put scorners to the blush, and, though not eloquent as a preacher, his influence as a Christian was great, owing to his orderly walk and Godly conversation.
“About a year before he died he was stricken with paralysis, and for the remainder of his life had but little use of one arm and leg, and was almost wholly unable to ride on horseback. Yet, so earnest was he for the perseverance of the Saints that he would walk for miles around in his neighborhood, encouraging the brethren and sisters to be faithful. When death came he was ready, and by his words and acts showed that he desired to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. An aged wife, the companion of his youth, and a numerous offspring join his spiritual brethren in mourning his loss.”
Today, we (A) hear a careful scholar make a grand boast and (B) play “name that county and church” (though precious little “play” ever happened there).
* May 12, 1863 – A writer, editor, publisher, and book lover gushes praise today for a book that is about to come from the press. Speaking in regard to J.W. McGarvey’s forthcoming Commentary on Acts, Benjamin Franklin writes in his paper, the American Christian Review:
“It is a commentary on the part of the New Testament most needed and one of the kind demanded. We are satisfied this work will meet the expectation of the brotherhood as fully as any book that has appeared for many years.”
Just a few days earlier, in an article in the Gospel Advocate, McGarvey himself had written about the making of his commentary. Aside from his most pressing work related to ministry, the research and writing of this commentary has been his point of focus during the past three-and-a-half years. He penned his work so that it would be “a book to be read, and not merely a book of reference.” And, he sees it as a work “adapted to circulation among sectarians and the unconverted” as well as “for the edification of the brethren.”
However, it is McGarvey’s claim for his brethren, not his commentary, that is perhaps most interesting (amazing?) of all. In his words – and McGarvey, if anything, is a man not prone to exaggerate anything in the slightest degree and of a deliberate habit of stating matters precisely as he believes them be – his commentary on Acts:
“… presents the real meaning of the text, as developed in the writings and teachings of our brotherhood, the only people of modern times who have understood and appreciated this book [the book of Acts].”
One hundred and fifty two year after its initial publication, McGarvey’s commentary on Acts is still available, now in both paper and electronic formats. However, McGarvey’s boast that we are “the only people of modern times who have understood and appreciated” the book of Acts is a bit … suspect.
* May 12, 1864 – It’s now time to play “name that county and church.” You’ll receive six clues as to the identity of both.
(1) This church was begun in 1832, rather early on in the Restoration Heritage. Eighty-one year old Samuel Alsop led the design and construction of the existing church building.
(2) On several occasions before the American Civil War, Alexander Campbell himself preached in the county where this church is situated.
(3) The county in which your church building is located is the setting not only for a great deal of all kinds of fighting throughout the course of the war, but serves as the battlefield for four – yes, f-o-u-r – major battles.
(4) During the course of one of those major battles – the last of the big four and one in which there are over thirty thousand casualties – your church building is made use of as a hospital for Confederate soldiers. The Zion Methodist Church will serve as a hospital for Union troops.
(5) What is agreed on by many veterans, both Union and Confederate, as being truly the most horrific hand-to-hand combat of the entire war, not just in this particular battle, goes on rather close to your church building, some of it as close as half-a-mile away.
(6) And as a part of that battle, today, a cannonball flies through the front doors of your church house/hospital, lodges in a wall … and by the grace of God, does not explode.
Name that county and church building. Five bonus points will be rewarded if you can name the specific battle referenced; ten points if you can identify the battle and the scene of the battle’s most gruesome combat.
The answer? That would be the Berean Christian Church in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Whether Alexander Campbell ever preached in Spotsylvania, I don’t know, but it is known that he preached a number of times in nearby Fredericksburg. The four major battles fought in Spotsylvania County are Chancellorsville, the Battle of the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania Court House. Some of the war’s most gruesome fighting takes place at what becomes known as the “Bloody Angle” portion of the “Mule Shoe” (about four miles from Berean Christian Church) and at “Heth’s Salient” about a half-a-mile away from Berean Christian.
Today, the Bearean Christian Church building serves as the Spotsylvania County Museum.
May 13, 1846 – A preacher confesses his deep regret over having left some things unsaid.
Today, war between the United States of America and Mexico begins. And two years later, Alexander Campbell expresses the trouble in his heart over having not spoken more freely and fully against Christian participation in warfare before the Mexican-American War began. Indeed, Campbell fears that his relative silence may have cost some young men their very lives. Campbell poignantly writes in an 1848 issue of the Millenial Harbinger:
“I must confess that I both wonder at myself and am ashamed to think that I have not spoken out my views, nor ever before written an essay on this subject … I am sorry to think, very sorry indeed, to be only of the opinion, that probably even this much published by me some three years, or even two years ago, might have saved some lives that have been thrown away in the desert—some hot-brained youths. We must create a public opinion on this subject. We should inspire a pacific spirit, and show off on all proper occasions the chief objections to war.”
May 14, 1861 – Today, while one man helps steer men toward heaven, his nephew helps lead the way to the creation of (what John Denver famously styled) “almost heaven” here on earth.
Less than one month ago (April 17), a convention assembled and voted for the secession of the state of Virginia from the United States. The matter is anything but unanimous with over one-third of the delegates present voting in opposition to secession (55 of 143). Those on the losing end of the vote now schedule their own convention and meet today in Wheeling, Virginia for the explicit purpose of condemning the recent vote to secede. By means of a referendum a little over one month following (June 20), the dissenters announce that the western portion of Virginia is now separate and apart from the rest of the state. It is decided that the city of Wheeling will be the seat of government for this new “state.” Two years later, to the day (June 20, 1863), West Virginia is admitted into the union of the United States of America.
A leading figure in all of these doings toward the formulation of the new state of West Virginia is the editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer, Wheeling’s newspaper: Archibald Campbell, Jr. Archibald is a nephew of Alexander Campbell, a son of Alexander Campbell’s younger brother, Archibald, Sr. In fact, a letter Archibald penned to President Abraham Lincoln is considered by some to have played a significant part in tipping the scales in favor of West Virginia’s admission to the Union.
At the time of today’s dissenter’s convention, Archibald, Jr. is twenty-eight years of age and his uncle, Alexander Campbell, Sr., is seventy-two.
There is no shortage of abolitionists in the immediate, and extended, family of Alexander Campbell; however, there are others, such as Alexander Campbell, Jr., who serve the Confederacy. As one might imagine, the relations between all of the Campbell family members are, as we are apt to put it today, “complicated.” Following the war, the strained relations between Archibald, Jr. and Alexander, Jr. eventually heal, with Alexander, Jr.’s wife, Mary Anna, being the prime mover for their reconciliation.
May 15, 1896 – Death knows no bias today as a preacher and his wife – James Daniel & Martha Frances Shearer – are among several dozen killed by the effects of a rare F5 tornado that cuts a twenty-eight mile long swath of destruction through north-central Texas. An obituary notice in the Gospel Advocate (June 11, 1896) reads:
“Brother J. D. Shearer and Sister Shearer (“Nee” Taylor) [Martha Frances (Taylor) Shearer] were both killed by a cyclone that swept away their house in the suburbs of Sherman, Texas, May 15, 1896. Mistaking the noise of the cyclone for a passing train, there was no effort to escape until it was too late. Two of their sons were with them in the same room, and were badly bruised, but not seriously. Brother Shearer was instantly killed. Sister Shearer lived a few hours, and, it is supposed, died of the shock. Almost everybody was wild with excitement. What words could describe the feelings of the son who were away from home when they heard that their father and mother were thus taken away? One of the sons was so far away that he could not come in time to see the remains. The hearts of the entire community went out in sympathy toward the distressed ones; and one of the largest audiences ever assembled in Grayson County at a funeral gathered around the grave, where I tried to say some fitting words in memory of my schoolmate and fellow-laborer, J. D. Shearer.
“Brother and sister Shearer had struggled hard to rear their large family, and had seen them grow up to be useful and honored citizens, a happy family. The sons great desire was to see their parents comfortable in their declining years. Alas, how bitterly disappointed! Brother Shearer had spent his life since he was a student at Kentucky University in preaching and teaching, and Sister Shearer has toiled faithfully by his side. The mother’s life seemed wrapped up in the lives of her boys. To care for them and to help them was her sweet joy, and to dote upon and care for their mother was happiness itself to these sturdy young men. Responsibility was thus suddenly removed, but there came the greatest of all earthly affliction. May the Father of the fatherless comfort and help them to bear their heavy burden, and may they be brought at last to their Fathers house on high.
“O. A. Carr”
The man preaching the funerals and writing this obituary notice is Dr. Oliver Anderson (“O.A.”) Carr, considered to be “perhaps one of the best known educators in the South” at the time. O.A., and his wife, Mattie, former missionaries to Australia, had recently (1894) founded Carr-Burdette College, “a school for young ladies” in Sherman. Mattie raised the money to build the school by selling two hundred and fifty $200 lots in the rapidly growing city. The school continued until the onset of the Great Depression (1929) brought its work to an end. O.A. Carr and the deceased preacher, J.D. Shearer, were the same age (both born in 1845) and, as noted in the obituary, were both graduates of Kentucky University.
May 16, 1811 – Today, a twenty-two year old preacher by the name of Alexander Campbell embarks for the first time on what will become a very common thing in his life: a preaching tour. He journals his experience and in the course of reading over his shoulder we learn of the connections he makes, where he preaches, what Scriptures he preaches from, and how he is received.
“I set out from my home on Thur., May 16, 1811, and stopped first evening at Lutham Young’s. Conversed upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion. Next morning, accompanied to the river by Mr. Young, I crossed [into eastern Ohio] opposite Steubenville. Introduced myself to Mr. James Larimore and Dr. Slemmons, and was received with courtesy. Was introduced by Dr. Slemmons to Mr. Buchanan, lodging at the Doctor’s. After dining, reasoned with Mr. Buchanan on the general state of religion, and argued the principles with him which we advocate; but he would not see. In our discourse a Mr. Boyd, of Steubenville, interrupted by vociferously taking Mr. Buchanan’s side of the argument. Finished in a disorderly manner. Appointed to preach in the courthouse, Sabbath day [Sunday], at 12 o’clock. Proceeded to James McElroy’s, where I tarried till Friday morning, hospitably entertained. On Sabbath day, I preached, according to appointment, in Steubenville. Had a crowded house, notwithstanding Messrs. Buchanan, Snodgrass, Lambdin, Powel, etc. I had a mixed audience of Presbyterians, Unionists, Methodists, etc. Mr. Lambdin, the Methodist preacher, was present. I was introduced to a Mr. Hawkins, a most respectable citizen, and a Methodist. Sabbath evening, preached at Mr. McElroy’s, among whom was Mr. McMillan, with whom I sojourned that night at Mr. Thompson’s. Reasoned with him upon our principles. He granted me three things of magnitude.: 1. That independent church government had as good a foundation in Scripture as the Presbyterian. 2. That the office of a ruling elder was not found clearly in the Scriptures, but was a human expediency. 3. That he did not believe that the Confession of Faith was the system, that is, the precise system, the whole system, or the only system of truth contained in the Bible. Preached on Monday, at the McElroy’s, to a respectable assembly, from Gal. iv. 15,16 – On the Sabbath at Steubenville, my text was Heb. ii.3. In the evening, Mark xvi.15. On Wednesday morning, left McElroy’s, and arrived at Cadiz. That evening lodged at Squire McNeeley’s. Thursday morning, proceeded to Dr. McFadden’s; tarried with him until Sabbath morning. Preached, Sabbath day, two sermons, to a large audience – one from John v. 39, and the other from Acts xi.26. Sabbath evening, lodged at Samuel Gilmore’s. Monday evening at James Ford’s. Preached at James Ford’s, Tuesday, two discourses – one from Rom. viii.32, and the other from 2 Tim. 1.13. Tuesday evening lodged at a Methodist exhorter’s. Wednesday at James Sharpe’s. Preached, Thursday, at William Perry’s. Stopped all night. Friday, stopped at Samuel Garret’s. Preached, Saturday, at Samuel Patten’s, in Wheeling, from Phil. iii.8. Lodged with him, and preached, Sabbath day, June 2, at St. Clairsville, from Rom. viii. 32, and secondly, from Isa. lxvii. 14, with lxii.10, and lodged at Mr. Bell’s.”
How I wish now that I had established such a habit of journaling so early in ministry and had faithfully kept up with such through the years! If you are “in ministry,” let me encourage you to “just do it.” And if you do have such a habit, exactly how do you do it: on paper or electronically?
Among the things that happened this past week in the American Restoration Heritage history:
* May 3, 1824 – Before both God and man, what does true honesty – or dishonesty – look like in the pulpit? What place ought prayers and sermon notes have – or not have – in connection with sermon delivery? And, did Alexander Campbell ever skip school, cheat on exam, or receive corporal punishment in his youth?
Today, in an article in the Christian Baptist entitled “Pulpit Honesty,” Alexander Campbell us gives answer to all of the above. He writes:
“When I was a boy I sometimes played truant, and fearing the ferula, I would sometimes write off my lesson on a slip of paper, cut according to the dimensions of my book; and with this before me, I was enabled to translate with some degree of fluency. I was lately reminded of my boyish tricks, when attending ‘the divine service’ of a popular divine, of a neighboring county … His text was, ‘Among whom shine ye as lights in the world.’ After a ‘solemn prayer’ for divine assistance in delivering a suitable message, he opened his Bible, in which he had very ingeniously inserted his manuscript. He held the book in his right hand, and with considerable sleight of hand turned the leaf seven or eight times, during the pronunciation of this heaven dictated message. He must have read 14 or 16 pages of matter, no doubt well arranged and condensed. His eyes turned askance to the right, at proper intervals, furnished his tongue with inspiration. Thought I, this is a sure method of obtaining an answer from heaven for a suitable message: first to have it in writing, and then to ask it from God. But the recollection of the double portion of the rod, which I used to receive for such a trick, (for I was whipped, when detected, first for not having my lesson, and secondly, for striving to cheat my preceptor) brought such a train of reflections to my mind, that I was ready to charge the parson with having been the cause of ‘my thinking my own thoughts,’ while ‘he was shining a light in a dark place.’
“I thought that the sacred desk was never elevated to be a protection against the detection of theft. I thought how deleterious to morals was such an example. To see a character so sacred, on so sacred an occasion, strive to cheat the eyes of gallery critics, by the agility of his fingers, and the charms of a well directed glance of the eye. In vain to remonstrate against hypocrisy when the finger is separating the concealed leaves; in vain to recommend honesty to the youth, when the pen, and perhaps the words of another, are made to speak what was never felt, and to act the part of a prompter behind the curtain; in vain to teach sincerity in our prayers to God, when the parson prays with apparent sincerity for a sermon, while he has it in his pocket. In fact, I was so mortified by this clerical fraud, that I could not but commend the honesty of the Catholic priest, and the Episcopahan curate, who, when he reads his sermon, manfully and honestly lays it before him in the presence of all, and never dares to ask from heaven what he has in writing, as if to impose upon the superstition of his hearers.”
* May 4, 1824 – How ought a church leader handle the reception of an anonymous letter? Today, in the same issue of the Christian Baptist just cited, we learn how Alexander Campbell dealt with such.
Today, Campbell responds to a man who has sent him an anonymous letter containing seven questions. Campbell responds to the anonymous request by answering the man’s questions … in public print, in the Christian Baptist. Yes, he publishes the letter and his responses to the seven questions … and then, taking the gloves off, adds seven questions of his own for the man to respond to in reply, the first of which reads:
“What is your name? Should you honor me with another epistle and suppress your name, I cannot answer it, because I could not then consider you an honest and well-meaning lay-man who fears not the light.”
Campbell’s response brings to mind the “bubbles” superimposed over fight scenes in the original ‘Batman’ TV series (e.g. – “WHAM!,” “POW!,” etc.).
* May 4, 1842 – The future president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, pays a visit to Alexander Campbell and Bethany College.
Davis is impressed with Bethany College and so, leaves William J. Stamps* of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, his favorite nephew, with Campbell for enrollment in Bethany. In a lengthy letter published in the August 6, 1903 edition of the Christian Evangelist under the title “The First Graduating Class of Bethany College,” J.A. Dearborn tells of how Davis esteemed Alexander Campbell and his work. Dearborn writes:
“I remember … that Jefferson Davis remained at Bethany for several days, and that he was said to be a warm admirer of Mr. Campbell and sympathized with the grand religious enterprise that Mr. Campbell had in charge.”
[* Not many months later, in early 1843, Stamps dies on the campus of Bethany College from injuries he suffered in a fall while ice-skating on nearby Buffalo Creek.]
* May 4, 1871 – Today, a letter penned by the famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee is published in the Apostolic Times.* It is a letter Lee originally penned to a friend, telling him of what he (Lee) thought of Alexander Campbell:
“As Dr. Symonds said of the great Milton, so may I say of the late President of Bethany College, ‘That he was a man in whom were illustriously combined all the qualities that could adorn or elevate the nature to which he belonged. Knowledge, the most various and extended virtue that never loitered in her career, nor deviated from her course. A man who, if he had been delegated as the representative of his species to one of the many Superior worlds, would have suggested a grand idea of the human race. Such was President Campbell.”
* [Both Campbell and Lee are dead when this letter appears in the Apostolic Times; Campbell having deceased in 1866 and Lee having passed on in 1870.]
May 5, 1889 – Today, one week after “Harrison’s Horse Race,” a one-armed preacher organizes the first Restoration Heritage church in the newly opened “Unassigned Lands.”
The church is located in the city now known as “Guthrie.” With the land run a week ago, Guthrie went from non-existence to being a city of ten thousand, quite literally, overnight. James M. Monroe leads the church’s organization efforts and he and Dick T. Morgan serve as shepherds of the twenty-one member congregation. The fold for this little flock is a 12′ x 15′ cabin that has walls, but doesn’t yet have a roof or floor.
Guthrie? But, what of Oklahoma City, you ask? A nineteen-member church will be organized there one week from now. Guthrie (Logan County) will serve as the capital of the Indian Territory until the region is granted statehood in 1907 and it will serve as the capital of Oklahoma until 1910, at which time Oklahoma City takes over that role. Oklahoma City is located just north of the center of the state and Guthrie is on the northern edge of what is now the greater OKC metroplex.
What do we know of James M. Monroe? Monroe is born in northeastern Ohio in 1843. During the Civil War he serves as a Private in Company G of the U.S., 42nd Ohio Infantry Regiment … yes, your memory serves you correctly, the 42nd Ohio is the regiment James A. Garfield raises up and leads. Monroe suffers the loss of an arm in the siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. His debilitating wound marks the end of his military service, but affords him time to attend college – Hiram College, Alliance College, and Butler University (where he receives a Master’s degree). In the 1870’s he serves as a college professor and president in California. In 1886 (in Ohio) and 1890 (in Ohio) he makes unsuccessful bids as a candidate for Congress on the Prohibition ticket.
By 1904 – fifteen years after the land run and still three years prior to statehood – the land now known as Oklahoma can claim to have over three hundred Restoration Heritage churches with over sixteen thousand members. At least one congregation can be found in every county of the state and no community with a population of least one thousand is without a Restoration Heritage church.
[A sidenote: The northern half of Oklahoma and the southern half of Oklahoma are somewhat different from each other and no small part of those distinctions can be traced back to who settles these areas. A much higher percentage of the earlier settlers in north and northeast Oklahoma come from states that were associated with the Union during the Civil War than do those who comprise the populace of the south and southwestern portions of the state. Many of the those living in the southern half of Oklahoma came to the land from Texas (which aligned itself with the Confederacy). The evidence for such can clearly be seen by simply walking some of the older cemeteries in the state. Gravestones inscribed with the initials “G.A.R.” (“Grand Army of the Republic;” i.e. – the Union Army) are far more common in the northern half of the state than in the southern half. Walk some of the cemeteries on, or shortly after, Memorial Day and you’ll notice a much higher percentage of small Confederate battle flags posted on graves in the south than you will on graves in the northern portions of Oklahoma. In fact, southeastern Oklahoma is still referred to by some today as “Little Dixie” and a community once existed in my home county in south-central Oklahoma (Stephens) that was known simply as “Dixie.”
May 6, 1864 – The birth of a child has, for the first time, made you a parent. You have been thrust into a brave, new world! What do you need to know, and always remember, most of all? And just what sort of advice or help might you expect to receive from your father or father-in-law at such a time? Or, looking from the other direction, who can understand, much less communicate, the depth of joy and thankfulness, pride and hope, that well up in the heart of a grandparent at the birth of a grandchild? And, just how is a parent to relate well to his adult child and son-in-law with sensitivity and the offering of advice?
We learn some of the answers to these things as a man pens a letter today to his son-in-law and his youngest daughter upon the birth of their first child, a girl. The letter’s author is Alexander Campbell, the recipients are John & Decima Barclay, and it is the birth of Virginia Huntington Barclay that provides the occasion. The Barclays are overseas at the time, in Larnaca, Cyrpus. Let me encourage you to read this letter very slowly, so as to truly savour the state of mind and the choice of words and phrasing by father-in-law/grandfather Campbell.
“My dear son and daughter:
“We cordially congratulate you in the reception of an heir from the Lord. This is a rich and precious gift from the Lord, which the wealth of the richest monarch on earth could not purchase, though possessed of all the gold of Ophir. It constitutes you parents, and lays upon you an obligation of paramount importance. For such a precious gift kings would sometimes give a kingdom. But all the gold of Ophir could not purchase it. Still, it is to be nourished, cared for, protected, and brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Many are the duties incumbent upon us for such a present from the Lord. In the reception of it our heavenly Father virtually says to us: ‘Take this child, educate, and train it for me, and great shall be your reward.’ It is, indeed, withal, a pleasing task. But to secure this, the Lord has wisely, kindly, and deeply planted in the maternal and paternal heart – a paramount affection. Mothers have more generally a deeper and a more enduring natural affection than fathers. Because, we presume, they need it most. Their faithful efforts are, indeed, well rewarded. Children generally love their mothers more than their fathers; and so, me thinks, they ought; for a mother’s affection is generally stronger and more enduring than a father’s.
“But there are exceptions to all general rules. We have all, if observant, seen some of them in this case. To love and to be loved is, in all the relations of life, the richest and the greatest blessing, on earth which we can achieve. We cannot buy it. We must earn it. To be loved we must love. But to love not only our friends, but our enemies, is required by the great Teacher. This is godlike. When we remember this, we cannot but examine ourselves. And, indeed, it is to us all-important that we should habitually examine ourselves, and say to the Lord, ‘Search me, O Lord! and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and show it to me, and lead me, and guide me in the way everlasting!’
“We have peace and tranquility in our position in [West] Virginia. College is in session, with a considerable increase of students. And, were it not for our newspapers, we should not know that there was any war in our country; for which blessing we should be most grateful to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Everything here moves on in its wonted channel. Civil wars are very uncivil things, and wholly contraband to both the letter and spirit of the gospel of the God of peace.
“Your description of the island of Cyprus, published in the April number of the ‘Harbinger,’ has been read with great interest and pleasure, as we learn from all quarters. It is, indeed, a feast to us all; when finished by you, we shall dilate more fully upon it. I am not sure, indeed, but that a full history of it from your pen would be a most useful and interesting volume. … Think of it, and gather and keep all documents of interest, … and on your return give a history of your whole tour. I am constrained, though with reluctance, to close this scroll with an apology. All our family at home unite with me in all affection to you and Decima, father and mother.
Sadly, “Virgie” will live to see only eighteen years of life here. And, perhaps not surprisingly, it is her gravestone that is by far the most unique and elaborate of the nearly three hundreds graves that comprise the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.
May 7, 1827 – Have you ever come to be viewed with suspicion simply because you read religious writings penned by those who see things differently? Have your ever found yourself on a trajectory away from some matters you once held to dearly in terms of faith? Have you ever found yourself shot at by the very people you felt sure would support you in your quest for more certain faith? Have you ever been shaken to the very core because it became clear to you that a great many others are infinitely more concerned with status, tradition, control, or power than they are with Scripture, truth, consistency, or purpose?
Well, no matter what it feels like, you’re by no means alone and it isn’t a new experience. And, by means of a letter by “S.E. S______,” reproduced today in Alexander Campbell’s Christian Baptist (CB), we’re reminded of such.
“You will, undoubtedly, be surprised to hear of the unparalleled proceedings of ‘The Northumberland Particular Baptist Association,’ relative to the Little Muncey church [in Mingo County, WV; the opposite end of the state from Bethany]. I never knew any body of men, religious or political, guilty of such glaring inconsistencies, before. Neither did I think that any body of people, regarded even MEN, would have hazarded their reputation in such a manner. It is some time since I become convinced that confessions of faith, when used as TESTS of orthodoxy, are attended with great mischief in the church of God. Of this I was convinced by the proceedings of the above association.
“As soon as I was thoroughly convinced, I publicly, unequivocally, and solemnly entered my protest against them, and drew upon my head the united opposition of the sects in this country. Some declared me to be a SOCINIAN [Unitarian]. Others affirmed that I was a UNIVERSALIST. Some of the Baptists were apprized of my taking The Christian Baptist, and consequently blamed YOU with my ‘departure from the faith.’ The news had no sooner reached the WHITE DEER, than THOMAS SMILEY said he must be put DOWN. This FIELD MARSHALL mounted his ROZINANTE [‘Rozinante’ was the name of Don Quixote’s old, broken-down horse] and hied [hurried] him away to Shamokin [in Pennsylvania], to the largest division of this little army, and gave orders that they should be in readiness the next August when the whole forces would be collected, (or rather REPRESENTED) in that place, to transact important business. He informed them that ‘a certain young man,’ who had, not long since been ORDAINED, had renounced ‘THE PHILADELPHIA’ [the Philadelphia Confession of Faith of 1742], and all other confessions of faith. He reminded them that they, by their delegates, had solemnly subscribed it, and concluded by expressing his hopes that they would never relinquish it. He also hoped that they be forward to contend for it at the NEXT ASSOCIATION.
“Having heard that WAR was declared against me, I declined attending the association that year, as a DELEGATE. I, however, attended, as a spectator, the second day. Not long after my arrival the GENERALISSIMO began cannonading. I returned a few shots. Night coming on, we could not get into actual engagement. I was in hopes the storm of battle would blow over.
“The next morning, however, they fired at me at least one hour with a LARGE GUN, which they obtained from NEW-JERSEY. It contained nothing but BLANK charges. They spent one hour more in firing at me with a POP-GUN, which they called HENRY CLACK. Finding that I was still on the ground, the CHIEF-GENERAL concluded that he would let loose upon me. But some of the most influential members of the Shamokin church, hearing several gentlemen declare that they would leave the ground ‘if Mr. S______ was not allowed to speak,’ determined that I should have the next SHOT. I arose and had the satisfaction of seeing some of their VETERANS leave the ground before I concluded. The FIELD MARSHALL endeavored to rally his forces, but in vain. I knew of but one who would stand by me in the day of battle, but to my great surprise I heard, a NON-COMMISSIONED officer of the Shamokin department declare that my cause was just, and that he also renounced confessions of faith. ‘I then thanked God and took courage.’
“There are several in this department who are disgusted with ecclesiastical tyranny; but they can’t fight – I am, however, not alone. The people in this section of country, who have never been MARRIED to creeds, I believe, are universally opposed to them.”
“Moreland, the 30th of January, 1827”
[Note: In his letter, S.E.S______ placed emphasis on certain words by two means: italics and ALL CAPS. In the reproduction of his letter above, I’ve retained S.E.S______’s use of ALL CAPS where he used them, but have converted his use of words in italics to ALL CAPS.]
May 8, 1886 – Imagine a Presbyterian Church inviting you, a Restoration Heritage preacher, to “hold a meeting” for them. Yes, imagine that.
Today is a Saturday, and every night this week T.B. Larimore has been preaching at the Presbyterian Church in Florence, Alabama. No, the Restoration Heritage churches in Florence have not borrowed the Presbyterian’s building in which to conduct their own evangelistic effort. Rather, Larimore is conducting a meeting at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church in Florence. The local paper, the Florence Gazette, reports that his preaching this week has been “to large congregations” and “with marked effect.”
And yes, like you, I’m still working on that “imagine” business.
May 9, 1895 – Why is it the greatest antagonism is typically shown between people who have the least differences, while kinder and gentler words and ways are selected for those with whom we have far less in common? Is it not because money and material things are worth so very much to us? And do we think those of the world who are yet to believe, don’t notice?
The year 1906 is generally recognized as the year the major split in the Restoration Heritage is officially recognized. But, of course, the rip in the fabric of the heritage had been growing for several decades prior. Serious church fights are all too common from the 1860’s onward and, as a result, lawsuits over church property have steadily increased.
Due to this very problem a letter from the pen of Thomas R. Burnett is published today in the Gospel Advocate. Burnett counsels brethren to take the hit and not take matters of church property into civil courts for decision. But, his letter also speaks of the great bitterness that boils in the hearts of many brethren who disagree over matters such as church government, instrumental music, missionary societies, and open or close communion … his own heart, not excluded.
“Brethren, proceed to re-establish the ancient order of things, just as if there never was a Church of Christ in your town. Gather all the brethren together who love Bible order better than modern fads and foolishness, and start the work and worship of the church in the old apostolic way. Do not go to law over church property. It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. Build a cheap and comfortable chapel, and improve it when you get able. It is better to have one dozen true disciples in a cheap house than a thousand apostate pretenders in a palace who love modern innovations better than Bible truths.”
“True disciples” and “apostate pretenders.” (sigh) One has to wonder how the division between our religious ancestors might have played out – and what witness of Christian spirit might have been given to the world – if churches then had simply not sought to own property at all in the first place, choosing instead to gather together as the church first did in Jerusalem – in public places and in private homes. And, some of us wonder why churches need to own billions of dollars property today … and whether Christ’s kingdom is really better off for it or not.