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Founded by john d. rockefeller 





(Department of Systematic Theology) 


St. Louis 

Christian Publishing Company 


Copyright. 1907. 
Christian Pubushing Company. 


The writer has seen fit, for the benefit 
of the popular reader, to preface the study 
of his topic with a brief sketch of the his- 
tory of theology from the beginning to the 
appearance of the special phenomena under 
consideration. He works from within the 
movement, and has often used the tech- 
nical name, "The Current Reformation," 
used by its advocates as best expressive 
of the whole. 





I. Essence of Christianity. 

1. Distinction between, 

(i) The Christian Principle, 

a. A sense of worship toward God. 

'b._ A sense of brotherhood to all of God's creatures. 

(2) Historic Forms of Christianity. 

2. Tendencies. 

(i) Essential Protestantism. 
(2) Essential Catholicism. 

3. Primitive Christianity Defined. 

II. Jewish Christianity. 


















Greek Theology. 




Faith in Jesus. 


Greek Philosophy. 




Logos Doctrine. 




The Trinity. 


The Twofold Nature oi 

■ Christ. 

Latin Theology. 


Representative — Augustine. 





Pauline Gospel. 


Greek Dogmas. 




Roman Law. 


Vulgar Catholicism. 


Problems — Sin and Grace. 






Adam's Fall. 


Corruption of the Race. 


Gift of Christ. 


Baptismal Regeneration. 


Free Grace. 


Highest Good. 










lastic Theology. 




Traditions of the Church— Matter. 


The Greek Philosophy— 

-■Method — Aristotle. 


2. Dogmas. 

(i) Atonement — Anselm. 
(2) The Church — Aquinas. 

3. Outcome. 

(1) Tridentine Catholicism. 

(2) The Ultra-Reformation. 

(3) The Reformation, 
yi. Protestant Theology. 

1. Principles. 

(1) Justification by Faith. 

(2) Authority of the Scriptures. 

(3) Universal Priesthood of All Believers. 

2. Periods. 

(i) First Generation. 

(2) Second Generation. 

(3) Post-Reformation Scholasticism. 




(I) Old. 

(a) The Trinity. 

(b) The Twofold Nature of Christ 

(c) Sin and Grace — Predestination. 

(d) Atonement. 

(2) New. 

(a) Justification by Faith. 

(b) Authority of the Scriptures. 

(c) Inspiration of the Bible. 



(i) Lutheran. 

(2) Reformed. 

(3) Mediating. 

(a) German Reformed. 

(b) Anglican. 





Historical Background. 

(i) Calvinism. 

(2) School of Saumur. 

(3) Arminianism. 


Life of Coccejus. 


Analysis of De Foedere et Testamento Dei. 

(i) Definition. 

(2) Elements. 

(a) Lex. 

(b) Promissio. 

(c) Cominatio. 

(3) Twofold Nature. 

(a) Foedus Operum — Its Abrogation. 

(b) Foedus Gratiae — Its Promulgation. 


Later Contributions. 

(i) Burman. 

(2) Witsius. 

Historical Significance. 


Possible Sources. 

(I) The Bible. 

(2) Political Philosophy of the Times. 


The Genesis of Social Contract Theorv. 

(l) Aristotle. 


(2) Stoics— Lex Naturae. 

(3) Roman Law — Jus Civile et Jus Gentium. 

(4) Cicero — Lex Naturae — Jus Gentium. 

(5) Aquinas— Lex Naturae et Lex Instituta. 

(6) Grotius — Lex Naturae— Jus Gentium. 

(7) Coccejus— Lex Naturae— Foeclus Operum. 
3. Development. 

(i) In Politics. 

(a) Grotius. 

(b) Hobbes. 

(c) Locke. 

(d) Rousseau— "Contrat Social." 

(e) American Revolution. 
(2) In Theology. 

(a) Covenant Note in Calvinism. 

(b) Tile Mavrozv Theology. 

a. William Ames. 

b. Edward Fisher. 

c. Thomas Boston. 

d. The Seceders. 

(c) Translations. 

III. Connection with the Current Reformation. 

1. Fact. 

(i) Lifework of Alexander Campbell. 

(a) Sermon on Law. 

(b) Progress of Revelation. 

(c) Debates. 

(2) Analysis of His Teachings. 

(a) Definition. 

(b) Ninefold Covenant. 

(c) Way of Salvation. 

(d Positive and ]\Ioral Precepts. 

2. Influence. 



I. Statement. 

1. Preparation— Bacon ; Des Cartes. 

2. Life of John Locke. 

3- Analysis of the Essay on Human Understanding. 

(1) Occasion and Purpose. 

(2) Problems. 

(a) Origin of Knowledge— Tabula Rasa Theory. 

(b) Degrees of Knowledge. 

a. By process of Reason. 

r. Certainty. 

(a) Intuition. 

(b) Demonstration. 
2. Probabilitv. 

(a) Belief. 

(b) Opinion. 

b. By process of Revelation- Faith. 

(c) Limits of Knowledge. 

4- Outcome. 

II. Connection with the Current Reformation. 

1. External Evidence. 

2. Internal Evidence. 

(i) Theory of Knowledge. 

(2) Origin of Language. 

(3) Knowledge, Belief and Opinion. 






Definition of Faith. 
Doctrine of Revelation. 
Work of the Holy Spirit. 






I. The Reformation in Scotland. 
II. The Established Church. 

III. The Scottish Sects. 

1. Cameronians. 

2. Seceders. 
(i) Associate Presbytery — Erskine. 

Presbytery of Relief. 
Burghers and Anti-Burghers. 
New Lights and Old Lights. 
The Scotch Independents, 
(i) Old Independents. 

(a) John Glas. 

(b) Robert Sandeman. 
Scotch Baptists. 

(a) A. McLean. 

(b) Wm. Jones. 
New Independents. 

(a) Robert Haldane. 

(b) Jas. A. Haldane. 

(c) Greville Ewing. 

IV. Influence on the Current Reformation. 



I. The English Brethren. 

1. Circular Letters of Churches Holding to the Primitive Order. 

2. ]Mr. Campbell's Review of Their History. 

3. His Connection with Them. 

II. The Disciples. 

1. Sketch of the New York Church. 

2. Walter Scott. 

3. Their Contribution. 

III. The Reformers. 

1. Thomas Campbell. 

(i) Sketch. 

(2) Contribution' 

2. Alexander Campbell. 

(i) Sketch. 

(2) Contribution. 

(a) Application of principles. 

a. Church government. 








-Emphasis on Christian Union. 


The Confession. 

The Lord's Day. 
Work of Holy Spirit. 
Progress of Revelation. 
Design of Baptism. 
Proclamation of the Reformation. 


3. Origin of Early Cliurches. 

Brush Run. 



Louisville and Nashville. 

Washington Association. 

Mahoning Association. 

Churches in Kentucky and Virginia. 

4. Separation from the Baptists. 

IV. The Christians. 

I." B. W. Stone. 

(i) Sketch. 

(2) The Springfield Presbytery. 
2. Their Contribution. 

1. Proof of Thesis. 

2. Origin of Names. 



1. The Ultimate Principle— The Conversion of the World. 
II. The Material Principle— The Union of All Christians. 
III. The Formal Principle— The Restoration of Primitive Christianity. 

1. No Creeds. 

2. Bible Names for Bible Things. 

3. Primitive Order of Worship. 

4. Primitive Organization. 

5. Primitive Discipline. 
Conclusion — Observations and Exhortations. 



I. Sources. 

II. Rules. 



I. Cosmology 

II. Bibliology. 

III. Theology. 

Doctrine of the Trinity, 

IV. Anthropology. 

V. Christology. 
VI. Soteriology^. 

1. Faith. 

2. Repentance. 

3. Baptism. 

(i) Action. 

(2) Subject. 

(3) Design. 

(4) Place. 
VII. Pneumatology. 

VIII. Ecclesiology. 
IX. Eschatology. 




'A Brief Sketch of the History of Theology from the Apostolic Age to 
the Close of the Reformation. 

In order to place the average reader in touch with the period of 
history out of which we wish to draw the threads of this narrative, we 
make a brief sketch of the progress of Christian thought from the be- 
ginning to 1648. 

I. The Essence of Christianity . 

One must distinguish between the Christian Principle and any of 
the historic realizations of Christianity. The first is the core, the es- 
sence, the inner principle of Christianity, which runs through all ages, 
and is the vital redemptive force in the world. The second is the shell, 
the phenomenal, the outer form of Christianity. It is Christianity sub- 
jected to the limitation of any particular time, place, race, and moral and 
industrial conditions of society. Thus, we have one Christian Principle 
— in all and through all — and many historic forms — as Apostolic Chris- 
tianity, Greek Christianity, Latin Christianity, etc. 

The source of Christianity is Jesus. Its essence is best seen in his 
consciousness. What he realized in his life with the Father, what he 
gave to the world in his teaching, in his work, in his person — this is 
the Gospel, his Word of God to men. Two elements are prominent in 
this kernel: — (a) A sense of sonship to God; (b) A sense of brother- 
hood of all of God's creatures. The first is Christian Faith — a trust in 
God through Jesus Christ, the sense of forgiveness, of favor in his sight, 
of union and communion with Him, — reliance on Him, — self-resignation 
and peace in the midst of the conflicts of the world. It is the filial feeling 
raised to its highest power. The second is Christian Love — the frater- 
nal duty which springs from filial trust. "For he that loveth not his 
brother whom he hath seen cannot love God whom he hath not seen." 
This core is a faith, personal, not propositional. It is faith in Christ as 
Savior, as moral guide — the willingness to live the Christ kind of a life ; 
not the belief of any truth about him, however true this may be. It is 
religio-ethical, not intellectual-legal. It is not mere Orthodoxy. Again, 
this core is Life, not doctrine, not institution. It is a relation to God 


14 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

realized in the inner life, — filial and fraternal ; not in the saving value 
of right thinking, not in any historic form idealized and handed down 
in toto. It is not any kind of High Churchism. Lastly, the Christian 
principle is Gospel, not Law. It proclaims the freedom of the child of 
God from any bondage to sin or to a law for sin. It is the love prin- 
ciple regnant in the life, not any subjection to detail rules. It is not 

Hence, two tendencies are ever present in Christianity, — to preserve 
it in principle and propagate it as such, and to realize it in form and 
hand it down as such. The one is essential Protestantism, — the attempt 
to get back to the Eternal Word of God stripped of all temporal forms. 
The other is essential Catholicism, — the attempt to bring the Word of 
God into the life of the race and bless it thereby. One is the individual- 
istic, prophetic ; the other, the universalistic, the traditional. Both are 
good tendencies. They have always been present in the church. They 
are the complements of each other. 

Primitive Christianity was the first historic realization of the Chris- 
tian principle. It had the advantage of all others, in that it was nearer 
the source ; in that it was under the personal direction of Jesus and 
His Apostles ; in that it had the special inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 
Here enter some crucial questions in the determination of the character 
of the original church and its normative relation to other periods. In 
how far does the Divine Spirit, and in how far does the human enter 
to make up the empirical content of Primitive Christianity? Did Jesus 
care for the spirit, merely, and leave the form to take care of itself? 

Did He teach His Disciples His view of God, His view of the 
.world, i. e., His religion, to have faith ; then send them out with the 
impulse to take the world, leaving it to them to adapt their message and 
work to the forms of the world around, — or did He anticipate these 
forms also, and fix them for all time? In how far may Christianity be 
said to have taken the form of Judaism, — the soil from which it grew ? 
How much was it afifected by the limitations of the Jewish nation; its 
racial characteristics ; its religious inheritance ? What in Primitive 
Christianity was meant to be a norm for all religion ? In how far does 
its precedent remain a rule for faith and practice to-day ? 

These are ground problems in any treatment of the Christian re- 
ligion. They have been much discussed among the Disciples of Christ ; 
and between them and their religious neighbors. I leave them here, as 
they will come up later ; with the mere distinction between the Christian, 
principle and its historic forms. 

Jewish Christianity. 15 

Jewish Christianity, 
In the Jewish world Christianity found historic forms ready made 
for it. It took over a language and literature. The Old Testament be- 
came the first Bible of the Christians, Religious rites and customs were 
adapted to the new cause. This is evident from the analogy of the Lord's 
Day and the Sabbath, of baptism and the Levitical washings, of the 
Lord's Supper and the Passover Feast, The new institutions were 
modeled on the old. Compare the Jerusalem Church and the Jewish 
Temple service, the local church and the synagogue, the Apostolate and 
the Sanhedrim, the ministry of the church and that of the synagogue. 
Here lies patent a continuous course of conflicts in the history of Chris- 
tianity, — viz., between its historic heritage and its prophetic spirit, be- 
tween the traditional tendency and the new truths ever welling up 
within the bosom of the church. The Apostolic Age was no exception. 
It was not a period of ideal peace and unity — a golden age, as many 
have supposed. There were conflicts, divisions, ill-feelings as now. 
These arose from the contradiction of the Christian Principle with the 
historic Jewish heritage. They appeared in two forms: — (i) Mosaism; 
(2) Messianism, 

1, Should the Christians keep the Law ? It must be remembered 
that the Law meant a concrete mass of detail regulations 
hedged about by the traditions of the Rabbis, Various an- 
swers were made. The Judaizers said, "Yes, it is necessary 
that the Gentile converts should be circumcised and keep the 
Law," Paul said, "No," And between these there was a 
mediating party, to which possibly James and Peter belonged, 
who held that the Jews should keep the Law, but that Gen- 
tiles were not so obligated. The Pauline party won the 
victory, but this was due, not so much to any triumph of logic 
within the church, as to the destruction of Jerusalem by the 
Roman army. When it was no longer possible to keep the 
Law, its importance faded from sight, 

2, The Messianic Hope passed through a like crisis. The 
Disciples repeatedly misunderstood Jesus upon this question 
during his ministry. It is probable that they were not wholly 
free from errors as to the Second Coming after Pentecost, 
There is a gradual dropping of Jewish Messianism in the 
Apostolic writings. In Paul it is an early note, but found lit- 
tle place in the major epistles. It is wholly absent in the 
Fourth Gospel, It lived on among the common people and 

15 The Rise of the Current Reeorjiation. 

sprang up in the Montanism of the third and fourth centuries. 
But with the decay of the Jewish nation it became a minor 

Hence the important fact for the history of Christianity in the first 
three centuries is the rejection of the religion of Jesus by the mass of 
the Jewish people, the decadence of that nation, and the passing over of 
the Gospel treasure to the Gentiles. This is the transition from Jewish 
Christianity to Greek Christianity, from the Jerusalem Church to the 
Old Catholic Church, from Peter, James, Paul and John, to Clement, 
Origen, Athanasius and the Gregories. 

Two media may be mentioned in this transition — Paulinism and 
Hellenism. Gentile Christianity was the product of Paul's ministry. It 
is significant that his doctrine is the most theological in form. The field 
m which Paul worked was Hellenism — that larger world of Greek 
learning which had spread over the whole eastern half of the Roman 
Empire. Philo, the apostle of Hellenism, had made a union of the He- 
brew Scriptures and the Platonic philosophy by means of the allegorical 
method of interpretation. This was incorporated into the church by his 
successors — ^the Alexandrine fathers, Clement, Origen, etc. The Apos- 
tles' Creed, which had grown up from the Baptismal Formula, became 
the text for future theological developments. 

The Greek Theology. 

What form should the Christian Principle take in the Grseco-Ro- 
man world? Two factors must be taken into account in the reply — the 
Christian Principle itself, and the Weltanschauung (view of the world) 
incident to the Greek mind. With the Jew there was no such contrast. 
The Gospel was set in the forms of his own view of the world. But the 
Greek was essentially a philosopher. Behind him were Socrates, Plato, 
Aristotle, the Stoics and Epicureans. He had a made-out scheme of 
things. This was simple except in religious matters. Scepticism had 
destroyed the power of the old myths. The Christian missionary found 
the door opened for him. Many Greeks "turned to the Lord believing 
the Gospel." For a while things went on thus. The newly made con- 
vert held the two apart — the Greek heathen view of the world and the 
Jewish-Christian religious life. But this partition could not last inter- 
minably. The human mind seeks unity. The two spheres must be brought 
together. Then began the eternal conflict between Philosophy and 
Religion, between Science and Faith. In this conflict occurred the birth- 
throes of Theology. It was the mind's attempt to harmonize, to interpret 
the religious experiences of the heart in the language of cool thought, to 
make room in a world filled with things and events for the invisible God, 

The Greek Theology. 17 

and to find the true avenue for the soul's communion with Him. 

How, then, should the Greek put together what he knew as a Greek 
and what he had learned as a Christian ? He had no thought of giving 
up the former. It was essential to his mental makeup. The latter offered 
no substitute. It dwelt in another world. The two poles were the Greek 
metaphysics on the one hand, and the Worship of Jesus, on the other. 
The ruling conception of the former was the Realism of Plato. God is 
the Absolute Reason. This is pure thought, free from all form. It finds 
expression in the Logos. The Logos, or Word, is Reason expressed, 
i. e.^ in its most universal form. This is further differentiated in the 
ideas (I'Ssa). The Logos is the universal idea. Other ideas are the 
genera and species under this. These ideas are as yet disembodied spirit, 
but they are embodied in the particular — in things of the world of matter, 
and in minds of the world of spirit. Knowledge is by contact of the two. 
It recognizes the unity back in the Absolute Reason. Now, the Gospel 
was made to fit into this system of metaphysical idealism. The Logos 
zi'as identified zcith Jesus. The harmony was made complete. The out- 
come after much conflict was the two Greek dogmas, — the Doctrine of 
the Trinity, and of the Tv/ofold Nature of Christ. In the first the Son 
is declared to be o/xoouVcos tG Trarpi (of the same substance with 
the Father), and in the second Jesus is said to be o/Aoowtos tw Trarpt 
Kara ti]V Ocoryra koI 6/xoovc-tos Tov avTov rj/xlv Kara rqv avOpu^TroTrjTa ( consub - 
stantial with the Father according to the Godhead and consubstantial 
with us according to the Manhood). Both of these dogmas are meta- 
phj'^sical. They pronounce upon the nature of God and of Christ. 
The distinction was between ovvm and vTroo-rao-ts, substantia and 

These dogmas were codified in the councils of Nicaea (325 A. D.), 
of Constantinople (381), and of Chalcedon (451). They constituted the 
bulk of the Greek Theology. They were accepted in the West. Wlien 
Luther revolted from the Roman Church, he fell back on them, and 
thus they were incorporated into Protestantism. 

The Latin Theology, 
With the decadence of the eastern half of the Roman Empire, the 
heritage of Christianity passed over to Italy and the West. On Latin 
soil a new product arose. The Latin mind was practical and political. 
It was not speculative. It filled with the memory of the glory and 
grandeur of the Roman Empire. The new product was the Roman 
Catholic Church, the successor to the Empire. 

In Latin Theology there is but one great name — Augustine. There 
is a preparation for him in Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, but Augustine 

18 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

is both flower and fruitage of Latin thought. Five elements enter to 
make the body of his system : 

1. The PauHne Gospel. 

2. The Greek Theology, 
whose dogmas he took over. 

3. Neo-Platonism — 

A working over of Platonism by means of Oriental influences 
resulting in the emanation theory. 

4. The Roman Law — 

Roman legal conceptions which came down through Tertullian, 
Cyprian, Ambrose. 

5. \'ulgar Catholicism — 

Heathen rites and mysteries which were taken over into the 
church, and became the basis of the later developments of the 
"mass" and ''works." 

Thus, Augustine was a great personality v.-hich gathered up all that 
preceded, held it in spite of apparent contradictions, and became the 
source of all that followed. He is the great father of the church — of the 
Roman Church, whose imperialism, mysticism, monasticism, vulgar 
Catholicism, came br him ; and of Protestantism as well. Luther found 
in him his doctrine of Justification, and Calvin's Predestination was but 
a modified Augustinianism.. 

The problem of Augustine was the religious one — the relation of 
man, the sinner, to God. He asked, what is the source, nature and goal 
of the human personality. He came to this problem as a Roman with 
the practical, common sense mind. He lived in the midst of the break- 
down of ancient civilization, saw decay written all around. Pie had him- 
self lived an immoral life when a youth, and knew the aVv'ful struggles 
between good and evil in his own soul. He was instructed by Paul, and 
led to turn away from the vain speculations of philosophy to the heart of 
the matter as set forth in the Gospel. It was his beyond all others to 
have a realizing sense of man's sin and to produce the great dogmas of 
Latin Christianity, — viz., those grouping about Sin and Grace. His 
points were as follows : 

1 . Adam — 

A perfect being. This is in reality the personification of one 
of the Platonic ideas and not the Adam of the Scriptures at all. 

2. Adam's Fall. 

3. The Corruption of the Race. 

The nature of fallen Adam is carried over to his descendants 
— Traducianism. This is "Original Sin." 

The Latin Theology. 19 

4. The Gift of Christ. 

This makes possible the Grace. It is not developed by Augus- 
tine, but is later taken up as the thesis of Anselm. 

5. Baptismal Regeneration — 

A magical infusion of grace which removes the guilt of "orig- 
inal sin." 

6. Free Grace. 

This creates in man all faith and goodness, over against which 
the heathen virtues are only splendida vitia. 

7. The Highest Good- 

Meditation on God (Adhasrere Deo). 
All later theology deals with these points. How can God and man 
meet in salvation ? Three answers v^^ere made. 

1. Augustinianism. 

Man can do nothing ; all is of grace ; this is made possible by 
the gift of Christ, — a Determinism. 

2. Pelagianism. 

Man is not so helpless ; he is free ; he can meet God half- 
way, — Indeterminism. There is room for human merit. 

3. Semi-Pelagianism. 

A combination of the above. All is of grace in regeneration. 
Afterward works are necessary to retain the saving goods, — 
Synergism. There is room for merit within the church. 
After Augustine came the invasion of the German hordes. Gregory 
the Great becomes the great savior of the Church and the founder of the 
future Papacy. A long period of anarchy ensues. There is no advance 
in thought. Only the personality is preparing for a new enlightenment. 
The Scholastic Theology. 
The new enlightenment for which the world had been preparing oc- 
curred in the ]\Iiddle Ages ( 1000- 1250 A. D.) . On the soil of Mediaeval 
Europe grew up a new dogmatic product. It had been prepared for by 
the feudal system, the supremacy of the Papacy, the intellectual life of 
the universities, and the religious labors of the monastic orders. This 
product was the Scholastic Theology. Its method was Scholasticism. 
Its leaders were Scotus Erigina, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, Abelard, 
Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus. 

Two factors enter into the body of this theology. 
I. The Traditions (writings) of the Church 
These are — 

a. The Holy Scriptures. 

b. Greek and Latin Fathers — Augustine is foremost. 

2@ The Rise of the Current Reformation 

c. Lives of the Saints, etc. 
2. The Greek Philosoph}^ — 
(i) Neo-Platonism — 

At first via Scotus Erigina. 
(2) Aristotle — 
Through a translation first of the Logic, later of both 
Logic and IMetaphysics. 
The first factor gave the matter for theology ; the second, its 
method — the Aristotelian logic. The Church said, "Deus homo fit." 
Scholasticism asked, "Cur Deus homo?" A division was made between 
Natural and Revealed Theology. Natural Theology was what reason 
could give — as the existence of God, his power, etc. Revealed Theology 
comes through the Church. Its motto was: "Credo ut intelligam." 
Assensus (assent) is faith. The theologian goes as far with Natural 
Theology as he can, tlicn R.eveIation steps in. Philosophy is the hand- 
maid to Theology. 

The new problems are — (i) The Atonement ; (2) The Church. 
I , Atonement. 

Anselm took the problem of the Atonement over from 
Augustine. Augustine said, the gift of Christ makes 
Grace possible. Anselm shovv'S how. It is by way ol his 
Satisfaction Theory. In Adam's fall man has sinned. God 
must have satisfaction. As a sin against an infinite God, 
it is infinite and must have an infinite punishment. How 
can man escape and satisfaction be made? Man cannot 
make it himself,, yet he must. It is his sin. God alone 
can. The dilemma is solved in the God-man. As God he 
can pay the debt ; as man it is of avail for the race. Be- 
cause he was blameless, he had no debt of his own. As a 
free-will sacrifice, his act was infinitely meritorious. God 
must reward it, yet He cannot. The God-man has all full- 
ness before. He gives the benefits over to his fellow-men. 
This is the store of merit which men receive in relation 
with Christ. 
The premises of this theory are evident : 

a. The Satisfaction which punishment renders for sin. 
Man takes from God his due — perfect obedience. God 
must retaliate. He takes from man what is his — happiness. 
God's honor is offended. His magnanimity steps in to 
avoid the disastrous results. The background of the doc- 
trine is the Chivalry of the times. 

The Scholastic Theology. 21 

b. The dogma of the Twofold Nature of Christ — the 

In the argument the fallacy of the divided middle term occurs 
several times. 

c. The notion of Solidarity — God, God-man, man. This 
is from the Platonic Realism and does not agree with the 
modern conception of personality. 

Yet Anselm set the problem for all time. It was a great 
advance over the conception of a ransom from the Devil, or 
the theory of God's veracity. He brought in the ethical ele- 
ment. Who can solve the antinomy between Justice and Mercy 
in the Divine Nature? Aquinas with his Federal theory, Duns 
Scotus with his Acceptilation theory, Grotius with his Gov- 
ernmental theory, only build upon Anselm's naive but real foun- 
2. The Church, 

Thomas Aquinas presents the dogma of the church in its 
fullest development. He is seized with the imperial idea — 
Papal Absolutism. In him the Vulgar Catholicism comes to 
its triumph. The Cliurch mediates Grace. It is the vicar of 
God on earth, It is the incarnation of Deity in various degrees 
of fullness. The order of ascendancy is — Papacy, hierarchy, 
laity. The church possesses the store of the merits of Christ 
and of the Saints. Christ is offered continually in the miracle 
of the mass. The individual appropriates the Grace through 
the "works" demanded of him. This Church is declared to be 
"One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic." 
Aquinas marks the culmination of dogmas and their co-ordination 
in a system of theology (Summa Theologise). Then began the breaking- 
up of dogma, which lasted throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth cen- 
turies and in the sixteenth century issued in the three-fold partition: 
(i) Tridentine Catholicism ; (2) Socinianism ; (3) Protestantism. 

Duns Scotus is the critic and skeptic through whom most of the 
dissolution is accomplished. Scholasticism was founded upon the thesis 
that God was Absolute Reason, and sought to find the truth by analysis 
and syllogism. Scotus said that God is liberum arhitrimn (Free Will). 
He magnified impulse, action, as against the rationalizing process. The 
world had grown tired of the refinements of Scholasticism and had 
begun to distrust the reasoning powers. All parties hastened to accept 
the principles of Scotus. 

22 The Rise oe the Curkent Reformation. 

1. Tridentine Catholicism. 

First among these was the Papal Party. Scotus was a loyal 
son of the Church and labored in its behalf. If God is prima- 
rily Will, that will is known through the Church. The Church 
mediates the Word of God. This is identified with the rules 
and practices of the Church. These are under the care of the 
hierarchy. Instead of dogma, we have a dogma-politik. The 
Church becomes the one dogma and is jealous of any other. 
This is illustrated in the Council of Trent. The Papal Party 
did not want the Council called. When it w-as forced upon 
them, they did not want to formulate a creed. The creed when 
formed was ambiguous in character. They wanted to leave 
the hierarchy free in all matters of doctrine and practice. The 
culmination of this course was the Council of the Vatican 
(1870), which set forth the doctrine of Papal Infallibility — 
"that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, 
when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all 
Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he de- 
fines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the 
universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in 
blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the 
divine Redeemer walled that his Church should be endowed 
for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals ; and that, there- 
fore, such definitions of the Roman Pontifi's are irreformable 
of themselves and not from the consent of the Church." 
(Schaff — Creeds of Christendom, II. p. 270). Henceforth there 
is no need of Councils or dogma. 

2. The Ultra-Reformation. 

There had all along been elements in the Church which were 
hostile to the claims of the hierarchy. These took refuge in 
the practical piety of the church and lived apart from its dog- 
mas. They were the disciples of the "inner light," "seekers 
after God" — the mystics, the forerunners of the Anabaptists. 
Alongside were others who found their truth in the Xatural 
Theology, who pitted reason against the church ; as }et a smoul- 
dering flame, but ready to break out when the wind stirred — 
the Rationalists, the forerunners of Socinianism. Duns Scotus 
too prepared the way for these. If God is Will, this is not 
known through the church, but through my will, my impulses, 
my insight. Here appears the sense of the growing Individu- 
alism, which is to play so great a part in modern civilization. 

The Scholastic Theology. 23 

In the Middle Ages, the collective will, the universal, was 
everything. There was little sense of personality, or of the 
rights of the individual. The so-called Ultra-Reformation was 
Individualism carried to the extreme. Luther turned against 
his Anabaptist follovv'ers, Carlstadt and Munzer, vvith ferocity. 
Calvin opposed Servetus and Faustus Socinus with all his 
The Reformation. 

The Reforniation proper is seen in Alartin Luther. Luther 
was a combination of the two — 

a. The religious sense. 

A conviction of sin which allows the absolute domination 
of any system which gives relief to the conscience. Hence, 
the power of the Roman Church over him. 

b. The growing Individualism, 

vv'hich shakes off all human mediation in the attempt to 

know God for itself. 
The Reformation grew out of the heart experiences of this 
humble monk. At first he sought relief in the Church. He set 
out to make a conquest of heaven. If anything was to be 
gained by "works," he v/as determined to have it. He sub- 
mitted himself to all the penances, and practices of the most 
rigid monastic order, but still he did not find peace. He sought 
a satisfaction which the Church could not give — one for him- 
self, an individual assurance. How could he know he had 
made satisfaction;!, e. was "justified before God?" This led 
him to the larger question — "How can a sinner be justified be- 
fore God?" He had tried the "works" of the Church. They 
were not sufficient. He searched everywhere for help. He read 
Tauler. Staupitz advised him to read Augustine. He got some 
relief. He saw the sentence in the creed: "I believe in the 
forgiveness of sins." Then he fell back on Paul — "The just 
shall live by faith," and brought out his great principle, Justifi- 
catioii by Faith. God has revealed his grace in Jesus Christ. 
A sinner is justified solely through faith in Christ. There 
are no "works" of merit. All is reliance on God's grace in 
Jesus Christ. The core of the Christian religion is a living 
faith in a living God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. 
Objectively there is the person and work of Christ — the his- 
torical factor. Subjectively, all is Faith. This new yet old 
gospel of Luther spread like wildfire. It found ready response 

24 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

in the awakening life of a new age. The outcome was Pro- 
testantism with its cardinal dogma — Justification by Faith. 
Protestant Theology. 
Protestant Theology is based on three principles : 

1. The Material Principle — Justification by Faith. 

This is in antithesis to the Catholic doctrine of meritorious 
"works." Salvation is through grace by faith. Faith is the 
true approach to God. It is all that is required. The moral 
life flows therefrom as the stream from its source. It is a 
matter of religious experience. It is the sense of sonship, of 
inner and immediate relation to God. 

2. The Formal Principle — the Authority of the Holy Scriptures. 

The Roman Church held to a manifold literature — Scripture, 
the Fathers, creeds, lives of sauits — all of v/hich v/ere tradi- 
tionally authoritative. The Reformers limited the authority 
to the Holy Scriptures. "The Bible, and the Bible only, is the 
religion of Protestants." 

3. The Social Principle — The Universal Priesthood of all Believers. 

This is placed over against the claims of the hierarchy. 
There is to be no mediation. Each conscience is free before 

Thus, Protestantism was a return to the Christian Principle effected 
by a new religious experience in use of the Holy Scriptures. 

It developed in three periods : 

I . The First Generation. 

This was the Reformation proper. It embraced Luther, 
Melanchton, Zwingli, in their earlier lives. This early ground 
was receded from because of the extremes of the Anabaptists. 
The Reformers really joined the Catholics in a common oppo- 
sition to this false subjectivism. They fell back on the Greek 
dogmas. These are the first articles of their creeds. Here 
Zwingli remained firmest on the original ground. This period 
was marked by but one principle — the Material, Justification 
by Faith. 

The proof of this is the literature of the period. Luther's posi- 
tion grew out of his own religious experiences. His appeal was 
to this, and only to the Scriptures as the interpreter of the expe- 
rience. He assumed a somewhat independent attitude to the 
Scriptures and dealt with them freely. For instance, he called 
the Epistle of James a "book of straw," because it did not 
teach his doctrine of Justification. In Melanchton's "Loci" 

Protestant Theology. 25 

(First Edition 1521), the Scriptures are placed alongside of 
the Fathers as the literature of the church, and not in a sepa- 
rate category. In the Augsburg Confession — The first Pro- 
testant creed (1530) — the order of articles is (i) God; (2) 
Original Sin; (3) The Son of God; (4) Justification, etc. 
There is no article on the Holy Scriptures. (Schafif — Creeds of 
Christendom, vol. III., p. 7). 
The Second Generation. 

In this period affairs have changed. This is seen in the For- 
mula of Concord (1576). The preface to this creed is upon 
the "rule and norm" of truth, which is declared to be the 
writings of the Old and New Testaments" (Schaft — Creeds, 
III., pp. 93-95). The articles are stated as drawn from these 
Scriptures. The Gallican Confession, a creed written by Cal- 
vin (1559) is another instance. Article I. is on God. Arti- 
cle II. is as follows: 

"As such this God reveals himself to men; firstly, in his 
works, in their creation as well as in their preservation and 
control. Secondly, and more clearly, in his Word, which 
was in the beginning revealed through oracles, and which 
was afterward committed to writing in the books which we 
call Holy Scriptures." 

Article III, names the books which are to be accepted as 
canonical (Schafif — Creeds, vol. III. p. 360.) In fact, this is 
the period of Calvin. The two principles — the Authority of the 
Scriptures and Justification by Faith — are formulated and ap- 
pear side by side. But the Formal Principle is placed first in 
order, even if as yet it has not the chief place. The Social 
Principle has been relegated to the background. This is due 
to the rise of the Anabaptists, against whom a damnatory 
clause is to be found in the creeds of the period. The cause 
of the change to this ground was the purpose of defence. The 
Protestant apologists set over against the authority of the 
Church and the Fathers, the authority of the Scriptures. The 
Bible is declared to be the Word of God. Thus, the Reforma- 
tion claimed an authority prior in age and equal in dignity to 
that of their Catholic opponents. Their cry, as Chillingsworth 
at last stated it, came to be, "The Bible, and the Bible only, is 
the religion of Protestants." 
Post-Reformation Scholasticism, or Elder Orthodoxy. 

This was the period of decadence. It was inevitable. The 

26 The Rise of the Current REroRMATioN. 

Reformation occurred on the soil of western Latin Christianity. 
It was a new religious experience. The eternal conflict of the 
new Christian experience and the old Weltanschauung was 
renewed. At first the reformers led the revolt against the tra- 
ditional philosophy. Luther was a Humanist. He was bred in 
the Renaissance movement. As such he translated the Bible 
into the vernacular. He hated Aristotle. I\Ielanchton, hov/- 
ever, though at first under Luther's influence, fell back more 
and more into the Aristotelian method. This is significant, in 
that he was the scholar of the Reformation. The impetus thus 
given was readily taken up by others. Soon Scholasticism 
was back again as the method of Protestant Theology. This 
was unavoidable. The Reformation had brought with it no 
new philosophy and logic. The Individualism of which it v/as 
born was as yet mainly sub-conscious. In the realm of relig- 
ion this spirit had found its first expression. Luther's asser- 
tion of the soul's direct communion with God — the Social Prin- 
ciple — was a beautiful flowering of the principle of the Auton- 
omy of the Reason. But in the excesses of the Anabaptists 
this principle v/as crushed to the ground. It had to await a 
far later time for reappearing — viz., in politics in the time of 
Cromwell and in the French Revolution ; in philosophy, in the 
persons of Locke and Kant. 

This period can be understood only when the apologetic and 
polemic attitude of Protestant Theology is borne in mind. It 
IS the period of the great religious wars. By the valor of the 
warriors for truth, the Roman Catholic theologians were met on 
their own ground. The Aristotelian logic was used to defend 
the Bible as it had been to defend the Church. The great sys- 
tems of Gerhard, Hollaz, Quenstedt, Calov, appear. There 
is only one principle — the Formal. This is converted into a 
theological canon. The Holy Scriptures are the source of the 
supernafurally rcz'calcd truths of theology. This theology was 
made a means of salvation in itself. It was a vision of God. 
The Bible was not interpreted historically, but the dogmas were 
read into it. It was made a law-book of homogeneous value 
for faith and practice. It was identified with the Word of God. 

The outcome is seen in the Dogmas accepted among Pro- 
testants. These are : 
i). The Greek dogmas — 

Protestant Theology. 27 

a. The Trinity ; 

b. The Twofold Nature of Christ. 

This is elaborated into a new Christology conformable to 
the Protestant doctrine of the Sacraments. 
2). The Latin dogmas — Sin and Grace as transformed into 

the doctrine of Predestination. 
3). The Mediaeval dogma — the Atonement. 

(The dogma of the Church was denied.) 
4). New dogmas — 

a. Justification by Faith : 

b. Authority of the Scriptures. 

These are the principal products of the Reformation. 

c. The Inspiration of the Bible. 

This stated in brief is, that the record of Revelation found 
in the Bible zcas edited by God himself. Three conceptions 
enter into this dogma (See Kaftan, The Truth of the 
Christian Religion, vol. i., p. 200). 

(a). Revelation. 
God has revealed himself in many ways, especially by his 
Word. This Word was first orally pronounced. 

(b). Scripture. 
Afterward the Word was committed to writing or at least 
the most important parts of it. For us who do not live in 
the time of the oral revelation, this Scripture is the Word 
of God. 

(c). But this is not sufficient guarantee for the infallible 
authority of the Scriptures. In the work of committing 
to writing, v/ho made the proper selection, whose memory 
was trustworthy enough to retain the divine words iner- 
rant? Could this be left to natural human means? The 
answer is the doctrine of Inspiration. God through his 
Holy Spirit oversees the whole process and vouches for 
every result. 

(d). Infallibility is thus secured. 
This dogma of Inspiration is the peculiar product of the 
Post-Reformation Scholasticism. It may be said by some 
that there had always been a doctrine of inspiration. This 
is true, but not in the Protestant sense. With the Cath- 
olics the Church is inspired. It is infallible. Any author- 
ity which the Bible has is due to the fact that it is one 

28 The Rise of the Current Reeormatiox. 

of the traditional writings of the Church. On the other 
hand, Protestantism made the Bible the seat of authority. 
This can be only if the Bible is wholly divine — Verbal In- 
spiration. This is the crowning dogma of Protestantism. 
It is the crucial question for Protestant theology. It re- 
mains unsolved to this day. 
The two great divisions of Protestantism are the Lutheran and the 
Reformed Churches. These are due to many causes, chief among which 
are the national differences. The Lutheran Church is of German ori- 
gin — Luther ; the Reformed, of Swiss French — Zwingli, Calvin. They 
were two independent movements. In those days the Union tendeticy 
was not strong enough for a formal union. At the Marburg Confer- 
ence (1529) the leaders agreed on fourteen and a half of the fifteen 
propositions. But Luther refused the hand to Zwingli, who was willing 
to compromise, and nothing was effected. 
The doctrinal differences were mainly : 

1. On the Eucharist. 

Luther held to the doctrine of the Real Presence (Consub- 
stantiation) ; Calvin to that of the Spiritual Presence; Zwingli 
that the Lord's Supper is merely a memorial. 

2. On Predestination. 

Luther was an Augustinian, but did not make the doctrine 
prominent ; Melanchton was a Synergist ; his later views ap- 
proached those of the Catholics ; while Calvin made Predesti- 
nation the central doctrine of his system. 

3. On the Principles of Protestantism. 

The Lutheran Church rested upon the Material Principle. It 
affirmed the freedom of the child of God. It was a reaction 
against the Judaism of the Roman Church. The Reformed 
Church builded upon the Formal Principle. The Scriptures 
are the rule of faith and practice. It asserts the ethical purity 
of the Christian life. It was the reaction against the pagan- 
ism of Catholicism. It was Puritanism. This church spread 
throughout Switzerland, France, Holland, Scotland and 
Between the two above are to be noted the mediating churches. 
These are : 

I. The German Reformed Church, 

This is the church of the Palatinate. Philip of Hesse, its 
landgrave, favored union at the beginning. Melanchton be- 
came the ruling theologian in this province. Bucer, a friend 

Protestant Theology. 29 

to all parties, was the founder of this church. Its positions 
are set forth in the Heidelberg Catechism — a symbol of fer- 
vent piety and of religious worth. 
2. The Anglican. 


I. Covenant Theology. 

The preparation of the Protestant World for the Current Refor- 
mation was made by two preceding movements ; one in the reahn of 
theology, the other in that of philosophy. The first of these was the 
Covenant Theology of the Netherlands. This gave the fundamental 
theological category to the Campbells and their co-laborers. The sec- 
ond was the philosophy of John Locke, which gave them their theory 
of knowledge. By the use of these methods, they did all their thinking, 
and found a ready understanding in the popular American mind. Let 
us trace in brief the genesis, growth, products of each of these factors ; 
and show, if possible, their influence on the leaders of the Current Re- 



The so-called Dutch or Covenant Theology is represented by a 
school in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Its leaders were 
Coccejus, Heidanus, Momma, Burman, Van Til and Witsius. Asso- 
ciated with them was Grotius, the statesman. This school sprang up on 
the soil of the Reformed Church. It was one of a series of reactions 
against the scholastic spirit as applied to the main tenet of that Church ; 
viz. : -Predestination. Calvin had been the great defender of Protest- 
antism. Over against the Romanist doctrine of merit by human works 
he set his dogma of Predestination. This was a thoroughgoing deter- 
minism. Everything happens according to the Divine decrees. These 
are eternal and unchangeable, and fix the course of events and the des- 
tinies of men. They are twofold : 

( 1 ) A Decree of Election ; 

by which a part of the human race without any merit of their 
own are chosen to eternal life. 

(2) A Decree of Reprobation; 

by which another part, as a just punishment of their sin, are 
left to eternal damnation. 
This negative counterpart of Election proved to be the stumbling- 
block of Calvinism. Calvin confessed it to be a "decretum horrible," 


The Covsxant Theology. 31 

but held that it was nevertheless true. He appealed to God's Will; 
which is always holy and unblameable, though inscrutable. But the 
question came: How far do the decrees apply? It was agreed that 
they applied to all events of the fallen race; that all faith, goodness 
and holiness of sinful men are not the cause or condition but the effect 
of Election. But was the fall of Adam to be included? Did God de- 
cree that man should sin ; or did He only permit the sin, so that the 
decrees entered after the Fall? The first is Supralapsarianism ; the 
second Infra- (or Sub-) lapsarianism. Calvin wavered between the 
two, but inclined to the former ; while Beza, Gomar and others, true to 
their master's logic, took the extreme position. They said: "God has 
a double fore-ordination, — for the manifestation of His mercy in the 
elect and of His justice in the reprobate ; call Him the Author of sin 
if you like, it is true." But the masses shrank back from this harsh 
dogma. It was never embodied in any of the leading creeds of the 
Reformed Church. 

Soon there began movements for the mitigation of the doctrine. 
The first of these was the school of Saumur, viz. : La Place, Cappel, 
Amyraut and other French scholars. These distinguished between a 
universal and a particular predestination. By the first, God wills that 
all men be saved ; but this is made particular only in those who do not 
reject the universal grace. The positions of this school were not very 
clear or consistent. They were seeking to grant some part in 
the work of salvation. They caused great commotion in the French 
Church ; but after a time peace was agreed upon and the controversy 

But the fire soon broke out in a new place. James Arminius ap- 
peared in the Netherlands, a convert to the doctrine of universal grace. 
Joined with this, he held to the freedom of the will. Thus arose Armin- 
ianism, whose Five Points were condemned at the Synod of Dort (1619) 
but found supporters among those high in the political circles of the 
country; as Barneveld, Hugo Grotius and others. This movement 
spread into England ; entered non-religious circles and produced marked 
effects in the history of modern ethics. Arminianism presented the 
doctrine of Conditional Predestination ! God has decreed to save those 
who by the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in Jesus Christ, and by the 
same grace persevere to the end. It was not so dift'erent from Calvin- 
ism after all ; M^hich, to use a Kantian phrase, was an a priori determin- 
ism, while Arminianism was an a posteriori determinism ; one by the 
Holy Spirit and not by the decree ; one in experience and resistible as 
such. Thus room was made for human responsibility. 

32 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

At this juncture the Covenant Theology came in. T^Iany thinkers 
had been feehng their way in this direction in their efforts to solve the 
antinomy of Calvinism ; but the first to give it clear and definite state- 
ment was the Netherlander Johannes Kock (Coccejus). Born at Bre- 
men, 1603, he passed through the schools of his country and came finally 
to Franeker, where he received his theological education. Here he 
was under the instruction of Amesius, the noted English divine, and 
Amama, the great Orientalist. Here also he met Grotius, the states- 
man. He went forth as a linguist, and taught Biblical philology at 
Bremen (1630), at Franeker (1636) ; whence, for some notable work 
in the dogmatic field, he was called to be Professor of Theology at Ley- 
den (1650), which position he held until his death in 1669. He at- 
tained fame as an exegete, wrote some two dozen commentaries and 
was the first to lay down the principle that the meaning of a word is to 
be ascertained from its context. He broke from the orthodox fashion 
of reading the dogmas into the text and tried to restore the historical 
sense of the Scriptures. He thus made the first attempt at a biblical 
theology. In 164.8 he published his greatest work — 
"De Foedere et Testamento Dei." 
The title of this b®ok shows the category vv-hich he applied all along 
the line in his interpretation of the Scriptures. Let us make a brief 
synopsis of the book. 

Coccejus, in beginning, seeks to disclose the meaning of his term — 
not by definition, but by citations from the Scriptures (Chapter I). 
Thus: "an agreement (conventio) concerning peace and friendship, 
either before or after war" is called a covenant (foedus). Such a cov- 
enant Abraham made v;ith Mamre (Gen. 14:13). Such is the agree- 
ment between man and wife (Mai. 2:14) (Sec. i). Thus, a covenant 
is made with just and equal stipulations and sworn promises from 
both parties (Sec. 2) ; foi in a covenant there are both precepts and 
promises. So God makes his covenant by presenting a law and the 
promise annexed to tlie law, and tlius he invites to the assent to the law 
and to the expectation of the promise (Sec. 3). It is a ho.6rjK'q rather 
than a crvvOiJKrj (Sec. 4). For the covenant of God with men (Foedus 
Dei cvim homine) is not as those of men with one another. l\len make 
covenants for mutual benefits, but God has his own purpose, viz., to de- 
clare the plan by which His love is perceived, and union and communion 
with Him is made possible (Sec. 5). Thus, the covenant is fJiovowXevpov 
(one-i-ided). God lavs down all the terms (Sec. 6). This covenant is 
tv>?ofold : Foedus Operum et Foedus Gratije (a Covenant of Works and 
a Covenant of Grace). In these the Scriptures contrast two ways of 

The Covenant Theology. 33 

obtaining righteousness and happiness. They are, hence, called two 
laws— Lex Operum et Lex Fidei, Rom. 3:27 (Sec. 11). The covenant 
of works is set forth in Gal. 3:12, 10. "What things a man doeth he 
shall live in them." "Cursed is everyone which continueth not in all 
the things written in the book of the law to do them." It has three 
elements : 

(i) Lex (Law). 

which shows the plan for the appropriation of the divine love 
and benefits. 

(2) Promissio (Promise) 

which joins these with that plan. 

(3) Comminatio (threat) 

which excludes all other plans and ways to the highest good 
and indicates the necessary consequence of punishment for sin. 

(Sec. 12). 

In the case of Adam the covenant was not written in a book, for 
Adam being upright and in the image of God, it was written on the 
tablets of the heart. It was the law of nature (Lex Naturse), or of 
conscience by which Adam naturally knew what was right, and which 
remains in the fallen man. The Decalogue is identical with this Lex 
Naturse. It is the Foedus Operum in a written form (Sec. 13). This 
covenant requires perfect obedience. The reward for this obedience 
was life, the punishment for disobedience, death (Sec. 42). 

Coccejus, thus having shown the constitution of the Covenant of 
Works, proceeds in Chapter III to end, to describe its Abrogation, 
and the placing in its stead of the Covenant of Grace. This Abrogation 
progresses in five steps. The law or Covenant of Works is done away : 

(i) As far as the possibility of making alive 
Through Sin (per peccatum). 

(2) As far as the condemnation 

Through Christ, set forth in promise and apprehended in faith. 

(3) As far as the terror or power of the fear of death and serv- 

Through the promulgation of the New Covenant, the expiation 
for sin having been made. 

(4) As far as grief for sin 
Through the death of the body. 

(5) As far as all effects 

Through the resurrection from the dead (Sec. 58). 
When Adam sinned he made the promise useless. There could be 
no life or happiness according to the covenant, because man had failed 


34 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

to fulfill its conditions (Sec. 59). As the whole of human nature was 
involved in his act, death and evil came upon the race (Sec. 70). Man, 
thus condemned by the law of this covenant, and shut out from any good 
thereby, is yet obligated to do all things which the law of nature and 
God by right of this dominion demand of him. He must at the same 
time suffer punishment for past sin and render obedience as present 
duty. No future obedience can redeem him from past error, nor be sub- 
stituted for the least precept. Hence, in this covenant there is no hope. 
Man but stores up wrath for the day of wrath (Sec. 71). But God 
himself provides a remedy. It is the Covenant of Grace (Fcedus Grat- 
i?e). This is the agreement (conventio) between God and man the 
sinner by which God declares the free gift of justification (justitia) and 
the inheritance of his child given through Faith in the Mediator, 
which Faith itself is the beginning of the restoration and return to peace, 
friendship, and the hope of the inheritance in good conscience (Sec. 
76). In this covenant ten points are to be noted: 

a. The good obtained (bonum). which is justification (justitia) 

and life (vita). 

b. The manner of conferring, — a gift. 

c. The Mediator 

through whom and by whom the gift is made — Jesus Christ. 

d. The Means by which the good is possessed — 

e. The Partakers — 


f. The Source — 

The Good Will of God. 

g. The Proclamation of the Good — 

The Promises in the Old and New Testaments, 
h. Human Powers Demanded — 

None ; it is of Grace, 
i. Permanence. 
j. Final End — 

The Glory of God. 
The promulgation of the Covenant of Grace in the Sacred Scrip- 
tures is of two kinds : 

( 1 ) In Expectation of Christ, 

whose subjects live under the promise. 

(2) In Faith in Christ 

having been revealed. (Sec. 278). 

The first corresponds to the Old Testament ; the second to the New 

The Covenant Theology. 35 

Testament. Thus the Covenant of Grace falls into two dispensations , 
in both of which Christ is set forth in an elaborate system of typology. 
They difter mainly in the degree of clearness in which the grace is 
revealed. The final abolition of the Covenant of Works and the condem- 
nation thereby is through the death of the body and the resurrection 
from the dead. 

This doctrine of Coccejus was defended by his pupils, Heidanus 
and Momma, It was further elaborated by Burman and Witsius. Bur- 
man distinguished three steps in the Covenant of Grace : 
(i) Oeconomia ante legem 

(2) Oeconomia sub lege 

(3) Oeconomia post legem ; 

in the course of which the Law was first in the form of conscience 
(Lex Natura) ; then in a written form (Lex Mosis), and lastly Christ 
appeared as the perfect personal law. The promise was first the pro- 
tevangelium (Gen. 3:15), then ceremonial types and prophecies, and 
lastly Christ himself as the personal grace. The community was first 
the family ; then the Jewish people ; then mankind. The form of gov- 
ernment was first the patriarchal order ; then a priestly theocracy ; then 
free fellowship. Each is an advance on, yea, a reformation of the pre- 
ceding ! At the first God spake with man direct ; then through the law 
and prophecies ; now through the Nevv^ Testament. In each dispensation 
the sacraments win more and more meaning. Witsius still more adapts 
the dogm.a to Bible facts. He finds not three periods, but a still 
greater number. In his great work, "The Economy of the Covenants of 
God with Men," he falls back upon the contrast between the Old and 
JSIew Testaments ; but finds subdivisions in each period, which in turn 
have their own proper covenants. Thus, in the Old Testament there 
were four periods: (i) From Adam to Noah (2) From Noah to 
Abraham (3) From Abraham to ]\Ioses (4) From Moses to Christ 
(Book III, Ch. III). In the Nev/ Testament, Witsius also observes 
various periods, as described by the Revelation of John ; which the 
Church as yet has experienced only in part ; which also he does not 
undertake to define (Book III, Ch. Ill, Sec. 19). Thus Witsius applies 
the Covenant category in greater detail than any of his predecessors ; 
but neutralizes his results by insisting on the unity in substance of all the 
covenants ; and strangely enough, made himself quite acceptable to all 
parties. It is his work which had the wide circulation and was the 
authority on the covenants for a ecu fury. Such w^s the system of Cove- 
nant Theology in the Netherlands. 
II. Two Ouestions Remain: 

36 The Rise of the Current Reeormation. 

(i) What is the historical significance of the Covenant Theology? 
(2) Is there an historical connection between the Covenant The- 
ology of the Netherlands and that of the Current Reformation? 
That the Covenant Idea appears first as a dominant category in 
theology with Coccejus is proved: 

a. There is no mention of it in the x\ugsburg Confession, Formula 

of Concord, or principal creeds of the Lutheran Church. 

b. It is not found in the principal creeds of the Reformed Church, 
except the Westminster Confession, which was later. 

c. It appears in the early part of the seventeenth century in many 

quarters. E. g. Wm, Ames in England, Grotius in Holland 
(Fisher, Hist, of Doct. p. 348, note) as the product of a com- 
mon time spirit. 

Coccejus, though probably not the first to use the idea, became the 
voice of the age's groping after a great truth. Henceforth his statement 
became the instrument of all others. 

A. Whence, then, did Coccejus get his Covenant Idea, or at least 
the suggestion of it ? Two answers are possible — 

(i) From the Bible itself; (2) From the political philosophy of 
the times. 

Both are doubtless true. The book of Genesis in the Old Testa- 
ment and that of Hebrews in the New are especially rich in the terms 
and conceptions used by him. But he extended the category over the 
whole area of the Bible, gave such terms as Law, Nature, Sin, Grace, 
Promise a coloring not native to the text, and constructed thereby a 
philosophy of history which an independent study of the Scriptures can 
not justify. Just at this time (1625) Hugo Grotius had published his 
famous book 

De Jure Belli et Pads. 
It was so popular that it soon ran through several editions. It was 
highly prized by men of state. Gustavus Adolphus carried a copy about 
with him in his campaigns and slept with it under his pillow. Oxen- 
stiern made its author, though a Netherlander, the Swedish ambassador 
at Paris. The Pope paid his respects by placing the book in the Index 
Expurgatorius. Grotius became the founder of a new science — Inter- 
national Law. The influence of Grotius is evident upon the face of 
Coccejus' book. Direct reference is made to him in sections i (two 
times), 2, 4, 14, 28, 54, 55, 68, 87, and others. These are mainly cor- 
rections of exegetical positions taken by Grotius, and only prove 
Coccejus' acquaintance with his works. Again, Grotius was only one 

The Covenant Theology. 37 

of many authors who lived in this period and who were struggling to 
express the same thoughts, — e. g., Ollendorf, Gentilis, Ayala, Althu- 
sius, etc. This common truth of the time was the doctrine of the Social 
Contract, which was destined to play so great a part in later social and 
political developments. 

Let us sketch the natural history of the Social Contract theory. 
Of this there are two roots, the Greek and the Latin. The beginning 
was made with Aristotle in his famous dictum, "Man is by nature a po- 
litical animal." By this he meant that man finds his true being, not 
in isolation, but in a state, in a society with his fellowmen. The Stoics 
began to develop the idea, "man by nature," and in their doctrine — 
"to live according to Nature" — brought it to the forefront of ethical phil- 
osophy. But Nature with the Stoics was not Nature in the modern 
sense — a complex of sensible objects. It was the objective reason, the 
mind of God in things, which gave them unity, order and intelligence. 
A like reason was manifest in the mind of man. There was a divine 
element in him. To live according to Nature was not an appeal to 
the lower sensuous nature, but to the intelligence of a man, to the 
com.mon reason in mankind, to the divine reason as manifested in both 
minds and things which make up the world -whole (koV/xos). This 
was the Lex Naturae of Greek Philosophy. 

The Roman Law was the bedding of the other root. The ancient 
jurists made the distinction between Jus Civile and Jus Gentium. The 
Jus Civile (Civil Law) held for all dealings of one Roman citizen with 
another. It grew out of the institutions of the state. But in the case 
of a Roman citizen dealing with some member of any one of the subject 
nations, these inner legal enactments did not hold. Here the standard 
was the Jus Gentium (Law for the Nations). This meant the prin- 
ciples of right and justice generally accepted among mankind, the com- 
mon law of the world. Cicero marks the juncture of the two currents. 
He identified the Lex Naturas of the Stoics with the Jus Gentium of the 
Roman Law. This conjunction was codified in the Justinian Institutes. 

Thomas Aquinas next brings in another factor. He distinguishes 
the Lex Naturse (Natural Law) from the Lex Instituta (Positive Law, 
or Law by Legal Enactment). This is of two kinds — Lex Humana 
(Human Law or Laws of States) and Lex Divina (Divine Law, or 
the Law of the Church). Each in its true being was conformable to the 
other. The Natural Law was God's law, inherent in the rational mind 
of His creatures. The Laws of States were just only when they re- 
flected this natural law. The appeal was made from any tyrannical 

38 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

state back to the law of reason. The Lex Divina (or law directly from 
God) was held to be in harmony with reason always. It was mediated 
through the church. 

Grotius came in after the breaking up of the Lex Divina by the 
Protestant Reformation. Religious and political anarchy was rife in all 
lands. The Inquisition and Thirty Years' War were doing their dead- 
liest work. The mediaeval peacemaker, the Pope, had lost his pov/ei. 
The unity of the Roman Empire was gone forever. The old feudal 
lord was being bowed off the stage by the new absolute monarch. Gro- 
tius was a Netherlander, a citizen of that republic just then rising into 
commercial supremacy. The traders of the wide world are always the 
most benefitted by peace. What could restore the order and unity of the 
Mediaeval Papacy? At this juncture the patriot and scholar issues a 
book on "The Rights of War and Peace." Once more he identifies the 
Lex Naturae and Jus Gentium. But this time the Jus Gentium was not 
a law between the individuals of dift'erent nations, but between the na- 
tions themselves. He v/rote the first book on International Law. He 
laid down the principles by which peace could be possible among peoples 
and by which the terrors of war could be mitigated. This could happen 
by a social contract. He looked forward to a "Congress of Christian 
Powers" in which controversies w^hich arise among some of them may be 
decided by others who are not interested, and in which measures may h& 
taken to compel the parties to accept peace on equitable terms. In all 
Grotius' reasonings the Lex Naturae is the ruling conception. He defines 
this as "the dictate of Right Reason, indicating that any act, from its 
agreement or disagreement with the rational (or social) nature (of 
man), has in it a moral turpitude or a moral necessity, and consequently, 
such act is forbidden or commanded by God, the author of nature." 
(Grotius, Whewell 4.) 

Now the leap is made from politics to theolog}^ Coccejus identifies 
this Lex Naturae vvith his Foedus Operum. Chapter II (De Foedere et 
Testamento Dei) is an argument for this identification. The two cove- 
nants (Foedus Operum et Foedus Gratiss) are also called laws (Lex 
Operum et Lex Fidei), as works is the method of the one, faith that of 
the other (Sec. 11). In the case of Adam, the law of works was not 
written in a book, because Adam being upright and in the image of 
God, it was written on the tablets of the heart. In fallen man. who 
thus naturally knew what was right, there remains the testimony of 
conscience. Meanwhile the tables of covenant and the book of the law 
do not command different but the same things as the law cf nature (Lex 
Naturae is the word written in italics). For it is necessary that the law 

The Covenant Theology. 39 

of works be one. Therefore, the Lex Nature and the Decalogue con- 
tain the same precepts, or the Lex Naturae and the Lex Scripta are the 
same thmg (Sec. 13). Kence (I give a hteral translation— Sec. 22) : 
"The Covenant of Works, so far as it rests upon the law of Nature, 
can be called the Covenant of Nature." (Sec. 22. Foedus Operum quate- 
nus lege Naturae nititur foedus Naturae appellari potest.) "For it is natur- 
al that man, endcv,'ed with intelligence and will, should be created not 
without the image of God. I, alongside with the Scriptures, call the im- 
age of God that likeness to God by which man agrees and concurs with 
God that when the same thing is examined, God appears to be his exemp- 
lar throughout." (Sec. 22). Hence, Coccejus says: "Man (i. e. after the 
Fall) condemned through the law of this covenant and shut out from 
its benefits, yet remains obligated to perform everything which both the 
Lex Naturae and God by right of his dominion demand of him." (Sec. 
71). Thus throughout tlie Covenant of Works (Foedus Operum) is 
made the basis of Coccejus' system. He knows the Covenant of Grace 
(Foedus Gratise) only as an abrogation of the same. But the basis of 
the Covenant of Works is ever the Law of Nature (Lex Naturae). This 
is given the same content as in Grotius, Aquinas, Cicero and the Stoics. 
Thus, our conclusion may be said to have been fairly well estab- 
lished. The Covenant Idea was formally from the Scriptures, really 
from the political philosophy of the times. Its use as a category in the- 
ology was certainly from the latter source. The motives of Coccejus 
were like those of his fellow-countryman, Grotius. He was, above all 
things, a peace-loving man. His problem was one of irenics. He came 
in the time of the breaking up of the crowning dogma of Predestina- 
tion, yet he was a loyal son of the Reformed Church. He sought to 
avert the strifes of the schools and adjust for the purpose of practical 
piety the old antinomy of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. 
He sought a mean in which the extremes could meet. He would save 
from the ethically deadening determinism of Beza, Gomar, on the one 
side, and the rash enthusiasm and subjectivism of the Anabaptist, Soci- 
nian and Arminisn, on the other. He was the first of the Reformied 
theologians to feel the union tendency. He uttered no tirades against 
the Lutherans. He is more akin to Melanchton than to any other. His 
Covenant Theology was a new Synergism of its own sort. His greatest 
antipathy was to the Scholasticism of the times. He was a Humanist 
of the most pronounced type. His interests were linguistic. He had 
been taught Hebrew by a Jew. His interpretations were of the literary 
sort. He never became involved in the dogmatic spirit. How could 
freedom and vital religion be preserved, Coccejus presented this way 

40 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

out. It is a Jus Sectarum (Law for the Sects), as Grotius had pre- 
sented a Jus Gentium (Law for the Nations). He sought a common 
ground for the interpretation of the Scriptures, and for the reahzation 
of the Christian life, in which all could agree. This he found in his 
Foedus Dei cum Homine. It was a new return to the law, but to the 
Law of Nature (l/cx Naturae), which was at the same time the Law of 
God (Lex Divina). It was a law which could find adequate expression 
in the practical life. God and man are made to act reciprocally. Each 
finds his true life in this covenant synergism. 

2. The historical in^uences of this Social Contract or Covenant 
Idea are traceable in tv/o spheres, — politics and theology, (i) Let us 
first note the political development. The framework of Grotius' thinking 
was this : The natural condition of states is war. But peace is prefer- 
able. This is possible only if the nations will make a common covenant 
to keep the peace He lays down the principles of right which must be 
the basis of such a covenant. This is International Law. It in turn 
throughout is based on the Law of Nature. 

Hobbes, who is next in line, applies the Social Contract to individ- 
uals. The natural state of man is a state of war. His ruling impulse 
is selfishness. When this state becomes unendurable, men come together 
in a social compact and give over their rights to the sovereign, the Le- 
viathan. Yet this one has made no contract, and is not bound in any 
way to respect the wishes of the people. Their compact was with one 
another; they gave over the sovereignty for selfish purposes. The 
sovereign, too, can consult his own wishes in his conduct. Thus, Hobbes 
was the great champion of the Divine Right of Kings. 

Locke makes an advance on Hobbes. He recognizes the rights of 
the people. The sovereign, too, has made his contract ; he must respect 
it. If not, there is the divine right of Revolution. Another change is 
made. The state of nature was not a state of war, but of peace. It was 
the ideal state, — the Golden Age celebrated in classical literature. Pope 
sings its glories in the line: 

"The state of nature is the reign of God." 

Rousseau is next. He laid the emphasis upon the "State of Na- 
ture," and said little about the Law of Nature. He raised the cry 
against civilization ; against conventions ; against governments of every 
sort ; and pleaded for a return to the primitive simplicity. His cry was 
negative. It became destructive. He was the Father of the French 
Revolution ; the final vial of wrath poured by Individualism upon all 
remnants of the mediaeval system. His "Contrat Social" was the great 
book of his day, — 1761. 

The Covenant Theology. 4X 

Then came the American Revolution. The Federahst — Jefferson, 
Hamilton, Madison, etc. — was a recension of the principles of Locke and 
Rousseau. Such sentences as "All men are created equal," "government 
derives its just powers from the consent of the governed," "no taxa- 
tion without representation," etc., are simply the set phrases of the 
Social Contract theory of the time. Thus the civilization of the New 
Warld was prepared for a conception of religion in the terms of the 
"Contrat Social." and favorably inclined to it by its struggles for lib 
erty and dominant modes of political thought. This was the audience 
destined by Providence to be addressed by the Campbells and their asso- 

(2) The theological development worked alongside. It may be 
traced in three distinct threads : 

a. First is the Covenant note in the common Calvinism. This goes 
back of Coccejus to the great founder of the Reformed Church himself. 
In fact, the term was used freely by all the Protestant theologians, espe- 
cially by Calvin in his common reference to Biblical modes of speech. 
Thus, he says: "All whom, from the beginning of the world, God 
adopted as His peculiar people, were taken into covenant with Him on 
the same conditions and under the same bond of doctrine as ourselves" 
(Institutes Book II, Ch. 10, Sec. i). This is stated in his chapter on 
the resemblance of the Old and New Testaments. He is quick to add 
however, "The covenant made with all the fathers, far from dift'ering 
from ours, in reality and substance is altogether one and the same with 
it; only the administration differs." Thus Predestination remains as 
the ruling conception. The immutability of God is preserved ; likewise 
the determinism. "There is only one rule of piety among the people of 
God." All variations are only in form and of minor importance. All 
historical growth of truth and duty is annulled. But it is significant 
that when Calvin states the relation between God and man as a result 
of the decrees, he does so in the terms of the covenant. It was only 
natural that when his followers began to inquire into the particulars of 
this relation that they should take hold of this idea and find in it a fruit- 
ful conception. The Covenant became the form and zvar-cry of the 
Scotch Reformation, It was the nature of the constitution adopted by 
the members of the early Independent Churches. Besides these applica- 
tions in the realm of church polity, it was destined to have a wide use 
in theology. Hyperius, Olevian, Eglin, Amesius and Bullinger appear 
as the forerunners of Coccejus. Thus the doctrine has ahvays been 
presented in a mild form and subordinate to the decrees by the theolo- 
gians of the Reformed Church, especially in Scotland and America. It 

42 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

was a part of the theological inheritance of all Presbyterians. The early 
Reformers springing out of this soil could use or reject this product. 
which lay half-grown before them, as they pleased. 

b. The second thread is a special connection. William Ames 
(Amesius), born 1576, died 1633, brought up as a Puritan, educated at 
Cambridge, became one of the most ardent advocates of Puritanism, 
Hence he compelled to flee to Holland during the reign of the 
Stuarts. Here he met John Robinson ; was a member of the Synod of 
Dort, 1618, at which he took sides against the Remonstrants; and after 
serving as chaplain in the army was seated as professor of tiieology at 
Franeker, 1622. Here he taught Coccejus, and seems to have been the 
most influential factor in shaping his future destiny. Ames taught the 
Fcedus Operum in a work called the "Aleduila Theologiae," and seems 
to have had many friends and sympathizers among the Puritan divines 
of those stormy times. At least the covenant theologians had a small 
representation in the Westminster Assembly, and secured the insertion 
of their favorite tenet in the Westminster Confession of Faith, v.-here it 
appears with great clearness as Article VH with only the Calvinistic 
caveat attached, — "There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace 
differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensa- 
tions." (See Schaff— Creeds, Vol HI, p. 618). 

Among the adherents of Cromwell was one Edward Fisher, who — 
taking up the title of Ames — wrote the "jMarrow of ]*\Iodern Divinity" 
(1644). This book, as the sub-title shows ("Touching both the Cove- 
nant of Works and the Covenant of Grace ; with use and end, both in the 
time of the Old Testament and in the time of the New"), was a direct 
statement of the covenant theology for practical purposes. The form of 
the book was a dialogue between Evangelista, a Minister, Xomista, a 
Legalist, Antinomista, an Antinomian, and Neophitus, a young Chris- 
tian. Evangelista represents the author's view, who saw two dangers 
in the religion of his time, — a strict legalism, on the one hand, and 
Antinomianism on the other, and states as his purpose "to walk as a 
middle man betvveen them both." 

Calvin had identified the Covenant with the Law, which he in turn 
divided into three kinds, — Ceremonial Law, Judicial Law, Moral Law or 
the Decalogue. The first lie held to have been done away in Christ, the 
second to apply only to the Jewish State, while the third is eternal and 
iiTimutable and binding on the elect. Hence it was only natural that 
strict Puritanism should fall back on the Decalogue and maintain a 
rigidity on Sabbath keeping, etc.. which Fisher felt to depart from the 
spirit of Christ and the freedom of grace. ^Meanwhile many Anglican 

The Covenant Theoeogy. 43 

divines had gone too far in the other direction, through the incoming 
Arminianism and Socinianism, Fisher, well learned in the best writers 
of his day, sought the via media, vv^hich naturally enough should be the 
doctrine of the covenants in a new cloak. The book received little no- 
tice, and passed from print, to be revived eighty years later in a strange 

The scene was now shifted to Scotland, in the General Assembly of 
171 7. There was no small stir about one John Simson, professor of 
Glasgow, who was alleged to be Arminian in tendency and who had 
attacked the doctrine of grace, and who was treated with great leniency 
by the Assembly. This was followed by discussion of the question, 
"Which came first ; faith or repentance ?" raised by some propositions of 
the Auchterarder Presbytery. The so-called "Auchterarder Creed," 
which affirmed the priority of faith, was condemned by the Assembly. 
Many were violently opposed to the action of the majority. Thomas 
Boston, Minister of Etterick, one of the minority, told a friend that he 
had once read a book which would throw much light on the question. 
This book was the "Marrow of Modern Divinity," by Edward Fisher 
(Boston's Memoirs, p. 291). When a young minister, and much trou- 
bled about the doctrine of grace, he chanced upon a copy of the 
"Marrov\r" in one of the houses of his parish, which had been brought 
from England by a soldier who had served in Cromwell's wars. He 
read the book with great satisfaction for the time, but later dismissed 
it from his mind (Ibid 155). Now the book was brought to the light, 
and republished by James Hog, 171 8. This occasioned a great con- 
troversy in the Scottish Church, over what was known as the "Alarrow 
Movement." A great hue and cry was raised against Antinomianism, 
which the book was alleged to teach. J\Ir. Hog and friends were called 
before the Assem.bly's committee. Upon their refusal to retract, some 
propositions were culled from the book and condemned by the Assembly, 
1720 (Ibid 318). Upon this, twelve prominent ministers prepared a 
"Representation," protesting against the action of the Assembly, and that these propositions culled from the book by its enem.ies did 
not fairly represent its teaching ( Ibid 324) . Among these were Thomas 
Boston, James Hog, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine. But after a bitter 
disputation, they received for their pains only the rebuke of the Assem- 
bly, to which they submitted and the affair was ended (Ibid 333). But, 
like most controversies it left each party with firmer convictions. As 
true Scotchmen, Boston and his friends were not lax in holding and 
advocating their beliefs. A new edition of the "Marrow" was published, 
with notes by Thomas Boston (see Boston's Works, Vol. VII). And 

44 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

this writer incorporated in his great book "Human Nature in Its Four- 
fold State/' a comprehensive view of the Covenant Theolog}'. 

In 1732 occurred the Great Secession from the Estabhshed Church. 
Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine were the leaders. Illness and death had 
doubtless only saved Thomas Boston from being one of their number. 
His book and doctrine were exceedingly popular among the Seceders. 
It was read by Alexander Campbell with avidity while yet a boy (Rich. 
Mem.. I, 99; Harb. 30, 137"). 

Thus a still stronger statement of the covenant teaching was a main 
element in the special inheritance of the Campbells in the Scottish Sect 
in which they were nurtured. 

c. The third thiead is the direct one. The works of the Covenant 
Theologians of Holland were read in the original Latin and in transla- 
tions by the scholars of the English Nation (Rich. Mem. I, 27). Espe- 
cially was this true of Witsius — "The Economy of the Covenants" — 
whose book had been translated and was a common text-book in acade- 
mies for the education of ministers. Boston knew and used this work ; 
likewise ]\Ir. Campbell was acquainted with it, and could draw from 
direct sources this historic doctrine. 

III. There remains simply the proof of the use of the Covenant 
Theology by Alexander Campbell, and the estimate of its influence on 
the Current Reformation. 

That Alexander Can-.pbell was a Covenant Theologian is evident 
both from his life and his teachings : 

I. His first published production was the Sermon on the Law 
(see Harb. 46, 493; Young's Hist. Doc, 217). In this sermon he 
made a contrast between the Old and New Testaments on the familiar 
lines of the Covenant Theology. He recognized the Lex Naturae 
(see Harb. 46, 519- Young's Hist. Doc, 277). He attacked the popular 
division of the Law into moral, ceremonial and judicial, as unscriptural 
and unwarranted. He held that the Law was given to the Jev.'s, and de- 
signed only for them ; that the Christian is not even subject to the Ten 
Commandments, onlv so far as they are enjoined by Christ; that there 
is no necessity for preaching the Law in order to prepare men for re- 
ceiving the Gospel, but that the sole rule of the Christian life is the 
Word of Christ (see C. B., 40). It is no wonder that this message 
should be offensive to the stiff Calvinists of the Redstone Association. 
Mr. Campbell recognized in the sermon itself that the old charge of 
Antinomianism would be brought against him (Harb. 46, 510, 521 ; C. 
B., 39), and was willing that it should be so. Thus we see the historic 
rise of one of the popular objections to the teachings of jNIr. Campbell 

The Covenant Theology. 45 

and his friends — that "they reject the Old Testament" and the root from 
which it came, viz, : the Covenant Doctrine. This sermon was a matter 
of the utmost moment in the personal experiences of its author. He says 
pf it thirty years later (Harb. 46, 493) : "This unfortunate sermon 
afterwards involved me in a seven years' war with some members of said 

Association, and became a matter of much debate It is therefore 

highly probable, to my mind, that but for the persecution begun on the 
alleged heresy of this sermon whether the present reformation had ever 
been advocated by me." This position was one of the points in contro- 
versy which led to the later separation from the Baptists (C. B. 575, 
Life of Smith 376). 

Enlarged, in a great discourse on the Progress of Revelation, it was 
used by Mr. Campbell on all star occasions in his itineraries (Hay. 35; 
Rich. Mem. II, 164, 168; Harb. 49, 46), throughout his life. In the 
earliest period his illustrations of this theme were full-grown, and the 
different dispensations were depicted as the starlight, moonlight, twilight 
and sunlight ages of the world (McCalla Deb., 125 ; C. B., 495) . He in- 
corporated it in the Confession of the Wellsburg Church, 1824 (Hay. 2,2), 
and acted it out in his atttitude on the "Sabbath Question" (Rich. Mem. i, 
432-5), for w^hich he attacked the Moral Societies of Western Pennsyl- 
vania (Rich. Mem. i, 522-37). He stated his doctrine most fully in his 
"Essays on Man in the Primitive State, and under the Patriarchal, Jew- 
ish and Christian Dispensations" in the Christian Baptist (463, 470, 484, 
494, 503. 511. 521, 542, 559, 574, 589, 633, 637, 646, 654, 656). Like- 
wise, the Covenant Theology entered as a constructive factor in the 
Debates of ]\Ir. Campbell. In the earliest debate, that with Walker, the 
covenants were the mam article of contention. The subject was intro- 
duced by Mr. Walker, who took as his chief thesis — "that Baptism came 
in the room of Circumcision ;" "that the covenant on which the Jewish 
Church was built, and to which Circumcision is the seal, is the same with 
the covenant on which the Christian Church is built and to which Bap- 
tism is the seal" (Walker Deb. 9). Mr. Campbell met this position by 
showing seven differences between Baptism and Circumcision (Ibid 12), 
and by distinguishing two Abrahamic covenants, — the covenant of cir- • 
cumcision (Gen, 17), given to Abraham at one hundred years of age, 
and referred to by Stephen (Acts 7:8), and the covenant confirmed be- 
fore of God in Christ (Gen. 12:3), given at 75 years of age and so called 
by Paul (Gal. 3:17) (Ibid 13, 19, 20). He affirmed that on these two 
covenants two dispensations were founded, — the Jewish and the Christ- 
ian (Ibid 20). This debate consisted of threshing back and forth over 
this ground unti? an estoppel was put on this procedure by the mod- 

46 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

erators (Ibid 96). Mr. Campbell thus added a supplement to what he 
had been able to say in the debate in the essay on the "Covenants," pub- 
lished in the appendix to the volume (Ibid 153, 174). This was the 
first systematic statement of his thinking, and shows plainly that he had 
a clear understanding of the Covenant theology at the beginning. Mr. 
Walker even hurled the old charge of Antinomianism at him in this first 
combat (Ibid 47, 141, 221). A like prominence is given to this doctrine 
in all his discussions, and it received final statement in the volume en- 
titled "Christian Baptism" (pp. 89-115). 

Let us now make a brief sketch of l^.Ir. Campbell's doctrine of the 
covenants. We shall draw mainly from the Walker Debate and 
"Christian Baptism." 

"The Universe is one grand system, the result of a well-matured 
plan, the consummation of a previously existing scheme " (Chr. Bap'm 
89). This plan or scheme is its constitution, according to v.^iich the 
universe performs all its operations under uniform law. Man, as a part 
of the universe, lias thus his constitution moral as well as physical. "And 
there must he some supreme constiiution, or lazv, or covenant, by which 
his Sovereign and himself can iniderstand each other and maintain per- 
petual amity. He may honor the God that made him, or make a god for 
himself. A god he must have. And he may accept a constitution or 
covenant from God, or make one with Satan and ruin. A covenant he 
must nave." (Ibid 91.) This term is thus defined: Amongst mtn we 
have covenants. In these there are parties. One may sometimes be the 
covenanter, the odier the covenantee. The former propounds, the latter 
accepts the stipulation. These terms are, however, seldom used. Both 
parties are most generally both covenanters and covenantees. They both 
stipulate and restipulate. Such covenants are agreements, or bonds en- 
tered into between two or more parties on certain terms. Such the 
Greeks call a "suntheke, ' ' the Latins a "foedus, ' ' we a covenant, because 
that word literally indicates a coming together, an agreement. With us, 
:ndeed, a constitution or a form of government, because an agreement 
on certain principles between the government and the citizens, is to all 
intents and purposes a covenant' (Ibid 92). But the covenant between 
God and man is a diatheke {hiaO-qKyj) ^ not a suntheke {crvvOiqKr)) ^ 
God is so far above man in rank and nature as to propound all the terms 
of the covenant, to w'lich man must accede in order to participate in 
the benefits proposed. Each covenant has four elements (i) the com- 
mand; (2) the promise; (3) the penalty; (4) the seal (Walker Deb., 
154). Mr. Campbell rejected the term "Covenant of Works" as unbib- 

The Covenant Theology. 47 

lical, and built alone a progressive series of covenants, (Chr. Bap'm 
20, 93). These were: 

1. Covenant with Adam (Hos. 6:7), in which the relations of the 
human race to their Creator were defined and the conditions of future 
happiness marked out. In this covenant, the command was the prohi- 
bition of the forbidden fruit; the promise, continuance in the life of 
Eden ; the penaltv. deatn ; and the seal, the tree of life. This original 
charter was a necessity of divine government. It was a test of human 
loyalty (C. B. 470). 

2. Covenant with Noah ; in which Noah, as the founder of the 
Post-diluvian world received the guarantee of the continuance of that 
state. It had no command, and hence no penalty, but was all promise. 
Its seal was the rainbow. 

3. Covenant with Abraham at seventy-five years of age (Gen. 
12:4), called "Covenant confirmed of God in Christ" (Gal. 3:8-17). 
This contained two promises ; one respecting the natural offspring of 
Abraham — "I will make of thee a great nation" — and one respecting the 
seed Christ — "In thee shall all nations be blessed." This was the gospel 
preached to Abraham ; the prototype of the New Covenant. This was 
follovv^ed by two subordinate covenants growing therefrom. 

4. Covenant with Abraham at eighty-six years of age (Gen. 15), 
by which an inheritance was promised to his family, and was con- 
firmed by a sacrifice. 

5. Covenant with Abraham at ninety-nine years of age (Gen. 17), 
by which a special providence was secured to his descendants and was 
confirmed by circumcision. Hence it was called "Covenant of Circum- 
cision" (Acts 7:8). These two covenants were later developed into a 
great national institution, viz. : 

6. Covenant with all Israel at Sinai (Exod. 19-20), by which the 
Jewish state was constituted. This was identical with the Ten Com- 
mandments, to which other laws were attached, as the laws of a land 
to the constitution of the same. It is called the "Old Covenant," or 
sometimes merely the Laiv. It was confirmed by appropriate sacrifices. 
Its mediator was Moses. Its type was Hagar. It led to bondage. It 
gave only temporal blessings, and was appropriately conditioned. 

7. Covenant with Aaron (Exod. 40:13-5), by which the priesthood 
was promised to his family. 

8. Covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:12-7), by which the scepter of 
Israel was confirmed to his seed. 

9. New Covenant. He says (Chr. Bap'm 100) : ''The gospel is, 

48 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

indeed, presented in the form of a covenant. The Messiah seals it as his 
covenant — "the new." "the better," "the everlasting covenant." He is 
himself both the covenant and the Mediator of it, as he is himself the 
victim, the altar, and the priest. IVe are said to be "in Christ;" but be- 
fore we are in him, we must come into him by covenant. He is the oath 
of God accomplished, and we take the vow; God is the covenanter, 
Christ the covenant, and we the covenantees ; we are reconciled to God 
through him. He sealed the covenant with his own blood. The Lord's 
supper is the pledge of it. But he Vv'ill have us to die, to be buried, and 
to rise again for him, as he died, was buried, and rose again for us. 
Hence the institution of Christian baptism. We must pass through the 
solemn sign, and must lie with him in the grave and rise with him to a 
new and better life. These are outward signs of an inward and true and 
real covenant zvith the Lord, by and through v/hich we individually, each 
one for himself, are made partakers of the fullness of the blessings of 
the gospel of Christ." 

Thus, upon this framework of nine covenants, Mr. Campbell con- 
structed an elaborate Biblical Theology. He had no other system, and 
he was accustomed to confound his opponents by his ready reference 
to the Scriptures and by the use of their authority on his side. He was 
also in the habit of singling out the covenants which concentrate in the 
Jewish Institution and those which develop into the Christian Institu- 
tion, and then contrastmg them as "flesh and spirit," necessity and lib- 
erty, type and reality, shadov/ and substance, Law and Gospel, the Old 
and the New Testaments. He held that the latter alone was binding on 
the Christian, and that the Old Testament was abolished in so far as it 
was not re-enacted in Christ. (Chr. Bap'm 102-15). 

This distinction of nine covenants on Biblical grounds was the real 
classification of Mr. Campbell ; but he also fell back on the older division 
into dispensations when he had occasion to do so. (C. B. 495, Chr. 
Bap'm 60). These are the Patriarchal, Jewish and Christian dispensa- 
tions. They contrast as the starlight, moonlight and sunlight ages of 
the world. 

Thus, when Mr. Campbell gave answer to the question, "What shall 
I do to be saved?" he did so in the strict terminology of the covenant 
idea. Religion, which is the means of restoration of fallen man to his 
lost estate, consists of two parts: (i) What God has done for us; (2) 
What we must do for ourselves. (Chr. Sys. 36). Three things are done 
for us. Christ our passover has been sacrificed. He has become our 
prophet ; he has been made Lord. All are summed up in the gift of 
Jesus, our Mediator as prophet, priest and king. Other things are 

The Covenant Theology. 4.9 

promised to be done, but these are done already (Chr. Sys. 54-5)- The 
things done by us are Hkewise three, viz. : Faith in Christ, Repentance, 
and Baptism into His name (Chr. Sys. 55-67; Chr. Bap'm 115). At 
this point another gift comes from God— the Holy Spirit (Chr. Sys. 68) . 
This continues as our helper and guide, to which our duty is to respond 
by walking in the Christian Life. 

But the most evident dependence on the Covenant Theology is IMr. 
Campbell's philosophy of baptism. This, stated in his own terms, is 
(Chr. Bap'm 117): "Besides, it (baptism) is a peculiar and positive 
ordinance. All admit that baptism is a positive ordinance; and that 
positive precepts, as contradistinguished from moral precepts, indicate 
the special zvill of a sovereign in some exact and zvell-defined action, the 
nature, form and necessity of which arise not from our own a priori 
reasonings about utility of expediency, hut from the clearly-expressed 
will of the Iczvgivcr. It is farther universally agreed that circumcision 
was a positive and not a moral institution, made right and obligatory by 
the mere force of a positive law." This was tlie chief premise to his 
argument on both the subject and action of baptism. As arising from 
the express vvill of a lawgiver, it must have been a specific precept en- 
joining a specific action. Hence, it could not have come in the room of 
circumcision ; no other action could be substituted for it, as sprinkling, 
pouring, etc. This distinction between positive and moral precepts 
clearly dates back to the Lex Naturae and Lex Instituta of Thomas Aqui- 
nas (See p. Z7)y ^"d is found in all political and theological theories 
since that time (See Grotius' "De Jure Belli et Pacis," Chapter I, Sees. 
2, 9 and 10). 

Campbell thus cites the current doctrine in his Debate with Walker, p. 
45 : "We have often heard that Divine Commandments or Ordinances 
have been correctly divided into two classes ; by some called moral 
natural and moral positive ; by others, merely moral and positive. When 
these distinctions are explained in the following sense (which we believe 
to be the true meaning of the distinction), we consider them scriptur- 
ally correct. By mora' positive, or positive, we understand those that 
depend entirely for their moral obligation upon some express precept of 
the Deity ; the propriety of which nature, in its most perfect state, could 
not discover. The prohibition of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of 
good and evil ; the appomtment of sacrifice ; of resting on the Sabbath or 
seventh day, were of this nature. * * * * Moral precepts are 
such as respect our duty to our fellow creatures, and are in some degree 
more or less discernible by mankind even now, and were perfectlv so 
previous to the fall, merelv bv the light of nature. Thus, for instance, 

fjQ The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

Adam in Paradise, \\'iihout a law, knew that it was right to love his 
wife, to cherish and protect her as himself. And now, though fallen, 
men perceive such virtues as truth, honesty and common justice to be, 
in the nature of things, necessary and right. Though they may differ 
much in the extent and accuracy of their views on these topics, yet they 
must perceive, in some degree at least, that they are in themselves right. 
Of the heathen, the apostle saith : 'Their conscience bearing them 
witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one 
another.' (Rom. 2:15)." 

The two classes aie contrasted: 

'In positive institutions, the obligation is altogether in the com- 
mand ; but in moral duties the obligation is not only in the command 
but also in the nature of things. Hence, it has been correctly said, the 
former are right because they are commanded, and the latter are com- 
manded because they are right. In positive institutions, the Divine 
authority commanding is that wdiich the subject views in his obedience; 
in moral precepts, he views also the rational and moral use and beauty 
of the duty commanded. In positive institutions, we are not authorized 
to reason what we should do, but implicitly to obey. 'See [said God to 
Moses] that thou make all things to the pattern shewed thee in the 
Mount.' Not whether it be rational or proper to do so ; but go, do if. 
In moral requirements we are clearly shewn and commanded to per- 
form certain duties, but left at liberty to reason, to ascertain in what 
these duties consist." 

Thus Baptism was placed in a category apart from faith and re- 
pentance and the ordinary acts of the Christian life. It had a peculiar 
place in the Christian s}'stem. Like the command "not to eat of the tree 
of the knowledge of good and evil." it was placed at the beginning of a 
new state; as a test of obedience and trial of loyalty to God (C. B. 470, 
Chr. Sys. 28). This test was sufficient to determine one's whole char- 
acter. Compliance with this precept meant the acceptance of the Cove- 
nant of Christ. This explains the immense importance attached to 
Baptism by ]\Ir. Campbell, and the cardinal place it has always had in the 
practice of the Disciples of Christ. 

Thus the influence of Mr. Campbell's covenant theology is evident : 

1. He appeared with this doctrine on the frontier of America, 
among the Presbyterians and Baptists, the strong supporters of Calvin- 
ism in this country. It was only natural that his teachings of the pro- 
gress of revelation, of freedom from the Law, of the importance of 
Baptism, should awaken intense hostility. Its issue was inevitable. 

2. He also represented the time-spirit (Zeitgeist) of the American 

The Covenant Thkoeogy. 5^ 

Republic. He came in line with the great social and political movements 
of his day. He was the voice of democracy, of individualism in the 
religious sphere. This was one secret of his power. His answer to 
the question, "What shall I do to be saved?" in the terms of the cove- 
nant was easy to be understood. It appealed to one's sense of self 
and of his civic relations. It avoided the fatalism, the pessimism, the 
mxvsticism of the Eighteenth Century calls to the unconverted. It 
called forth one's own initiative, gave specific demands for action, and 
a prompt and ready assurance to him who sought the way of the Lord. 
Its advocate was popular in speech, powerful in debate ; the common 
people heard him gladly. 

3. Here also is evident the Legalism with which the followers of 
Mr. Campbell have often been reproached. This is not of the Jewish 
sort, a law of external details, not Mosaism. It is not of the Romish 
sort, — a law of merit by works — not from the Roman law. But it is 
from Modern Law — Grotius, Locke, Rousseau — the social contract, the 
covenant as a basis of all relations. Religion is made such a contract. 
The temptation is to make a good bargain — to get as much and give as 
little as possible. It is Commercialism. We must bear in mind the 
spirit of trade out of which these concepts were born far back in the 
Netherlands. We must admit that this legalism lies as the greatest 
danger of the Current Reformation, and seek to correct any tendency 
thereto by a vital religious experience, and by a grasp of the gospel of the 
grace of God, as was held by Mr. Campbell and the founders of this 


In Great Britain the Reformation brought no theological move- 
ments of importance. The theology of the island was but a reflection of 
the thought of the contmcnt. All the schools were represented — Luth- 
eran, Calvinist, Armuiian, Coccejan. In Scotland Calvinism gained the 
ascendancy, due to John Knox. But the Anglican Church ever held a 
mediating position. The English mind is practical. The interest was 
not in theology but in church polity. Hence, the dividing lines were 
between Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists. It is in an- 
other sphere — PHILOSOPHY — that we are to see the real importance 
of English thought. 

In Modern Philosophy, up to the nineteenth century, there were two 
great movements — the English and the Continental. The first is called 
Empiricism. Its motto was, "There is nothing in the intellect which was 
not first in the senses."' Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume made 
the series. The second school is Rationalism. Its motto was. "The 
laws of thought are the laws of things." Its method was reasoning, de- 
duction. Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Wolfif, were its leaders. Kant 
marks the union of the rwo and the beginning of a new era. 

Let us examine the work of the two great leaders of these series as 
a preparation for that of John Locke, in whom we have the immediate 

Bacon broke away from the Aristotelian logic and the Scholastic 
systems of his predecessors, and called men's attention from words to 
things. To know the truth of the objects about us, he said, let us look 
at them — not reason about them. His appeal was to observation and to 
induction from the facts. He was the father of inductive logic and the 
modern scientific method. 

Descartes, likewise, broke away from the world-content given in 
Scholasticism ; and called back from the objective to the subjective, from 
the complex to the simple. He said : "Let us doubt everything until we 
find that simple state of consciousness which cannot be doubted ; from 
this starting point let us build de novo the world of knowledge. In this 
process we shall accept as true only that which comes to us with the 


The Philosophy of Locke. 53 

same clear and evident conviction as the axioms of mathematics." In 
this science Descartes was eminent before he began his studies in phi- 
losophy. He now sought to apply his old method to v\'ork in the new 

His first proposition was "Dubito" (I doubt j. But then he said, 
"Non potior dubitare me dubitantem" (I cannot doubt that I doubt). 
At least I must be certain of one thing — that I am doubting, or of the 
existence of the doubter, i. e., I knov/ that I doubt. Or, to put it in a 
positive form: "Cogito, ergo sum" (I think, that is, I am). This was 
the central proposition of his whole system. From this point he said: 
I am certain 

(i) Of Self-Existence. 

(2) Of the existence of God. 
The argument is as follows : 

I have an idea of God. It is the idea of an absolutely perfect 
being. As perfect it contains all qualities. One of these quali- 
ties is existence. Hence God must exist. This is the first form 
of the famous Ontological argument. 

(3) Of the existence of the world. ' 

I have certain ideas of things. I do not produce these ideas. 
They are independent of my will. Hence, God must produce 
them. But God as perfect cannot deceive. Hence, things must 
Hence, we have three realities : 

(i) God — the Absolute substance. 

(2) Ego (or soul), — the thinking substance. 

(3) World (things), — the extended substance. 
Correspondingly, there are three kinds of ideas : 

(i) Innate, 

As God, self, mathematical axioms, etc. 

(2) Adventitious, 

which come in from without, as of the things of the world. 

(3) Self-produced 

by combination of those given by the other sources. 

These v;ere the fiist gleams of the light of Modern Philosophy. 
Bacon and Descartes were children of the dawn only, Locke took over 
the insights of these early seers and went on to new problems. He com- 
bined the Empiricism of Bacon with the Subjectivism of Descartes. Let 
us make a brief sketch of this thinker. 

John Locke, the greatest character of English philosophy, was born 
at Wrington. England, 1632, of Puritan parentage. He was educated 

54 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

at Oxford. He led a troublous life during the wars of Cromwell, and 
later settled as a physician at Oxford. There (1667) he met the Earl 
of Shaftesbury, with whose political fortunes his future was to be so 
much identified. As attache to the earl, he held various offices. In 
1670 he began work on his '"Essay on the Human Understanding." In 
1672 he was made Lord Chancellor. In the midst of the cares of state 
he worked at his book. In 1681, Shaftesbury, who had been thrown 
into prison, escaped into Holland. Locke, being under suspicion, soon 
followed. There Shaftesbury died in exile. Locke met Limborck and 
the scholars of the Netherlands. On the accession of William and Alary, 
in 1688, he returned home. He brought with him the manuscript of 
the "Essay," which was published in 1690. The origin of this epoch- 
making book has been well stated by its author : 

"Were it fit to trouble thee with the history of this Essay, I 
should tell thee that five or six friends meeting at my chamber 
and discoursing on a subject very remote from this, found them- 
selves quickly at a stand by the difficulties that rose on every 
side. After we had a v^^hile puzzled ourselves without coming 
any nearer a resolution of those doubts which perplexed us, it 
came into my thoughts that we took a v/rong course ; and that 
before we set ourselves upon inquiries of that nature, it w^as 
necessary to examine onr ozvn abilities, and see zvJiat objects 
our understandings zvcre, or were not, fitted to deal with. This 
I proposed to the company, who all readily assented ; and there- 
upon it v/as agreed that this should be our first inquiry. Some 
hasty and undigested thoughts on a subject I had never befox^e 
considered, which I set down against our next meeting, gave 
me the first entrance into this Discourse; which, having been 
thus begun by chance, was continued by entreaty ; written by 
incoherent parcels ; and after long intervals of neglect, re- 
sumed again, as my humor or occasions permitted ; and at last. 
in a retirement where an attendance on my health gave me 
leisure, it was brought into the order that thou now seest it." 
James Tyrrell, who was one of the company, wrote in his copv of 
Locke that the difficulties in question were the "principles of morality 
and revealed religion." 

Thus the spring of Locke's book is to be found in his religious in- 
terests. Its outcome will show his final purpose. Let us make a brief 
analysis of this wonderful book. 

Locke's problem was the theory of knowledge; to inquire into the 
original (origin), certainty and extent of human knowledge, together 

The PHII.OSOPHY OF Locke. 55 

with the gTOunds r.nd degrees of behef, opinion and assent (Essay on 
Human Understanding, Int. Sees. 2 and 3). This problem was threefold: 

1. The Origin of Knowledge. 

2. The degrees of certainty in the various kinds of knowledge. 

3. The Limits of Knowledge. 

Locke's answer to the first question was his famous tabula rasa. 
He denied the existence of innate ideas, and devoted Book I to a bitter 
polemic against Cudworth, More, etc., the English disciples of Descartes. 
He says (Book H, Chap, i, Sees. 2, 3 and 4: 

"Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void 
of all characters, without any ideas : — How comes it to be furnished ? 
Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy 
of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has 
it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer in one 
word, from EXPERIENCE. In that all our knowledge is founded ; and 
from that it ultimately derives itself. Our observation employed either 
about external, sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our 
minds perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies 
our understandings with all the materials of thinking. These two are 
the fountains of knowledge, from whence all the ideas we have, or can 
naturally have, do spring 

First, our senses, conversant about particular sensible objects, do 
convey into the mind several distinct perceptions of things, according to 
those various wa3'S wherein those objects do affect them. . . . This 
great source of most ideas we have, depending wholly upon our senses 
and derived by them to the understanding, I call SENSx^TION. 

Secondly, the other fountain from which experience furnisheth the 
understanding with ideas is, — the perception of the operations of our 
own mind within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got ; which 
operations, when the soul comes to reflect on and consider, do furnish 
the understanding with another set of ideas, v,hich could not be had 
from things without. . . , This source of ideas every man has 
wholly in himself ; and though it be not sense, as having nothing to do 
with external objects, yet it is very like it, and might properly enough 
be called internal sense. But as I call the other Sensation, I call this 
REFLECTION, the ideas it aft'ords being such only as the mind gets 
by reflecting on its own operations within itself. . . . These two, I 
say, viz.: external, material things, as the objects of SENSATION, 
and the operation of our minds within, as the objects of REFLEC- 
TION, are to me the only originals from whence all our ideas take their 

5g The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

Thus Locke held tliat the mind was passive in knowing ; that it be- 
gan with nothing ; that all knowledge comes from without, in. He was 
a llioroughgoing Empiricist. A few definitions will help us to under- 
stand this philosophy. 

An Idea is whatever it is which the mind can be employed about in 
thinking (Int. Sec. 8). It is thus a general term for the crude materials 
of thought. It is the product of any .sense or internal perception, or of 
any previous mental activity. It is any "notion." Ideas are thus of 
tvv'O kinds, — simple and complex (Book II. Chap. 2, Sec. i). Simple 
ideas are the products of mere sensation and reflection. Complex ideas 
are formed by combination of simple ideas by means of the power of 
Imagination. This is the source of all general ideas in the mind. These 
are of three kinds, — modes, substances and relations. All these ideas 
are to be distinguished from knozvlcdgc. 

Knowledge is "the perception of the connexion of — and agreement 
or disagreement or repugnancy of — any of our ideas" (Book IV, Chap, 
I, Sec. 2). This agreement or disagreement may be of four kinds, — a. 
Identity, b. Relation, c. Coexistence, d. Real existence. 

This leads us to Locke's second question, — the degrees of knowl- 
edge. These arise from "the different way of perception the mind has 
of the agreement or disagreement of any of its ideas" (Book IV, Chap. 2, 
Sec. i). When the mind perceives the agreement (or disagreement) 
of two ideas immediately by themselves we have intuitive knoivledge. 
- This kind of knowledge is irresistible — seeing is believing — and forms 
the most certain conviction possible. Secondly, when the perception is 
made "by the introduction of other ideas" we have demonstrative knozvl- 
edge. This process is called Reasoning. It is not so certain as intuition, 
— a cog may be slipoeci in the connection. Locke concludes (Book IV, 
Chap. 2, Sec. 14) : 

"These two, viz., intuition and demonstration, are the degrees 

of our knowledge ; whatever comes short of one of these, with 

what assurance soever embraced, is but faith or opinion, but 

not knowledge, at, least in all general truths." 

Thus a distinction is made between knowledge proper, which gives 
certainty, and Judgment or Assent, which gives only probability (Book 
IV, Chap. 14, Sec. 4). This latter is employed in all cases where direct 
or demonstrative knowledge cannot be had, or the mind is too lazy to 
see for itself. In these cases, the agreement (or disagreement) of ideas, 
mstead of being perceived is merely presumed. Hence, the conviction is 
only that of probability, likelihood to be true. This falls into two classes, 
—Belief and Opinion (Book 1\\ Chap. 15, Sees. 3 and 4). Belief is the 

The Philosophy of Locke. 57 

acceptance of the testimony of others. It deals with matters of fact, 
capable of observation, but without the circle of our personal knowledge. 
Its credibility depends upon a number of circumstances, as the number, 
integrity, skill and design of the witnesses, the consistency of its parts 
and contrary testimonies. When dealing with matters generally accepted 
among men, it approaches near to certainty. This is the type of judg- 
ment possible in history. Opinion is a judgment due to the conformity 
of anything to our own knowledge, observation and experience. It deals 
with things beyond the reach of our senses, and hence not capable of ob- 
servation or testimony. It is judgment by analogy. 

Thus Locke arranges the degrees of knowledge on a descending 
scale : 

I. Certainty. 

1. Intuition. 

2. Demonstration. 

II. Probability. 

3. Belief. 

4. Opinion. 

Belief and Opinion are at the bottom of this scale of credibility. 
Over this whole process he writes the word — Reason. Reason is the 
discovery of truth by the use of our natural faculties (Book IV, Chap. 
18, Sec. 2). But Locke takes care not to stop before he has marked 
out a great class of subject matter as an exception to the above rule, and 
not bound by its scale of credibility (Book IV, Chap. 16, Sec. 14) : 
"Besides those we have hitherto mentioned there is one sort 
of propositions that challenge the highest degree of our assent, 
upon bare testimony, whether the thing proposed agree or dis- 
agree with common experience and the ordinary course of 
things, or no. The reason whereof is, because the testimony is 
of such an one as cannot deceive nor be deceived : and that is, 
God himself. This carries with it an assurance beyond doubt, 
evidence beyond exception. This is called by a peculiar name, 
REVELATION, and our assent to it, FAITH, which (as ab- 
solutely determines our minds and as perfectly excludes all 
v.'avering) as our knowledge itself ; and we may as well doubt 
of our own being, as we can whether any revelation from God 
be true. So that faith is a settled and sure principle of assent 
and assurance and leaves no manner of room for doubt or hesi- 
tation. Only zve must be sure that it be a divine revelation, and 
that zve understand it right: else we shall expose ourselves to 
to all the extravagance of enthusiasm, and all the error of 

58 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

wrong principles, if we have faith and assurance in what is not 
divine revelation." 

Thus Faith is the assent to any proposition, not made by the deduc- 
tions of reason but upon the credit of its proposer, as coming from God, 
in some extraordinary way of communication. This way of discovering 
truths to men is called Revelation. Thus faith in a Revelation is set over 
against Reason in exercise upon the objects of natural sense. Locke 
affirms a complete "duality of knowledge," but he does not leave the 
separate spheres unrelated. His doctrine is no "Credo quia incredibilis 
est." "No man inspired by God can by any revelation communicate to 
others any new simple ideas which they had not before from sensation 
or reflection." Revelation can come only by words or signs. These can 
go no further than man has ideas corresponding to them. Thus only 
the same truths may be discovered and conveyed dov/n from revelation 
which are discoverable to us by reason and by those ideas we naturally 
have. Faith is not a sixth sense, but only the five senses -aised into a 
higher sphere. Faith must not contradict Reason. 

"Because, though faith be founded on the testimony of God 
(who cannot lie) revealing any proposition to us : yet we cannot 
have an assurance of its being a divine revelation greater than 
our own knowledge. Since the whole strength of the certainty 
depends upon our knoivledge that God revealed it. . . .For 
if the mind of man can never have a clearer (and perhaps not 
so clear) evidence of anything to be a divine revelation, as 
it has of the principles of its own reason, it can never have a 
ground to quit the clear evidence of its reason, to give a 
place to a proposition whose revelation has not a greater evi- 
dence than these principles have." 

Thus also his doctrine is no "Credo ut intelligam." It is, on the 
other hand, an "Intelligo ut credam." We must know that God revealed 
it and that we interpret it aright. To secure this, Locke affirms the 
complete reasonableness of Revelation. The proper matters of Faith 
are those above Reason. Reason is natural revelation ; Revelation is 
Reason v.-rit large. Thus Locke's outcome shows that he reached his 
goal — the vindication of the "principles of morality and revealed reli- 
gion." His Essay is worthy the study of anyone who takes a serious 
view of life. 

Let us omit the study of the limits of knowledge. 
We shall not undertake to trace the historical outcome of this phi- 
losophy. It is sufficient to say that Locke was the father of all that fol- 
lows : of Bishop Butler and Alexander Campbell, whose proofs of Chris- 

The Philosophy of Locke. 59 

tianity were based on Lockean premises ; of Berkeley and Hume, whose 
Idealism and Skepticism were but the driving to their logical conclu- 
sions of certain distinctions of Locke ; of Kant, whose Critical Philoso- 
phy had its most important root in English Empiricism ; of Newton and 
Laplace, who applied the principles of Locke's theory of knowledge to 
the problems of natural science ; of the English Deists and Voltaire, who 
accepted the distinction between Reason and Faith but denied the 
reality of any revelation. To sketch these disparate offsprings would be 
to write the history of modern philosophy. This is not necessary, as the 
connection between Locke and the Current Reformation is a direct one. 
Mr. Campbell fell back on Locke, and combatted most bitterly the con- 
clusions of most of his successors. 

The work of Locke reall}^ brought forth a new science, viz : Psy- 
chology. Lockeanism has been taught ever since in colleges all over 
the English-speaking world until within the last generation, under the 
title of "mental philosophy." But to-day it is supplanted in most higher 
nistitutions of learning by Kantianism or some form of German philoso- 
phy. Thus Lockean Empiricism remains fixed as the soil of mental, 
moral and religious philosophy, on which the Current Reformation arose. 

There remains only the proof of the dependence of the leaders 
of this movement on the popular philosophy for the forms in which 
they couched their message, and the significance of the same for the 
success or failure of the cause for which they pleaded. We shall limit 
this proof to two arguments. The first may be called the external evi- 
dence, and consists in showing the acquaintance with Locke seen in Mr. 
Campbell's w^orks, and the respect paid to him therein. The second 
proof, or internal evidence, will be the showing of a correspondence 
between the two thinkers on the primary topics discussed by them. 

L Alexander Campbell studied the writings of Locke carefully, as 
a part of his early education (Rich. Mem. I, 33-4). He always held 
him in the highest esteem. He calls him the "Christian philosopher" par 
excellence (C. B. 82 ; Owen Deb. 262). In all his lists of illustrious men 
he gives Locke a prominent place (Harb. 30, 42; Purcell Deb. 329). 
As in Harb. 30, 51 : "If Paul, Peter, Wickliffe, Luther, Milton, Locke, 
Newton, Franklin, Washington were to appear among us." He con- 
fesses agreement with him in questions of philosophy (C. B. 662; Owen 
Deb. 50), in his interpretations of the Scriptures (C. B. 194; Harb. 32, 
274), and in his efforts tov/ard Christian Union (Harb. 44, 12; Owen 
Deb. 262). He makes many excerpts from the works of Locke (See C. 
B. 194, 373-4; Owen Deb. 121 ; Harb. 32, 274; Harb. 36, 253, 463, 589; 
Harb. 44 ,12, etc.). He is never sparing in his tributes. 

60 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

II. But the agreement is best made out by the correspondence of 
the two in many essential points of doctrine : 

I. Theory of Knowledge, Mr. Campbell took a firm stand for 
the tabula rasa conception of the origin of knowledge. This is best seen 
in the Debate with Owen, his work on the evidences of Christianity. He 
prepared for this discussion by a study of the history of philosophy, 
especially of the skeptxal systems of the Eighteenth Century (Owen 
Deb. 48, 63, 164). He made his first argument on an analysis of the 
powers of the human mind. Referring to Locke, Hume, etc., he said 
(Ibid 50) : 

"They all agree that all our original ideas are the results of 
sensation and reflection ; that is, that the five senses inform us 
of the properties of bodies, that our five senses are the only 
avenues through vvhich ideas of material objects can be derived 
to us ; that we have an intellectual power of comparing these 
impressions thus derived to us through the media of the senses ; 
and this they call reflection. Admitting this theory to be cor- 
rect (^Ir. Owen has doubted it), but if it be correct, that all our 
simple ideas are the result of sensation and reflection, how can 
we have any idea the archetype of which does not exist in 

(See Ibid 76, 89). 

But the idea of God and his creating power has no archetype in 
nature. It was not received through the senses. It could not be origin- 
ated with the imagination, for this has only power to combine ideas 
already given through sensation and reflection (Ibid 51). But we must 
admit that all nations have the idea of the First Great Cause. How did 
it come to them? Only through some original revelation. This is true 
of all the supernatural ideas developed by the Christian religion (Ibid 
89), Hence the necessity of an immediate and direct revelation. This 
left only a second task, — to prove that "we have reasonable grounds to 
believe the truth and certainty of the apostolic testimony." This testi- 
mony consists of matters of fact, and is to be tested by the criteria of all 
historical evidence (Ibid 173-5). By this process Mr. Campbell seeks 
to prove the credibility of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and 
thereby the truth of Christianity. 

It is striking that the major premise of this notable argument was 
the Empirical Philosophy of Locke and Hume, It was given with due 
acknowledgment of its source, and taken as a position universallv ac- 
cepted by the intellioent world. This theory of knowledge is evident in 
all psychological references of Mv. Cam.pbell (C. B. 82. 375. 594; Chr. 

The Philosophy of Locke. Q2 

Bap'm 291-4). There are no innate ideas. All knowledge comes from 
without, in. As he says (Chr. Bap'm 25) : 

"The links in this divnie chain of moral and spiritual instrumentality 
are, therefore, five, — fads, testimony, faith, feeling, action; the end of 
which is salvation. The whole revelation of God is arranged upon this 
theory or view of man's constitution." 

This leads to a second correspondence : 

2. Origin of Ldnguage. In accordance with this theory of knowl- 
edge, Mr. Campbell held that human speech is not natural, but imitative ; 
that, like the ideas of God, priest, sacrifice, etc., it came of divine origin, 
and that all later languages came from the corruption of this original. 
This theory of language appeared as the premise to the second argument 
of the Owen Debate (155-9), which he sums up (Ibid 165) : 

"We have shown that speech is neither natural to man nor the in- 
vention of man ; that infants must be taught to speak by a slow and 
regular process; that nan:es are applied to things and ideas in conse-^ 
quence of the pre-existence of the ideas in the mind ; that the idea must 
always necessarily precede the name, and that we have expermiental 
proof from infants, from those born deaf and subsequently restored to 

It appears also as a proof of the probability of a revelation in the 
"Christian Baptism," p. 38. 

''God, then, must have taught man to speak viva voce; inasmuch as 
language is only an imitation of distinct intelligible sounds; and as ail 
language conies by hearing, and hearing by the word of another {for the 
deaf have no zvords, though they have organs of pronunciation), we 
must, in all reason, conclude that the first human speaker had heard God 
himself speak. 

"No class of linguists, rhetoricians, or philosophers, has ever been 
able to explain the origin of language on the principles of human 
nature. They agree on one point, viz., that it was not originally a con- 
ventional thing ; that no company of men could assemble to discuss or 
decide upon it; which is, if properly comprehended, an unansv/erable 
proof of a superhuman origin. So, with the immortal Newton, we con- 
clude that 'God gave to man reason and religion by giving him the use 
of words.' " 

Hence, then, if God has spoken to man, it is probable that he still 
so speaks, i. e., by way of a revelation. 

It is needless to say that this doctrine, like the above, is the direct 
outgrowth of the Empirical Philosophy. It is exoressly so stated in 
Book III "On Words" in Locke's Essay. It bears an important function 

62 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

in the conception of both faith and revelation of Locke and Campbell. 
3. Distinction between knowledge, belief and opinion. This is 
stated also in the Owen Debate (68), where Mr. Campbell takes his op- 
ponent to task for a confusion of terms: 

"I am apprehensive that he (I\Ir. Owen) confounds or uses 
interchangeably the terms belief, knowledge and opinion. Be- 
lief always depends upon the testimony of others; knowledge 
upon the evidence of our senses; opinion upon our own rea- 
sonings, I do not, in strict propriety of language, believe by 
my own eyes, any more than I hear by my fingers. I knov,' 
that this desk is before me ; I do not believe it. We know that 
Mr. Ov\^en is here, but we cannot believe it. I knozv that which 
is communicated to my sensorium through the avenues of my 
senses ; and all that is thus communicated we denominate 
knowledge. On the other hand, belief has exclusive reference 
to testimony ; and opinion merely expresses drff erent degrees of 
probability ; and after weighing these probabilities we say that 
we are of this or that or the other opinion." 

Thus Mr. Campbell accepts the Lockean scale of certainty and ap- 
plies this logic in all his reasonings. Like his master, he set faith aside 
as working in the sphere of revelation, and gave it the highest cre- 
dence. Thus he held to the strict duality of knowledge, — reason and 
revelation (C. B. 4, 589) — and gave the characteristic 

4. Definition of Faith. Faith is the belief of testimony (Chr. 
Bap'm 64). It dift'ers only from ordinary belief in that it is directed 
toward a revelation of God. Thus he held that the efficacy of faith 
rested in the truth believed (Ibid 69) ; that its strength depended upon 
the clearness and force of the testimony. He repudiated all subjective 
distinctions : 

"Some superficial thinkers have spoken and written much 
upon different kinds of faith. They have 'historical' and 'sav- 
ing' faith, the 'faith of miracles,' and the 'faith of devils.' etc. 
These are conceits of the old metaphysical theologians and have 
done a world of mischief. By placing historical and saving or 
divine faith in contrast, they have bewildered themselves and 
their followers. There is no faith worth anything that is not 
historical ; for all our religion is founded upon historv." 
Hence Mr. Campbell and his followers spent little time in exhorting 
men to pray for faith. They sought to present the Gospel, give the di- 
vine testimony, and believed that faith must come as a necessity if this 
course is pursued. Just as the sensible object compels recognition if we 

The Philosophy or Locke. 63 

open our eyes upon it, evidence compels faith, which is voluntary only 
in so far as we are able to turn away from the truth. All this is a con- 
sistent application of the Empirical Philosophy. For it ]\Ir. Campbell 
was often reproached that he considered faith as merely an intellectual 
process. This was true only in that he gave to faith the primacy. The 
relation to faith of the so-called moral or emotional factor, with its set- 
ting, is portrayed in a splendid passage (Chr. Bap'm 293) : 

"So true it is that all our ideas of the sensible universe are the 
result of sensation and reliection. All the knowledge we have of material 
nature has been acquired by the exercise of our senses and of our reason 
upon those discoveries. With regard to the supernatural knowledge, or 
the knowledge of God, that comes wholly 'by faith,' and 'faith' itself 
'comes by hearing.' This aphorism is divine. Faith is, therefore, a con- 
sequence of hearing, and hearing is an effect of speaking ; for, hearing 
comes by the Word of God spoken, as much as faith itself comes by 
hearing. The intellectual and moral arrangement is, therefore : i. The 
word spoken; 2. Hearing; 3. Believing; 4. Feeling; 5. Doing. Such is 
the constitution of the human mind — a constitution divine and excellent, 
adapted to man's position in the universe. It is never violated in the 
moral government of God. Religious action is uniformly the effect of 
religious feeling; that is the effect of faith ; that of hearing; and that of 
something spoken by God." 

In no case is mere faith enough. Mr. Campbell simply put the 
content given to faith by many of his contemporaries into other terms. 
When exercised upon a person, it becomes warm, almost active (Chr. 
Sys. 56) : 

"While then faith is the simple belief of testimony, or of the truth, 
and never can be more or less than that ; as a principle of action it has 
respect to a person or thing interesting to us, and is confidence or trust 
in that person or thing. Now the belief of what Christ says of himself 
terminates in trust or confidence in him ; and as the Christian religion 
is a personal thing, both as respects subject and object, that faith in 
Christ vvhich is essential to salvation is not the belief of any doctrine, 
testimony or truth, abstractly, but belief in Christ ; trust or confidence in 
him as a person, not a thing." 

Mr. Campbell made a summary of faith in the single proposition — 
"Jesus is the Alessiah ; the Son of God" (Chr. Bap'm yT,)- ^t is interest- 
ing to know that this proposition was miade the thesis of one of Locke's 
books, "The Reasonableness of Christianity" (pp. loi, 195). Although 
the writer has searched carefully through ]\Ir. Campbell's works for 
references to this book, he has found none. It is probable that Mr. 

64 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

Campbell did not have it in his library. The agreement is to be ac- 
counted for from a common point of view (C. B. 193). 

5. Doctrine of Revelation, Mr. Campbell's doctrine of revelation 
is to be understood from this setting. He says (Owen Deb. 146) : 

"But I must tell you, while speaking of revelation, that perhaps I 
am misunderstood; and certainly I am, if I am supposed to use this term 
in the vulgar sense. For now it is usual to call the whole Bible a reve- 
lation from God. I must explain myself here. There are a thousand 
historic facts narrated in the Bible which it would be absurd to regard 
as immediate and direct revelation from the Almighty. Paine defines 
revelation very accuratel}', although he did not believe we had any, 
properly so-called. He says, page 14, "Age of Reason:" "Revelation 
cannot be applied to anything done upon earth. It is a communication 
of something which the person to whom the thing is revealed did not 
know before" — and, I add, could not otherv/ise know. (That intelli- 
gence which could never have been derived to us through the agency of 
our senses). "Consequently, all the historical and anecdotal part of the 
Bible is not within the compass and meaning of the word revelation." 
Revelation, from the import of the term, must be supernatural. But the 
historic parts of both Testaments present a great variety of topographical 
facts and incidents, colloquies between friends and enemies, of apostles, 
prophets and patriarchs, and of distinguished persons, good and evil ; 
vv'ars, intrigues, amours and crimes of every dye. Now it would be 
neither philosophical nor rational to dignify and designate these collo- 
quies, narratives, geographical and biographical notices, etc., by the 
term revelation. The term revelation, in its strict acceptation among 
intelligent Christians, means nothing more nor less than a Divine com- 
munication concerning spiritual and eternal things, a knowledge of 
which man could never have attained by the exercise of his reason upon 
material and sensible objects; for as Paul says, 'Things which the eye 
has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man 
to conceive, has God revealed to us apostles, and we declare them to 
you.' " 

"In the Old Testament, to distinguish the ordinary information from 
the Divine communications, such intimations are made as 'The zcord of 
the Lord,' or 'A message from the Lord came' to such a person. Some- 
times, 'The Lord said.' But in the New Testament, the phrase 'The 
Word' or 'The zcord of the Lord' or 'The Truth' is almost exclusively 
appropriated to the testimony zvhich God gave concerning the person and 
mission of Jesus Christ." 

(See also C. B. 344-5; Chr. Bap'm 51-4). 

Doctrine of Inspiration. 65 

This was thoroughgoing Empiricism. To save himself from re- 
proach, Mr. Campbell was very careful to add (Chr. Bap'm 51-2) : 

"But besides this inspiration of original and supernatural ideas, 
there was another species of supernatural aid afforded the saints who 
wrote the historical parts of the sacred scriptures. There was a revival 
in their minds of what they themselves had seen and heard; and in 
reference to traditions handed down, such a superintendency of the 
Spirit of wisdom and i^nowledge as excluded the possibility of mistake 
in the matters of fact which they recorded. The promise "of leading 
into all truth," and the promise of "bringing all things before known to 
remembrance" by the Holy Spirit, include all that we understand by 
inspiration in its primary and secondary import." (So. C. B. 345). 

This was in reality the distinction between revelation and inspira- 
tion (See p. 27)- Mr. Campbell meant to state his doctrine so as to free 
it from many of the objections of skeptics (Owen Deb. 147; C. B. 344), 
and did not intend to remit the orthodox dogma. In thus placing Reve- 
lation m a class by itself, Mr. Campbell held firmly to the Lockean doc- 
trine of its relation to Reason, which must decide whether it be a reve- 
lation and whether we interpret it aright or not. He lays down his 
rules for the proper conduct of the two methods of knowledge (C. B. 
380) :- 

"i. The pretensions of the Bible to a divine authority or origin arc 
to be examined by our reason alone. Its evidences are addressed to 
our reason, and by our reasoning powers the question is to be an- 
swered, "Is the Bible of Divine or human origin?" So soon as reason 
has decided this question, then, 

"2. The truths of the Bible are to be received as first principles, 
not to be tried by our reason, one by one, but to be received as new 
principles, from which we are to reason as from intuitive principles in 
any human science. 

"'3. The terms found in the Bible are to be interpreted and under- 
stood in the common acceptation, as reason or use suggests their mean- 
ing; but the things taught are to be received, not because we have 
proved them by c-ur reason to be truths, but because God has taught 
them to us." 

As a thoroughgoing Empiricist, Mr. Campbell repudiated the whole 
of natural theology as taught in the colleges of his time (C. B. 275). 
He considered this to be pure Deism. He was more consistent with 
his point of viev; than Locke himself, whom he criticised for his rational 
proofs of the existence of God (C. B. 373-5). He held that this, with 

55 Thk Rise oj the Current Reformation. 

all the other truths of religion, depends wholly on revelation. This 
brings us to the next doctrine, 

6, Work of the Holy Spirit. Early in the "Christian Baptist" 
Mr. Campbell wrote an article entitled, "Experimental Religion" (C. 
B. 48-9). It wa.s written in answer to a charge of impiety because he 
had criticised the popular revival methods of the time (C. B. 39, 48). 
This article was destined to be a source of offence to his Baptist 
brethren, greater even than the Sermon on the Law. It was pub- 
lished in the absence of his father, who rebuked him on his return 
for putting out his views before his readers were ready for them (Life 
of J. Smith, 165), and for making matters worse (C. B. 65). Thomas 
Campbell himself wrote a reply, for the purpose of alleviating the 
difficulty (C. B. 65-6). 

In the article Mr. Campbell showed his unusual!}- astute method 
He says (C. B. 48 ) :— 

"The charge now before us is that we deny 'experimental re- 
ligion.' Before we plead 'guilty' or 'not guilty' of this impeachment, 
we should endeavor to understand the subject matter of it. Not having 
been m the use of the phrase 'experimental religion,' I could neither 
affirm nor deny anything about it. The question, then, is, what is the 
thing? The name we have not in our vocabulary; and, therefore, 
could only deny the thing constructively. We will first ask, what does 
the Bible say about it? L'pon examination, I found it says not one 
word about 'experimental religion.' The Bible is as silent upon this 
topic £s upon the 'Romish mass.' I then appealed to the 'Encyclo- 
psedia.' The only thing like it, which I could find, was 'experimental 
philosophy,' which is a philosophy that can be proved by experiment. 
I then looked into the theological dictionaries, and soon found different 
kinds of religion, such as 'natural,' 'revealed,' etc., but not a v.-ord about 
'experimental.' I then applied to a friend, who had once been deeply 
initiated into the modern su'olimities of the refined popular doctrine. I 
was then informed that there were two kinds of religion much talked 
of in the pulpit and amongst the people — the one called 'heart religion' 
and the other 'head religion' — the latter dwelling exclusively in the 
head and the former m the heart. I also learned that the former was 
sometimes called 'CiTristian experience,' and this was presumed to be 
the thing intended by the words 'experimental religion.' " 

He then appealed again to the New Testament, but found that it 
was silent as the grave on all these distinctions. He gave the term 
"Christian experience" special attention, and found that all Christians 
have considerable experience; some have more than others, as Paul 
experienced perils by land and sea, etc. But he was told that this was 
not the popular sense of the term, but that it meant the "inward ex- 
perience of grace upon the heart." He then found that the Gospel 
is sometimes called the "grace of God," and that when believed it yields 

Work of the Holy Spirit. 67 

the fruits of the Spirit ; and declares that if this is what is meant, he 
never denied a ''Christian experience." But again he is informed that 
this is not the populnr use of the phrase, but tliat it denotes (C. B. 49) 
"a certain mental experience to becoming a Christian, an exercise of 
minds a process through which a person must pass before he can 
esteem himself a true Christian ; and until we know from his recital of 
it that he has been the subject of it, we cannot esteem him a Christian," 
and concludes ( ibid 49) : "Then it is some invisible, indescribable 
energv exerted upon the minds of men in order to make them Chris- 
tians ; and that, toe, independent of, or prior to, the word believed." 

This he finds to be contrary to Biblical usage. He ridicules the 
descriptive preaching of the times by which men were accustomed 
to narrate thei"- own conversions, instead of declaring the Gospel of 
the Sc-n of God. He pronounces this system to be mischievous. En- 
thusiasm flourishes. People lay themselves out for visions and opera- 
tions, and of course get them (C. B. 218). He calls away from it (C. 
B. 50) :- 

"From all this scene of raging enthusiasm, be admonished, my 
friends, to open your Bibles and to hearken to the voice of God, which 
is the voice of reason. God now speaks to us only by his Word. By 
His Son, in the New Testam.ent, he has fully revealed Himself and His 
Will. This is the onlv revelation of his Spirit which we are to regard." 

Mr. Campbell thus show^ed an unexpected hostility to the whole 
Eighteenth Century conception of conversion and to the v/hole Ameri- 
can system of revivals from Jonathan Edwards down (C. B. 404; 
Harb 35, 355; Harb. 30, 454, 568). This antipathy could not do 
anything else than bring him into conflict. It was made accordingly 
the shibboleth oF the war on him by his Baptist brethren (C. B. 267; 
Harb. 30, 133-4 : Harb. 31, 78, 81). But Mr. Campbell felt the issue 
to be worth while, and that he could not restore the primitive faith 
until certain misconceptions were cleared away. He was sure he knew 
what he was talking about. He says (C. B. 219) : — 

"T well remember what pains and conflicts 1 endured under a 
fearful apprehension that my convictions and my sorrows for sin were 
not deep enough, y even envied Newton of his long agony. I even 
envied Bunyan of his despair. I could have wished, and' did wish, 
that the Spirit of God would bring me down to the very verge of suf- 
fering the pains of the damned, that I might be raised to share the jovs 
of the genuine convf^rts. I feared that I had not sufficiently found the 
depiavity of mv heart, and had not yet proved that I was utterlv with- 
out strength. Sometimes I thoup-ht that I felt as sensibly, 'as the 
ground under my feet, that I had gone just as far as human nature 

gg The Rise oe the Current Reeormation. 

could go without supernatural aid, and that one step more would place 
me safe among the regenerated of the Lord ; and yet Heaven refused 
its aid. This, too, 1 concealed from all the living. I found no com- 
fort in all the declarations of the Gospel, because I wanted one thing 
to enable me to appropriate them to myself. Lacking this, I could 
only envy the happy favorites of heaven who enjoyed it, and all my 
refuge was in a famt hope that I one day might receive that aid which 
would place my feet upon the rock." 

He felt that the true seeking after God must be less introspective 
and more prospective; that it must look to Jesus Christ through the 
testimony about him. 

Mr. Campbell's task was like that of Locke in his polemic against 
innate ideas. He said : "There are no such things as subjective and 
mystic mfluences of the Holy Spirit ;" to put it in a modern term, ''Your 
visions, frames and feelings are mere 'psychological illusions'." 
"In conversion and sanctification the Holy Spirit operates only 
through the Word of Truth" (Chr. Bap'm 291). This was merely a 
consistent application of the Empirical Philosophy. It is all antici- 
pated in the next to the final chapter of Locke's Essay, viz : "Of Enthu- 
siasm" (Book I\', Chap. 19). Mr. Campbell gave for it his usual 
argument from the constitution of the human mind (Chr. Bap'm 291). 
Accordingly, Mr. Campbell followed his attack on "mystic influences" 
(C. B. 64) witfi a constructive treatise on the Work of the Holy Spirit 
in the salvation of men (C. B. 82, 89, 95, loi, 108, 117, 124, 131, 137). 
In this splendid series of articles he left aside the metaphysical ques^ 
tion of the nature ■•)f the Holy Spirit, and confined himself wholly to 
its operations in the process of the world's redemption. This opera- 
tion he considered to be threefold : ( i ) As Spirit of Wisdom, by which 
the Apostles were iiualified to deliver a correct, intelligible and con- 
sistent testimony of divine truth; (2) As Spirit of Power, by which 
this testimony was confirmed by miracles and prophecy (C. B. m) ; (3) 
As Spirit of Grace, or Goodness, which (when the gospel of the Grace 
of God is received ~) works in the hearts of them that believe and 
teaches them to denv ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, 
righteously and godly in this present evil world, and to continue in 
the grace of God while they abound in the fruits of the Spirit (C. B. 
139). Thus the Word and the Spirit always act inseparably. No 
new faculties are given in the process of salvation, but only new ob- 
jects are presented to the faculties already existing, which "captivate 
the alTections and passions of the human soul; and, consequently, direct 
or draw the whole man into new aims, pursuits and endeavors" (C. B. 
131). (So Chr. Bap'm 291). 

Work of the Holy Spirit. Oq 

This interesting doctrine may appear to many to be one-sided. It has, 
without doubt, been carried to an extreme by some of Mr. Campbell's 
followers, especially those who came in from previous Deistic or Ra- 
tionalistic convictions (Rich, Mem. II, 355-6). It has been the chief 
work of Campbell, Robert Richardson and J. H. Garrison to 
combat this tendency among the Disciples of Christ. In judging it, 
v/e must always remember- its antithesis and historical purpose. This is 
stated in one of thore splendid reviews of his career by Mr. Campbell 
himself (Harb. 2)7- ^oS) : — 

"We much regret the necessity that constrained us to hazard so 
much on a point so vital, but the case was this: We saw two great 
errors, as we supposed, existing in society on this subject. We still re- 
gard them as desolaim.g evils. The idea of physical or special interpo- 
sitions of God's Holy Spirit, in the way of dreams, visions, voices and 
immediate impulses, issuing in swoonings, faintings, jerkings, shout- 
ings, trances, etc., etc. ; in all the enthusiasm, if not fanaticism, of 
camp -meetings ; in all the ecstacies of ancient Quakerism or modern 
shaking and quaking Quakerism, in whatever party it was found, we 
could not but oppose and repudiate by all the means in our power. 
Another extreme in metaphysical theology, though less boisterous, noisy 
and contagious, though equally pernicious to the subject, was that a 
sinner is so dead and buried in his sin that, even after he has heard the 
voice of God, speaking by Apostles and Prophets, he must wait still 
for the Spirit to descend and work faith in his heart by a supernatural 
process before he attempt even to call upon the name of the Lord. 
Hence, the essays, sermons and controversies upon the metaphysical 
regeneration of an unbeliever in order to faith. 

"We have opposed these theories because they are not found 
in the scriptures, and because we have seen and known them to be most 
injurious to multitudes. But as for doubting or denying either the 
personality of God's Hol> Spirit, or his convicting the world of sin, 
righteousness and judgment, by the instrumentality of the testimony 
concerning Christ, or his dwelling in the hearts of the faithful as a 
comforter, we have given the world no evidence — unless the opposing 
of the abuses of any doctrine is to be identified with opposing the 
doctrine itself." 

Tims the influences of the Lockean philosophy on the Current 
Reformation are evident: — 

I. It gave to Mr. Campbell and his friends a point of view and 
method of interpretation which were their chief means of success. This 
was the philosophy of common-sense. On its principles all scientific 

JQ Thk Rise of the Currext Reformation. 

work had been done ?ince the time of Newton. It had percolated 
down to the lowest strata of the British and American mind. ?>Ir. 
Campbell came to the commion man with a message which was intel- 
ligible to him. It had none of the abstractness and mystery of the 
speculative systems. Locke, Cam.pbell and the average man, alike, 
hated metaphysics. In the call to a few simple propositions, in taking 
Christianity on its historic evidences, in reducing Christian duty to 
specific and definite actions, vvithin and v,ithout, all had a common un- 
derstanding, and felt great satisfaction in what they held to be a su- 
perior knowledge. Armed with his Bible and the Essay on the Human 
Understanding, the frontier evangelist feared no antagonist. Thus 
they made Christian experience to be rather an intellectual than an 
emotional process. Faith is the belief of a proposition. It is the ac- 
ceptance of testimony. It can never stand alone, but the ordo sahitis 
is facts, testimony, faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins and the 
gift of the Holy Spirit. The intellectual element has the primacy. 
Herein lies the danger of rationalism, which has often preyed 
upon the thinking of representative members of the Disciples. We 
must remember tl^at Locke, too, was the father of English Deism; that 
there are dangers in too closely binding reason and religion, even by 
the link of revelation. Let us take the suggestion of Kant, Locke's 
successor, that the mind is active in knowing; that there is a moral ele- 
ment in faith ; that "if any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of 
the doctrine ;" and thereby be sure that we avoid every reproach of 
bald irtellectuahsm ?.nd mere externalism. 

II. Here lies patent also the conflict between JNIr. Campbell and 
his theological predecessors. His thinking was based on modern phi- 
losophy ; their fundamental propositions were from mediaeval systems, 
especially the I.iberum Arbitrium of Duns Scotus, through Calvin. He 
held that God was willing ; that no time or effort should be given to in- 
duce him to give faith : that we need only use the means already given, 
open cur minds and receive the truth and grace at hand. There v\-as 
an unmistakable clashing of methods. There is no man living to-day 
but must admit that j\Ir. Campbell had the better of the two points of 
view.' We all rejoice in the triumphs of science and philosophy in tlie 
Nineteenth Century, by which the mysticism of the old Calvinism, and 
Arminianism as v/eh has gone in every quarter, and that we are left 
free to a simpler and more historical understanding of the ineft'able 
truths of our sacred religion. 


The Precursors. 

The backgr(3und of the Current Reformation is to be found in the 
history of the Church in Scotland. On Scottish soil the earliest churches 
appeared, and from Scotch parentage and training the Campbells came. 
The movement found its prototypes in the Scottish Sects wliich went 
before it. Let us trace in brief the rise of these sects, and determine 
the nature and extent of their contribution to the Current Reformation. 

The Reformation. 
The Reformation in Scotland was not indigenous to the soil, but 
was imported from the Continent. Thus it came late, and showed at 
the beginning ctie marks of a thoroughly developed Protestantism. Due 
to the friendly relations of the Scotch people with the French and their 
common hostility to the English, it was natural that it should come in 
from the Reformation in France. Accordingly, Patrick Hamilton, a 
student in the University of Paris, accepted the doctrines of Luther, 
and, returning home, vv-as martyred in 1528. He was followed by 
George V/ishart (1546); in whose retinue John Knox, an ex-priest, 
first appears. Emboldened by the example of his friend, he taught 
openL^ the Reformed doctrines; until, captured in the Siege of St. 
Andrews (1547), he was carried off to France, where he served as a 
galley slave. Having been released, he went to England, where he 
labored in the Protestant cause under Edward VL At the accession 
of Bloody Ma^-y, he tied to the Continent, where he spent some time 
in study under Calvin and Ccza at Geneva. At the accession of Eliza- 
beth, he returned to Scotland and set about the work of reformation 
in earnest. His supporters met at Edinburgh (1557) and took the old 
feudal oath of man-rent "to maintain, set forward and establish the 
most blessed Word of God and His congregation." This was the first 
of the Covenants, from vvdiich the reforming party Vv^ere called the 
"Congregation" and "Covenanters." The movement was really a re- 
bellion against the regime of the Queen-regent, and had gathered such 
strength by the time of the arrival of JMary Stuart from France that 
she was compelled to make concessions to it. Under the dominance of 
Knox, the Scottish Parliament voted to abolish Popery (1560). Knox 


rr2 The Rise oj? the Current Reformation. 

and his associates prepared a Confession of Faith, which was estab- 
lished as the reHgitn of the realm; and the Congregation entered into 
the place of the Romish system as the State Church. Thus the vScot- 
tish Reformation was carried out on the most radical lines of Protest- 
antism. It stood for purity in worship and morals. It was marked by 
the most bitter iconoclasm of all relics of the Roman order. Calvin's 
ideas were carried out explicitly. A thoroughgoing Presbyterianism 
became dominant. Thus the creed and the polity existed before the 
church, and the key is given to the understanding of all later move- 

The Established Church. 
But this church was compelled to undergo one more crisis before 
it was finally confi-med to its birthright. The Stuarts, James and 
Charles, were not f^-iendly to the Presbyterian order, but were com- 
pelled to yield for a time. Finally, Charles I and Archbishop Laud in- 
sanely undertook to force the English Liturgy upon the Scotch people. 
This was bitterly resented. All eyes were turned to the Cathedral of 
St. Giles, where the tes^ of the King's mandate was to be made. While 
the Dean of Edinburgh was going through the service there, before a 
vast concourse of people, a poor old woman threw her stool at his 
head, crying "Villain! Dost thou say Mass at my lug?" A riot ensued 
as the unpremeditated outburst of popular indignation. On February 
2S, 1638, a great meetmg of the nation was called. The Covenant was 
brought forth. This time the uprising was directed against Prelacy, 
which v/as considered as Popery in a new form. Over sixty thousand 
people signed the parchment. Many opened their veins and signed 
with blood. Some added the words "till death." Copies were made and 
carried throughoiit ^he kingdom. A new period of iconoclasm broke 
out. Mass-meciings were held everywhere. The Scottish people seemed 
to stand as one man in revolt against their King. In the Parliamentary 
War, which followed, the Solemn League and Covenant was proclaimed 
throughout Great llritain. It became the shibboleth of the Puritans, 
who were often called "Covenanters." The Scottish commissioners 
dominated the Westminster Assembly of English divines (1646), and 
secured the adoption of the Westminster Confession of Faith.. This was 
accepted by the General Assembly of Scotland as the successor of the 
old creed of Knox. It was the creed of the United Kingdom until the 
Restoration (1660). At the religious settlement after the Revolution of 
1688, under William of Orange, it was confirmed as the creed of the 
Established Church of Scotland. This elaborate document taught a 
fairly consistent Calvinism. It was upheld by a rigid Presbyterian order 

The Established Church. 73 

of discipline, to which absoUite conformity was demanded in faith and 


These two rnakc the distinctive traits of the Church of vScotland. 
(i) The authority of the creed. 

In England great variety of belief and opinion had always 
been permitted. Calvinists, Arminians, Covenant theologi- 
ans, stood side by side. The real bond of union has al- 
ways been the Prayer Book and not the Thirty-nine Arti- 
cles. In Scotland, however, the Confession of Faith was 
first in time, central in the propaganda, and always re- 
mained as the test of fellowship. 
(2) The theocracy — a jure divino Presbyter ianism — 

This was a union of church and state in which the church 
became the uppermost factor. The seat of power de- 
scended from General Assembly, Synod, Presbytery, Ses- 
sion, down to the congregation. It was an oligarchy — a 
government by old and prominent men, whose authority 
was upheld by a High Commission, when the General As- 
sembly was not in session. 
The Scottish sects in which lies our direct interest were the results 

of a series of revolts against the tyrannies of this Established Church. 

The Scottish Sects. 
The first of these sects was the Cameronian Covenanters, who re- 
pudiated the religious settlement of William III as a compromise 
with the State. Led by Rev. John JMacmiilan, they met in 171 2, and 
renevvcd the "Covenants," with such additions as expressed the pro- 
tests of their own time and circumstances. Thus they organized them- 
selves into separate societies. They were the ultra — jure divino — or 
Reformed Presbyterians ; but rapidly declined and had no influence 
on our history. (Rich. Mem. I, 52, Heatherington, History of 
Church of Scotland, 355). 

The Seceders. 

The religious settlement of 1690 had within itself the seeds of new 
troubles. It was made easy for the prelatic curates of the preceding 
period to retain their parishes merely by conforming to the Presby- 
terian order. Weary of the long period of religious dissension, the 
best spirits of the age were resolved to make every concession to the 
State necessary for peace and prosperity. The Patronage Act, annulled 
in the Revolutions (1649, 1690), was restored in 171 1. By this act 
and ancient custom, the lord of the manor, or other patrons who car- 

74 The Rise of the Curkent Reeormation-. 

ried the greater part of the maintenance of the parish, had the right 
to present ministers to vacant churches. Upon this presentation, the 
congregation had the right to reject or accept. But any congrega- 
tion rejecting the nominee of its patron had to await a second appoint- 
ment; while often the offending parish v>'as left vacant for years, and 
the fees withheld to the profit of the patron. By use of this power 
in the seating of their favorites in the chief places of influence, the 
secular aristocracy was gradually obtaining control of the Established 
Church. Such a danger v/as sure to be scented in the church of Knox 
and Melville. Two parties began to form, — the IModerates and the 
Evangelicals. The former winked at the popular tendency, magnified 
scholarship and preached the ethical side of Christianity. The latter 
magnified faith and regeneration. The lines were drawn in the Marrow 
Controversy (see p. 43) ; which, while it subsided, left Ebenezer Ers- 
kine marked as the champion of the Evangelical party. He now took 
up the riglits of the common people in the patronage contests. In 
1732 he preached a sermon against the General Assembly, under control 
of the Moderates. As a true Scotchmian, his language was not equiv- 
ocal. Called before the Assembly, he was voted a rebuke for his con- 
duct. Erskine protested in the name of his rights as a minister and 
of the constitutional liberties of the Church of Scotland. Three other 
ministers joined in the protest. They were suspended from their 
charges. But, being backed by their parishes, they continued to preach 
regardless of the action of the Assembly, and formed themselves into the 
Associate Presbytery, 1733; and issued their "Testimony" setting forth 
their loyalty to the Covenants of the Church of Scotland, and stating 
the grounds of their secession. When too late, the Church saw its 
mistake and rescinded its harsh measures ; but the schism had gone 
too far, and Erskine and his friends would not return to the fold. 
Other prominent ministers joined their ranks. The m.asses were deeply 
in sympathy with the Seceders, whom they regarded as martyrs for 
the truth. The division shook the church from center to circumference. 
All Anti-Presbyterian elements were led out during the shock. The 
new movement was democratic in tendency. It sought to maintain 
the doctrine and polity of the early Reformed Church, which its leaders 
felt to be slipping aw^ay. The Seceders became the tenacious adher- 
ents of the Westminster Confession. A second secession occurred in 
1761, led by Thomas Gillespie and Thomas Boston (son of the theolo- 
gian), who formed themselves into the Presbytery of Relief. 

The Associate Presbytery grew rapidly until dissension arose over 
the burgess oath, which led to a schism in 1747. Every magistrate in 

The Seceders. 75 

Scotland was required to obligate himself to support "the true religion 
presently professed within this realm." The strict interpreters held 
that this meant the Established Church, against which they were in 
rebellion, and hence they could not take the oath. Others said that 
it meant simply evangelical Christianity, and that they were at liberty 
to do as they pleased in the matter. Hence, two sects were formed, 
called the Anti-Burghers and Burghers. A like question arose in 
1795, — "the power of civil magistrates in religion." In some places, 
each sect broke into "Old Lights" and "New Lights," — as they were 
called. Other schisms occurred also. This history is of special interest 
to us, as showing the divisive tendency of the Scotch Sects. It fur- 
nished the antithesis to the Current Reformation 

Thomas Campbell was a Seceder minister of the north of Ireland, 
and attained to the principle of "Christian Union" out of bitter experi- 
ences in trying to heal the divisions of the church of his choice. Alex- 
ander Campbell was brought up in this atmosphere, and mav have 
received its good ; as his father had revolted against its evil, viz : the 
hostility to an established church, — whether Presbyterian, Anglican or 
Roman Catholic. He was reared a reactionist against human authority 
in religion. His history shows a deepening of these convictions. 

The Scotch Independents 

The Scotch Independents represent three different parties. All ' 
follow more or less the example of the English Independents, but are 
historically distinct from them. 

(i) The Old Independents originated with John Glas, minister of 
the Church of Scotland at Tealing, who became dissatisfied with the 
"Union of Church and State," and preached against the Covenants. 
In 1727 he published his chief work, — "Testimony of the King of 
Martyrs." He distinguished between the Old and Nev/ Testaments, 
in the former of which he held the state and the church to be identical ; 
but in the latter, the church is a purely spiritual community. Any 
connection with a kingdom of the world he declared to be unapostolic 
and sinful (C. B. 229). For his Independent views, he was deposed 
by the General Assembly, and formed the first "Glassite" congregation 
at Dundee (1728). The aim of this body was "to restore the primi- 
tive New Testament practices." They interpreted the Scriptures lit- 
erally, and differed from others in the observance of the weekly "Lord's 
Supper," love-feasts, kiss of charity, feet-washing, the fellov^^ship (a 
weekly collection for the poor), mutual exhortations, plurality of elders, 
community of goods (under limitations), public amusements, etc. They 
were strict disciplinarians, and separated themselves from all who did 

76 The Rise or the Current Reformation. 

not observe a simple worship like themselves. Unanimity was required 
in every action of the congregation. 

The work of Glas was taken up by Robert Sandeman (his son-in- 
law), after Avhom the sect was called, outside of Scotland, Sande- 
manians. gave the movement its theological content. He 
was a stiff upholder of Justification by Faith. He limited faith largely 
to its intellectual element, — "the bare belief of the bare truth" con- 
cerning the person and 'Aork of Christ. It is the same as the belief 
of any proposition. 

These old Independents were narrow and divisive ; acrimonious 
in their criticism of ethers ; never became a large body, and were the 
victim.3 of bitter reproach from all quarters. 

(2) The Scotch Baptists 
originated in Edinburgh in 1767, when a small body withdrew from 
the Established Church under the leadership of Archibald McLean. 
They had no connection with the English Baptists. They grew to 
some one hundred churches in half a century, and spread into Eng- 
land and Ireland. They adopted the practices of Glas, — weekly com- 
munion, mutual exhortation, plurality of elders, etc., —from whom they 
differed mainly in the practice of immersion (Harb. 35, 297). They 
are best known through William Jones, lof London, author of the His- 
tory of the Waldenses, who took up Mr. Campbell's writings and 
published them for a time in the British Ivlillennial Harbinger (Harb. 
35. 295). 

(3) The New Independents 
were an outgrowth of the evangelical revivals represented in England 
by Wesley and Whitefield, and of the missionary movement headed 
by Carey and J^uller. They found leadership in Robert and James A. 
Haldane, two wealthy seamen of noble birth, who, being deeply im- 
pressed by religion, abandoned their calling and undertook various 
philanthropic enterprises. First, Robert Haldane fitted out a mis- 
sionary expedition to India, taking Greville Ewing with him ; but, due 
to the refusal of admission by the East India Company, the project 
v/as given up (1795). Meanwhile, James A. Haldane, impressed by 
the objection of the opponents of missions that there were plenty 
of heathen at home, set out on a tour of Scotland with a Mr. Simeon, 
in which they distributed tracts, organized Sunday-schools and 
preached in the open air. The preachers were heard with great in- 
terest by the masses, and were free in their attacks upon the apparent 
indifference of the churches to the needs of the people. Robert Hal- 

The New Independents. 77 

dane built a number of tabernacles in leading cities, where the Gospel 
could be given to those who desired it. Rowland Hill, the English 
divine, was invited to the Circus at Edinburgh; but his manner of- 
fended many staid Presbyterians. The General Assembly now isued 
a Circular Letter, in which lay preaching was condemned and the 
Established Churches were closed to those of other communions. The 
Seceders did likewise. Robert Haldane retorted by organizing the 
Society for Propagating the Gospel, and established a series of semi- 
naries, in which young men were educated for the ministry at Ins ex- 
pense. These societies, like those of Wesley, were not intended to de- 
tract from the Established Church, with which the Haldanes remained 
in good fellowship. But antagonisms necessarily increased, so that the 
Circus congregation became an .Independent church. James A. Hal- 
dane was ordained as pastor, and similar organizations were made 
in other cities. The movement had been practical and evangelistic. It 
aimed merely to preach the Gospel, without regard to forms of ex- 
ternal arrangement or church order. But nov/ questions of polity Vv^ere 
unavoidable, and Greville Ewing, influenced by Glas and JMcEean, led 
the way to a Congregational order. Their aim was to approximate the 
ideal model of primitive Christianity. Accordingly, the Lord's Sup- 
per, observed only twice a year in the Established Church, was intro- 
duced as a weekly institution. A mid-week meeting was held, at which 
the members exhorted one another. This custom was extended to the 
Lord's Day, from which dissension began to arise, A plurality of 
elders was held to be imperative, and Robert Haldane took his place 
beside his brother. The final conflict came when James A. Haldane 
announced to his congregation that he could no longer conscientiously 
administer infant baptism, and in 1805 was immersed. He stated at the 
time that he did not intend to join the Baptists, and that in the church 
the practice should be a matter of forbearance; and that Baptists and 
Paedo-Baptists might have fellowship with one another. But the an- 
tagonism of the Christian world on the subject was too bitter to allow 
the Haldanean community to escape rupture. A division occurred. 
Two hundred members followed the example of their pastors. Others 
left the church, some going to that of ]\lr. Aikman in the city, some 
back to the Established Church. The division spread throughout all 
the tabernacle congregations, Greville Ewing became the leader of 
the Paedo-baptist faction. From this time, the influence of these New 
Independents or Haldaneans began to wane, and they were for the 
most part gradually absorbed into other parties. 

78 The Riss of the Current Reformation. 

The influence of these Scotch Independents on the Current Refor- 
mation is patent to every observer. 

They furnished excitement and agitation to the stoHd hfe of Scot- 
tish religion, in the very period in which Thomas Campbell was at- 
tempting to work in Ireland and Alexander Campbell was brought up. 
They were the subjects of discussion, pro and con, and must have been 
known to every intelligent reader of the times (Harb. 35, 305). They 
had an Independent congregation at Rich Hill, which Thomas Camp- 
bell and his son were in the habit of visiting (Rich. Mem. I, 60). They 
touched the Campbells personally through two of their most attractive 
characters, viz: John Walker (Rich, Mem. I, 60-1, 172; Harb. 35, 
299), and Greville Ewing (Rich. Mem. I, 175-7). They gave the model 
of the society according to which Campbell first organi::ed his 
friends in the Christian Association ; and later, of the form of church 
government adopted by Alexander (Rich. Mem. I, 466). They 
originated the principle of the Restoration of Primitive Christianity 
(Harb. 35, 302), which they carried out v/ith a crass literalism, 
and set the points for the application of the same for all who 
f ollov/ed . 

The agreement of ]\Ir. Campbell's "Ancient Order of Things" with 
the tenets and practices of these Independents was so marked that the 
charge of identity was often laid at his door. For instance, R. B. 
Semple, leader of the Baptists in Virginia, wrote to Mr. Campbell in 
1825: "So far as I can judge by your writings and preaching, you 
are substantially a Sandemanian or Haldanean" (C. B. 227; so C. B. 
398, 432). To this i\Ir. Campbell replied directly in a splendid dis- 
cussion of the whole question (C. B. 228-9). ^^ affirm^s an acquaint- 
ance with the work and writings of Glas, Sandeman, McLean, the 
Haldanes (Rich. Mem. I, 422-5) ; and while he acknowledges a debt 
to them, he asserts the same of Luther, Calvin and Wesley, and says : 
"I candidly and unequivocally avow that I do not believe that any one 
of them had clear and consistent views of the Christian religion as a 
whole." (C. B. 229). That debt was mainly a negative one. He says: 
"I am indebted upon the whole as much to their errors as to their vir- 
tues ; for these have been to me as beacons to the mariner, who might 
otherwise have run upon the rocks and shoals." He denies interest 
in these men at the constructive period of life : "For the last ten years 
I have not looked into the works of any of these men, and have lost 
the taste I once had for controversial reading of this sort." He then 
states his real sources : "And durmg this period my inquiries into 
the Christian religion have been almost exclusively confined to the 

The New Independents. 79 

Holy Scriptures." (C. B. 229). On this basis, he claims complete 
independence (C. B. 229, 399, 445, 614-5). A like charge was made 
by William Jones (1835), the leading Scotch Baptist of his time, who 
reproaches Mr. Campbell with ingratitude toward A. McLean, the 
founder of that sect. (Ilarb. 35, 295-302). Mr. Campbell again re- 
plied with a very interesting dissertation on the factors of his educa- 
tion (Harb. 35, 302-7). He assigned the initiative of the movement 
to John Glas, 1728. He owns the w'hole as an historical influence of his 
Scotch heritage, but maintains again his independence on the basis of 
the "Bible alone." (H^arb. 35, 305). Taking this stand, he did not 
hesitate to criticise the Scotch Independents freely (C. B. 450), for 
carrying the principle of Apostolic precedent too far. He thus re- 
jected feet-w^ashing, the holy kiss, a set order of service, etc. At the 
same tim.e he felt a closer affinity to the Scotch Baptists and Haldaneans 
than with other parties. He thanks them for the gift of W'^alter Scott 
to his cause (Harb. 35, 298). He was always willing to recognize them 
as brethren, v/here the relation w^as reciprocated. The likeness of 
views and practices was due to similarity of experiences in an inde- 
pendent use of the Scriptures. The relation came too early to affect 
greatly his final thinking. Its effects were negative. The Scotch In- 
dependents aided him in breaking from the religion of his youth 
(Rich. Mem. I, 189). As he says: "My faith in creeds and confes- 
sions of human device was considerably shaken while in Scotland ; and 
I commenced my career in this covmtry under the conviction that 
nothing that was not as old as the New Testament should be an 
article of faith, a rule of practice or a term of communion among 
Christians." We have no reason to deny a practically new product on 
the free soil of America. 


The Rise. 

The leaders of the movements in our preceding chapters were the 
''reformers before the reformation," as Ulmann calls the predecessors 
of Luther. They gave spring and impulse, warning and admonition, 
model and example to the pioneers of the Current Reformation, But 
the latter were trying to break a way not fully tried before them ; to 
clear a ground, spacious and broad, for the exercise of liberty and 
standing-room for all. 

The "Current Reformation" was a providential movement. It came 
in a time of great religious depression. Alany serious hearts were 
greatly troubled at the apparent outcome of Protestantism, — an in- 
definite number of warring sects. They had burdensome doubts as to 
the real progress of the Kingdom of God. The movement arose first 
with individual men, then with independent churches. They were 
found scattered over Scotland, England, Ireland, America and Aus- 
tralia. They became grouped, not from any unity of origin, but by 
similarity of aim. It is in the final cause alone they find the traits of a 
common species. They came out from all the various religious estab- 
lishments of the time, and some were without previous church con- 
nection. They groped their way, for the most part, independently of 
each other, toward what they felt to be the light. But they had one 
thing in common, — the genius of a common Protestantism. They 
sought to get back of the variant and contradictory forms of Chris- 
tianity to the eternal Word of God behind all. They opened their 
Bibles anew, to find there "the way, the truth and the life," apart 
from the dominant ecclesiastical and doctrinal systems. They saw in 
these the dogmas and traditions of men. They sought to do for the 
current Protestantism what Luther had done for the Catholicism of 
his time. They claimed to be the ultimate and logical Protestantism, — 
to leave the farthest behind the remains of the Roman Church. They 
were rightly called the "Reformers," and their work was the "Current 

Thus diverse in origin, they admitted the largest liberty of opin- 
ion, but show a remarkable unity of faith. Let us hear these original 
leaders speak for themselves. 


The Rise. gl 

The English Brethren. 

In the Christian Baptist, a monthly magazine published by Alex- 
ander Campbell, of Bethany, Va., 1823-30, are found a series of letters 
setting forth the faith and order of several churches widely separated 
from one another. These sketches were collected in response to a 
circular letter sent out by a church in New York in 1818, and were 
later published in a volume (C. B, 389). The occasion of their inser- 
tion in the Christian Baptist is a point of interest. In the first volume 
bf his magazine Mr. Campbell had made many severe criticisms of the 
popular churches of his time. In the second, he felt called upon to do a 
more constructive work, to build up where he had torn down ; or, as he 
puts it, to "pay a little more attention to the primitive state of things" 
(C. B. 80). He began accordingly his celebrated series of essays on 
"A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things" (C. B. 126, 133, 139, 
etc.). He pays his respects to all previous reformations, but declares 
this to be the ideal and "all that is necessary to the happiness and 
usefulness of Christians" (C. B. 128). While this series was yet running, 
a reader wrote to ascertain the method to be used in the introduction 
of the "Ancfent Order" (C. B. 184). He accused Mr. Campbell of 
merely theorizing on the subject, and announced himself as ready to 
begin to reform if a move could be determined with respect to the 
churches already in existence which would not do more harm than 
good. Mr. Campbell confessed in reply the difficulty of the under- 
taking, but thought it not unsurmountable (C. B. 185). Prejudices 
and opposition may be aroused, indifference and despair may be com- 
mon ; but as it was wath the Jew^s while in captivity, he held that it 
was the duty of Christians to remove from Babylon and restore a liv- 
ing model of the Lord's House. Mr. Campbell then gave a brief state- 
ment of method (C. B. 185), but concluded: — 

"As the best solution of these difficulties, w^e intend to give the 
history of the progress and proficiency of some congregations who 
have taken this course, and are now enjoying a participation of the 
fulness of the blessings of the gospel of Christ." 

He appealed to history ; he proposed to show how the reform could 
be done by showing how it had been done. 

But Mr. Campbell was delayed in his purpose by the publication 
of his translation of the New Testament (C. B. 225, 243). Meanwhile, 
a second reader sent a sketch of a church in Scotland (name and place 
not given), which was published in the Christian Magazine, Edin- 
burgh, 1819 (C. B. 243). This Mr. Campbell readily accepted as a 

82 The Rise of the Current Reformation-. 

sample of his "Ancient Order." Its story, as told by one of its mem- 
bers, runs as follows (C. B. 245) : — 

"We have met together as a church for these six years past. The 
original members were intimately acquainted with one another. Each of 
us had, for a considerable time, been groaning under the defects of the 
societies with w^iich we were then connected. We clearly perceived 
that they bore none of the features of the churches set in order by the 
apostles ; but we sinfully contented ourselves with our condition. Our 
chief comfort, as to Christian society, arose from assembling together 
once a week in what is called a fellowship meeting. On one of these 
occasions a member spoke with some freedom on the distress he felt, 
arising from the cause above mentioned. This led the way to a free 
conversation ; and we soon found our distress was not that of an in- 
dividual, but common to us all. We therefore resolved to walk together 
as a church in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord 
Jesus, diligently searching the Scriptures to know his w411, and ferv- 
ently praying to be guided by him. From that period w^e have assem- 
bled regularly on the first day of the week. The Lord has been pleased 
graciously to countenance us. Our beginning was indeed small ; we 
were few^ and despised, but walking, as I trust, in the fear of the Lord 
and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, we have been greatly multiplied. 
We had soon the satisfaction of choosing two of our brethren, with 
whose qualifications w-e were entirely satisfied, as our elders. Their 
labors of love have been much blessed, and one and another has from 
time to time been added to our number. Our communion commenced 
in the full conviction that we were yielding obedience to the Lord 
Jesus. And now w^e have increasing experience of the truth of our 
Saviour's declaration, that if any man do his will he shall know of the 
doctrine whether it be of God. We have no standard but the will of 
our Master; and this we find so clearly stated in the Scriptures that, 
with the teachable spirit of disciples, we are in no danger of misunder- 
standing it. We know the benefits of Christian fellowship, by com- 
ing together into one place on the first day of the week, and regularly 
observing the ordinances of Christ, we not only get better acquainted, 
but our interest in each other is greatly promoted. While w^e follow 
our own convictions of duty, and are thankful that, in this highly fa- 
vored country, every man enjoys liberty to worship God according 
to his own conscience, we, at the same time, cherish a loving spirit 
towards all w^ho truly fear God ; we earnestly desire the universal 
spread of the Gospel, and use every means in our power for the salva- 
tion of perishing sinners around us." 

The promised sketches w^ere soon forthcoming. The New York 
letter leads (C. B. 389) :— 

"The Church professing obedience to the faith of Jesus Christ, assem- 
bling together in N. York: To the Churches of Christ scattered 
ove- the earth: 

The English Brethren. 33 

"Dearly Beloved — That you may be better informed concerning 
those who thus address you, we have deemed it requisite to give the 
following brief sketch of our public worship — soliciting, at the same 
time, that wherein you may differ from us in any matter, faithfulness 
will dispose you to refer us to apostolic practice, plain and intelligible 
to the capacity of the plain and simple followers of the Lamb — as we 
have not much of this world's learning, and are disposed to admit that 
alone as obligatory, which can be clearly adduced from the New Testa- 
ment, without the aid of sophistry or allusion to the practices of man. 
And we trust it may be given us from above, to receive with meekness 
whatever of this nature your love and concern for our welfare may 
dispose you to communicate. 

"The order, which we derive from the law of Christ, is as follows : 

"We require that all whom we receive into fellowship should be- 
lieve in their heart, and confess with their mouth, that Jesus is the 
Christ ; that he died for our sins, according to the Scriptures ; and that 
upon such confession, and such alone, they should be baptized. 

"We hold it to be the duty and privilege of the disciples of Jesus 
to come together into one place on every first day of the week, rejoic- 
ing in the recollections which that day revives — whereon the Lord 
Jesus destroyed the power both of hell and death, by his resurrection 
from the dead, and gave sure hope to his people of being raised also. 

"When thus assembled, we proceed to attend to all the ordinances 
which we can discover to be enjoined by the practice of the first 
churches and the commandments of the Lord and his apostles." 

An order of service was then presented. A method of discipline 
was also set forth. The letter continues (C. B. 390) : — 

"The questions and disputations that generally prevail among 
professing Christians have no place among us ; their reasonings and 
speculations occupy no part of our time. The knowledge of the simple 
truth, declared by the Lord Jesus and his apostles — and the practical 
godliness arising from that knowledge, are the things whereon we 
desire to bestow our attention." 

and closes (C. B. 390) : — 

"There are scattered over this continent a few small societies who 
have conformed in part to the simplicity of the apostolic faith and prac- 
tice. We also address to such a similar epistle, and should you favor 
us with your correspondence, we purpose, if the Lord will, to make 
known the result of this our communication, to all whom we shall have 
reason to esteem disciples of the Lord Jesus. 

"The date of your coming together — the number of members — 
whether you have elders and deacons — together with any additional in- 
formation, will be very acceptable to the church that thus addresses you. 
(Signed) "William Ovington, 

"Henry Erritt, Elders." 

This letter was answered by (C. B. 390) : — 

g4 The Rise oe the Current Reformation. 

"The Church of Christ meeting in IMorrison's Court, Glasgow, to their 
brethren the Church of Christ in New York. 
"Dearly Beloved — Your epistle of March the ist came duly to us, 
and our joy and gratitude to the Father of mercies have been excited 
by this instance of a society of believers in Christ, meeting together 
among themselves, and separating from the world and from false pro- 
fessors, in order to walk according to the dictates of the kingdom of 
Zion, directed by his word and spirit in the exhibition of his kingdom. 
We are glad to observe also your zeal for ancient brotherly intercourse 
between churches holding the same faith and observing the same prac- 
tices — an attainment too much neglected in our days." 

A similar faith and order was set forth, but with independence in 
particulars. The letter closes (C. B. 391) : — 

"Such churches as ours have existed in Scotland, at Edinburgh 
and Glasgow, from thirty to forty years. Of late (1812) a division 
took place on the question of small societies, without pastors, having a 
right to use the Lord's Supper. We took the affirmative of this ques- 
tion. We differ from some other Baptists also in receiving only baptized 
believers, whilst they plead for admitting all true believers to their 
fellowship. We differ from others who forbid the brotherly exhorta- 
tions on the Lord's day in the public meetings of the church. Our 
members are about one hundred and eighty. Those of our sister church 
at Paisley about the same. There are besides a number of churches, 
as at Perth, London, Liverpool, &c., &c., and many societies without 
pastors, with whom we are in the habit of Christian intercourse." 

A second response came from 

"The Church of Christ assembling in Leith Walk, Edinburgh, to the 
Church of Christ in New York" (C. B. 392) : — 

"Dear Brethren — We have been much refreshed, and edified, by the 
communication with which you have favored us. Convinced that the 
more general diffusion of the gospel of the kingdom must be accompa- 
nied with a greater degree of union among believers, and that that 
imion can only be produced by renouncing our own wisdom, and keep- 
ing the ordinances as delivered by the apostles. I Cor. 1 1 :2. We en- 
deavor in all things to observe the instructions contained in the New 
Testament. We are, however, deeply sensible, from what we observe 
in others and still more from our own experience, that we are prone 
to be misled and blinded by prejudice while professing a desire to do 
the will of God ; and, therefore, we are happy to communicate with 
our brethren, that we may be mutually profitable to each other. 

"In compliance with your wish, we shall now proceed to give you 
a brief sketch of our history as a church, and inform you of the man- 
ner in which we conduct our worship. In most respects it agrees with 
your practice : and where it differs, we shall mention to you the rea- 
sons of our conduct. 

"It is about twenty years since we were associated together. At 
that time we observed the Lord's Supper once a month ; and although 

The English Brethren. g5 

we had a pastor, we also procured a succession af preachers from a 
distance, whose discourses were more addressed to those who were 
without than to the church. 

"Our first step towards scriptural order was our beginning to break 
bread every Lord's day. In examining this subject, we learned that 
the churches of Christ, to the end of the world, ought in all things to be 
guided by the apostolic traditions. 

'"The subject of mutual exhortation and discipline on the Lord's 
day was next agitated. These had formerly been attended to at our 
weekly evening meeting, but we became convinced that whatever is 
enjoined on the churches should be observed on the first day of the 
week, as this is the only day on which the disciples are commanded 
to assemble, and on which the great body of the church are able to 
attend. About the same time, the question of baptism came unde^ our 
consideration ; and in consequence of many being baptized, and mutual 
exhortation and discipline on the Lord's day being introduced, a con- 
considerable number left us, who still continue to assemble as an Inde- 
pendent church. This took place about ten years ago, since which 
time we have observed our present order. 

"Our number is about two hundred and fifty. We have three 
elders and four deacons; we had four elders, but one of them (Brother 
Thompson) has for many years been desirous of preaching Christ in 
foreign lands, and has left us with this intention. He was commended 
to the Lord for the work by prayer, with fasting and laying on of hands. 
He sailed on the 12th instant from Liverpool for Buenos Ayres, as he 
considered the southern part of your continent to be more neglected 
than any other missionary field. We request your constant prayers on 
his behalf." 

A similar letter was received from the Church of Christ at Tuber- 
more, Ireland, organized in 1807 (C. B. 407) ; another from the Church 
at Manchester, England, dating back to 1810 (C. B. 414), and another 
from the Church at Dublin of the same date (C. B. 420). 

These letters are only a few of the volume published by the New 
York Church. Mr. Campbell says in his review of the series (C. B. 
442) :— 

"We have given the history or brief notices of the origin and prog- 
ress of sundry churches or congregations which, in Europe and 
America, have attempted to move out of Babylon. To these we might 
have added many more, but a sufficient variety appears in the num- 
ber given to afford a fair specimen." 

"From the specimens given, several prominent features of char- 
acteristic importance appear pretty much alike in all : — 

"ist. Although in countries far remote from each other, and 
without the identifying influences of ecclesiastic jurisdiction, in the 
form of superintending judicatories, they appear to have agreed in 

gg The Rise of the Current Reeormatiok. 

making- the Scriptures the sole and all-sufhcient rule of faith and man- 
ners — without the assistance of any creed or formula of human con- 

"2d. In the next place, they appear to have drawn from the same 
source the same general views of the genius and design of the institu- 
tion of a public weekly meeting of Christians on the first day of the 

"3d. All concur unanimously in the necessity and importance of 
the principal items of worship constituting the ancient order of things, 
such as the weekly commemoration of the death of Jesus and the res- 
urrection ; the contribution or fellowship for the necessity of samts ; 
public and social prayer and praise, with the exercise of discipline 
when necessary; and, indeed, all the other public means of edification; 
such as public reading of the Scriptures, teaching, preachmg and ex- 

"4th. They moreover give the same general representation of their 
regard for, as well as apprehension of, the nature and design of the 
true grace of God — and the indispensable need of a moral and pious 

Thus, while Mr. Campbell did not hesitate to criticize some of these 
churches for what ''^ considered still to be the remains of Catholi- 
cism in their midst (C. B. 442, 449, 457), he confessed hmiself in sub- 
stantial communion with them (Harb. '35, 113), and gave the consti- 
tution of a church founded among his new converts in Ohio as an ex- 
ample of his own practice (C. B. 458. 456). 

We can identify some of these churches. The New York Church 
is identical with the West Fifty-sixth Street Church of the Disciples 
to-day, wnth which the Disciples of Christ have always been in com- 
munion. The Glasgow Church was probably of Scotch Baptist origm. 
It antedates the Haldanes (C. B. 391). It was not the same as the 
congregation of Greville Ewing, which met on Jamaica street (Rich, 
Mem. I, 167; Haldane's Mem., 225). In fellowship with this congre- 
gation were churches at Paisley, Perth, London, Liverpool (C. B. 391), 
Manchester, Nottingham, etc. (Harb. '35, 297). 

The Edinburgh Church was the congregation of J. A. Haldane, 
the remains of the Circus congregation which had moved to Leith 
Walk (A. Haldane Mem., 273-4), which, by the immersion of the ma- 
jority of its members and consequent withdrawal of the minority, had 
approached the order of the Scotch Baptist churches, though independ- 
ent of them (A. Haldane ]\Iem., 325-6). The Tubermore (Ireland) 
Church was the congregation of Alexander Carson, who had with- 

The Engush Brethren. 87 

drawn from the Established Church in 1803, because he had become 
an Independent in his views of church government (C. B. 75). He 
also became an immersionist, although the subject was one of forbear- 
ance in his church membership. 

Most of these churches arose independently of each other. They 
had formed some acquaintance with one another through circular let- 
ters, of which the New York letter is a fair sample (C. B, 415). An 
occasional messenger passed from one to another, and told of the 
attempts of his brethren at home to live the simple faith of the New 
Testament. As yet there was no stated ministry, but the care of the 
churches under an eldership, which supported itself by some daily 
occupation, tended to further isolation. These churches of Scotland. 
England and Ireland, which had already begun to feel that they had 
something in common, sent many members to America (C. B. 414; 
Harb. '35, 305, 563) ; who, when they saw the work of the Campbells 
and their associates, joined heartily in the movement. Walter Scott 
and John Thomas, of Virginia, were of this number. Through such, 
the writings of Mr. Campbell were gradually introduced into Great 
Britain (Harb. '48, 514). These brought forth fruit. In 1835, William 
Jones, of London, began the publication of the British Millennial Harb- 
inger, a reprint of selected portions of the Christian Baptist and Mil- 
lennial Harbinger. When he later dissented from Mr. Campbell's 
views on the Holy Spirit and ceased the publication, it was taken up 
by the Nottingham brethren under the title of the Christian Messenger, 
J. Wallis, Editor. Under this guidance, the churches of diverse origins 
approached more and more a common type. To them ]\Ir. Campbell 
went on invitation, m company with James Henshal, as the messenger 
of the American churches of the same faith and order, in 1848. He 
was received as a brother by congregations in Mollington, Liverpool, 
Chester, Shrewsbury, Nottingham, London, etc. He declared the "faidi 
once for all delivered to the saints," and his message was gladly re- 
ceived. He continued his tour through Scotland, where he was met 
by some two or three hundred brethren from near and far (Harb. '48, 
219) Here he noted with sorrow the decline of the great church of 
James A. Haldane (Harb. '48, 220-1). He returned south by way of 
Ireland, where he visited his old home and was refused admission by the 
son of Alexander Carson to the historic church of Tubermore (Harb. 
•48, 515), now in communion with the English Baptists. He hastened 
on to Chester, Eng., where representatives of all the churches of Great 
Britain professing the primitive order were gathered, of which a co- 
operation was formed for the propagation of the cause (Harb. 48, 

38 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

569-572). These constituted what we sometimes call the "Old English 
Brethren," and whose work has by no means been adequately recog- 

Thus it is evident that the Current Reformation antedates the 
Campbells, — not the son only, but the father also. It was a general 
movement, — the manifestation of a certain phase of Protestantism — 
the product of the Divine Spirit working on the spirit of the age in 
the begmning of the Nineteenth Century. It had its rise in the provi- 
dence of God. Originating independently from distant and diverse 
soils, its factors found means of communication and progressive union 
through the publications of Alexander Campbell. But this man, ad- 
mittedly the greatest spirit of the movement, was only the voice, not 
the source; a product, not the founder of the Disciples of Christ; a 
brother in the Lord, and not the father of us all. He brought the 
principles of the movement to their most classical expression. In so far 
he became a model for all who followed. The tribute of Barton W. 
Stone, uttered in 1827, well expressed the intense interest and extreme 
solicitude of hundreds of independent and older reformers as they 
looked upon his career (C. B. 378). 
"From the Christian Messenger to the Christian Baptist: 

"Brother Campbell — Your talents and learning we have highly 
respected ; your course we have generally approved ; your religious 
views, in many points, accord with our own ; and to one point we have 
hoped we both were directing our efforts, which point is to unite the 
flock of Christ, scattered in the dark and cloudy day. We have seen 
you, with the arm of a Samson, and the courage of a David, tearing 
away the long established foundations of partyism, human authorita- 
tive creeds and confessions ; we have seen you successfully attacking 
many false notions and speculations in religion — and against everv sub- 
stitute for the Bible and its simplicity we have seen you exerting all 
your mighty powers. Human edifices begin to totter, and their builders 
to tremble. Every means is tried to prevent their ruin, and to crush 
the man who dares attempt it. We confess our fears that in some of 
your well-intended aims at error you have unintentionally v\'0unded the 
truth. Not as unconcerned spectators have we looked on the mighty 
war betv^'een you and your opposers ; a war in which many of us had 
been engaged for many years before you entered the field. You have 
made a diversion in our favor, and to you is turned the attention of 
creed makers and party spirits, and on you is hurled their ghostly thun- 
der. We enjoy a temporary peace and respite from war where you are 

Mr. Campbell always entered the arena conscious of this cloud 
of witnesses behmd and around him. He was strong to run his race, 
because he knew he bore the love and goodwill of a o-reat multitude of 

The Disciples. gg 

the noblest and sincerest souls of his kind. A right understanding of 
this relation will greatly help the proper appreciation of the Current 


When we turn to the American wing of the Current Reformation, 
we come out into the clear light of history. Here, too, the movement 
came of diverse origins. By the process of mutual recognition and coal- 
ition the independent factors became one. Three nuclei of beginnings are 
easily determined: (i) The group around the New York church; 
(2) that around the Campbells, of Bethany, Va, ; (3) that around Bar- 
ton W. Stone, of Kentucky. Let us study each of these in turn. 

1. The Disciples. 
As far as we can gather, the New York Church arose from the 
Ummigration of Scotch Baptists to America (Harb. '35, 298). The 
date of its beginning, as far as we can ascertain, was 1810. It had a 
full-fledged organization in 1818, and had sufficient self-consciousness 
jto prepare a circular letter setting forth its faith and order and to 
address it to a series of churches in America and Europe which were 
felt to be of its kind (C. B. 390). This letter solicited correspondence 
and a mutual exchange of ideas and aims. It was no accident that 
this letter reached a certain group of churches, and no others, and was 
responded to cordially by them. This group had had a common root in 
the Old World. But in new surroundings, the New York brethren, set- 
ting their model in the "apostolic practice," desiring to admit as obliga- 
tory only that which can be clearly adduced from the New Testament, 
sought a faith and order the result of their own researches and set them 
forth for the friendly criticism of those most akin to them (C. B. 
389-90). Admission to membership in this church was conditioned 
on a confession of faith in Jesus Christ and baptism into His name. 
They met together on the first day of the week in commemoration of 
the resurrection of Jesus. They sought therein to attend to all the or- 
dinances for which precedent or precept could be found in the primi- 
tive churches. They sat in their assemblies apart from the non-mem- 
bers, and observed the following order of service: (i) Prayer; (2) 
Praise; (3) The Lord's Supper; (4) The Fellowship — a collection for 
the saints; (5) Reading of the Scriptures — one passage from the Law, 
one from the Prophets and one from the New Testament ; (6) Ex- 
hortation, by one of the elders or brethren; (7) Praise; (8) Prayer 
and Separation. In the evening, the church also met. when one of the 
elders declared the Gospel to those without. Thus every part of the 

90 The Rise of the Curkent Reformation. 

Lord's Day services was held as a matter of strict obligation. But on a 
week-day evening a "love feast" was attended to, in which the "kiss of 
charity" and washing of the disciples' feet were observed, but not of 
the same obligation. The elders labored at their respective callings, 
and held it an honor not to be burdensome to the church. A strict 
discipline was maintained. There were no ranks or degrees in their 
relations as Christians, but all were brethren. Forbearance was taught 
as a primal virtue. No time was given to speculations and disputa- 
tions common in those times ; but the knowledge of the simple truth 
declared by Jesus and His apostles, and the practical godliness arising 
therefrom, was enough for their attention. Unanimity in all decisions 
of the church, and not a mere majority, was regarded as the scriptural 
rule. They called the congregation the "Church of Christ," and its 
members the "Disciples." They already had a flourishing mission at 
Danbury, Conn. (1817, Life of Isaac Errett I, 26). They were in re- 
lation with other small societies in America (C. B. 346), from one of 
which, viz: that of Pittsburg, came the connection with the Campbells 
and the future significance of the New York Church to the movement 
as a whole. 

George Forrester, a Haldanean preacher, had gathered a small 
congregation in Pittsburg, while he supported himself by the conduct 
of an Academy. Thither came Walter Scott, a recent graduate of Ed- 
inburgh University, to see the Western country, 1818. He was en- 
gaged as a fellow-teacher. This young man, reared in the Established 
Church, was much impressed by the novelty of the religious views of 
his master, to vv^hich he soon assented and united with the church. To 
this church came the pamphlets of the New York Church. These so 
delighted young Scott that he resigned his position and set out on foot 
to make a closer acquaintance with the New York brethren, whom he 
considered as most excellent in their views of the Gospel. But on ar- 
rival he was sorely disappointed. One of those unfortunate dissensions 
had broken out which have so often put to shame the upholders of the 
"primitive gospel," who ever find it difficult to bring their practice up 
to their theory. 

Henry Errett, the prime mover in the early activities of the church, 
had withdrawn. Scott returned to Pittsburg, soon to take up the work 
of Forrester in school and church. In 1820, Scott met Mr. Camipbell, 
and resolved to throw himself heartily into the movement w^hich the 
latter then represented. A union was soon made between Scott's 
church and a reformed Baptist church under the pastoral care of Sidney 
Rigdon (Harb. '48, 553). To this church later came the family of 

The Reformers. 9X 

Henry Errett (Lamar, "Life of Isaac Errett" I, 40). Here Isaac 
Errett was baptized and began his labors in the cause. 

Thus these early Disciples arose independently of the Campbells. 
They were in reality the offshoots of the English Movement ; except 
that in the new country old party lines were not drawn, and the pre- 
cursors and representatives of the Current Reformation coalesced into 
one. Thus their contribution was fourfold: — 

(i) They made the connection between a large body of immi- 
grants, who were seeking the Bible way, and the movement headed by 
the Campbells, through which avenue most important recruits have 
been gained to the cause in this country (Harb. '35, 298). 

(2) They gave the New York and other Eastern churches, from 
which has come almost the whole strength of the Disciples of Christ 
in New York, New England and Canada. 

(3) They gave the rich personalities of Walter Scott and Isaac 
Errett, without whom we should feel ourselves poor indeed. 

(4) They gave an earlier, a more separatist understanding of the 
principles of the Reformation; which, coupled with the Scotch traits 
of character, has made itself felt to this day. 

But this branch of the Reformation affiliated at the beginning with 
the followers of Mr. Campbell, and has shared in the labors and strug- 
gles of the movement in all its history. 

II. The Reformers. 
When we take up the central branch of the Current Reformation 
in America, we are in a much more favorable position as historians. 
Here men were before the movement. From a study of the characters 
of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, we can arrive at the motives of the 
movement and the principles for which they stood. 

Thomas Campbell. 
Thomas Campbell comes out into history as a Seceder minister of 
the North of Ireland. He was of Scotch descent; his wife of French 
Huguenot. He had been educated in Glasgow University and in the 
theological school of the Anti-burgher branch of the Seceders to which 
he belonged. He was settled at Rich Hill, where he conducted an acad- 
emy, while preaching for the church at Ahorey in the country. But. 
catholic in spirit, of a large and loving heart and of a very genial and 
social disposition, he could not confine his sympathies to the narrow- 
party to which he belonged. He felt keenly the sins of sectarianism, 
and set it as his life Vv-ork to do something to heal the divisions of Chris- 

92 The Rise oe the Current Reeormation. 

His first public act was an effort to unite the Burghers and Anti- 
Burghers of Ireland (Rich. Mem. I, 57). The burgess oath had never 
been required on that island ; and as the two parties were willing to 
unite, there seemed to him to be not the slightest reason for continued 
separation. But word came from the higher court in Scotland, express- 
ing in advance disapprobation of the union. Thomas Campbell was 
accordingly sent to the General Associate Synod to request an increased 
independence for the Irish churches. His petition was refused, and he 
returned home, having lost his first case in an ecclesiastical court, mucl\ 
downcast at the prospect. This bitter experience was soon to be re- 
peated, once and again, on a far different soil. The health of Thoma.i 
Campbell having been imperiled by constant toil in school and church, 
a voyage to America v^^as prescribed as the only remedy. He set out 
therefor. Pleased with the New World, he ordered his family to fol- 
low, and settled at Washington, Western Pennsylvania, under the 
charge of the Chartiers Presbytery (Rich. Mem. I, '88). But sectarian 
strife was even more bitter on the American frontier than in the Old 
Country. Thomas Campbell was not slow to express his disapproval of 
this state of affairs, and to show his high respect for those of other re- 
ligious parties. His personal popularity as a preacher did not increase 
the regard for him among his less accomplished associates. Accord- 
ingly, when on a tour north of Pittsburg and finding many Presbyte- 
rians, not Seceders, in his congregation, he took occasion to lament 
the existing divisions and to invite them to sit down with the little 
Seceder church at the Lord's Table. Thomas Campbell greatly prized 
this ordinance. His heart went out in sympathy to those Christians 
many of whom had not had the privilege of communion for years. But 
the Seceders were close communionists. A Mr. Wilson, who was 
present at the time, finding that Thomas Campbell had little respect for 
party differences, brought the charge of failure to maintain a strict ad- 
herence to the Seceder Testimony and Discipline before the next meet- 
ing of the Chartiers Presbytery. Mr, Campbell, when questioned as to 
his views, stated that he had always been opposed to religious party- 
ism, and insisted that he had violated no precept of the sacred volume. 
The Presbytery voted that he be censured. Mr. Campbell appealed to 
the Synod. This higher court found irregularities in the action of the 
Presbytery, but let the censure remain. To this decision, ]\Ir. Campbell 
at first submitted; but finding that the enmity of his fellow-ministers 
w'as only mtensified by the issue of the trial, he sent a formal renunci- 
ation of the authority of the Synod and finally withdrew from the Se- 
ceders altogether (Rich. Mem. I, 223-30). The pain at this outcome 

Thomas Campbell. 93 

of so trivial an ofifence was beyond description to Thomas Campbell. 
His disappointment in Ireland was nothing when compared with it. 
He was sure his motives were the best. It was the loving heart of 
Thomas Campbell which got him into trouble. Note the part this shall 
play in the future. The defence before the Synod is an interesting doc- 
ument (Rich, Mem. I, 226-8). It shows the germs of the later "Dec- 
laration and Address." When accused of not being true to the Seceder 
standard, he fell back on the Divine Standard, and refused to be con- 
vinced by anything less than a "Thus saith the Lord ;" to which stand- 
ard he promised to make his life conformable. He soon had abundant 
opportunities for the application of his principle. 

To cease to be a Seceder did not mean the end of Thomas Camp- 
bell's ministry. His old Irish neighbors and others gathered around 
him in closer sympathy. He was accustomed to address them in barns 
and groves and houses, as occasion offered. In the process of these 
discourses, he bewailed the partisan divisions of the church, set forth 
the Bible as a sufficient rule for faith and practice and pleaded for Chris- 
tian Union and co-operation. The meeting appointed from time to 
time was compelled at last to face the question of a permanent organi- 
zation. The tie up to this time had largely been the personal one. The 
group of friends of Thomas Campbell represented all of the prominent 
sects of the time, and some had never belonged to any church. Upon 
what basis could they formally unite into a little society; and what 
should this society be or stand for? A meeting was appointed in the 
home of Abraham Altars for the consideration of these questions. 
Thomas Campbell spoke to the subject. He reviewed the history of 
their little gatherings, defined what he considered the basis of his teach- 
ings, urged them to accept the same principles and closed with the 
words v/hich are his chief claim to fame: "That rule, my highly re- 
spected hearers, is this, that where the Scriptures speak we speak and 
where the Scriptures are silent zve are silent." This utterance came like 
a message from God to the little assembly. All felt they had their motto. 
The plain, simple statement of the Word of God should be their guide. 
They would have no other. They would respect the silence of the 
Bible. If there was no utterance, there should be no doctrine. Thus 
they hoped to avoid the questions on which the Christian World had di- 
vided, and to find a basis for union, communion and a reformation of 
the existing state of affairs. (Rich. Mem. I, 231-7). 

For this purpose a society was formed, called "The Christian As- 
sociation of Washington." Thomas Campbell found his models for this 
society in the Wesleyan and Haldanean societies of the Old "World. 

94 The Rise of the Current Reeormation. 

Thomas Campbell and Thomas Acheson were appointed to draw a state- 
ment of the purposes and aims of the association. This was soon pub- 
lished as the "Declaration and Address." In this document of fifty- 
four pages (Young's Historical Documents) they set forth their 
purpose as the promoting of simple evangelical Christianity; dis- 
avowed the purpose of forming a church or separate religious party 
at all ; they did not intend to observe the ordinances ; they were to meet 
only half-yearly ; they were merely the voluntary advocates of a church 
reformation, viz., the Union of all Christians. For this purpose, they 
proposed to require nothing as "a matter of faith or duty, for which 
there can not be expressly produced a 'Thus saith the Lord,' either in 
express terms or by approved precedent." 

This was the great contribution of Thomas Campbell, — the empha- 
sis on the Principle of Christian Union. Others had held to it as some- 
thing to be desired, as a part of the ideal Christian state, but Thomas 
Campbell made the first strenuous effort to realize the ideal. This de- 
sire was the mainspring of all his labors. It was henceforth to remain 
at the front, at least in theory if not in practice. 

But success did not come to the reformator> movement as ex- 
pected. The Declaration and Address seemed to have fallen on deaf 
ears. No second Christian Association was formed. While many 
praised the purpose of the society, few publicly espoused its cause. Its 
members were more and more breaking away from their previous 
church connections. It seemed that the Christian Association must be- 
come a new party. They began to hear the reproach that instead of 
promoting union they were adding one more to the number of sects. 
The dread of this outcome, which was just the opposite of the purpose 
of Thomas Campbell, seems to have been a ruling motive in this period, 
and accounts for a course of action which from any other consideration 
must appear as weak and inconsistent. 

Accordingly, when some friends from the regular Presbyterian 
Church urged him to unite with them, he made formal application to 
the Synod of Pittsburg (1811), for "Christian and ministerial commun- 
ion" with that body. He felt his belief to be in substantial agreement 
with the Westminster Confession of Faith, In this proposed imion, 
Thomas Campbell stated plainly the principles and purposes of the 
Christian Association, which he had no intention of giving up. He 
wished to submit himself to the authority of the Synod as a regular 
Presbyterian minister, while he went on in the work of this non-eccles- 
iastical organization. The refusal of the Synod was unanimous. When 
pressed for reasons, it gave the following: 

Alexander Campeelu. 95 

"(a) For expressing his belief that there are some opinions taught 
in our Confession of Faith which are not founded in the Bible. 

"(b) For declaring that the administration of baptism to infants 
is not authorized by scriptural precept or example. 

''(c) For encouraging his son to preach without any regular au- 

"(d) For opposing creeds and confessions as injurious to the in- 
terest of religion." 

But the chief reason was that "it is not consistent with the regula- 
tions of the Presbyterian Church that the Synod should form a connec- 
tion with any ministers, churches or associations." 

This reply was a fair statement of the attitude of the prominent 
denominations to the Christian Association. Thomas Campbell felt the 
rebuff most keenly. He and Alexander were at that time not members 
of any sect ; they were cut off from church privileges. It became evi- 
dent that the Christian Association must either disband or become an 
independent church. It is quite likely that the former alternative would 
have been the fate of the little society had not the leadership fallen to the 
son, Alexander Campbell, now twenty-three years of age, who had not 
favored the approach to the Presbyterians, and now he did not propose 
that the aspersions of the Synod should go .unanswered. Accordingly, 
he announced that he would reply to the objections of the Synod at the 
next meeting of the Christian Association. It was the young man's 
first effort at polemics. He took up the objections one by one and deal: 
with them so effectively that all saw that the cause had found a new 
champion. Under his bolder and more aggressive spirit the path of 
further progress was marked out. 

Alexander Campbell. 

The future of the Current Reformation was so bound up with the 
destiny of this young man that we are justified in tracing it hereafter 
along with the thread of his personal history. We can do this almost 
wholly in his own language. The very question which we are consid- 
ering had often been propounded to Mr. Campbell in the prime of his 
manhood (Harb. '48, 280). He answered by a series of autobiographi- 
cal sketches (C. B. 72, 92, 219, 228-9, 238, 664; Harb. '30, 137-8; Harb. 
'35, 302-4; Harb. '48, 278-83, 344-9, 522-4, 552-7, 613-6; Harb. '49, 
46-8), which are both most interesting and the most authentic sources 
for our information. 

Alexander Campbell was born in County Antrim, North Ireland, 
in 1788. We can pass over his youth and education for our present 
■purposes, except to note a marked trait of his character, viz.. inde- 

96 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

pendence of mind (Rich. Mem. I. 33). This is the key to the contri- 
bution of the son, as that crowning trait — a cathoHc spirit — explains the 
work of the father. 

He considers his own proper career to begin with his departure 
from Ireland (C. B. 92) : 

"I sailed from the city of Londonderry on the 3d day of October, 
1808, destined for the city of Philadelphia; but being shipwrecked on 
the coast of the island of Ila on the night of the 9th of the same month. 
I was detained until the 3d day of August, 1809, on which day I sailed 
from the city of Greenock for New York. On the 27th of which month 
I and the whole ship's company had almost perished in the Atlantic ; 
but through the watchful care and tender mercy of our Heavenly 
Father, we w^ere brought to the harbor which we desired to see, and 
safely landed in New York on the 29th of September, 1809. On the 
28th of the next month I arrived in Washington, Pennsylvania, to which 
place I have been known ever since." 

He had experienced a normal Eighteenth Century conversion (C. 
B. 219, see p. 67; Harb. '30, 137). He had been an enthusiast of the 
dominant religion (C. B. 238). His calling in life was set by the dom- 
ination of the same. He says (C. B. 664) : 

"Having been educated as Presbyterian clergymen generally are, 
and looking forward to the ministry as both an honorable and useful 
calling, all my expectations and prospects in future life were, at the age 
of twenty-one, identified with the office of the ministry." 

But in Scotland he met Greville Ewing; who, in the language of 
Kant, aroused him from his dogmatic slumbers. As he says (C. B. 92) : 

"My faith in creeds and confessions of human device was considera- 
bly shaken while in Scotland." 

But too much must not be made of this experience. As lie says in 
the context (C. B. 92) : 

"I arrived in this country with credentials in my pocket from that 
sect of Presbyterians known by the name of Seceders. These creden- 
tials certified that I had beeii both in Ireland in the presbytery of Market 
Hill, and in Scotland in the presbytery of Glasgow a member of the 
Secession church, in good standing." 

Nor should too much be made of the whole Glasgow influence 
(Rich Mem. I, 190). He was only twenty years of age at the time. We 
can hardly expect a grasping of the positive principles of his life at this 
early period. 

The shock was little more than that which is prone to come upon 
any young man. especially in college, in the transition from the religion 
of 3^outh to that of greater maturity. Certainly the period of crossing 

Alexander Campbell. 97 

the great ocean was one of discontent and uncertainty. On arrival in 
America, he was ready with all the vigor and enthusiasm of young man- 
hood to launch into a new movement, especially when presented by so 
loved and respected a guide as his father (Harb. '48 282). He says 
£iccordingly (Harb. '48, 280) : 

"The first proof-sheet that I ever read was a form of 'My father's 
Declaration and Address,' in press in Washington, Pa., on my arrival 
there in October, 1809. There were in it the following sentences: 
'Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church, or 
to be made a term of communion amongst Christians, that is not as old 
as the New Testament. Nor ought anything to be admitted as of Di- 
vine obligation in the church constitution and management but what is 
expressly enjoined by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and His 
apostles upon the New Testament church, either in express terms o: 
approved precedent.' These last words, 'express terms' and 'approved 
precedent,' made a deep impression on my mind, then well-furnished 
with the popular doctrines of the Presbyterian Church in all its 

Here may be seen the part played by Alexander Campbell in the 
Current Reformation. He came in after the principles of the move- 
ment had been both determined and stated. These he accepted from 
his father, who had arrived at them while separated from the son. 
Alexander's contribution was : ( i ) The application of the principles 
of the Declaration and Address to the teachings and practice of mem- 
bers of the Christian Association ; and (2) the world-wide proclamation 
of the same through his writings and debates. 

Thus his statement became a means for recognition and union of 
numerous independent reformers in both hemispheres. As he savs (C. 
B. 92) : 

"I commenced my career in this country under the conviction that 
nothing that was not as old as the New Testament should be made an 
article of faith, a rule of practice, or a term of communion amongst 
Christians. In a word, that the whole of the Christian religion exhib- 
ited in prophecy and type in the Old Testament, was presented m the 
fiillest, clearest, and most perfect manner in the New Testament, by 
the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. This has been the pole-star of my 
'course ever since, and I thank God that he has enabled me so far to 
prosecute it, and to make all my prejudices and ambition bow to this 
emancipating principle." 

We reach now the second stage of the history of this central branch 
of the American Movement — from 1810 to 1830 — viz., the application 
of the principles. It happened to be coincident also with the connec- 
tion with the Baptists. The period opened with the overtures to the 

98 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

Presbyterians. Mr. Campbell gives the status of their motives and 
views at the beginning of this process (Harb. '2)7^ H^) : — 

"So fully were we aware of the evils of schism, and so reluctant 
to assume the attitude of a new party, that we proposed to continue in 
the Presbyterian connexion even after we were convinced of various im- 
perfections in the form of its government, in its system of discipline, 
in its administration of Christian ordinances, and of the want of Scrip' 
tural warrant for infant baptism ; provided only they would allow us to 
follow out our convictions by not obliging us to do what we could not 
approve, and allow us to teach and enforce only those matters for which 
we could produce clear Scriptural authority and make all the rest a 
subject of forbearance till farther enlightened." 

These questions of difference received attention one by one and 
came to satisfactory solution. Let us take them up in order : — 

(i) Church Government (C. B. 92). 

"I continued in the examination of the Scriptures, ecclesiastical 
history, and systems of divinity, ancient and modern, until July 15, 1810, 
on which day I publicly avowed my convictions of the independency of 
the church of Christ, and the excellency and authority of the Scriptures, 
in a discourse from the last section of what is commonly called 'Christ's 
Sermon on the Mount.' " 

(See Rich. Mem. I, 313, 345-9, 466). 

(2) Baptism (C. B. 92). 

"In conformity to the grand principle which I have called the pole- 
star of my course of religious inquiry, I was led to question the claims 
of infant sprinkling to divine authority, and was, after a long, serious, 
and prayerful examination of all means of information, led to solicit 
immersion on a profession of my faith, when as yet I scarce knew a Bap- 
tist from Washington to the Ohio, in the immediate region of my la- 
bors, and when I did not know that any friend or relation on earth 
would concur with me. I was accordingly baptized by Elder Matthias 
Luse, who was accompanied by Elder Henry Spears, on the 12th day 
of June, 1 81 2." 

(See Harb. '48, 281-3; Rich. Mem. I, 49, 82, 180-I, 186-7, 237-8, 

240, 344-5, 392-6). 

(3) The Confession — At the baptism ]\Ir. Campbell refused to 
give a narration of his religious experience, as was the custom among 
the Baptists, and would receive the rite only on the confession that 
"Jesus is the Christ." (Harb. '48, 282-3; Rich. Mem. i, 398-410). 

This change of views on the subject of baptism was not an ordi- 
nary event in the experiences of Alexander Campbell. It led to a trans- 
formation of all his thinking under the guidance of his new principle* 

Alexander Campbell. 99 

(Harb. '48, 344). It marked a crisis also in the history of the Christian 
Association. Thomas Campbell and the majority of the members fol- 
lowed the example of Alexander, Many others took offence at this 
action and withdrew. The Christian Association became a body of im- 
mersed believers. This brought about a new alignment. At the time 
of his immersion, Mr. Campbell had an intense prejudice against the 
Baptists (Harb. '48, 345; C. B. 92). But again their ardent desire to 
make for Christian Union, and not to start a new religious party, over- 
came all objections. 

Mr. Campbell says (Harb. '37, 146) : — 

"In the second place, when it became necessary, because of the re- 
fusal of our Psedobaptist friends to permit this, and more especially 
because of our actual renunciation of infant baptism, to be separated 
from our former religious connections (although we had then a very 
humble opinion of the 'intelligence' and piety of the Baptist society of 
Western Pa. and Va.), we were willing to unite with them rather than 
form a new party, and did accordingly make to them a proposition to 
that effect." 

In this union, it was not the purpose of the members of the Chris- 
tian Association to give up their principles and purposes, as was ex- 
plicitly stated in the terms of agreement (Harb. '37, 147) — 

"In our overtures to the Baptists we fully and faithfully gave them 
in writing an explicit statement of the points in which we concurred 
with them, and of the points in which we differed, asserting our will- 
ingness to co-operate with them on the principle of mutual forbearance 
on all matters of opinion, and of united action in all matters of faith, 
piety and morality. They covenanted to form such a union, and in 
good faith of this agreement we entered into it September, 181 3. On 
the Bible, as our only rule of faith, piety and morality, we solemnly 
covenanted, as the Records of the Redstone Baptist Association wall 

(So C. B. 92; Harb. '48. 346). 

Thus the Brush Run Church, as it was now called, did not adopt 
the Philadelphia Confession of Faith as its creed, after the manner of 
Baptist churches in that day, but took the Bible as its only standard. A 
model was thus formed for an order of reformation, which was fol- 
lov.-ed by many of the Baptist churches themselves. At the time of 
union, a minority of the Redstone Association opposed the action 
(Harb. '48, 347). This was destined to grow until a schism between 
the two orders took place. IMeanwhile, a period of peace ensued. Mr. 
Campbell gave himself to pursuits of agriculture, to study and itinera- 
ting among^the Baptist churches (C. B. 92, 664; Harb. '48, 347). A 

100 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

meeting house was built at Wellsburg. Buffalo Seminary was started 

In this period, the principles of the movement were applied to the 
following subjects : — 

4. Faith ; its nature and place in the Christian system (Rich. 

Mem. I, 411-28; C. B. 228-9; Harb. '30, 137). See pp. 
62, 63. 

5. The Lord's Day, — versus the Sabbath (Rich. Mem. I, 


6. The Work of the Holy Spirit (Harb. '30, 137-8). See p. 66 

7. The Progress of Revelation, The Old and New Testaments, 

the Dispensations (Harb. '48, 348; Rich. Mem. I, 471-9). 

See p. 48. 

8. Nomenclature, — whence the motto "Bible names for Bible 
things." (Walker Deb. 19). 

But the conflict with the Baptists soon came on apace. In this 
conflict the Reformers, as they now came to be called, were driven vio- 
lently from the Baptist fold ; and Mr. Campbell was to win the reputa- 
tion of one of the most brilliant controversialists in America. This proc- 
ess was painful enough. There was much misunderstanding and bit- 
terness on both sides. We shall depict it most briefly, and only in so 
far as the purposes of our study demand. The first battle was over the 
Sermon on the Lav/, 1816, (See Young's Historical Documents; Harb. 
'46, 493- ). Jealousy had grown up in the breasts of some of the 
preachers of the Redstone Association. The erection of the house at 
Wellsburg was a factor in this, as the Cross Creek Church, three miles 
in the country, regarded this as an encroachment on their territory. 
Accordingly, at an association meeting at the latter place, IVIr. Campbell 
was invited to preach only under the pressure of his friends. He gave 
his familiar distinction between the Law and the Gospel, the Old Dis- 
pensation and the New, ]\Ioses and Christ (Harb. '48, 348). Opposi- 
tion was made at once. The sermon was made a pretext for a heresy 
trial the next year, but the enemy was defeated by a strong majority. 
Mr. Campbell had it published to avoid misrepresentation. It was his 
first pamphlet. The event was dramatic in its effect on his future. 
He says (Harb. '46, 393) :— 

"This unfortunate sermon involved me in a seven years' war with 
some members of said Association, and became a matter of much de- 
bate. . . . It is therefore highly probable to my mind that but for 
the persecution begun on the alleged heresy of this sermon whether the 
present reformation had ever been advocated by me." 

Alexander Campbell. 101 

Next came the Walker Debate, 1820, which introduced him to the 
Baptists of Ohio, and made valuable friends in the Mahoning Associa- 
tion, including Adamson Bentley and Sidney Rigdon (Harb. '48, 522-3). 
From this time, Mr. Campbell went regularly to the yearly meeting of 
this association, by which means this whole body was brought to prac- 
tical acceptance of the views of the Reformers. 

Meanwhile Thomas Campbell had opened an academy in Pittsburg. 
He found there Walter Scott, then in charge of the Haldanean church 
founded by George Forrester. Alexander visited the city often. A 
lifelong friendship and alliance was formed between the future leaders 
of the cause. The regular Baptist Church at Pittsburg embraced the 
Reformation, and Sidney Rigdon was settled as pastor. A union was 
soon accomplished between the churches of Scott and Rigdon. Thus 
was formed the third church of the Reformation (Harb. '48, 556). 
Samuel Church soon united with this congregation and became its min- 

]\Ieanwhile, the second church had been formed by strategem. Af- 
ter the Sermon on the Law, Mr. Campbell ceased to itinerate so exten- 
sively and gave himself more to teaching in Buffalo Seminary. The 
opposition, taking advantage of this, grew rapidly. In 1823 they gath- 
ered all their forces and resolved to expel him from the Redstone As- 
sociation. Mr. Campbell heard of the plot a month in advance; and 
as he was announced to debate with Mr. McCalla in October, and did 
not wish to appear as excommunicated by his own religious party, he 
executed a flank movement on his enemies. Accordingly, in quiet, he 
had twenty members dismissed from the Brush Run Church ; went with 
them and formed a new church in the meeting house at Wellsburg ; sent 
messengers to the Mahoning Association and was accepted by the same ; 
and when called up by his former Redstone brethren, demurely in- 
formed them that he was outside their jurisdiction (Harb. 48, 553-6). 

This year 1823 was notable in other respects. Then began the 
publication of the Christian Baptist, which did so much as a medium 
of exchange between the diverse seekers after the Ancient Order. Then 
also occurred the McCalla Debate, which introduced Mr. Campbell to 
the Baptists of Kentucky. This was followed by a series of tours to 
this State, by means of which the seeds of the Reformation were sown 
broadcast. The Christian Baptist did valuable service in this work 
(Harb. '48, 613-6). Soon after this, Philip S. Fall, late from England, 
was settled as pastor of the Baptist Church in Louisville. He openly 
espoused the Reformation, and under his guidance the church replaced 
its creed with the New Testament. He soon moved to Nashville, and 

202 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

there repeated the process. Thus were added the fourth and fifth 

The order of Reformation now became so rapid that we can not 
follow it in detail. This was generally accomplished by voting out the 
Philadelphia Confession of Faith, and by taking the Bible as the sole 

In this period, the principles of the movement were applied to the 
subject of the Design of Baptism (Harb. '48, 614). :\lr. Scott here 
did valiant service in his use of this doctrine in his evangelistic work 
(Harb. '49, 48). 

This work was the next great factor in the progress of the move- 
ment. Having been commissioned by the Alahoning Association in 
1827 and filled with great enthusiasm for the cause, Scott flashed as a 
meteor throughout the Western Reserve. He first brought in numbers 
and convinced the Reformers that something could be done in the way 
of a popular movement. 

JMeanwhile the conflict in the Redstone Association came to a cri- 
sis. Several churches of this Association, under the influence of ^Ir. 
Campbell, had grown to prize their creeds less and their Bibles more. 
There was, however, an article in the old constitution of the Associ- 
ation which required that the churches in writing their letters should 
refer to the Philadelphia Confession of Faith (C. B. 276). This con- 
stitution had been a dead letter of late years, but in 1826 it was revived 
by the enemies of Mr. Campbell, who came early on the ground, organ- 
ized the association with the ten churches which they controlled, and 
then, when the letters from the other fourteen churches were presented, 
handed them back as unconstitutional because they did not conform to 
the article above-stated. In this way they captured the association, and 
proceeded immediately to excomimunicate the nonconforming churches 
for v,'hatever heresies they pleased to trump up. Elders Henry Spears 
and Matthias Luce, who had grown gray in the Baptist cause, were 
caught in the slaughter (C. B. 276). When the members of the ex- 
cluded churches saw it was no use to protest, they met at a house near, 
heard a discourse from ]\Ir. Campbell, vrho was present as a fraternal 
delegate of the Alahoning Association, resolved to go home, report 
progress and to return the next month to Washington in order to form 
a new Association. This was done. It is needless to say that in the 
constitution of this, the Washington Association, no mention was made 
of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith ; but instead the following arti- 
cle was inserted : "We receive the Scriptures as the only rule of faith 
and practice to all the churches of Christ" (Rich. Mem. II, 166). This 

The Reformers. 103 

model was followed by the congregations in turn, and thus fourteen 
more churches were added to the Reformation. 

Meanwhile, the opposite course was being worked out in the Ma- 
honing Association. There Walter Scott had been received cordially, 
and was supported by practically the entire membership. This whole 
association espoused the cause of the Reformers, — four small congrega- 
tions withdrawing. Thus a great force was gained to the movement. 

Likewise, divisions occurred in the associations of Kentucky and 
Virginia. In both States the Reformers gained many of the largest 
churches and most respected ministers, including Jacob Creath, Sr., D. 
S. Burnett and Raccoon John Smith. 

The war was now carried into local churches. The four churches 
which withdrew from the ^Mahoning Association formed themselves, to- 
gether with some scattered churches north of Pittsburg, into the Beaver 
Association (C. B. 659). This association issued a circular anathema- 
tizing the Mahoning Association and Mr. Campbell for "dammable here- 
sies." Mr. Campbell attacked this anathema as false and slanderous, 
but it was copied by Baptist papers over the country and the work of 
exclusion began (C. B. original vol. VII, 183-4; Harb. '30, 174-7). 
The Appomattox and Dover Decrees were important documents of this 
war (See Gates' Revelation and Separation, chapter on "Separation"). 
Mr. Campbell saw that he could not prevent the storm, and bowed before 
it. He remained calm and undisturbed at home, and gave what com- 
fort he could to his followers through his magazines. He reviewed the 
whole period in two articles entitled "Reformers, not Schismatics" 
(Harb. '37, 145-51, 193-9). "i which he maintained that he and his 
friends were the "separated rather than separatists ;" that in no instance 
had a majority of Reformers ever cast out a minority of Baptists, but 
that the opposite had often happened (Harb. 'iJ, 149). This schism 
occurred within the years 1830-3. That which the Reformers had been 
trymg to avoid for twenty years, viz., the forming of a separate relig- 
ious party, was forced upon them. Under the sting of the treatment 
received from Baptist Associations, and finding no precedent for such 
organizations in the Scriptures, they disbanded the Mahoning, Wash- 
ington, Stillwater and other associations and became merely independent 
churches. This they remained until the organization of missionary so- 
cieties, State and national, in the years 1845-50. Thus the union with 
the Baptists had proved to be of doubtful expediency, and had been 
fraught with endless turmoil. Mr. Campbell clung to it, hov/ever, with 
stubborn tenacity, and had gained thereby an audience as large as the 
nation, and a following which when cast forth was able to begin with 

1Q4 The Rise of the Current Reformation, 

a ministry, churches, members and organs of publications so as to com- 
mand attention and respect from the beginning (Harb. '2i7^ ^SO)* 
The Christians. 

We shall pass over this branch of the Current Reformation with 
only the briefest sketch; not that it is less important than the others, 
but that our search is for the rise of doctrines and principles. This 
branch brought in numbers and the evangelistic spirit. It has little sig- 
nificance on the doctrinal side. 

The "Christians" or "Christian Connection," as they were often 
called, v;ere themselves a composite people. They arose out of the re- 
ligious conditions of America immediately succeeding the Revolutionary 
War. In the Carolinas, James O'Kelly led a party of Methodists who 
refused to submit to the episcopacy of Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury 
and were called at first "Republican Methodists," but later repudiated 
that name for the simple title "Christians" (Rich. Mem. II, 185). Like- 
wise, m New England, Abner Jones and Elias Smith led out parties of 
Baptists who assumed the same name (Ibid. II, 186). But most impor- 
tant is the group of "Christians" gathered around Barton W, Stone, 
formerly a Presbyterian minister of Kentucky. In the West these par- 
ties, coming out of three leading denominations, found themselves to 
be in practical agreement as to their views, and so coalesced under the 
title "Christian Connection" (Ibid 11, 198). Here also they met the 
reformation led by Alexander Campbell, and took relation pro or con 
to this movement. 

This relation concerns itself especially with Barton W. Stone, 
whose life and work we shall sketch in brief : 

Barton Warren Stone was born in Maryland, 1772. He attended 
school at Guilford C. H., N. C, where he was converted under the 
preaching of James McGready. He soon became a candidate for the 
ministry under the Orange Presbytery, but fell into doubt on the doc- 
trines of Election and Reprobation and of the Trinity; he went for a 
time to Georgia where he taught the classical languages, but later re- 
turned and took up his life work. He soon migrated to Kentucky, where 
he was settled with the Presbyterian churches at Cane Ridge and Con- 
cord. Here he was when the evangelistic wave swept over the country 
in 1801-2. Mr. Stone entered heartily into the revival. With his 
churches occurred one of those greaf pioneer camp-meetings, at which 
25,000 people were estimated to have been in attendance ; nearly a thou- 
sand persons were converted, and the jerks and other enthusiastic phe- 
nomena which had accompanied the preaching of Whitefield were mani- 
'fold. Mr. Stone says of this meeting (Chr. Mess. I, Tj) : — 

The Christians. 105 

"The doctrine preached by all was simple, and nearly the i:ame. 
Free and full salvation to every creature was proclaimed. All urged 
faith in the gospel, and obedience to it, as the way of life. All ap- 
peared deeply impressed with the ruined state of sinners, and were anx- 
ious for their salvation. The spirit of partyism, and party distinctions, 
were apparently forgotten. The doctrines of former controversy were 
not named; no mention was made of eternal, unconditional election, rep- 
robation or fatality. The spirit of love, peace and union were revived. 
You might have seen the various sects engaged in the same spirit, pray- 
ing, praising and communing together, and the preachers in the lead. 
Happy days ! joyful seasons of refreshment from the presence of the 
Lord ! This work from this period spread throughout the western 

But this was a state of affairs the sects of the time v/ere illy pre- 
pared for. Consequently, some of Mr. Stone's fellow-ministers op- 
posed the work and doctrines of the revival ; took up the slogan for the 
dogmas of Calvinism which brought on a war with the other sects ; and 
finally, Richard McNemar, one of the preachers, was held for trial be- 
fore his presbytery on the charge of Arminianism (Ibid. I, 78). It 
was a test case, was taken up by all the friends of the revival and re- 
sulted in the withdrawal of five ministers (Stone one of the number) 
and the formation of the Springfield Presbytery (Ibid. I, 104). These 
seceders were formally suspended from the ministry and deposed from 
their churches ; but, like Thomas Campbell, continued in their functions 
as ministers and gathered around them a considerable party. But they 
had now to answer the reproach of forming a new sect, which was con- 
trary to their purpose (Ibid. I, 241), and so in 1804 they published the 
"Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery" and disbanded 
(See Mem. of Stone 51 ; Chr. Mess. 1, 241 ; Young's Hist. Doc. 19-26). 
This interesting document reads as follows (Young, 20) : — 

"We zvill that this body die, be dissolved and sink into union with 
the Body of Christ at large ; for there is but one Body, and one Spirit, 
even as we are called in one hope of our calling. 

"We will that our name of distinction, with its Reverend title, be 
forgotten, that there be but one Lord over God's heritage, and his 
name One. 

"We zvill that our power of making laws for the government of the 
church, and executing them by delegated authority, forever cease ; that 
the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the lazv of the 
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." 

and continues (Ibid. 21-2) : — 

"We zvill that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure 
guide to heaven ; and as many as are offended with other books, which 
stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose ; 

106 1*HE Rise of the Current Reformation. 

for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to 
be cast into hell." 

From henceforth they called themselves "Christians" only. 

About this time Mr. Stone again fell into doubt on the doctiine of 
the Atonement, as taught in the orthodox systems of the time. He did 
not find it in the Bible, nor did it harmonize with his belief that "God 
is Love, and Christ died for all." He accordingly gave it up (Chr. 
Mess. I, 243-5). Soon, too, millenarian ideas began to run riot in the 
revival communities, which were brought to a crisis by the arrival of 
some Shaker missionaries from New York. These, with their doctrine 
of "perfection in holiness," carried off McNemar and other leaders and 
decimated their ranks (Ibid. I, 263-4). Stone, however, stood firm on 
his original ground, and in the reading of his Bible sav/ that "immer- 
sion was the apostolic mode of baptism and that believers were the only 
proper subjects of it." At a conference of leaders, it was agreed that 
each individual act according to his own belief in this matter, by which 
rule the greater part of their number were baptized. Writing in 1827, 
Mr. Stone said : "Now there is not one in five hundred among us v/ho 
has not been immersed." (Ibid. I, 267). Other divisions came; but 
in spite of all the Christians grew rapidly, and soon became an impor- 
tant people on the Western frontier. 

In 1824, Stone met Alexander Campbell, then touring in Kentucky, 
They found their views in harmony in all essentials, although with 
marked theological differences. The acquaintance ripened into warm 
personal friendship ; so that as the years went by the leaders of the two 
independent movements, as well as their followings, began to co-oper- 
ate and approach each other. After the Reformers were cast out from 
the Baptists, a formal union was decided upon. John Smith, on the 
part of Campbell, and John Rogers, on that of Stone, v.^ent throughout 
Kentucky, gathered the Reformers and Christians together and organ- 
ized them into single congregations. This work was accomplished in 
the years 1832-5, and remains as the most splendid illustration of the 
principle of Christian union in the history of the Current Reformation. 
In Ohio and the northwest, the union did not succeed ; and in those 
States, the Christian Connection are yet a separate people. 

The contribution of Stone and his friends was the evangelistic en- 
thusiasm to which is due the rapid growth of the Disciples of Christ. 
Richardson w^ell states this contribution in contrast to the work of the 
Reformers (Rich. Mem. II, 198-9) : — 

"While the features of this organization were thus. In a good meas- 
ure, similar to those of the reformation in which Mr. Campbell was en- 


gaged, there were some characteristic differences. With the former, 
the idea of uniting all men under Christ was predominant ; with the lat- 
ter, the desire of an exact conformity to the primitive faith and practice. 
The one occupied itself chiefly in casting abroad the sweep-net of the 
Gospel, which gathers fishes of every kind ; the other was more mtent 
upon collecting "the good into vessels" and casting "the bad away." 
Hence, the former engaged mainly in preaching, the latter in tea eking. 
The revivalist machinery of protracted meetings, warm exhortation, 
personal entreaty, earnest prayers for conversion and union, accompa- 
nied by a belief in special spiritual operations and the use of the mourn- 
er's seat, existed with the one, while with the other the chief matters of 
interest were the disentanglement of the Christia:n faith from modern 
corruptions of it and the recovery of the Gospel ordinances and ancient 
order of things. There had been an almost entire neglect of evangeliz- 
ation on the part of its few churches v/hich were originally connected 
with Mr. Campbell in his reformatory efforts. They had not a single 
itinerant preacher, and though they made great progress in biblical 
knowledge, they gained comparatively few converts. The churches of 
the Christian Connection, on the other hand, less inimical to speculative 
theories, granted membership to the unimmersed and free communion 
to all, and imperfectly acquainted with the order, discipline and institu- 
tions of the churches, made through an efficient itineracy large acces- 
sions everywhere and increased with surprising rapidity. Thev v.-ere 
characterized by a simplicity of belief and manners and a liberality of 
spirit highly captivating, and possessed, in general, a striking and 
praiseworthy readiness to receive additional light from the Bible. Thev 
gained over, consequently, from the religious community many of the 
pious and peaceloving, who groaned under the evils of sectarianism, 
while the earnest exhortations of zealous preachers and their direct per- 
sonal appeal to sinners obtained large accessions from the world." 


1. Thus we believe that we have fairly maintained our thesis — that 
the Current Reformation arose from many independent sources as a 
providence of God ; that these independent movements progressivelv 
approached each other, under the application of common principles ; 
that this process was greatly accelerated through mutual recognition, 
by means of circular letters, central publications and personal messen- 
gers ; that union has been time and again accomplished by formal agree- 
ment and coalition of forces. The acme of this process was reached in 
the organization of the American Christian Alissionary Societv, under 
the leadership of D. S. Burnett, in 1849. This became the mother of all 
our societies ; which, while constituted merely for co-operative work, 
have become the bonds of the closest fellowship, and through the great 
conventions of the last decade are exercising a most marvelous unifying 
influence on the disparate factors and separate sections of our brother- 

103 ^^^ R^sE OF THE Current Reformation. 

hood. I\Inch yet remains to be done in the way of realizing both the 
ideals of the fathers and the purpose of God in this people ; but the his- 
tory of the past becomes the best lesson for the future. How shall the 
Lord's Prayer be realized? How shall God's people become one? As 
they have become one in the past — on the basis of the Bible in hope and 
prayer and work for the union of all Christians — let us expect that this 
"consummation devoutly to be wished" shall extend beyond its present 
borders, and let us place ourselves as clay in the Divine Potter's hands, 
responsive and resolute for the accomplishment of His will. 

2. Here is evident the diverse names by which the representatives 
of the Current Reformation have been called. The English Brethren 
were called the Church of Christ. In New York and the Northeast, this 
term was applied to the congregation, while the people were called the 
Disciples of Christ or Disciples. The early followers of the Campbells 
were called the "Reformers." The followers of Stone were called 
"Christians." When the union was made, it was thought to be unnec- 
essary to agree upon a uniform name. Hence in each section the old ti- 
tles continued. In the years 1839-40, a warm controversy arose on the 
subject of the proper name. Walter Scott had taken the side of Stone, 
and championed the exclusive rights of the term "Christian" (Life of J. 
Smith, 541-5). ]\Ir. Campbell answered in the Harbinger in a series of 
able articles on "Our Name" (Harb. '39 and '40). He preferred the 
designation "Disciples of Christ." but defended the right to the use of 
any Scriptural name. There the matter finally rested, so that in the 
North and East "Disciples of Christ" and "Church of Christ" have be- 
come the dominant terms ; while in the South and West "Christians" 
and "Christian Churches" have gained the ascendency. 

Thij Principles. 

Like the Protestant Reformation which went before and furnished 
both motive and model for its successor (See p. 24), the Current 
Reformation was carried out on definite principles. The historic rise 
of these has been given in the preceding chapters. We have left over 
only the task of constructive statement. 

But this task has been performed for us by Mr. Campbell himself. 
Early in the Christian Baptist, he began a series of articles on a Resto- 
ration of the Ancient Order of Things (C. B. 126, 133, 139, etc.). The 
text of this remarkable treatise was the Lord's High-priestly Prayer 
(John 17:20-1), (C. B. 135): 

"Holy Father, — now, I do not pray for these only (for the unity 
and success of the apostles) but for those also who shall believe on me 
through or by means of their word — that they all may be one — that 
the world may believe that you have sent me." Who does not see in 
this petition that the words or testimony of the apostles, the unity of 
the disciples and the conviction of the world are bound together by 
the wisdom and the love of the Father, by the devotion and philanthropy 
of the Son. The order of heaven, the plan of the Great King, his 
throne and government, are here unfolded in full splendor to our view. 
The words of the apostles are laid as the basis, the unity of the disci- 
ples, the glorious result, and the only successful means of converting 
the world to the acknowledgment that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah 
or the Son of the Blessed, the only Saviour of men." 

The same was stated on the same authority in the essay on the 
Foundation of Christian Union, incorporated in the volume called 
"Christianity Restored." (1835), '^ter issued as the Christian System. 
(Chr. Sys. 114) : 

"Nothing is essential to the conversion of the zvorld but the union 
and co-operation of Christians. 

"Nothing is essential to the union of Christians hut the Apostles' 
leaching or testimony. 

"Or does he choose to express the plan of the Self-Existent in 
other words ? Then he may change the order, and say : — 

"The testimony of the Apostles is the only and all-sufficient means 
of uniting all Christians. 

"The union of Christians zvith the Apostles' testimony is all- 
sufficient and alone sufficient *o the conversion of the world. 


110 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

"Neither truth alone nor union alone is sufficient to subdue the 
unbelieving nations, but truth and union combined are omnipotent, 
Thev are omnipotent, for God is in them and with them, and has con- 
secrated and blessed them for this very purpose. 

"These two propositions have been stated, illustrated, developed 
(and shall I say proved?) in the 'Christian Baptist' and '^Millennial 
Harbinger,' to the conviction of thousands." 

It is reiterated in the preface to this volume, in a review of the 
course of Protestantism (Chr. Sys. 5) : — 

"Since that time, the first effort known to us to abandon the whole 
controversy about creeds and reformations, and to restore primitive 
Christianity, or to build alone upon the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus 
Christ himself the chief corner, has been made. 

"Tired of new creeds and new parties in religion, and of the numer- 
ous abortive efforts to reform the reformation; convinced from the 
Holy Scriptures, from observation and experience, that the union of 
the Disciples of Christ is essential to the conversion of the world, and 
that the correction and improvement of no creed or partisan establish- 
ment in Christendom could ever become the basis of such a union, com- 
munion and co-operation, as would restore peace to a church militant 
against itself, or triumph to the common salvation ; a few individuals, 
about the commencement of the present century, began to reflect upon 
the ways and means to restore primitive Christianity." 

This book was compiled by Mr. Campbell from his previous writ- 
ings, in answer to the demand of his followers to have a concise state- 
ment of their leading positions, especially that they may ward off the 
objections of their opponents. Mr. Campbell, too, saw that the 
Reformation was in danger of drifting into a great variety of propa- 
ganda and did not hesitate to give it direction from his clearer insight. 
He says (Chr. Sys. 8) : — 

"The object of this volume is to place before the community in a 
plain, definite and perspicuous style the capital principles which have 
been elicited, argued out, developed and sustained in a controversy of 
tzventy-Uve years, by the tongues and pens of those who rallied under 
the banners of the Bible alone. 

"We flatter ourselves that the principles are now clearly and fully 
developed by the united efforts of a few devoted and ardent minds, who 
set out determined to sacrifice everything to truth and follow her wher- 
ever she might lead the way ; I say, the principles on which the church 
of Jesus Christ — all believers in Jesus as the IMessiah — can be united 
with honor to themselves and with blessings to the world ; on which 
the gospel and its ordinances can be restored in all their primitive sim- 
plicity, excellency and power, and the church shine as a lamp that 
burneth to the conviction and salvation of the world: — I say, the prin- 
ciples by which these things can be done are now developed, as well 
as the principles themselves, which together constitute the original 
gospel and order of things established by the Apostles." 

The Principus. ii^ 

Thus, these principles are threefold : — 

1. Conversion of the A\'orld, 

2. Union of All Christians. 

3. Restoration of Primitive Christianity. 

These principles constituted the aim of the Current Reformation, 
are the basis of the Plea of the Disciples of Christ, and around them 
ma}- be written the history of this interesting people. They were 
worked out in a long and painful process in conflict with the religious 
establishments of the time. They found Biblical sanction in the final 
prayer of Jesus, and are worthy of our consideration in every way as 
the statement of a highminded programme. 

The relations of the principles to one another is evident in their 
conjunction: — 

I. The Conversion of the World is the ultimate principle. It is 
the final purpose in the Lord's prayer "that the world may believe thai; 
Thou didst send me." It was the historic spring of the Current 
Reformation. This movement arose out of, and was the successor to, 
the great religious awakening of the Eighteenth Century, in its twofold 
phase of evangelism and missionary work. Jonathan Edwards, John 
Wesley, George Whitefield, William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Robert 
Haldane, B. W. Stone, Thomas Campbell and Walter Scott were mem- 
bers of a common movement. They were closely akin in spirit, and 
bear the relation of earlier and later manifestations of the same religious 
impulse. Alexander Campbell was influenced least of all by the Great 
Awakening; and as the teacher of the Reformation, in his attempt to 
inculcate a rational view of Christianity, he often felt called upon to 
oppose the excesses of the revival (See p. 69). But he never ceased 
the advocacy of the largest and widest extension of missions and evan- 
gelism as the final goal of Christian activity. This is most aptly illus- 
trated in his famous attitude to missionary societies. Mr. Campbell 
opposed these because he believed them to be the bulwarks of sec- 
tarianism, because he believed their efforts were futile and their methods 
contrary to the divine plan. He attacked them as the "good" which 
was the "enemy of the best." As he says (C. B. 135) : — 

"But the conversion of the world is planned and ordered by the 
will of heaven to be dependent upon the unity of the disciples as 
well as this unity dependent upon the apostle's testimony. An 
attempt to convert Pagans and ]\Iahometans to believe that Jesus is the 
Son of God, and the sent of the Father, tmtil Christians are united, is 
also an attempt to frustrate the prayer of the Messiah, to subvert his 
throne and government. There are unalterable laws in the moral world, 
as in the natural. There are also unalterable laws in the government 

112 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

of the moral and religious world, as in the government of the natural. 
Those laws cannot, by human interference, be set aside or frustrated — 
we might as reasonably expect that Indian corn will grow in the open 
fields in the midst of the frost and snows of winter, as that Pagan 
nations can be converted to Jesus Christ, till Christians are united 
through the belief of the apostle's testimony. We may force corn to 
grow by artificial means in the depth of winter, but it is not like the 
corn of August. So may a few disciples be made in Pagan lands by 
such means in the moral empire ; as those by which corn is made to 
grow in winter in the natural empire, but they are not like the disciples 
of primitive times, before sectarian creeds came into being. It is 
enough to say, on this topic, that the Saviour made the unity of the 
disciples essential to the conviction of the world ; and he that attempts 
it independent of this essential, sets himself against the wisdom and 
j)lans of heaven, and aims at overruling the dominion and government 
of the Great King." 

Over against this improper method he presents what he held to be 
the proper one for the spread of the Gospel (C. B. i6) : — 

"The association, called the Church of Jesus Christ, is in propria 
forma, the only institution of God left on earth to illuminate and reform 
the world. That is, to speak in the most definitive and intelligible man- 
ner, a society of men and women, having in their hands the oracles of 
God ; believing in their hearts the gospel of Jesus Christ ; confessing 
the truth of Christ with their lips ; exhibiting in their lives the morality 
of the Gospel, and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of 
the Lord, blamelessly, in the sight of all men. When spiritual men, i. e., 
men having spiritual gifts, or, as now termed, miraculous gifts, were 
withdrawn, this institution was left on earth, as the grand scheme of 
Heaven, to enlighten and reform the world. 

"If, in the present day, and amongst all those who talk so much 
of a missionary spirit, there could be found such a society, though it 
were composed of but twenty, willing to emigrate to some heathen land, 
where they would support themselves like the natives, wear the same 
garb, adopt the country as their own, and profess nothing like a mis- 
sionary project; should such a society sit down and hold forth in word 
and deed the saving truth, not deriding the gods nor the religion of the 
natives, but allowing their own works and example to speak for their 
religion, and practicing as above hinted ; we are persuaded that, in 
process of time, a more solid foundation for ,the conversion of the 
natives would be laid, and more actual success resulting, than from all 
the missionaries employed for twenty-five years." 

I am sure that most of us feel that Mr. Campbell was mistaken in 
this view ; that it will not do to get the work of uniting and reforming 
all done before that of missions begins, that the burden of support and 
responsibility should by no means rest on the devoted few who are 
willing to go. But we have no right to impugn the missionary motives 

The Principles. 113 

of Alexander Campbell. His reliance was on the proclamation of the 
truth, not on organization. He gave his support heartily to the work 
of the Bible societies. He preached everywhere without compensation. 
He devoted himself continually to the most arduous service, for which 
he could have had no other motive than the constraining love of Jesus 
Christ and the desire to carry out his great commission. 

Thus the missionary motive has ever been dominant among the 
Disciples of Christ. Their Foreign Society is the most successful of 
their organizations. Continuous evangelism has marked their progress 
from Barton W, Stone and Walter Scott to the present day. This, far 
more than superior methods or a superior knowledge of the truth, 
accounts for the marvelous increase in numbers of this people. Every 
sermon must close with an exhortation and be followed by an invita- 
tion. It must be practical ; it must move. Nothing is good which will 
not help to convert the world. Every preacher and every church must 
get results, or they are considered to encumber the ground. The prac- 
tical test of the truth is the final criterion. Every shade of opinion is 
tolerated, unless it destroys the usefulness of its holder. No time is lost 
in abstract and speculative questions. All this is no accident, no mere 
device of men, however wise we may think them to be, but alone has 
its rationale far back in an intense yearning for souls which has been 
both spring and stay of this movement. 

2. The Union of all Christians is the material principle. It is the 
mediate purpose in the Lord's prayer, "that they may all be one." It is 
the means to the end. When all Christians are united, we believe that 
we can work effectively for the conversion of the world. It was the 
task, the problem before the fathers of this Reformation, which they 
were trying to solve, and by working at which they came to their other 
ideas. Thomas Campbell is its patron saint. 

Like all the principles, this had its anti-element. Its antithesis is 
found in the divided state of Christendom at the beginning of the 
Nineteenth Century. It meant to be corrective of sectarianism, and to 
heal the divisions of the Church. It interpreted the Lord's Pra^ver not 
as meaning a mere unity of spirit or anything else which palliated the 
evils of schism and excused the existing order. "That they may be 
one" was taken to mean what it said,— "of one mind and accord; of 
one body, the Body of Christ." It meant alliance and co-operation. It 
was the motto of a genuine and a real reform, not less in importance 
than the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. It was the shibboleth 
of a Current Reformation. In this movement, our fathers hoped to 
destroy all sects and the sect spirit, and to restore into one the church 

114 The Rise oe the Current Reformation. 

as it was in the Apostolic Age. This is well understood and leads us 
to the next. 

. 3. The Restoration of Primitive Christianity is the formal prin- 
ciple. It was the immediate purpose of the Lord's Prayer, "Neither 
for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me, through 
their word." This was the method of union. It presented the pro- 
gramme of the Reformation. It was the Plea of the Reformers to 
Christians of all bodies. It was the work of preparation, the immediate 
task and duty of the Disciples until the day of the Lord's power, seen 
in the massing of Christian forces and the advance on the heathen 
world, should be at hand. 

But it must be carefully inquired into as to what is meant by the 
Restoration of Primitive Christianity. A restoration of some sort had 
been implied in the formal principle of Protestantism, viz., the Authority 
of the Scriptures. This appeal from the traditions and dogmas of the 
Church, to the Bible, and Bible alone, as the religion of Protestants, 
called back to a life of faith in God's Word not then present in the 
Catholic practice. But certainly Luther and his associates, in incorpo- 
rating the Greek dogmas and formulating creeds, although these docu- 
ments were meant at first not to be standards of faith but only defences 
of the same, were not consistent with this position. The confessions 
of faith, although drawn from the Scriptures and meant merely to be 
compendiums of them, came to be a substitute for the same. IMapped 
out by the human eye in definite historic situations, they more and more 
tended to make void the Word of God by their traditions. This course 
went on until the standard of revolt was raised and a new cry was made 
for the Restoration of Primitive Christianity. The honor of primacy 
here must go to John Glas, who attacked the Scottish Covenants in 
1725-30. But Glas, Sandeman, A. McLean, James A. Haldane, Alex- 
ander Carson, John Walker, Alexander Campbell and Benjamin Frank- 
lin v/ere one movement, — a revolt against ecclesiasticism in the realms 
of both polity and theology. 

This movement, like the Great Reformation out of which it sprang, 
was carried on as a strict return to Scripture. As Mr. Campbell says, 
"the Bible alone is the Bible only, in word and deed, in profession and 
practice" (Chr. Sys. 6). 

Hence, the Restoration of Primitive Christianity did not mean a 
return to the life of the early church in its empiric reality, as that life 
itself was often condemned in the Scriptures themselves, as in Paul's 
letters to the Corinthians. On the other hand, it meant the life of the 
primitive church in its ideal phases, in conformance with the commands 

The Principles. \\^ 

of Jesus and His apostles, in precedents mentioned and approved b}- 
the inspired writers. As Mr. Campbell again says (C. B. 128) : — 

"To bring the societies of Christians up to the New Testament, is 
just to bring the disciples individually and collectively, to walk in the 
faith, and in the commandments of the Lord and Saviour, as presented 
in that blessed volume; and this is to restore the ancient order of 

The content put into this principle was quite variant with its 
various advocates. The followers of Glas attempted to restore New 
Testament practices with casuistic detail. Mr. Campbell criticised them 
for missing the spirit of the principle and bringing the movement into 
reproach (C. B. 450, 658). He rejected the practices of the holy kiss, 
washing of feet, etc., as not required in a proper understanding of 
the Scripture (C. B, 224, 282). The restoration for which he pleaded 
u-as more doctrinal in character. As he says in his reply to William 
Jones (Harb. '35, 109) : — 

"If I were to classify in three chapters the whole Christian institu- 
tion, after the fashion of the modern school, for the sake of being under- 
stood, I would designate them Christian faifli, Christian zvorship and 
Christian morality. To these the moderns have added two others ; 
which, using the same license, I would call human philosophy and 
human traditions. Now in the first chapter we, and all Christians, are 
agreed : for as Christian faith has respect to the matters of fact re- 
corded, — to the direct testimony of God found in the New Testament 
concerning himself — concerning his Son and Spirit — concerning man- 
kind — what he has done, what we have done, and what he wnll do, 
there is no debate. I find all confessions of FAITH, properly so called, 
like the four gospels, tell the same story so far as matters of fact or 
faith are concerned. 

"In the second chapter we are also agreed that God is to be wor- 
shipped through the JNIediator — in prayer, in praise, public and pri- 
vate — in the ordinances of Christian baptism, the Lord's day, the Lord's 
supper, and in the devotional study of his word and of his works of 
creation and providence. 

"In the third chapter we all acknowledge the same moral code. 
What is morality is confessed and acknowledged by all ; but in the 
practice of it there are great subtractions. 

"We repudiate the two remaining chapters as having any place 
in our faith, worship or morality ; because we think that we have dis- 
covered that^ all^ the divisions in Protestant Christendom — that all the 
partyism, vain jangling and heresies which have disgraced the Chris- 
tian profession, have emanated from human philosophy and human tra- 
dition. It is not faith, nor piety, nor morality; but philosophy and tra- 
dition that have alienated and estranged Christians and prevented the 
conversion of the world," 


The Rise of the Curkext Reformation. 

This principle, even more than the second, had a strong anti- 
element. It found in the religious conditions of the world certain 
abuses and errors which it meant to correct. For this purpose, it set 
forth a definite programme, of which the items were the following: — 
I. No Creeds. 

Mr. Campbell says (C. B. 133) '•— 

"Now, in attempting to accomplish this, it must be observed, that 
it belongs to everv individual and to every congregation of individuals 
to discard from their faith and their practice everything that is not 
found written in the New Testament of the Lord and Saviour, and to 
believe and practice whatever is there enjoined. This done, and every- 
thing is done which ought to be done. 

"But to come to the things to be discarded, we observe that, in the 
ancient order of things, there were no creeds or compilations of doc- 
trine in abstract terms, nor in other terms other than the terms adopted 
by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Therefore all such are to be 

Thus creeds are held to be divisive, and the first stone of stumbling 
in the way of union. In the room of the standards, the New Testament 
should be placed as the constitution of the Kingdom of the Saviour; 
for admission into which the only requirement should be the belief that 
Jesus is the Messiah and Lord of all, and an act of naturalization, viz., 
baptism, by which is renounced spiritual allegiance to any other. The 
right to ask any other questions is denied (C. B. 140, 159). 
2. Bible Names for Bible Things. 

Thus the whole nomenclature of scholastic divinity must be re- 
jected, and a complete restoration be made of the inspired vocabulary. 
This was considered a matter of the utmost importance. Since words 
have an imposing influence on ideas, and all correct ideas of God and 
things invisible are supernatural ideas, no other terms can so suitably 
express them as the terms adopted by the Holy Spirit. A sample of 
these objectionable words is given (C. B. 159) : — 

"Such are the following: Trinity. First, second, and third person 
in the adorable Trinity : God the Son ; and God the Holy Ghost. Eter- 
nal Son. The Son is eternally begotten by the Father ; the Holy Ghost 
eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son. The dk'i)iity of 
Jesus Christ; the humanity of Jesus Christ : the incarnation of Jesus 
Christ. This he said as man; and that as God. The common opera- 
tions, and the special operations of the Spirit of God. Original sin, and 
original righteousness. Spiritual death ; spiritual life. Covenant of 
works, covenant of grace, and covenant of redemption ; a dispensation 
of the covenant of grace, and administration of the covenant. Effectual 
calling. Free will. Free grace. Total depravity. Eternal justification. 
Eternal sleep. Elect world. Elect infants. Light of nature. Natural 

The Principles. 117 

religion. General and particular atonement. Legal and evangelical 
repentance. Moral, ceremonial, and judicial law. Under the law as 
a covenant of works, and as a rule of life. Christian sabbath. Holy 
sacrament. Administration of the sacrament. Different kinds of faith 
and grace. Divine service ; the public worship of God," &c., &c. 

These all must be abandoned as the language of Ashdod, and the 
pure speech of the sacred writers must be restored. Along with these 
must go the use of Biblical terms in a non-Biblical sense (C. B. i6o) : — 

"Of this sort are the following: The natural man, spiritual man; 
in the flesh, in the spirit ; regeneration, washing of regeneration ; min- 
istration of the Spirit, demonstration of the Spirit; power of God, 
faith of the operation of God, the grace of God ; the letter, the spirit ; 
the old and new covenant ; word of God ; the ministry of the word ; 
truth of the Gospel ; mystery, election, charity, heretic, heresy, blas- 
phemy, church communion, baptism, faith, etc., etc., etc." 

"The adoption and constant use of this barbarous dialect, was the 
cause of making divisions, and is still one existing cause of their con- 

3. Primitive Order of Worship. 

This was based on Acts 2:42: "They continued steadfastly in the 
apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the 
prayers." This approved precedent was held to be the law for worship, 
which was thus divinely ordained and was uniform in the Christian 
assemblies (C. B. 166). The Lord's Supper was the core of this service. 
As such, it should be observed weekly. 

4. Primitive Organization. 

"This is an independent congregation, which has the right to call, ' 
appoint, or ordain any person to any office laid down in the volume, 
and to do all the acts and deeds thereto appertaining, without calling 
to their aid the assistance of any foreign deacon, bishop or officer; 
(C. B. 261.)" 

Thus all superintending judicatories, of whatever kind, are rejected. 
The officers of this independent church are (i) Bishops, who perform 
the twofold function of presiding and teaching (C. B. 232), and (2) 
Deacons, who had charge of the Lord's treasury (C. B. 335). 

5. Primitive Discipline. 

This was a strict application of the requirements of the Scriptures, 
of which the officers were only interpreters and executors, but of which 
the Lord is the only Legislator (C. B. 429). Every requirement was 
received with "the unfeigned and vehement desire to know the will of 
the Lord in order to do it." This was the essence of the spirit of ancient 

118 The Rise oe the Current Reformation. 

These Items constituted the chief points in the programme o£ 
Restoration. It was in the application of this principle Alexander 
Campbell proved the most adept. He says (C. B. 295) :— 

"When any act of devotion or item of religious practice presented 
itself to my view, of which I could learn nothing from my Master's 
Last Will and Testament, I simply gave it up ; and if I found anything 
there not exhibited by my fellow-Christians, I went into the practice 
of it, if it was the practice of an individual, and if it was a social act 
I attempted to invite others to unite with me in it. Thus I went on 
correcting my views, and returning to his institutes until I became so 
speckled a bird that scarce one of any species would cordially consociate 
with me; but I gained ample remuneration in the pursuit, and got a 
use of my wings which I never before experienced. Thus, too, I was 
led into a secret, which as I received freely I communicate freely. It 
is this : There is an ancient and a modern order of things in the Lord's 

Such were the principles of the Current Reformation, as we can 
gather them from their best sources. 

There remains for us only to make such observations and exhorta- 
tions as these outlines will warrant in our humble judgment : — 

1. The fathers of this movement did not consider themselves as 
starting Christianity de novo. They recognized the legitimacy in the 
main of the traditional systems, especially of Protestantism out of which 
they had their own origin, but sought to correct some of the evident 
abuses in the popular religion. Thus they called back to the Word of 
God, which they found embodied in the first forms of Christianity as it 
came from its divine founder. In no sense did they limit the number 
of the truly Christian to their own body. They mingled fully and 
freely with the Christians of all the sects, in the hope of showing them 
the way of the Lord more perfectly and in the effort of leading them 
out of their divisions and supineness into a victorious force, united in 
the will of their Lord. 

2. The history of the Disciples of Christ may be written in the 
terms of these principles. The formation of this people resulted from 
the attempts of Christian men of all the sects to grasp and maintain 
these principles. The development of the Disciples may also be 
gathered under the same laws. Our English Churches, under direct 
influences from their Scotch Baptist predecessors, have emphasized the 
Third Principle almost to the total exclusion of the others. The same 
is true of our Australian, Canadian, early New York, Tennessean and 
(I am told) some of our Texas brethren. Certainly there are many 
individuals in all these sections who do not have this attitude, but this 
is the dominant type in each of these groups ; at least, it is the note we 

Thd Principi^es. 119 

who are afar off are most permitted to hear. If I were to ask a typical 
representative of these sections of our brotherhood, "What is the mis- 
sion and plea of the Church of Christ" — it would probably not do to 
say "Christian Churches" — he would, I take it, frankly answer, "the 
Restoration of Primitive Christianity," and be confident that he stated 
the whole of it. "God will take care of the conversion of the heathen 
and the union of Christians (if there be any such outside our body) in 
his own good time ; our duty is to stick to 'the law and the testimony,' 
We are against all compromise and innovation." If I pitch my tent 
toward the great windy city of the Great Lakes region, with, however, 
much of the feeling Lot had when he approached Sodom, and ask one 
of that group of brilliant men who by the kindness of some of our 
papers have held the public eye for the last decade, "What is the mission 
and plea of the Disciples of Christ" — I must call them this — I believe 
he would firmly say, "Christian LTnion." At least the emphasis is 
rightly placed there. "That understanding of the message of the Fathers 
which separates us from' the great mass of the Lord's people" — and he 
does not doubt that they are the Lord's people — "is a mistake, however 
literally it may follow Apostolic models. Our true place is in the midst 
of all Christian activity, and we ought to be there with our plea for 
unity and fellowship." Between these extremes may be gathered most 
of the other positions. The Lexington School, the Cincinnati School, 
the St. Louis School and (may I say) the California School, — Each of 
these hold more or less firmly to the two principles, approaching at one 
time one extreme, at another, another; varying as the different ques- 
tions arise. 

The same variety of emphasis has characterized the different 
periods of our history. Thomas Campbell began with 'Christian Union' 
emblazoned on our standards. Unions were numerous, — an attempted 
union with the Presbyterians, union with the Baptists, union of Reform- 
ers and Christians. This principle is the key to our early history. 
Alexander Campbell then raised higher and higher the emblem of Res- 
toration. The Mahoning Association was abandoned ; our churches be- 
came strictly independent. Lines betwen the Reformed and the sects 
were strictly drawn. The Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. This 
shaded into the Civil Wai period, from out the gloom of which appeared 
two great heroes — Benjamin Franklin and J. W. McGarvey. These 
were but the natural successors of Mr. Campbell and did an enormous 
work, one as an evangelist and the other as a teacher, for their day and 
generation. Their entire work has been marked by a strict conformity 
to the Scriptures as they understood them. Over against this tendency 

120 The Rise oe the Current Reformation. 

there arose mighty men, — Isaac Errett, A. McLean, J. H. Garrison; 
who have felt that the First, if not the Second Principle was in danger 
of being neglected. The call has been for missions and co-operation. 
By no means does the honor of these movements go only to the men I 
have named, but each has had around him a group of friends and help- 
ers whom time forbids me to mention. The last decade has been marked 
by the appearance of a group of young men ; who, in addition to the 
training of our colleges, have availed themselves of the higher educa- 
tion of the great American Universities; H. L. Willett may be men- 
tioned as one of this type. These men, as a rule, have a keen sense of 
the essential Christianity of our religious neighbors. They feel that 
great advancement has been made toward the realization of the Lord's 
Prayer, both without and within, since the beginning of this movement. 
They are ardent advocates of Christian Union. This great principle is 
certainly to the forefront in all conferences of our brethren. 

In fact, ours is an age of uncommon mental activity. We are in 
the midst of a melee on the holding and application of our principles. 
Not a few will be found who are setting up a camp and crying, "ho 
here, lo there." I suggest that we go not out to any of them, and that the 
solution of the problems of our day is to be found in standing firmly by 
the foundation of our fathers, viz. : 

3. Hold the three principles together, intact, and in the proper 
relation to one another. The Conversion of the World is the goal. 
Nothing which is not rightly and truly missionary has a place in this 
Reformation. We should measure all our acts and tenets by the test: 
"Do they help to realize the Lord's Prayer— 'that the world may be- 
lieve that Thou didst send me' ?" The Union of Christians is the means 
to the end. Do our acts or tenets tend to Union ? If not so, let us not 
be too sure that we are doing God's will, even if we read it out of the 
Book. We have no right to get off in a corner by ourselves, even if we 
may have the truth or the pure speech or the primitive practice, and hug 
these treasures to our breasts, saying, "We are better than thou." Our 
duty is to be in the currents of the world's history, to be there to bear 
our part of the burdens and to make our contribution as I believe God 
has given us to do. Separatism and divisiveness is a sin, no less for 
the unionist than for the sectarian. Such were not the domgs of the 
Fathers. The Restoration of Primitive Christianity is the method of 
union. We have never believed that the joining of all the sects in one 
grand army is the great desideratum, but that each individual should 
study his. New Testament and copy therefrom the life of the Early 
Christians before party standards and barriers were set up. Restora- 

The Principles, 121 

tion is the first and most immediate duty. Let us see that we restore the 
ancient spirit as well as the letter, and we can make no mistake in hold- 
ing strictly to this principle. 

4. Too much must not be made of the negative side of the Princi- 
ple of Restoration. From this has grown the whole controversy on 
missionary societies, the organ, Sunday Schools, Christian Endeavor, 
Higher Education, etc. I am sure that the position of our so-called 
Anti-brethren — and I use the term with no sort of derision, but with 
the highest respect — is one of great consistency and sincerity and 
loyalty to the truth. Yet, on the other hand, I believe as firmly that 
this position is a mistake, — a mistake not in its aims and purposes, but 
in its understanding of the New Testament. This book, whch is our 
guide in all matters of faith and practice, is not a series of rules and 
detail regulations. That was Judaism, from which Jesus came to free 
us, and of which Paul teaches that we are not under Law but under 
Grace. It is certainly right to obey any Apostolic command, when that 
is properly understood ; but we should not obey as a strict legalism, 
but as a free deed of love. No less is the Christian liberty we have 
even toward the Apostles. The wanting of a command in a thousand 
specific cases in no sense releases us from our Christian duty as inter- 
preted by the spirit of Christ. The same care must be exercised in the 
principle of Apostolic precedent. It is certainly right to follow any 
clear practice of the early Christians. But the absence of a precedent 
should never be taken as a prohibition of a practice which in other ways 
is in harmony with the Christian spirit. The mistake here is another 
misunderstanding of the New Testament. There is only one book of 
Apostolic precedents, viz., the Acts of the Apostles. When we examine 
this book, we see that it in no case aims to give the total of Apostolic 
practice. It is on the other hand a history of early Christian missions. 
Its theme, as definitely stated by its author (Acts i :8), is to show how 
the Gospel spread from Jerusalem out through Judea and Samaria to 
the uttermost parts of the earth. The book only gives the new de- 
partures in a series of breakings away from the bonds of Judaism. The 
Acts are a history with a purpose, — that purpose is the vindication of 
the Apostle to the Gentiles and of the message to which he gave his life. 
The early Christians did ten thousand things of which we have no 
record, any one of which would be a good Apostolic precedent if we 
had it. "These things are written for admonition unto those to whom 
the ends of time have come." But the silence of the Scripture is in no 
case a mandatory law. The whole cry of innovation is to be answered 
just as Isaac Errett did it, — by showing how the objectors do hundreds 

122 The Rise oe the Current Reformation. 

of things in their worship and practice for which they have no warrant 
.whatever in Scripture. We should not identify the order of the back- 
woods of America with that of the First Century, whatever may be the 
lessons we have learned from it. We need historic perspective in all 
questions of this kind. 

5. We ought to discourage all attempts to draw lines between the 
various factors and tendencies of this great brotherhood. I confess 
myself in fellowship with all and intend to stay in this fellowship. I sit 
down at the Lord's Table in crude cabin of our out-of-the-way sections 
with the same delight with which I can enjoy the elegant service of our 
city churches. The people who take the Bible as their guide are my 
people ; the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is their God, is my 
God. Our differences are differences of culture, and they are being 
rapidly overcome with increase in acquaintance and the general educa- 
tion of the American people. This is not to say that there are no errors 
in theology in our brotherhood. But the best combatant of error is the 
truth. If anyone is mistaken in his views, there are those who will 
arise to set him right. At least, we may be sure that the false doctrine 
will not have a wide extent and will soon pass away, as an eddy in the 
main current in the progress of God's truth. 

My corrective of the ills of our brotherhood is fellowship, — fellow- 
ship of the rich and poor, of the north and south, of the learned and un- 
learned, of the orthodox and heretic. When we know each other bet- 
ter, and love each other more, our differences will disappear, as the 
mist before the morning sun ; and the Sun of Righteousness will arise 
iwith healings on his wings. 

6. I believe we have vindicated the title of this book. The move- 
ment of the Disciples of Christ is a Restoration as far as it relates to 
the teachings of the New Testament. It is also a Reformation, as it 
affects the conditions of Modern Christianity. This was the original 
term for the movement of the whole. Restoration was only one 
phase, — a part of its programme. Reformation emphasizes Christian 
Union, — a work to be accomplished through Restoration. The Current 
Reformation, in contrast to the Protestant Reformation and as a com- 
plement of the same, is the larger and better term. As yet this work 
is in its incipiency. It is destined to grow. In the coming centuries, 
when all Christians shall be one and the great First Principle shall re- 
ceive due attention and the kingdoms of the world shall become the 
Kingdom of our Lord and Christ, it will be a revolution. 

7. But it may be objected that we make too little of Christ in all 
this programme, that nothing is said of Loyalty to Christ, Authority 

The Principles. 123 

of Christ, the Divinity of Christ, etc. I would answer that if it appears 
so it is only appearance. The terms which I have used have been sanc- 
tified by a long course of history. There is no real gain in changing. 
To appeal to the New Testament is to appeal to Christ. Jesus is the 
alpha and omega, the center and circumference, the spring and the stay 
of the whole volume. I am suspicious of any cry "Back to Christ," 
which is not a cry "back to the literature which God in His providence 
has given us about the Christ." As I would not take the long journey 
of the traditions of the church, I would not take the short cut of ration- 
alistic criticism. The Christ outside of or apart from the Book, if such 
were possible, is not the Christ for me. I believe that in accepting the 
teachings, faith and practices of the New Testament, I have the highest 
loyalty to Christ and the utmost confidence in His authority and the 
firmest belief in His divinity. 

8. Restoration will do little good if it does not carry with it a bet- 
ter study of the Scriptures. The motto of Thomas Campbell would 
have been worth little if his knowledge of the Scriptures had stood at 
a standstill. Alexander Campbell accomplished so much because he 
applied himself so long and so closely to the study of the Bible. It is 
not enough for us merely to rely upon the researches of the Fathers. 
God has much more light to break forth from His Holy Book. If we 
do not use our eyes for seeing, they become atrophied, and we become 
blind even to the light we have. Let no man delude himself that he is 
being true to this reformation in merely applying the meagre knowledge 
he had when he espoused it, or which he inherited from his forbears. 
New texts have been unearthed and published since the days of Alex- 
ander Campbell. The monuments have laid bare their treasures. A 
vast historical research is going on all around us. The historical method 
is the key to all knowledge in our times. The greatest need of the Dis- 
ciples of Christ to-day, as I understand it, is that love for and studv 
of the Scriptures which marked our early history, when the Bible was 
the constant companion of the man at the plough or in the workshop, 
and of the woman in her kitchen or garden. If it were possible, I would 
pray that God would restore to us the simple virtues. While I know it 
is not possible for us to return to the primitive conditions of the Ameri- 
can frontier, yet we can restore the Bible in our schools and colleges, 
in our homes and social circles. We can be blessed by a rich, full, free 
knowledge of God's Word, which is meat indeed and drink indeed to 
our needy souls. 

And this chapter can come rightfully to a close only by a call to 
thf New Testament, whence came the motive and guidance of this great 

124 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

movement, from which its heroes derived strength and sustenance, and 
by abiding with which alone we can hope to accompHsh God's will in 
the prayer of His Son that they all may be one, that the world "may, 
believe that Thou didst send me." 


Principles op^ Inti^rpretation. 

Closely related to the Principles of the Current Reformation were 
the Principles of Interpretation by which the New Testament order was 
to be obtained. Alexander Campbell was almost wholly responsible for 
the emphasis on this phase of the movement. By its application, he be- 
came the great scholar and teacher of the Reformation. He early saw 
that little could be accomplished in the way of reform if the popular 
methods of text preaching and reading the dogmas into the Scriptures 
were left as the key of knowledge. Hence he inveighed against them in 
sharp language. When asked what he had to substitute for that which 
he would tear away, he said (C. B. 32) : — 

"We have no system of our own, nor of others, to substitute in lieu 
of the reigning systems. We only aim at substituting the New Testa- 
ment in lieu of every creed in existence ; whether Mahometan, Pagan, 
Jewish, or Sectarian. We wish to call Christians to consider that 
Jesus Christ has made them kings and priests to God. We neither 
advocate Calvinism, Arminianism, Arianism, Socinianism, Trini- 
tarianism, Unitarianism, Deism, or Sectarianism, but A^eiv Testament- 

He then gave a method for his humble readers to use in learning- 
the truth of the sacred volume. He says (C. B. 32) : — 

"You will then take, say a New Testament, and sit down with 
a pencil or pen in your hand. Begin with Matthew's gospel ; read the 
whole of it at one reading, or two ; mark on the margin every sentence 
you think you do not understand. Turn back again; read it a second 
time, in less portions at once than in the first reading; cancel such 
marks as you have made which noted passages, that, on the first reading 
appeared to you dark or difficult to understand, but on the second read- 
ing opened to your view. Then read Mark, Luke, and John, in the 
same manner, as they all treat upon the same subject. After having 
read each evangelist in this way, read them all in succession a third 
time. At this time you will no doubt be able to cancel many of your 
marks. Thus read the Acts of the Apostles, which is the key to all the 
Epistles ; then the Epistles in a similar manner ; always before reading 
an epistle, read every thing said about the people addressed in the epistle, 
which you find in the Acts of the Apostles. This is the course which 
we would take to understand any book." 

This method, accompanied by earnest prayer, will yield the secrets 
of God's Word. It will be aided, however, by a common effort 
(C. B. ZZ) :- 


226 The Rise of the Currext Reformatiox. 

•'It will add, however, exceedingly to your advantage, should you 
find two, three, ten or a dozen similarly disposed, who will meet and 
read and converse and pray with you, and you with them once a week ; 
or should you be the member of a church walking in all the command- 
ments and ordinances of the Lord." 

But he is equally strong in his caveat (C. B. 33) : — 

"Beware of having any commentator or system before your eyes 
or your mind. Open the New Testament as if mortal man had never 
seen it before. Your acquaintance with the Old Testament will incal- 
culably facilitate your proficiency in the New. The time requisite will 
be redeemed time. It will not interfere with your ordinary duties." 

This was the method by which Mr. Campbell obtained his own 
knowledge (C. B. 229) : — 

"For the last ten years I have not looked into the works of any of 
these men (Glas, Sandeman, etc.) ; and have lost the taste which I once 
had for controversial reading of this sort. And during this period my 
inquiries into the Christian religion have been almost exclusively con- 
fined to the holy scriptures. And I can assure you that the scriptures, 
when made their own interpreter, and accompanied with earnest desires 
to tlie author of these writings, have become, to me, a book entirely new, 
and unlike what they were when read and consulted as a book of refer- 
ence — I call no man master upon the earth ; and although my own father 
has been a diligent student, and teacher of the Christian religion since 
his youth ; and, in my opinion, understands this book as well as any per- 
son with whom I am acquainted, yet there is no man with whom I have 
debated more, and reasoned more, on all subjects of this kind, than he — 
I have been so long disciplined in the school of free inquiry, that, if I 
know my own mind, there is not a man upon the earth whose authority 
can influence me, any farther than he comes with the authority of evi- 
dence, reason, and truth. To arrive at this state of mind is the result 
of many experiments and efforts ; and to me has been arduous beyond 
expression. I have endeavored to read the scriptures as though no one 
had read them before me ; and I am as much on my guard against read- 
ing them to-day, through the medium of my own views yesterday, or a 
week ago, as I am against being influenced by any foreign name, au- 
thority, or system, whatever." 

He desired every one of his brethren to have the same liberty. 
Especially did he guard against preconceived opinions, by which it is 
so easy for us to betray the truth. Accordingly, in his compendium 
"Christianity Restored," he gave a prominent place to the Principles of 
Interpretation. He says in the Preface (Chr. Rest. 13) : — 

"Our views and attainments in the knowledge of Christianity, such 
as they are, are, we think, the necessary results of our premises and 
principles of interpretation. Certain it is. that by them we were led 
into those views of the ancient gospel and order of things, which we 
were enabled to exhibit in the publications of the year 1823. While we 

Principles of Interpretation, 127 

state this fact distinctively to arrest the attention of the reader to a 
candid and jealous examination of them, wc would not be understood 
as alleging, that all who have since embraced these views, or who now 
contend for them, are indebted to our labors for their knowledge of 
original Christianity. The same principles of interpretation have led 
others to the same conclusions from the same premises ; and thus have 
we been mutually helpers to one another. The momentous importance 
of some of our conclusions, we humbly think, entitle our premises and 
principles of interpretation, to a strict and impartial consideration ; and 
this is all the favor we petition from any reader into whose hands this 
volume may happen to fall." 

Thus the Principles of Interpretation constituted the first chapter. 
The essay is an extremely interesting one. In it, he shows himself in 
complete harmony with the best English scholarship of his time. He 
states his ideal in the Newtonian science of the times (Chr. Rest. 15; 
Chr. Bap'm 50) : — 

"Great unanimity has obtained in most of the sciences in conse- 
cjuence of the adoption of certain rules of analysis and synthesis ; for 
all who work by the same rules come to the same conclusions. And may 
it not be possible that, in this divine science of religion, there may yet 
be a very great degree of unanimity of sentiment and uniformity of 
practice amongst all who acknowledge its divine authority?" 

He then proceeds to lay out a system of interpretation ; which, 
when we compare it section by section, we see to be an excerpt of the 
critical works of T. H. Home, IVIoses Stuart, Ernesti and others. This 
fact Mr. Campbell acknowledges (Chr. Rest. 95) : — 

"In the preceding chapters of this work, which are designed rather 
to develop the principles, than to state and illustrate the rules of inter- 
pretation, we have borrowed much from the most popular and approved 
writers on the science of Biblical interpretation. And although we have 
not always quoted directly, we have quoted enough to satisfy the reader 
that these are not private rules, introduced for any private purpose, but 
that they are the by law established (that is, the law of the republic of 
letters) principles, universally acknowledged in all the schools of the 
nineteenth century." 

(Ibid. 96) :— 

"In re-examining this matter on this occasion, and on extending 
my researches, I feel myself happy in assuring the reader, that I do not 
know a single principle asserted, that is not already approved bv the 
following: Doctors Campbell, of Aberdeen; Macknight, of Edin- 
burgh ; Doddridge, of England ; Michaelis, of Gottingen ; Home, of 
Cambridge; Stuart, of Andover; Ernesti, Lowth, Calmet, Glassius, 
Harwood, and many others of equal celebrity." 

He then gives his celebrated rules of interpretation (Chr. Rest. 
96-7, Chr, Sys. 16-7; Chr. Bap'm 61): — 

128 The Rise of the Curkent Reeormation. 

"Rule I. On opening any book in the Sacred Scriptures, consider 
first the historical circuiiistances of the book. These are the order, the 
title, the author, the date, the place, and the occasion of it. 

"II, In examining the contents of any book, as respects precepts, 
promises, exhortations, &c., observe who it is that speaks, and under 
zvhat dispensation he officiates. Is he a Patriarch, a Jew, or a Chris- 
tian? Consider also the persons addressed — their prejudices, charac- 
ters, and religious relations. Are they Jews or Christians — believers 
or unbelievers approved or disapproved? This rule is essential to the 
proper application of every command, promise, threatening, admoni- 
tion, or exhortation, in the Old Testament or New. 

"III. To understand the meaning of what is commanded, prom- 
ised, taught, etc., the same philological principles, deduced from the 
nature of language, or the same laws of interpretation which are 
applied to the language of other hooks, are to be applied to the language 
of the Bible. 

"IV. Common usage, which can only be ascertained by testimony, 
must always decide the meaning of any zvord which has but one sig- 
nification ; but when words have, according to testimony — (i. e., the 
Dictionary) — more meanings than one, whether literal or figurative, the 
scope, the context, or parallel passages must decide the meaning ; for 
if common usage, the design of the writer, the context, and parallel 
passages fail, there can be no certainty in the interpretation of language. 

"V. In all tropical language, ascertain the point of resemblance, 
and judge of the nature of the trope, and its kind, from the point of 

"Yl. In the interpretation of symbols, types, allegories, and para- 
bles, this rule is supreme. Ascertain the point to be illustrated; for 
comparison is never to be extended beyond that point — to all the 
attributes, qualities, or circumstances of the symbol, type, allegory, 
or parable. 

"VIL For the salutary and sanctifying intelligence of the oracles 
of God, the following rule is indispensable: — JVe must come zvithin the 
understanding distan ce." 

These rules are an epitome of the entire science. 

In the second edition of this work, viz., as the "Christian System," 
this essay was omitted, and its place given to a constructive statement 
of Christian doctrines as ]\Ir. Campbell understood them. It was, 
however, abridged in the "Christian Baptism" (pp. 49-63). It is 
mainly known in this form. 
Conclusions : 

I. These principles of interpretation are a direct application of 
the scientific method of Bacon, Locke and Newton to the study of the 
Scriptures. This method was the inductive, and is the most evident 
outgrowth of the Empirical Philosophy. Through the right of private 
interpretation and the utmost liberty of opinion on these principles, the 

Principi,es of Interpretation. 129 

Disciples hoped to attain the necessary agreement for restoration and 
union. These principles had behind them the sanction of the best 
English scholarship, and even had their roots in the best work of Ger- 

2. Herein we see the nature of the scholarship of Alexander 
Campbell. This was not in any sense original or creative, but only com- 
municative. This is seen in his edition of the New Testament, known 
as the "Christian Oracles." This work was not a new translation, hue 
only a modified edition of the works of George Campbell, Doddridge 
and Macknight, — celebrated English and Scotch scholars. Mr. Camp • 
bell was the vender of the world's best learning. The substance, if not 
the form, of his critical conclusions are to be found in such cyclopedias 
as Home's Introduction. Likewise, his interpretations were dependent 
on the Commentaries of Campbell, Doddridge and Macknight. Also, 
for his ready knowledge of Church History he was indebted to Mos- 
heim and Dupuy. Mr. Campbell was the popularizer of the latest 
scholastic work. He was ever grateful for the brief contact he had 
with this at Glasgow University, and kept in connection with the same 
from his comfortable home on the American frontier, where he received 
the latest and best issues of the British Press. 

3. Herein lies another secret of the conflict. Mr. Campbell 
brought the best Old World scholarship into the backwoods of America. 
He easily outstripped all his competitors in his facility in marshalling 
on his side the great authorities of the world's history. He had no 
equal in debate or popular exposition. This brilliancy brought him an 
ardent personal following. It also won him bitter enemies. There was 
between him and his opponents the chasm of two worlds' cultures. It 
Avas inevitable that strife and division should ensue. 



The Theology of Alexander Campbell. 

There remains but one task, and our work is complete, viz., the 
appHcation of the Principles of the Current Reformation to the leading 
questions of Christian doctrine. We select as a sample of this the theo- 
logical positions of Alexander Campbell; not that the thinking of Mr. 
Campbell was ever meant to become a law to his brethren, but because 
his mental processes and conclusions may be conceded to have been 
the ablest and most influential in the history of the Disciples of Christ 
to the present day. 

We shall undertake, then, to give an epitome of Mr, Campbell's 
theology, as the closing one of this series of essays. This task has 
been made comparatively easy by the fact that Mr. Campbell has made 
such an epitome himself. In the preface to the second edition to the 
volume called "Christianity Restored," he says (Chr. Sys. 12) : — 

"The present edition substitutes, for the first part of the last, a 
series of essays on the Christian System, and somewhat enlarges on the 
second. The continual misrepresentation and misconception of our 
views on some very fundamental points of the Christian system seem 
at the present crisis to call for a very definite, clear and connected view 
of the great outlines and elements of the Christian Institution." 

This was the most systematic statement he ever made of his doc- 
trines ; and while he disclaims any attempt at authoritative utterance, 
it affords all that is needed for our present purposes. 

It is to be noted that this statement was made apologetically, and 
to prove his essential orthodoxy. The key to its understanding is to 
be found in his two fundamental categories, — the covenants in the 
realm of theology, and Empiricism in that of philosophy. 

The outline was made on the basis of the divisions used in the 
theological encyclopaedias. It had nine points ; let us take these in 
order : — 

I. Cosmology: "One God. one system of nature, one universe." 
(Chr, Sys. 13). 

This is stated after the manner of Newton's Principia. ]\Ir. Camp- 
bell ever held Newton before him as the model for reverent, scientific 
work. He shows the same comprehensiveness of view, and uses the 
same schematism in his teachings. 


The Theology of Alexander Campbell. 131 

2. Bibliology: "One God, one moral system, one Bible," (Chr. 
Sys. 15.) 

Thus the Bible is the constitution of God's moral government. It 
is his covenant with man. As such, it contains all supernatural knowl- 
edge in the world. With its completion all revelation ceased. It is thus 
a perfect statement of God's will for men. It deals with man as he is 
and as he ought to be, morally and religiously. Its inspiration was 
stated in harmony with the Lockean theory of knowledge (See p. 64). 
With this limitation, he accepted the orthodox doctrine of his time. 

3. Theology: The usual scheme of attributes is set forth (Chr. 
Sys. 20). 

The Trinity, 

The Doctrine of the Trinity was given an interesting treatment. In 
his appeal for a pure speech, Mr. Campbell decried the terms "Trinity ; 
First, second and third person in the adorable Trinity; God the Son, 
God the Holy Ghost ; Eternal Son," etc., as the language of Ashdod 
and contrary to the style of the oracles of God (C. B. 159). He recog- 
nized that he took this stand at the risk of his reputation for orthodoxy, 
but he considered that the use of these terms was one of the chief bat - 
riers to union; as he says (C. B. 313): — 

"But to come to the illustration of how speaking the same things 
must necessarily issue in thinking the same things, or in the visible and 
real unity of all disciples on all those topics in which they ought to 
be united, I will select but one of the topics of capital importance on 
which there exists a diversity of sentiment. For example : The rela- 
tion existing between Jesus Christ and his Father. This is one of those 
topics on which men . have philosophized most exuberantly, and on 
which they have multiplied words and divisons more than on any other 
subject of human contemplation. Hence have arisen the Trinitarian, 
Arian, Semiarian, Sabellian, Unitarian and Socinian hypotheses. It is 
impossible that all these can be true, and yet it is possible that they all 
may be false theories. Now each of these theories has given rise to a 
diction, phraseology and style of speaking peculiar to itself. They do 
not all speak the same things of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." 

(Ibid. 314) :- 

"Now suppose that all these would abandon every word and 
sentence not found in the Bible on this subject, and without explana- 
tion, limitation or enlargement, quote with equal pleasure and readiness 
and apply in every suitable occasion every word and sentence found in 
the volume to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit ; how long 
would divisions on this subject exist? It would be impossible to per- 
petuate them on this plan." 

The expected happened. Mr. Campbell's strictures on the terms 
were taken as concealing a denial of the doctrine. Accordingly he was 

]^32 The Rise of the Current Reformation 

charged with being an Arian, Unitarian, Socinian or what not (C. B. 
50, 216-7, 319). In self-defense he was compelled to make a positive 
statement (C. B. 320). He did this only on the urgency of his friends 
(C. B. 333). He said he "felt reluctant to speculate on the incompre- 
hensible Jehovah ;" that he knew how difficult it was to depart from the 
terms of the creeds and not be accused of producing a new theory, and 
adds (C. B. 333) :— 

"If, however, you will neither make a new theory out of my expo- 
sitions, nor contend for any speculations on the subject, nor carry the 
views farther than where I leave off, I will gratify you and other friends 
with my views of the first sentence in John's Preface to his Testi- 
mony, — "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, 
and the word was God." 

In this attempt at statement, he warns against pressing too far 
the analogy of human relations. He distinguishes between the Word 
of God and the Son of God. "There was no Jesus, no Messiah, no 
Christ, no Son of God, no Only Begotten before the reign of Augustus 
Caesar." On the other hand, the eternal relation was wholly of a 
"mental nature," viz., that "between a word and an idea." He says 
(C. B. 334) :- 

"It is a relation of the most sublime order ; and no doubt the reason 
why the name Word is adopted by the apostle in this sentence was be- 
cause of its superior ability to represent to us the divine relation exist- 
ing between God and the Saviour prior to his becoming the Son of 
God." Thus 

"As a word is an exact image of an idea, so is 'The Word' an 
exact image of the invisible God. As a word cannot exist without an 
idea nor an idea without a word, so God never was without 'The 
Word,' nor 'The Word' without God ; or as a word is of equal age, 
or co-etaneous with its idea, so 'The Word' and God are co-eternal. 
And as an idea does not create its word, nor a word its idea, so God 
did not create 'The Word,' nor the 'Word' God. 

"Such a view does the language used by John suggest. And to 
this do all the Scriptures agree. For 'The Word' was made flesh, 
and in consequence of becoming incarnate he is styled the Son of God, 
the only Begotten of the Father. As from eternity God was manifest 
in and by 'The Word,' so now God is manifest in the flesh. As God 
was always with 'The Word,' so when the 'Word' becomes flesh he 
is Emanuel, God with us. As God was never manifest but by the 
'Word,' so the heavens and the earth and all things were created by 
'The Word.' And as 'The Word' ever was the effulgence or repre- 
sentation of the invisible God, so he will ever be known and adored as 
'The Word of God.' So much for the divine and eternal relation be- 
tween the Saviour and God." 

The Theology oe Alexander Campbell. 133 

He concludes (C. B. 334) : — 

"I can give the above views upon no other authority than my own 
reasonings. I learned them from nobody — I found them in no book." 
(Ibid 335) :- 

"I have acceded to your request with more ease than I could have 
done, had it not been for a few prating bodies who are always striving 
to undo my influence by the cry of Unitarianism or Socinianism, or 
some other obnoxious ism. From all isms may the Lord save us!" 

This statement allayed fairly well the criticism of Mr. Campbell's 
enemies, but now he met with objections from the camp of his friends. 
]\Ir. Stone wrote him in 1827; and after paying him the highest com- 
pliments (See p. 88) said (C. B. 378):— 

"From you we have learned more fully the evil of speculating on 
religion, and have made considerable proficiency in correcting our- 
selves. But, dear sir, how surprised and sorry were we to see in your 
tenth number, volume four, a great aberration from your professed 
principles. You there have speculated and theorized on the most im- 
portant point in theology, and in a manner more mysterious and meta- 
physical than your predecessors." 

Mr. Campbell replied (C. B. 379-380) :— 

"Brother Stone, — I will call you brother because you once told me 
that you could conscientiously and devoutly pray to the Lord Jesus 
Christ as though there was no other God in the universe than he. I 
then asked you of what import and consequence was all the long con- 
troversy you had waged with the Calvinists on the Trinitarian ques- 
tions. They did practically no more than pray to Jesus, and you could 
consistently and conscientiously do no less. Theoretically, you differed ; 
but practically, you agreed. I think you told me that you were forced 
into this controversy, and that you regretted it. Some weak heads 
among my Baptist brethren have been scandalized at me because I 
called you brother Stone. 'What' say they, 'call an Ariaii, heretic, a 
brother!!!' 'I know nothing of his Arianism,' said 1, 'nor of his Cal- 
vinism. I never seriously read one entire pamphlet of the whole con- 
troversy, and I fraternize with him as I do with the Calvinists. — Neither 
of their theories are worth one hour ; and they who tell me that they 
supremely venerate and unequivocally w^orship the King, my Lord and 
Master, and are willing to obey him in all things, I call my brethren.' , . 
But, brother Stone, I exceedingly regret that you have said and written 
so much on tzvo topics, neither of which you, nor myself, nor any man 
living can fully understand. One of these is the burthen of your late, 
letter to me. You do not like my comment on John, ch. i, ver. ist, — 
Well, then, just say so, and let it alone. I said in presenting it I was 
not about to contend for it, nor to maintain any theory upon the subject. 
My words are 'Noi would I dispute or contend for this as a theory or 
speculation with anybody.' " 

234 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

He closes, (C. B. 380) :— 

"But I adopt neither system, and will fight for none. I believe that 
God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son ; that Jesus 
was the Son of God, in the true, full and proper import of these words ; 
that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, which 
was sent by the concurrence of the Father and the Son to attest and 
establish the truth, and remain a comforter, an advocate on earth, when 
Jesus entered the heavens." 

Thus the controversy rested in the early days. Both Campbell and 
Stone tried to remain within the limits of revelation, but could not 
agree as to its interpretation. They did not make this the cause of 
division, even on this important question. JMr. Campbell's view came 
more and more into the ascendancy ; so that no longer the orthodoxy 
of his followers is questioned by any serious thinker (See Chr. Sys. 

4. Anthropology: The Augustinian doctrine of man's original 
perfection, fall, and the corruption of the race thereby, was accepted 
by ]\Ir. Campbell in common with his times. This process was stated in 
the terms of the Covenant Theology (Chr. Sys. 27-31). 

5. Christology: A scheme of redemption was also laid out on 
the same lines (Chr. Sys. 31-37). In this, God's part was the gift of 
his Son, Jesus Christ, in his threefold office of Prophet, Priest and 
King (Chr. Sys. 37-55). The doctrine of the Atonement was not made 
the subject of special study by ]\Ir. Campbell. This is proved by the fact 
that his statement is in the main a quotation from Watson's Institutes 
(ibid. 43-7). He thus accepted the orthodox doctrine of his times. 
Stone, on the other hand, dissented from this view. 

6. Soteriology : IMan's part in the process of salvation was 
stated in the threefold demand of Faith, Repentance and Baptism. 
Faith is defined in strict conformance with Lockean principles (Chr. 
Sys. 55-56). (See p. 62). Repentance is reformation, '"actual ceas- 
ing to do evil, learning to do well" (ibid. 57-8). Baptism is set in con- 
ceptions of the Covenant Theolog}^ (ibid. 59-62). It was on this sub- 
ject l\Ir. Campbell made his chief dogmatic contribution to the world. 
Let us trace in brief the history of this doctrine from the beginning : — 


I. Its action and proper subject. 

As a child in a Presbyterian fam.ily, Alexander Campbell was 
sprinkled in infancy. On his coming into the church in his teens he 
took no thought of baptism (Rich. Mem. I. 49). In the Independent 
Church at Rich Hill was one James Foster, who held that there was no 

The Theology oe Alexander Campbell. 135 

authority in the Scriptures for infant baptism. Foster later came to 
America and lived in the same community as the Campbells (Rich. 
Mem. I. 82). The year preceding the family's stay in Glasgow the 
Haldanes were immersed in Edinburgh (Rich. Mem. I. 180-1), 
but Mr. Ewing opposed this course. While the subject was one 
of those often discussed in this period, Mr. Campbell as yet gave it 
no earnest thought (Rich. Mem. I. 186-7). It came up first in 
America. The occasion was the "Declaration and Address," in 
which Thomas Campbell set forth his motto, — "Where the Scrip- 
tures speak, we speak, and where the Scriptures are silent, we 
are silent;" as he further defined it, — "We will require nothing as a 
matter of faith or duty, except that for which we have a 'tlius saith the 
Lord,' either in expressed command or approved precedent." The 
silence which followed was broken by Andrew Munro, a bookseller of 
Canonsburg, who said : "]\Ir. Campbell, if we adopt that as a basis, 
then there is an end of infant baptism." Thomas' reply was: "Of 
course, if infant baptism be not found in Scripture, we can have nothing 
to do Vv'ith it," not doubting that adequate authority could be found 
for it ; at which Gen. Acheson exclaimed with emotion : "I hope I may 
never see the day when my heart will renounce that blessed saying of 
Scripture, 'Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, 
for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' " At which James Foster, who 
was to prove the critic of the company, said: "Mr. Acheson, I would 
remark, that in the portion of Scripture you have quoted, there is no 
reference whatever to infant baptism." (Rich, Mem. I. 237-8). Thus, 
from the beginning baptism was a crucial question in the Christian Asso- 
ciation. It was destined to be the one more than all others on which their 
principles were to be tested. But at this time Thomas Campbell did 
not see any contradiction between these principles and infant baptism, 
at most he held that the question should be a matter of forbearance, and 
that they should not hastily abandon a usage of so long standing in 
religious society, that baptism should be put among the "non-essentials," 
and be held as not of such importance as faith and righteousness. Soon 
after, while riding together, James Foster asked: "Father Campbell, 
how could you in the absence of any authority in the Word of God. 
baptize a child in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?" 
The elder Campbell replied in irritation: "Sir, you are the most in- 
tractable person I ever met." (Rich. Mem. I. 240). Soon after, while 
young Alexander was explaining the principles of the "Declaration and 
Address" to Mr. Riddle, a Presbyterian minister, the latter said : "Sir, 
these words, however plausible in appearance, are not sound, for if vou 

'X36 I'he Rise of the Current Reeormation. 

follow these out, you must become a Baptist." At which the young mian 
asked in surprise: "Why, sir, is there in the Scripture no expressed 
precept or precedent for infant baptism?" "Not one, sir," was ^Ir, 
Riddle's emphatic response. (Rich. Mem. I. 250). This set him thinking. 
He ordered from Munro all the books he could find on infant baptism. He 
read nothing on the other side. He knew little or nothing of the Bap- 
tists at this time, and was much prejudiced against them. When the 
difficulty was laid before the father he received as reply: "We have 
made our appeal to the law and testimony. Whatever is not found 
therein we must of course abandon." But Alexander, not liking to hold 
any question in a state of uncertainty, betook himself again to his 
Paedo-Baptist authorities. Not being satisfied with their arguments, 
he turned to his Greek Testament. This made the matter worse. At 
last he had to admit that there were no "express terms or precedents" 
for the practice of infant baptism in the Scriptures. But he said 
(Rich. Mem. I. 251) :— 

"As for those who are already members of the Church, and 
participants of the Lord's Supper, I can see no propriety, even if the 
Scriptural evidence for infant baptism be found deficient, in their 
unchurching or paganizing themselves, or in putting off Christ, merely 
for the sake of making a new profession ; thus going out of the Church 
merely for the sake of coming in again." 

But in the case of new converts he concluded that they ought to 
preach and practice "apostolic baptism." Here at the request of his 
father he let the matter rest. Several incidents contributed to bring 
it up again. The Synod of Pittsburg made as one of their objections to 
the Christian Association (Rich. J\Iem. 328) "for declaring that the 
administration of baptism to infants is not authorized by scriptural pre- 
cept or example, and is a matter of indifference, yet administering that 
ordinance while holding such an opinion." 

Alexander replied to this: 

"We dare not inculcate infant baptism in the name of the Lord as 
indispensably incumbent upon Christians, because the Lord has nowhere 
expressly enjoined it. If anything can be produced on this head, we 
should be glad to see it. Lentil this be done, we think it highly anti- 
scriptural to make it a term of communion, for to do this is to make 
it a term of salvation." 
and defines their position at that time (Rich. Mem. I. 344-5) : 

"We look at baptism now in nearly the same point of view in which 
the primitive Church looked at circumcision, and consider the cases, if 
not altogether yet nearly parallel ; so far so. that we must either forbear 
or otherwise reject a great number of God's dear children without his 
special warrant, if not in express violation of his Divine commands." 

The Theology of Alexander Campbell. 137 

Then came a discussion with a Baptist preacher in the home of 
his father-in-law, Mr. Brown. Alexander ably defended infant baptism, 
but afterward was not entirely satisfied with his arguments (Rich. 
Mem, I. 362). Next was the notice of the fact that three members of 
the Christian Association, Joseph Bryant, Margaret Fullerton and 
Abraham Altars, had not received the rite in any way. The question 
now took a practical aspect. Should these partake of the Communion? 
(Rich. Mem. I. 372). As they wished immersion, Thomas Campbell 
consented to perform the rite. It was done in a singular way. They 
went to a deep pool in Buffalo Creek. The candidates walked into the 
water until it came to their shoulders. Thomas Campbell, standing 
upon a root, projecting from the bank, bent their heads into the water, 
repeating in each case the baptismal formula. So serious an occasion 
was not wanting its cynic. James Foster, the irrepressible, did not 
approve the manner of baptism, nor did he think that one who had 
not been immersed himself should immerse others (Rich. ]\Iem. I. 2>7Z)' 
Now the question was carried into the home of Alexander. A child 
had been born there. The maternal grandparents, as good Presby- 
terians, wished that it be baptized. Just before this Alexander, in 
preaching upon the Great Commission, when he came to the part on 
baptism, said: "As I am sure it is unscriptural to make this matter 
a term of communion, I let it slip. I wish to think and let think on 
these matters." (Rich. Mem. I. 392). But it would not slip. It had 
invaded his own household. He now went over the whole ground 
anew. He saw that baptism was a matter of much more importance 
than he had thought, that it was a direct ordinance of Christ, that it 
was not enough to admit that baptism was without divine warrant. 
Was the baptism of a believer a duty? Was that baptism immersion 
only? He continued his studies and finally being convinced that his 
own condition was that of an unbaptized person, went without confid- 
ing his decision to anyone to seek Matthias Luce, a Baptist preacher 
of Washington, to get him to perform the rite (Rich. Mem. I. 395). 
By a strange coincidence, as he stopped at .the house of his father on 
ihe way, his sister Dorothea took him aside and confided to him that 
she had been troubled about her baptism and that she wished to be 
immersed and requested him to lay the case before their father. He 
smiled and told her the purpose of his trip. They went to Thomas 
Campbell, who, to their surprise, made no objection. Arrangements 
were made for the performance of the rite June 12, 1812. 

On the morning of that day, Thomas had his wife put up a change 
of clothing for the two of them. This was his first intimation of his 

138 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

purpose to be immersed with his children. Arriving at the place ap- 
pointed, he made a long address, reviewing the whole ground gone 
over. Alexander followed in a defense of what they were about to do. 
Meanwhile James Hanen took his wife aside and they decided to join 
tlie others. The seven were immersed, Thomas Campbell and wife, 
A. Campbell and wife, James Hanen and wife, and Dorothea, upon 
the simple confession of faith. The meeting was seven hours long 
(Rich. Alem. I. 396). On the next Sunday James Foster and others 
followed their example. At this General Acheson and those opposed 
to immersion left the Brush Run Church. Immersion became a dis- 
tinctive mark of the movement of the Campbells. A long and painful 
course w^as now ended. Most of the way had been gone blindly. Now 
all felt they had seen a new light. 

Thus the questions of the proper action and proper subject of 
t)aptism were settled by 1812. This brought them on Baptist ground 
and resulted in the union with the Baptists (See p. 99). 

The questions of the design and place of Baptism in the programme 
of Restoration did not arise until later. 

2. Design: The doctrine of the Design of Baptism was an out- 
growth of the debates on Baptism with Paedo-Baptist antagonists. 'Mr. 
Campbeh went into these contests as the champion of the Baptist cause. 
The issue was forced upon him (C. B. 664), but he certainly felt him- 
self in full harmony with his Baptist brethren on this question. In the 
process of these discussions, he derived a doctrine of the import or 
meaning of baptism which proved to be the chief reason for his excis- 
ion from that body. The origin of this doctrine is frankly stated by 
Mr. Campbell (Harb. '38, 467-8) :— 

"In 1820 the Editor had a debate with Mr, Walker on the subject 
and action of Christian baptism. He had not then turned his thoughts 
to the special meaning or design of that ordinance. Either during that 
discussion, or in transcribing it for the press, an impression w'as made 
on his mind that baptism had a very important meaning and was some 
w^ay connected with remission of sins ; but engaged so much in other 
inquiries, it was put on file for further consideration," (See Walker 
Deb. 13, 17, 170; Rich. Mem. II. 20). "Immediately on receiving a 
challenge from Air. Wm. L. AlcCalla, of Kentucky, dated Alay 17, 
1823, I resolved to settle the true meaning of baptism before I ever 
debated the subject again. To examine this matter. I went to my Testa- 
ment with the zeal of a freshman. Air. Thomas Campbell and myself 
discussed this matter at considerable length for some months. It was 
not named to a third person till July or August following, when 
Brother Walter Scott made his first visit to my residence. During 
his stay my father informed him, in my presence, of the contemplated 

The Theology oe Awxander Campbeli,. 139 

debate, and stated at considerable length the views of baptism which 
we had agreed to offer on the occasion. As it had not been divulged 
to any other person, I was anxious for the judgment of one whom I 
so highly esteemed on account of his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, 
and waited for his opinion with much interest. He gave it upon the 
whole in favor of the views offered ; and more than once during his 
stay recommended the importance of giving such a view in the ap- 
proaching discussion." 

Scott had most likely been prepared for this by the pamphlet "On 
Baptism," sent out by the New York Church in 1820 (See Baxter 
"Life of Scott," 47-53). 

Accordingly, in the McCalla Debate Mr. Campbell introduced the 
doctrine as one of his chief arguments for the proper subject of bap- 
tism, viz., the believer (McCalla Deb. 116-7, 134-7, 146; Rich. Mem. II. 
80-3). This argument runs as follows: "Baptism is for the remission 
of sins. The term is 'sins,' the plural ; not the 'original sin,' a singular. 
An infant cannot be guilty of sins; hence he is not a proper subject 
for baptism." The center of interest in this argument was its major 
premise. This was evidently derived from Acts 2 138 ; and although the 
view was novel, Mr. Campbell began then and there to enforce it upon 
his Baptist brethren (Harb. '38, 468-9; McCalla Deb. 144). Thus thi^ 
doctrine, formulated in discussion, was brought forward as one of 
the items of the Reformation (C. B, 401). To Walter Scott, however, 
goes the honor of having reduced it to practice. As the evangelist 
of the Mahoning Association, he prepared a series of sermons on the 
Ancient Gospel. For a while perplexed as to how to state his mes- 
sage for the practical aid of the unconverted, he incorporated baptism 
as designed for the remission of sins and set it in order: i. Faith, 
2. Repentance, 3. Baptism, 4. Remission of Sins, 5. The Holy Spirit 
(R<lch Mem. II. 208). This message he felt to be so novel that he 
first went outside the limits of the Association to proclaim it. (Rich. 
Mem. II. 209). Taking courage then, he set forth the doctrine at 
New Lisbon, Ohio, and baptized a candidate, annexing to the usual 
formula, the words, "for the remission of sins." Great excitement fol- 
lowed. Scott passed like a meteor throughout the Western Reserve. 
The preachers took up the message. The first great evangelistic move- 
ment among the followers of the Campbells resulted (Harb. 38, 469). 
Rumors of the commotion came to Bethany. The Campbells feared 
that Scott had betrayed the cause by his precipitancy. The father was 
sent to inquire into the matter, and returning with the verdict of ap- 
proval, the son now came out with the doctrinal statement of their posi- 
tions in the essays on the Ancient Gospel (Rich. Mem. II. 219). 

140 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

He says (C. B. 416) :— 

"And now I propose to do three things, ist. To show that the 
apostles addressed Christians as having their sins remitted. 2d. That 
frequent allusions to baptism in the sacred epistles, represent it as an 
ablution. And in the third place I must show that it is as plainly 
affirmed in the New Testament that God forgives men's sins in the act 
of immersion, as that he will raise the dead at the voice of the archangel, 
or as that Jesus Christ will come again to judge the world." 

This third proposition he enlarges as follows (C. B. 416) : — 

"In the third place, I proceed to show that we have the most ex- 
plicit proof that God forgives sins for the name's sake of his Son, or 
Zi'hen the name of Jesus Christ is named upon us in immersion: — that 
in, and by, the act of immersion, so soon as our bodies are put under 
zvater, at that very instant our former, or 'old sins' ore all ivashed azvay, 
provided only that we are true believers. This was the view and the 
expectation of every one who was immersed in the apostolic age ; and 
it was a consciousness of having received this blessing that caused 
them to rejoice in the Lord, and, like the eunuch, to 'go on their way 
rejoicing.' When Jesus commanded reformation and forgiveness of 
sins to be announced in his name to all nations, he commanded men to 
receive immersion to the confirmation of this promise. Thus we find 
that when the gospel ^vas announced on Pentecost, and when Peter 
opened the kingdom of heaven to the Jews, he commanded them to be 
immersed for the remission of sins. This is quite sufficient, if zve had 
no't another zvord on the subject. I say it is quite sufficient to show that 
the forgiveness of sins and Christian immersion zvere, in their first 
proclamations by the holy apostles inseparably connected together. 
Peter, to whom were committed the keys, opened the kingdom of 
heaven in this manner, and made repentance, or reformation, and im- 
mersion, equally necessary to forgiveness. In the common version it 
reads thus: 'Repent and be baptized every one of you, for the remis- 
sion of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' When 
any thing is done for any purpose, it is always understood that there 
is a necessary connexion betwixt that which is done, and the object in 
view. When a person is immersed for the remission of sins, it is just 
the same as if expressed, in order to obtain the remission of sins." 

This was not the doctrine that baptism had in itself some magical 
power, so as to work forgiveness of sins, etc. Mr. Campbell says 
(C. B. 436) :- 

"We connect faith with immersion as essential to forgiveness — and 
therefore, as was said of old, 'According to your faith, so be it to you,' 
so say we of immersion. He that goes down into the water to put on 
Christ, in the faith that the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin, and 
that he has appointed immersion as the medium, and the act of ours, 
through and in which he actually and formally remits our sins, has 
when immersed the actual remission of his sins. So that he is dead 
by sin, buried with Jesus, and is born again, or raised to life again, 

The Theology oe Alexander Campbell. 141 

a life new and divine, in and through the act of immersion. This we 
have seen in the preceding essays is the Bible import of the one immer- 

This efficacy is secured solely by divine appointment (C. B. 436, 
438). Here the positive precept of the Covenant Theology enters as 
an essential factor of the doctrine. (See p. 49). Hence the whole 
virtue of baptism is obedience. As such, it is the medium of divine 
blessings. This medium must be evident to consciousness; hence it 
must be an object of sense. He says (C. B. 446) : — 

"And one of the better promises on which the new economy is 
established, one of the superior excellencies of the New Covenant, is, 
that under it the forgiveness of sins is imparted, and the conscience 
perfected in and by means addressed to our senses, and of the easiest 
access to every believer of the philanthropy of God. So that the instant 
of time, and the means by which, the formal remission is granted, is an 
object of sense, and a proper subject of remembrance. Hence those 
who apostatized from the faith are said to have 'forgotten that they 
were purified from their old or former sins' ; i. e., sins committed before 
immersion. From which it is as clear as demonstration itself, that the 
forgiveness of sins was through some sensible means, or it could not 
have been a proper subject of remembrance." 

Here the Empiricism of Mr. Campbell appears. As such, baptism 
is likened to the marriage rite (C. B. 446). In it the believer enters 
into legal and real union with Christ, and can claim all the blessings 
therein covenanted. Thus (C. B. 486) : — 

"In the natural order of the evangelical economy, the items stand 
thus: — I. Faith; 2. Reformation; 3. Immersion; 4. Remission of 
sins ; 5. Holy Spirit ; and 6. Eternal Life. We do not teach that one 
of these precedes the other, as cause and efifect ; but that they are all 
naturally connected, and all, in this order, embraced in the glad tidings 
of salvation." 

3. Place : The place of baptism in the Restoration was determined 
by this philosophy of its_jneaning. Thomas and Alexander Campbell 
began with the determination that this rite should be a matter of for- 
bearance (Rich. Mem. I. 344). They took this stand in the interest 
of union. Stone held also the same position. Baptism was also a 
matter of forbearance in some of the Scotch Baptist Churches ; i. e., 
those of James A. Haldane and Alexander Carson (C. B. 394, 407, 229). 
Others, as the New York Church, were close immersionists (C. B. 389). 
In Mr. Campbell's review of the history of these churches, he treats 
this question (C. B. 457) : — 

"While all of the above churches manifest a scrupulous regard to 
the grand constitutional principles of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, 

14:2 The Rise of the Current Reformation. 

they seem to differ from each other in their views of the ordinance 
of the Great King on the subject of naturaUzation. Some of them 
receive unnaturaHzed persons into his reahii on the ground of forbear- 
ance. On this subject I write with great caution, for I know this ques- 
tion of forbearance has in it some perplexities of no easy solution, and 
is at least of as difficult solution as that concerning the amalgamation 
of the Jews and Gentiles in the Christian Church, decided by the apos- 
tles and elders in the city of Jerusalem." 

He i^ not uncertain as to the primitive practice, bvit recognizes 
that a breach has been made in Zion, and that now many have the traits 
of Christian character who have not complied with the formal terms 
of entrance. He says (C. B. 457) : — 

"But the question of the greatest difficulty to decide, is, whether 
there should be any laws or rules adopted by the churches relating to 
the practice of receiving persons unimmersed in the assembles of the 
saints. Whether on the ground of forbearance, as it is called, such 
persons as have been once sprinkled, or not at all, but who are satisfied 
with their sprinkling, or without any, are, on their solicitation, to be 
received into any particular congregation, and to be treated in all re- 
spects as those who have, by their own voluntary act and deed, been 
naturalized and constitutionally admitted into the kingdom. To make 
a law that such should be received, appears to me, after long and close 
deliberation, a usurpation of the legislative authority vested in the holy 
apostles, and of dangerous tendency in the administration of the Reign 
of Heaven. Again, to say that no weak brother, however honest in his 
professions, excellent in his deportment and amiable in his character, 
who cannot be convinced but that his infant sprinkling is Christian 
baptism, and who solicits a participation with us in the festivities of 
Zion: I say, to say by a stern decree that none such shall on any ac- 
count be received, appears to be illiberal, unkind, censorious, and oppo- 
site to that benevolence which is one of the primary virtues of Chris- 

While he halted a long time between these two opinions, he finally 
cast the weight of his personality in favor of the former. It is possi- 
ble that his union with the Baptists, and his stubborn fight for fifteen 
years to maintain his standing among them, may have aided his decis- 
sion (C. B. 217). Also, his placing the acceptance of the proposition 
that Jesus is the Messiah and the single act of inauguration, viz., bap- 
tism, in the room of all credal demands upon the new convert, mav have 
confirmed his conviction of the place and importance of this institution 
(C. B. 140). At least, at the emergence from the conflict with the 
Baptists, the churches of the Reformation were practically close- 
immersionist and have remained so to this day. But Mr. Campbell, 
and those who followed in the same spirit, maintained an attitude of 

The Theology of Awxander Campbeli,. 143 

appreciation for the pious un-immersed of all parties; as he said in 
the famous letter to the Lady of Lunenburg (Harb. ''}^'], 41 1-2) : — 

"But who is a Christian? I answer, every one that believes in 
his heart that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God ; re- 
pents of his sins and obeys him in all things according to his measure 
of knowledge of his will. 

"I cannot, therefore, make any one duty the standard of Christian 
state or character, not even immersion into the name of the Father, of 
the Son. and of the Holy Spirit, and in my heart regard all that have 
been sprinkled in infancy without their own knowledge and consent as 
aliens from Christ and the well -grounded hope of heaven." 

(See also Rice Deb. 544). 

7. Pneumatology : Baptism was the transition to a new state. 
See "Essay on Remission of Sins" (Chr. Sys. 63-71). In this state the 
Holy Spirit is the indwelling power (See p. 68). 

8. Ecclesiology : (Chr. Sys. 77-1 11) (Seep. 98). 

9. Eschatology: (Chr. Sys. 71-5). The orthodox position was 
taken, yet this was not made a test of fellowship, as in the case of 
Aylett Raines (Rich. Mem. n_. ). 

Thus, Dear Reader, our task is finished. Note how this move- 
ment came out of the larger religious world, that it took the best there- 
from — its religious impulses, its models, its scholarship, — as its rights of 
inheritance. It has nothing to fear also from the scholarship of our 
day. It may well emulate the zeal for union among some of its 
neighbors. Let its sons go in and out in all the world's social and 
religious activities. Let them give and take ; let them learn and teach ; 
let them ever keep humble in vision of the vast hosts of God ; — this les- 
son is the moral of this little history, which a better art would have 
left unstated. 



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