Vol.V No.IX Pg.6
November 1968

Thomas Campbells Appeal

Robert F. Turner

Honored Brethren:

Before you come to a final issue in the present business, let me entreat you to pause a moment, and seriously to consider the following things: to refuse any one his just privilege, is it not to oppress and injure? In proportion to the magnitude and importance of the privilege withheld, is not the injustice done in withholding it to be estimated? If so, how great the injustice, how highly aggravated the injury will appear, to thrust out from communion a Christian brother, a fellow-minister, for saying and doing none other things than those which our Divine Lord and his holy apostles have taught and enjoined to be spoken and done by his ministering servants, and to be received and observed by all his people. Or have I, in any instance, proposed to say or to do otherwise? If I have, I shall be heartily thankful to any brother that shall point it out, and upon his so doing, shall as heartily and thankfully relinquish it.

Let none think that, by so saying, I entertain the vain presumption of being infallible. So far am I from this, that I dare not venture to trust my own understanding so far as to take upon me to teach anything as a matter of faith or duty but what is already expressly taught and enjoined by Divine authority; and I hope it is no presumption to believe that in saying and doing the very same things that are said and done before our eyes on the sacred page, is infallibly right, as well as all-sufficient for the edification of the Church, whose duty and perfection it is to be in all things conformed to the original standard. It is, therefore, because I have no confidence, either in my own infallibility or in that of others, that I absolutely refuse, as inadmissible and schismatic, the introduction of human opinions and human inventions into the faith and worship of the Church.

Is it, therefore, because I plead the cause of the Scriptural and apostolic worship of the Church, in opposition to the various errors and schisms which have so awfully corrupted and divided it, that the brethren of the Union should feel it difficult to admit me as their fellow-laborer in the blessed work? I sincerely rejoice with them in what they have done in that way; but still, all is not yet done; and surely they can have no just objection to go farther.

Translated into Plain Talk:

Wait, brethren! Do not beat me for following the Lord. Let us help one-another to be faithful to him. Let us accept as the standard of the faith, not human opinions and inventions, but the expressly revealed Word of God. This alone is infallibly right, and all-sufficient.

As explained on page 2, this is the first installment of our reprint of Thomas Campbells appeal to a board of his fellow-presbyters, who would censure him for teaching and practice contrary to the usages of the Presbyterian church of his day. We urge you to read the whole reprint carefully. The fight between honest convictions and the sectarian spirit continues today, as in 1808.