Alexander Campbell, Apostle of Truth
William Blake

Volume VI --  Number 1
Fall, 1959
pp. 15-30
(C)opyright 1959
All Rights Reserved
The Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary

    Alexander Campbell was a great man by any reasonable standard. Rarely is a man distinguished for excellence by secular and spiritual considerations. The one generally has the effect of cancelling the other. However, Campbell was held in esteem for his educational insights, his social sensitivity, and his platform ability. Spiritually, his knowledge of Scripture was probably unparalleled in his day; prayer flowed from his lips as naturally as any words that he spoke; his home was like Luther's, "A nursery for God"; he had a profound respect for his fellow; he sought for himself the virtues which he preached to others; and he was a tireless searcher for and proclaimer of the truth.

    I do not mean to suggest that the secular and the spiritual were separated in Campbell's life. To Campbell all of life was a gift from God and should be lived in gratitude to God. This faith permeated all of his relationships: political, economic, social, and cultural.

    Alexander Campbell was born in County Antrim, Ireland, on September 13, 1788. He was the son of Thomas Campbell (1763-1854), a minister of the seceder branch of the Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland, and an honor graduate of the University of Glasgow. Alexander, himself, was privileged to spend a year in study at this renowned institution. In addition to the profound influence of his father, Campbell's earlier religious convictions were nurtured by such Scotch Independents as Greville Ewing, James and Robert Haldane, Rowland Hill, John Walker, and Robert Sandeman. There is reason also to believe that he was familiar with the ideas set forth by the philosophers of the day,--John Locke, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, David Hume, William Godwin, Thomas Reid, and others. It is sometimes hazardous to affirm that certain beliefs of a historical figure were derived from the influence of this or that individual. The caution derives from the dynamic interrelation between a person and his environment. However, when Campbell, himself, states that "his own ideas were more like John Walker's (John Walker of Dublin, not of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio) than those of any other man he knew" or when some of his views are precisely those advocated by John Locke, the problem of influence is not difficult.

    Two years after Thomas Campbell came to America for his health, Alexander and the rest of the Campbell family joined him in 1809. The story of the surprised and happy concurrence of religious views by father and son is too well known to relate here. Their plans for the unity of the church was in brief, a restatement in slightly varying terms of Rupertus Meldinius' famous maxim: "in essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity." Only the Campbells substituted the word "faith" for essentials, and the term "opinion" for non-essentials. With 1809 as the starting point, Alexander Campbell embarked upon a career which lasted for fifty-seven years. His was an ever expanding life until the day of his death, March 4, 1866. "During those years," says D. Ray Lindley, "he was gentleman farmer, Virginia legislator, political theorist, educational philosopher, lecturer, debater, preacher, and religious journalist."(1) But, as Lindley also notes, he is known chiefly as "the central figure giving stimulus to the origin and early development of that religious communion which developed along the frontier of nineteenth-century America," and which is variously known as the "Christian Church," the "Disciples of Christ," the "Churches of Christ," and "Christians." At present the collective body of those churches historically related to the Campbell movement is the largest native American religious body, and is the fifth largest Protestant body in America.

    In personal appearance Campbell was tall, vigorous and athletic. His hair was light and his complexion moderately fair. His face had no straight lines, and his aquiline nose was arched, as Racoon John Smith said, "a little to the north." Few ever saw him when he was not cheerful. His combined wit and magnanimity is reflected in an anecdote related by John F. Rowe. Rowe arrived at Bethany, West Virginia, September, 1850, to attend college and to study under the illustrious religious leader. Needless to say, the first person he wanted to see was this one, about whom he had heard so much; so out to Campbell's famous hexagonal study he went. All the tensions that exist when a freshman first walks into the office of the august personage of the college president and more so, were in the breast of John Rowe. Stepping into the study, Rowe saw at once, to his further dismay, that there were no other chairs besides the one Mr. Campbell occupied. Campbell immediately pulled a number of volumes from the shelves of his library and piled them on the floor, and pointing to them, said to Rowe; "Please, Sir, take a literary seat." His inward tension ceased, Rowe related, and throughout the remainder of the conversation he was perfectly at ease.(2) Is such kindly attention to seemingly small things one of the causes of greatness or one of its accompaniments?

    There are several notable traits which Campbell possessed which combined with other factors to produce his religious outlook.

    One of these qualities seems to have been his power of concentration. This was not always so. Perhaps the most familiar story to come out of Alexander's boyhood was the one relating to his study of the French language. On a warm day he sought the shade of a tree as the most suitable place to prepare his lesson in "The Adventures of Telemachus." Falling asleep and dropping his book in the grass, he was unconscious of the approach of a cow, until the animal had seized and devoured the entire volume. His father not only severely punished him for his carelessness, but further reprimanded him by telling him that "the cow had got more French in his stomach than he had in his head." But the years saw the developing of his potentialities and the heightening of his powers, to the extent that during the 1840's, considered by many to have been the period of his greatest activity, Tolbert Fanning could write in the Christian Review, May, 1844,

Alexander Campbell is about sixty years old; has been blessed by nature with a fine constitution; has led a most active life, and consequently enjoys remarkable good health for one of his age, and his intellect is as vigorous as it was at twenty-five. In personal appearance, there is no man like him. His scholarship is admired by both friends and foes; and in logical powers, the world, in my humble opinion, has not his equal. As a declaimer, he is not generally admired by the multitude; but men of the best order of mind are always delighted with his addresses. . . . His arguments are always well arranged, and are generally full and satisfactory on every point he touches. It is scarecly probable that any man has ever become truly distinguished, who has not attained his pre-eminence for some one particular trait, and evidently Alexander Campbell owes his greatness to his powers of concentration, and his habit of presenting the greatest subjects in a few pointed and palpable propositions. . . . For logic, scriptural knowledge, genuine criticisms, dignity of manner, fairness and Christian courtesy, it is barely probable Alexander Campbell has an equal living . . ."(3)
    We must admit that the above is a very glowing description of the man. If it were an isolated characterization, we might suspect that the writer had an acute case of the generosity error. But similar estimates can be multiplied. Hear another appraisal by one of the outstanding military men of Campbell's day who was not an intimate acquaintance. General Robert E. Lee spoke of Campbell in the following words:
He was a man in whom were illustriously combined all the qualities that could adorn or elevate the nature to which he belonged . . . A man who if he had been delegated as the representative of his species to one of the superior worlds, would have suggested a grand idea of the human race. Such was President Campbell. [President of Bethany College.](4)
    Fred West calls attention to another trait which he believes essential to any satisfactory understanding of Campbell. He notes,
When he was interested chiefly in physical endeavors, he won the reputation of being able to hurl the biggest snowballs of all those by his playmates. Moreover, Alexander Campbell wanted to roll the largest snowballs! When he was laboring on the farm, he got interested in it enough to delight in the art of being the best sower of grain. He achieved the reputation by his associates of being an expert hunter and an expert fisherman.

Now how does this apply to his intellectual world? The answer is simple: as put in his own words, he aspired to be "one of the best scholars in the kingdom."(5)

    Ray Lindley thinks that it was Campbell's debate with Walker in 1820 that was the historical incident which did "most to arouse his competitive spirit." This may have been true, but there is little evidence for Lindley's further contention that Campbell experienced " such keen joy in the conquest which he felt he had made over Walker that from this time forth he was like a soldier roused for battle. That he here discovered . . . the rapierlike gift of satire which did much to shape his future career."(6) Rowe, who was in a much better position to judge Campbell's behavior on the debating platform says:
He is most chaste, pointed, and dignified, in all his public exhibitions; knows not how to take advantage of an opponent, and will not condescend to little tricks for the sake of applause.(7)
    While admitting the importance of Campbell's deep personal faith and piety, his great reverence for the authority of the scriptures, his love of freedom, and his earnest spirit of inquiry and devotion to truth, Lindley sees what he calls Campbell's sensitivity to whatever he considered to be a "personal affront" or threat to have been the major driving energy behind his defiance of ecclesiastical control.(8) He feels that Alexander's indignation aroused by the heresy trial of his father, Thomas, by the Chartiers Presbytery, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, was the historic event which launched him into a "lifetime crusade against all ecclesiasticisms."(9) Undoubtedly Campbell felt keenly this injustice to his father, but to say that this "aroused him to an undying conflict with all ecclesiasticisms" is to substitute a "molehill" motivation for the "mountain motivation" which we believe actually impelled Campbell. What was this "mountain" motivation? There was one object always before him: truth.(10) He wanted the truth more than he wanted anything else. One who would seek to understand the greatness of Alexander Campbell must study him in this light. He himself writes:
Often have I said, and often have I written, that truth, truth eternal and divine, is now, and long has been with me the pearl of great price. To her I will, with the blessing of God, sacrifice everything. And on no altar will I offer her a victim. If I have lost sight of her, God who searcheth the hearts, knows I have not done it intentionally. With my whole heart I have sought the truth . . .(11)
    Such quotations from Alexander's pen could be multiplied from all periods of his life. His attack upon, "organized Christianity as constituted at that time" was not due to such an inferior motive as the preservation of the family honor or a reaction to some personal affront, but rather to his belief that the ecclesiasticisms of his day represented departures from the truth. Whether someone wishes to add, "the truth as he conceived it," is beside the point. There is always the possibility that our conceptions of truth do not correspond to objective truth. But it cannot be denied that one may possess an insatiable love for the truth in spite of the fact that some of his judgments do not harmonize with ultimate truth. Surely one would not have the temerity to argue that Campbell thought he was motivated by a love for the truth, but, as a matter of fact, he was driven by a "sensitivity to personal affront."

    At least one other quality of his life contributed to his greatness; his tireless application of his energy to work.(12) Alexander Campbell was a worker. Arising every morning at four o'clock, he worked steadily until ten at night. When not in his study, he was busy at some manual labor. An eye-witness records; "We never saw Alexander Campbell idle. This is the main key to his greatness."(13)

    It would seem therefore that these things--his power of concentration, his drive for excellence, his love for the truth, his devotion. to work, his deeply religious spirit--combined with hereditary and social factors to produce the man.

    These qualities were developed and exercised as he preached his first sermon in 1810 on Matthew 7:24, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon a rock." They were exercised as he and his father established the church at Brush Run in 1811. They are in evidence as he and his wife, Margaret, and their first child, Dorothea, together with his father and mother, were immersed in Buffalo Creek.

    In the Campbell's acceptance of the invitation to the Brush Run Church to join the Redstone Baptist Association, it is seen their intention was not to originate a new religious body. Campbell felt that the Baptists, among the various religious groups of his day, were the nearest to what he conceived to be the "New Testament pattern," and he hoped to work through them to spread his growing ideas of "unity by restoration of the ancient church." His pursuit of the truth led Campbell to preach his brilliant "sermon on the Law" in 1816 at a meeting of the Redstone Association, at Cross Creek, Virginia. This event is said by some to have been the "entering wedge" which led to the later separation between Mr. Campbell and the Baptists. More astute observers have detected Baptist antipathy from the outset of Campbell-Baptist relations. Leader of Baptist opposition appears to have been one Elder John Pritchard who denounced the Campbells and members of the Brush Run church as "heretics" and "sowers of dissension." That some of the Baptists were successful in spreading hostility to the Campbells very early is seen in one anecdote that comes from the year 1814. Near midnight early in the year Alexander was riding home from services. A severe storm suddenly struck. The rain fell in torrents and the creeks overflowed their banks. He stopped at a farmhouse for shelter. A woman opened the door, and by candlelight peered at him. "Are you Alexander Campbell?" she asked. Naturally Alexander replied that he was. "I would as soon give shelter to the devil himself," she said; "My preacher says if you should drown it would be a blessing!" The door slammed in his face.

    If Campbell's championing of immersion as Bible baptism in the Walker Debate in 1820 revived Baptist sympathy with his position, his debate with McCalla, in 1822 lost it again. In that debate he made clear the design of baptism, for "the remission of sins."

    In 1823 Campbell began publishing a journal to set forth his views, and it was only because of the suggestion of Walter Scott that it would be "the diplomatic thing to do" to include the name "Baptist" somewhere in the title, that Campbell called it The Christian Baptist. There can be no question about the correctness of the description of this paper as "Iconoclastic." It shook up; it tore apart; it broke down many existing beliefs. It made enemies; it created friends.

    1830 is a terminal date for two reasons. It marked the dissolution of the Mahoning Baptist Association, the character of which had undergone radical change since 1823 when the Reformers entered it through the newly established Wellsburg Congregation. This marked what may be termed the "formal separation" of the Reformers from the Baptists. The other item of importance in that year was the assumption by Campbell of a new Journal, The Millennial Harbinger. The name of this new periodical was particularly significant. Campbell believed that the Millennium was a period of time when "the nations of this world are all to become the kingdoms of our King--they are all to submit to his government, and to feel the benign and blissful influence of his sceptre."(14) He believed that eventually Christianity would triumph over the whole world and the influence of Christ would be preeminent. But Campbell also believed that "the sectarian establishments could not admit of this spread and triumph of Christianity." Therefore, the only way to have the millennium was to restore the Christian Church, and in the process, to destroy sectarianism in all its forms. He wrote in the "prospectus" for the Harbinger:

This work shall be devoted to the destruction of Sectarianism, infidelity, and antichristian doctrine and practice. It shall have for its object the development, and introduction of that political and religious order of society called the Millennium, which will be the consummation of that ultimate amelioration of society proposed in the Christian Scriptures.(15)
    There is insufficient space to do more than mention Campbell's triumph for truth in his debates with Robert Owen in 1829 in Cincinnati; his debate with Bishop Purcell and Roman Catholicism, also in Cincinnati, in 1837; and his final formal debate in 1843 with the Presbyterian, N. L. Rice, in Lexington, Ky. From some statements by Campbell in his debate with Rice; from Campbell's reply to and subsequent discussion of questions relating to the now familiar Lunenburg Letter, and from two or three isolated passages in other of Campbell's utterances, the liberals associated with the Restoration Movement seek desperately to show Campbell to have been a bona-fide representative of the positions that they advocate. Their desperation often makes historical schizophrenics of them. They can be very apt with the historical method and technique until they deal with historical materials that do not coincide with their predetermined positions. (Unfortunately, we are all susceptible, more or less, to this type of schizophrenia, and must make a determined effort to prevent it. A conservative can be as guilty of misrepresenting history and misinterpreting Scripture in favor of his position as can a liberal.) Even the standard biography of Campbell by Robert Richardson is not without bias. The "halo effect" is evident in the two volume work. I would disagree strongly, however, with John Allen Hudson, the editor of the Old Paths Guide, who says that the picture of Campbell presented in Louis Cochran's historical novel, The Fool of God, is "much less partisan than that painted by Dr. Robert Richardson."(16) Cochran's work is admirable in many respects. He is a gifted writer, as "the wealth of vivid, concrete passages in his book reveals." One finds himself clinging for dear life with the Campbells on the storm battered ship, Hibernia; he is joggled mercilessly on the wagon trek to Western Pennsylvania; he experiences horror as the hungry flames reduce Bethany College to ashes. I have read no work which makes one feel so much a part of the action of Campbell's life as does Cochran's novel and I think there is profit in reading the book. Its faults are argued validly and effectively by R. C. Foster, Professor of Greek and New Testament at the Cincinnati Bible Seminary, in his articles that appeared in the May and June, 1959, issues of the Restoration Herald. Professor Foster has done a service to all students of Campbell's life by calling attention to Mr. Cochran's misinterpretations or misrepresentations, whichever they are, in connection with Campbell's attitude toward Bishop Purcell's beliefs; his replies in defense of his position on fellowship in the debate with Rice, and his attitude towards the speculative Dr. John Thomas. (Campbell's circle of Christian Fellowship was considerably wider than that of some who have followed in his train, but it was not as wide as Mr. Cochran would have it.) Mr. Cochran's incomplete quotations from the Lunenburg correspondence, submitted as a continuous reproduction from Campbell's pen, give a false impression of Campbell's position.

    More reprehensible is the same kind of handling by historians, such as Garrison and DeGroot, in their The Disciples of Christ--A History,(17) and by researchers such as D. Ray Lindley in his study of Alexander Campbell, entitled, Apostle of Freedom.(18) Even if their "polyglott quotation" correctly represented Campbell's position, their college history professor would have failed them had they submitted a research paper with such loose treatment of a man's words.

    The "Lunenburg Letter," was correspondence from a lady in Lunenburg, Virginia, questioning a statement of Campbell in the Millennial Harbinger that "he found Christians in all Protestant Parties." She inquired whether anyone could be considered a Christian who had not believed, repented and been baptized. Campbell stated that he had expressed an opinion that those who loved Christ, but who through "insuperable ignorance, involuntary mistake, or defective knowledge" had neglected one of Christ's commands "might be considered Christians." The words of Campbell in his reply to the Lunenburg letter are most frequently appealed to by those who want his justification for the position that forgiveness and baptism are unrelated, and that the unimmersed may be freely admitted into the full fellowship of the church. There is no vindication for this position in the answer to the Lunenburg letter or in ensuing discussions in the Millennial Harbinger. It is interesting in this connection that none of the liberal interpreters includes in his discussion of Campbell's position on the remission of sins his carefully reasoned and systematically presented views in The Christian System. Here, in this work, the second edition of which was published in 1839--two years after "Lunenburg"--Campbell devotes sixty-five pages to a chapter entitled, "Remission of Sins." In this chapter he considers possible objections to his argument connecting baptism with the remission of sins. One of the anticipated objections is, "But do not many of them (i.e., those who have not been immersed) enjoy the present salvation of God?" Campbell replies,

How far they may be happy in the peace of God, and the hope of heaven, I presume not to say. [There are those who think that this should have been his reply to the Lunenburg letter!] And we know so much of human nature as to say, that he that imagines himself pardoned will feel as happy as he that is really so. But one thing we do know, that none can rationally and with certainty enjoy the peace of God and the hope of heaven, but they who intelligently and in full faith are born of water, or immersed for the remission of sins.(19)
    A clearer statement of Campbell's position on this question cannot be found. If one, familiar with this utterance, persists in argument that Campbell gave license for unbaptized persons to unite fellowship with the church, the forgiven ones, he is consciously misrepresenting Campbell's view.

    Perhaps it is a truism to say that all of Campbell's views were not so clearly enunciated. When one inquires, "What was Alexander Campbell's position on such and such a subject," it may be necessary to reply "To what time in his life are you referring?" As is true with us all, his views on several subjects underwent revision and sometimes reversal.

    There was a reversal of his view on baptism. Between 1810 and 1812 he said of immersion, "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." This statement may be contrasted with his decision to be immersed, himself, and with his later writings, as those cited above.

    Although Earl West in The Search for the Ancient Order insists that Campbell did not change his views of extra-congregational organizations(20)--that he always favored the principle of missionary societies--that his seeming objection to them in the Christian Baptist can be explained by the argument that he opposed them then because they were being used to spread sectarianism, and despite Campbell's own insistent denial that he had changed his views regarding such agencies, his statements in the Christian Baptist speak too loudly to the contrary.

    Those familiar with his castigations of the "located minister" in the Christian Baptist, are probably aware of the gradual cessation of such attacks in the Millennial Harbinger, and smile as they read:

Several evangelists are called for in our letters recently received. Graduates of good standing are solicited, who can obtain recommendations from the Faculty of Bethany College. Will those, or any others with good testimonials, not profitably employed, address us on the subject?(21)
Those who know how in his earlier career he lambasted salaried preachers, are amused to find him writing on the subject of ministerial support in 1851:
How is the Christian ministry to be regularly and sufficiently provided for? This is a question of human prudence, left to the wisdom and discretion of the church. There is no system, because there could be no system prescribed in the Christian Revelation. Still it is expedient that there be a system in church as well as in personal, family, or state finance. There must be a sum understood, stipulated, and above all, a time of payment. My theory is that the evangelist should be paid quarterly in advance.(22)
    No such ideas could have come from Campbell's mind during the 1820's. Other examples of changes of view could be given from Campbell's writings, but these will suffice.

    Detecting reversals in some of Campbell's doctrines is not nearly so difficult as ascertaining some of his views in which there appear simultaneous contradictions, or, if not contradictions, thought that shuttle between two extremes.

    An example of this seems to occur in reference to his estimate of creeds. Sometimes it would seem that he opposed all written statements of faith; at other times, he seems to have evidenced a more moderate view. For instance he deplores creeds because they were an "addendum to Scriptures, and as such, implied their inadequacy; that they were the cause of all the divisions of Christendom, and that they were the instruments of exclusion."(23) At about the same time he writes, "I cared not how many creeds were published, or would not object to publishing a creed every year, provided that it was only to inform the world what I or those in union with me held."(24) But would there have been no line of inclusion or exclusion in Campbell's mind even in a simple personal statement of faith? We know that there would have been Mr. Rice brings this out forcefully in their debate. He said that Campbell's line of demarcation was immersion. It is of no logical value to say that the creeds to which he objected were "human" while his own was "divine," because all creed-framers believe that their creeds are divine, whether they have the dubious authority of a council or are statements of personal conviction.

    Campbell was also plagued with the perennial Christian problem of the determination of what was faith and what was opinion. What was necessary; what was expedient? There are few questions which perplex the serious believer more than this one. It is one that tempts us to resort to Emerson and resolve our struggle by affirming that " . . . consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." Observe an example of Campbell's experience in this area. In his own mind he resolved the slavery conflict in America by relegating it to the expediency realm. He affirmed in 1845 that the relation of master and slave was in certain cases and conditions, morally right.(25) Other statements lead one to believe that he felt that slavery, per se, was an inhuman institution; and that it violated "everything in which he believed about the human spirit.(26)

    Another problem that Campbell left with vague assertions and varying actions concerned the circle of Christian fellowship, to which I have made reference earlier. We may glibly say that God will judge those who have not submitted to the gospel as we understand it, but this gives us little help in solving the problem as to what should be our attitude and relation towards them now. Who may be included, and what is the nature of the fellowship, if any, that can be had with believers in Christ who disagree with us on major doctrinal points?

    Earlier in the movement Campbell distinguished between the "near" New Testament churches, and those further from the New Testament position. He spoke repeatedly to the Baptists of their common ground; he reminds them that they believed the same glorious facts, and hoped for the same blissful resurrection.(27) By 1831, when the break between the reformers and the Baptists was pretty well effected, he wrote an article denying that "the Baptist sect had any part in the Scriptural church of Christ."(28)

    In the Campbell-Rice Debate Campbell takes a broad view of the basis of fellowship, broad in relation to the tests of fellowship demanded by some in the movement. He says that if a man believes ". . . that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God . . ."; if he believes that "Jesus died for our sins, and rose for our justification . . . we baptize him. We ask, on that subject, no further questions."(29)

    It is most interesting to note that one of the reasons that led the Campbell's withdrawal of fellowship from Dr. John Thomas, was, according to Richardson, that Dr. Thomas "began to evince a spirit of dogmatism and of opinionativeness wholly inconsistent with the principles of the Reformation." "This was first shown," says Richardson, "in his (Thomas') refusing to recognize religiously or even pray with any who had not submitted to the gospel as he understood it. . ."(30)

    One of the provisions of the by-laws of Bethany College which Alexander Campbell chartered in 1840 and opened in 1841, was that the College Hall should be used every Sunday for religious worship and instruction "to be performed by respectable ministers of various denominations."(31)

    Perhaps the only explanation of the apparent contradictions and incompatible statements of Campbell is to say either that some problems have no unequivocal solution, or that, as with all of us, there were those unresolved questions upon which he shuttled back and forth in his utterances, seeking desperately the truth.

    One further item will serve to conclude our discussion of the "Apostle of Truth." It concerns the attack upon him by a Rev. James Robertson in Edinburg, Scotland. Robertson and some of his associates disliked some of Campbell's religious views and were jealous of his success. Knowing that they were incapable of controverting his arguments and of discrediting him theologically, they sought to defame him by giving public notice that he was a defender of slavery. Untrue as the charge was, it served to inflame the anger of the Free Scotch against Campbell. Campbell subsequently made some statements to the press which Robertson used to bring a libel suit against him. It seems that there were three Rev. James Robertsons in Scotland, and Campbell had gotten word that one of them had been accused of "insulting and abusing his own mother." So Alexander wrote to the Editor of the Edinburgh Journal, and it was printed, that he would meet Mr. Robertson in discussion of the issues--"provided only that he be not that Rev. James Robertson who was publicly censured and excluded from the Baptist Church for violating the fifth commandment in reference to his mother." These were probably not the wisest words Campbell could have chosen in invitation to debate, but he had been vexed severely by Robertson and his cohorts. A warrant was sworn out for Alexander, and his case was to be in ten days. So the question arose, "Should he give security or go to prison?" His friends offered to provide the needed bond. But Campbell, feeling that he was being persecuted for righteousness' and truth's sake, could not bring himself to "buy himself off from imprisonment by tendering the required security." he states,

I believe that in all this I am persecuted for the truth's sake. I stand for the Bible doctrine in faith, in piety, and morality, and I am resolved to give no security. I will rather go toprison.(32)
    Advanced in years, the prospect. of a cold dark dungeon for an indefinite period, the dangers to his health, the thought of his appointments in Ireland, and all that might be lost by not fulfilling them, the humiliation--and yet, for the sake of the truth--he chose the dungeon. Few men have loved truth so much. The subsequent trial completely exonerated him.

    On a modest tombstone in a little burial ground called "God's Acre," overlooking Buffalo Creek in Bethany, West Virginia, are found the words, "In Memoriam, Alexander Campbell, born in County Antrim, Ireland, September 12, 1788; died at Bethany, West Virginia, March 4, 1866. Founder of Bethany College; Defender of the Faith once delivered to the saints."

    Campbell was no god, but we may imitate him as he imitated Christ. He was an "apostle of truth," and the Bible was his ultimate source of authority.



1. D. Ray Lindley, Apostle of Freedom (St. Louis: The Bethany Press, 1957), p. 8.
2. John F. Rowe, "Reminiscences of the Restoration," American Christian Review 29 (1886), p.141.
3. Tolbert Fanning, "Campbell and Rice's Debate," Christian Review 1 (1844), pp. 115, 116.
4. Robert E. Lee, "The Late R. E. Lee's Letter," Apostolic Times 3 (1871), p.27.
5. Fred West, Alexander Campbell and Natural Religion (Sterling Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut). An unpublished dissertation, pp. vi-vii cited by Lindley, op. cit., p.13
6. Lindley, op. cit., p.14.
7. Fanning, loc. cit.
8. Lindley, op. cit., pp. 15 F.
9. Ibid.
10. See Earl Irvin West, The Search for the Ancient Order (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1949), Vol. I, p.54.
11. Alexander Campbell, "A Demand for Justice from Editors in General and Mr. Brantley in Particular," Millennial Harbinger 1 (1830), p.97.
12. Earl West, op. cit., p.57.
13. Tobert Fanning, "Sketches on the Life of Alexander Campbell--No. 2," Gospel Advocate 3 (1866), pp.321-25.
14. Campbell, "Millennium--No. I," Millennial Harbinger 1 (1830), pp.53-58, cited by Earl West, op. cit., p. 72.
15. Campbell, "Prospectus," Millennial Harbinger 1 (1830), p. 3.
16. John Allen Hudson, Old Paths Guide 1 (1958), August.
17. Winfred Ernest Garrison and Alfred T. DeGroot, The Disciples of Christ, A History (St. Louis: Christian Board of Publication, 1948), pp.226 f.
18. Lindley, op. cit., pp.61 f.
19. Alexander Campbell, The Christian System (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Co., n.d.), p.204.
20. West, op. cit., pp.192-S
21. Campbell, Millennial Harbinger 26 (1355), p.480.
22. Campbell, Millennial Harbinger 21 (1850), p.491.
23. Lindley, op. cit., p.54.
24. Campbell, The Christian Baptist 5 (1834), p. 370; cited by Lindley, op. cit., p.58.
25. Campbell, Millennial Harbinger 16 (1845), p.257.
26. Lindley, op. cit., p.100.
27. Campbell, The Christian Baptist 6 (1835), p.447.
28. Lindley, op. cit., p.44.
29. Campbell-Rice Debate, p.811. See also pp.805-811; 823; 887.
30. Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Co., 1956), Vol. II, p. 444.
31. Campbell, Millennial Harbinger 13 (1342), p.30.
32. Richardson, op. cit., p.559

Scanned:  Michael Riggs
Edited:  Matthew Honig