Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 20, 1969
NUMBER 41, PAGE 3b,5a

The Restoration — Historical Background

(Second In A Series)

Edward Fudge The Campbells

Thomas Campbell was born in 1763, and was reared an Anglican. He later became dissatisfied with the Church of England, which was too formalistic for him. After much mental agony, he had an "experience of grace," which qualified him for admission into the Seceder Presbyterian Church.

Following his admission into the Presbyterian Church, Campbell studied at the University of Glasgow, and went on to Seceder theological schools to become an ordained minister of that denomination.

In 1787, he married Jane Carneigle, a descendant of French Huguenots who had escaped to Ireland from persecution provoked by the Restoration of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1695. A son was born to the Campbells in 1788, and they named him Alexander. Son Alexander followed his father's steps to the University of Glasgow, and later was also ordained as a Seceder preacher.

The Campbells belonged to a very intolerant branch of the Seceder Presbyterians known as the Antiburghers. On one occasion the Antiburghers withdrew from a member for working as a mason on an Anglican chapel. Thomas Campbell was repulsed by such narrowness, and led an attempt, which proved to be unsuccessful, to unite the Burgher and Antiburgher sects of Ireland. To him, their division seemed "trivial, unnecessary and unchristian." It is of passing interest that the synods were united in 1820, after Campbell had gone to America.

Because of failing health, resulting in part from overwork, Campbell emigrated to America in 1807. Arriving in Philadelphia, he found his own church synod in session. He was ordained to preach in the United States and was assigned to pastoral service in western Pennsylvania.

If Thomas Campbell had thought his transfer across the ocean would find churches more benevolent to one another, he was rudely awakened. The New World churches proved just as narrow as their kind in the Old World. Thomas Campbell simply disregarded their intolerant practices in his work. It is often much easier to practice tolerance quietly than to preach it specifically. Many have found the easiest and most effective way toward brotherly relations with separated brethren to be the quiet resumption of brotherly fellowship in matters commonly held by all concerned.

Charles Alexander Young, one-time managing editor of The Christian Century, commented that even at this point in his life, Campbell "had firmly grasped the principles of Christian unity set forth at greater length in the Declaration and Address. Campbell himself was soon after to exclaim that he was "tired and sick of the bitter jarrings and janglings of a party spirit." "We would desire to be at rest," he said, "and, were it possible, we would also desire to adopt and recommend such measures as would give rest to our brethren throughout all the churches: as would restore unity, peace, and purity to the whole Church of God."

Campbell's enthusiasm was not shared by his immediate Presbytery of Chartiers, which severely censured him for "the exercise of too great Christian liberty and charity toward other religious bodies." Christian love and liberty are all right — just so they are not carried too far! Protesting this act of the Presbytery, Campbell appealed to the Associate Synod of North America. That body formally removed the censure, but actually reaffirmed it in essence. At this point Thomas Campbell resolved to "decline all ministerial connection with, or subjection to, the Associate Synod of North America."

Friends who shared his views met with Campbell and together organized themselves into the Christian Association of Washington. To make the purpose of the Association clear to the public, Campbell drew up a statement of principles, including the constitution of the society. This document he called the "Declaration and Address."

Alexander Campbell came to America in 1809. Though his outstanding work in preaching and debating, in editing and writing, in travelling and lecturing, should not be minimized, historians are agreed that he made no important addition to the principles set forth in the "Declaration and Address."

The "Declaration and Address" was not a creed. It was not even a statement of faith. It was a con- cise statement of aims, and principles which Campbell believed honest men in all the churches could use to see past every human creed to the divine one which they all concealed — Jesus Christ.

Barton W. Stone

Barton Warren Stone was born near Port Tobacco, Maryland, on December 24, 1772. Though limited in opportunities for formal education, he learned to read. This talent he thereafter used profusely, in this way acquiring a substantial degree of knowledge through his own efforts.

Stone decided early in life to become a lawyer, and left home for an Academy to study law. While there, he once accompanied a friend to hear James McGready, a noted preacher of the day. McGready's sermon touched the heart of Stone, and though he tried to forget the impact of the lecture, Stone found himself struggling concerning God and religion.

He fought "conviction" for some time. One day, though, he heard a sermon by William Hodge, entitled "God is Love." The message, and the sincerity of the preacher, gave Stone comfort. Shortly after this, he became convinced of salvation. Abandoning plans for his chosen profession, and fully aware of the ridicule that was to come from old friends and acquaintances, without further ado Stone began to study for the ministry.

Barton W. Stone applied for a license to preach in the Presbyterian Church. But, because of contradictions which he felt between the Bible and certain Presbyterian doctrines, he changed his mind. Later he applied again for a license, which he received. He preached a short time in Virginia and North Carolina. In 1796, he preached at Cane Ridge in Bourbon, Kentucky, and in 1798 received a call to preach regularly for the churches in Cane Ridge and Concord.

In the course of his ordination, Stone was asked if he accepted the Confession of Faith. He replied, "I do, so far as I see it consistent with the Word of God." This reply sufficed, and he was ordained. But though life was becoming outwardly more calm, Stone was plagued more and more by doubts and anxieties.

In 1801 he married Elizabeth Campbell of Virginia. The same year he joined various denominational preachers in conducting a camp meeting held in Kentucky. The "liberal" doctrines taught by Stone and a few others on that occasion created a stir among the "orthodox," and Lexington, Kentucky, Synod of the Presbyterian Church decided to investigate.

To avoid what seemed imminent, five preachers withdrew from the Synod and began to associate under the name of the Springfield Presbytery. These men prepared addresses to their congregations stating their reasons for leaving the original Presbytery. They stated their objections to the Confession of Faith. And they explained their opposition to all "authoritative confessions and creeds founded by fallible men." Their own words are plain, as they described themselves:

With deep concern they viewed the divisions, and party spirit among professing Christians, principally owing to the adoption of human creeds and form of government. While they were united under the name of a Presbytery, they endeavored to cultivate a spirit of love and unity with all Christians; but found it extremely difficult to suppress the idea that they themselves were a party separate from others.

As time passed, Stone and the others saw the Springfield Presbytery gradually acquire the characteristics of a sect. True to their convictions they determined to abandon the name of the Presbytery and to refer to themselves only as "Christians."

On June 28, 1804, they drew up a document which they called "The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery." This paper was to rank in influence alongside Thomas Campbell's "Declaration and Address," written five years later.

Little did the authors of either treatise realize the great impact that their works would have on this nation. And though from a theological standpoint, neither man was totally original, from a historical standpoint they deserve to be called Pioneers in America's greatest indigenous religious adventure.

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