Baptist History Homepage

Edmund Waller
Frontier Baptist Minister
"Burning Alexander Campbell’s Testament"
This uncompromising adherence to [Waller's] convictions, and opposition to error, would sometimes betray a spirit of apparent bitterness
and bigotry which his adversaries would use successfully against him, and which his friends could not justify. On one occasion visiting Virginia, one Sabbath, at the Goshen Association John Boyce was about to introduce him to Mr. Campbell, who was seated with the preachers on the stand, “I know Mr. Campbell well enough, sir,” was his sharp reply, and turned suddenly away.

The Revised Testament [The Living Oracles - jd] of Mr. Campbell had, a short time previous, fallen into his hands. He read it carefully through. He was a great and a careful reader; he once read the Encyclopedia from the beginning to the end. And, commencing at the first chapter, he read every word in the five volumes of the Comprehensive Commentary.

After carefully reading the Revised Testament, he was convinced that it was a well-directed blow aimed at the vitals of Christianity itself. Its apparent leaning toward Arianism, and the glosses ingeniously thrown over those passages which teach man's depravity, and the agency of the Holy Spirit, made him look on it as the work of an ambitious, and wrong-headed man, who chose this means of building up a party, and propagating error. He sat alone with the open book in his hand from which he had been reading. He was thinking of the injury which that book might do in his family when his head was pillowed in the grave. He believed it -- and let this be marked -- he believed it to be the mere work of man, and of an erring, ambitious man. He calmly laid the book upon the burning logs before him, and as he gazed on it burning he concluded that there, so far as he was concerned, the matter would be ended. But at that moment a neighbor entered, the burning book was seen, an explanation must be given, and it was soon heralded to the world. Who has not heard that “the father of J.L. Waller burned the New Testament?”

These are the literal facts in regard to this matter, to which reference has been a thousand times made. The friends of Edmund Waller do not justify this act. It was unnecessary, and would of course be made use of to advance what it desired to
* I have gathered these facts from the neighbors of E. Waller, and from a living witness of this transaction.

impede; yet taken in conjunction with the steadfast integrity of the man, the wild storm which Alexander Campbell had let loose on the churches of Kentucky, the appalling aspect which the current Reformation presented, under all these circumstances, in such a man as Edmund Waller, the severity of such a course is greatly mitigated, if not entirely excusable. “And I would do so again,” he has often been heard to say, “were I placed in the same circumstances.”

[From S.H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, 1856, pp. 23-25. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

Baptists: Various Subjects
Baptist History Homepage