The aspirations of [J. M. Peck's] heart, however, were always in the wider field. No sooner had he settled his family comfortably in their new abode, and provided for them through the cultivation of the land, than he mounted his horse and started forth on one of his long and productive journeys.
This took him to the eastward. He visited various churches and associations, and met the famous (or infamous) Daniel Parker, politician, theologian, reactionary and propagandist. This shrewd and able man embodied the whole devilish spirit of the anti-mission crusade. He had a smooth tongue, considerable eloquence, and a genius for persistent proselytism.
In the light of present-day world-wide ideas it is hardly possible to understand the bitter opposition to all the higher forms of Christian service which characterized the people of the smaller churches in the New West one hundred years ago. At the Association in New Princeton, Indiana, Mr. Peck was refused a seat in the body and treated as an outcast, because of his zeal in missionary enterprises. Mr. Parker, on the other hand, was welcomed joyously, and applauded in his rabid opposition to every form of missionary activity. Mr. Peck, great-hearted and noble, says in his diary: "In my interview with Brother Parker I alluded to his address about missions, and told him I could cheerfully give him my hand, as a conscientious and well-meaning though greatly mistaken brother."
Describing the later sessions of the Association he says: "The subject of missions came up. This was occasioned by one church having charged another with having supported missions." This constituted a serious grievance. Mr. Parker arose and delivered a fiery address, denouncing all missionary effort in lurid and forceful terms. Mr. Peck obtained leave to speak and defended the missionary enterprises of the denomination with great fervor. It was a memorable occasion. Two of the most noteworthy leaders of religious thought and feeling that the 19th century produced were present, face to face, at the meeting of a few humble and insignificant churches. They spoke mightily, the discussion lasting for five hours. Mr. Peck must have appreciated the vigor of his antagonist, for he says: "I have never before met with so determined an opposer to missions in every aspect." But the virile and eloquent Parker, State Senator, splendid man of affairs, religious leader, founder of a sect and stalwart reactionary in all that concerned the kingdom of Christ, received a startling rebuff; for the very Association which had declined to recognize the missionary and had refused him a seat in its assembly three days before, voted heartily to sustain the cause of missions, and resolved, by formal vote, to support the church which had raised a contribution for the great cause.
[From Austen K. DeBlois and Lemuel C. Barnes, John Mason Peck and One Hundred Years of Home Missions 1817-1917, 1917, p. 48-49. The document is from Google Books. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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