Baptist History Homepage

A Little Discussion with Alexander Campbell
By James M. Pendleton

[p. 114]
It was during my residence in Tennessee that I had a little discussion with Alexander Campbell. He was a celebrated man and quite adroit in controversy. I wrote an article for the Tenneesee Baptist, in which I argued the priority of repentance to faith. Mr. Campbell published a long reply in his Millennial Harbinger. To my astonishment, he treated me with marked respect, a thing he did not always do with his opponents. He insisted that
[p. 115]
faith must precede repentance. In proof of my position I quoted such Scriptures as these: "Repent and believe the gospel," "Testifying repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Mark i:15; Acts xx:22.) Mr. Campbell said that the mention of repentance first was a matter of no significance. I insisted that in explaining Scripture it is often indispensable to take things first that come first. In proof of this I quoted I Timothy v:14, "I will therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children," etc. The point I made was of course that younger widows should marry before bearing children. There was, there could be no reply to this.

Mr. Campbell was a great man, had a high reputation for scholarship, but this reputation was somewhat impaired by his Revision of the Acts of the Apostles for the American Bible Union. Having referred to Mr. Campbell, I will now quote a long sentence from him in his written controversy with a "Clergyman," as published in the Harbinger. Bishop Smith, of Kentucky, was no doubt the "Clergyman." The Bishop contended that the validity of gospel ordinances depends on their administration by men Episcopally ordained. Mr. Campbell in reply used these words, which made such an impression on my memory that I have not forgotten them in thirty years. I quote them that my children may have an unsophisticated laugh.

The long sentence is as follows:

"If my salvation depended on a pure administration
[p. 116]
of baptism, I would rather have a pure, godly man to immerse me, on whose head the hands of Romish or British prelates were never laid, than to be baptized by any Bishop under these heavens, whose sacerdotal blood has run through ecclesiastic scoundrels ever since the flood which the fiery dragon issued out of his unsanctified mouth to drown the apostolic church in its early youth."

A premium may well be offered for any sentence equal in all respects to this.

[From J. M. Pendleton, Reminiscences of a Long Life, 1891. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

W. C. Taylor on Campbellism

Return to Pendleton Index
Return to Baptist History Homepage