Category Archives: Restoration Movement

Alexander Campbell’s Commentary on Acts

Back in the mid-1800s, Alexander Campbell received the ire of many religious bodies for having the audacity to produce a new translation of the New Testament (Because, they would say, God Himself inspired the translators of the King James’ Version).  In the first edition, he took most of the translation from various well-respected commentaries (George Campbell [no relation], MacKnight, and Doddridge) and edited it together in one volume.  In the second through fourth editions, he made several changes, seeking to have more uniform translating principles throughout.

It’s really interesting to note the background given above, because some years later, the Baptists organized a translation committee with some other religious groups (including the Disciples) called The American Bible Union.  And they recognized that Campbell was no slouch when it came to knowing the original language–so they chose him to translate Acts of Apostles.

As each book was translated for the A.B.U., it was published and distributed for comment, and it would then be revised prior to its inclusion into the finalized New Testament.

Alexander Campbell’s translation of Acts was published in a large size (8 1/2 x 11), with his commentary included–and was nearly 240 pages long.  This commentary is different from what you would expect.  It included the following features:

  • The King James’ Version text of Acts
  • The Greek original of Acts
  • His “Revised Version” of Acts
  • Translation notes on all three.


Because of the sheer amount of Greek, and the amount of notes (see picture above), we have decided to add this book to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary as published, and not attempt (at this time) to do any updating to to it (as we have with all the other books in the library).  It would just be too overwhelming of a project for now, but we want to get this book out for as many people as possible to enjoy.

Now, pay attention here, because we’re giving you two options:

The higher quality scan, as seen in the image above, is too large for us to upload to our website (115 Meg), so you will have to download it from a special link (no worries).

The second option is black/white, and is 1/10 the size of the other one, and while it is easier to read, it has a LOT of underlining and notes in the margins (This was a scan we made from Jimmie’s personal copy).  Note the picture below is the same page as the picture above, from the other copy.



To download the higher quality version, click the link below:

Alexander Campbell’s Acts of Apostles (HQ)

To download the B/W version (easier to read, other than the underlining and notes), click this link below.

Campbell, Alexander – Acts of the Apostles

The Man Behind “The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery”

Most Restoration Movement enthusiasts and experts rank the “Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery” as perhaps the most important document in the effort to restore New Testament Christianity (or at least the second-most important).  The man who was behind this document is rarely mentioned, though.  His name is Richard McNemar.

Today’s addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary (yes, I know this is Monday, but we’re feeling generous, and I’m behind on my apostles notes) is the rest of the story.

McNemar Cover


We first published this book back in 2014, and if you want it in print, we’ll be happy to sell you a copy (just $5.99), but now you can read it for FREE on your computer or electronic device.

I’m sure you want to know something about it, so here’s a bit of information:

From the Preface:

Richard McNemar is an enigma to many students of the Restoration Movement. He shows up as a co-worker with Barton W. Stone, and his name is on one of the most historically significant documents of the Restoration. Yet he is not much more than a footnote in the history books. This primarily stems from his conversion to Shakerism in 1805. However, for those students who want to know more about him, and want to know what happened to him after the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery, this book is for you.

This is a sad tale of a preacher who had great potential, but who was caught up in false doctrines.

The author of the book (J.P. MacLean) was a historian of the Shakers (publishing several Shaker-related books), and a Universalist minister from Ohio. Since much of McNemar’s work as a Shaker was in Ohio, it caught MacLean’s attention and influenced him to put together this work, originally published in 1905.

This work on the life of Richard McNemar has undergone several editorial changes in spelling, punctuation, and formatting.  Additionally, several footnotes have been added to explain various words and phrases that aren’t familiar to most readers.   There is also a new section added to the end of the book which gives a very brief overview of the history and beliefs of the Shakers.

We do trust, however, that you will find this work, A Sketch of the Life and Labors of Richard McNemar to be interesting, and that it will help you know “the rest of the story.”


Chapter One: Early Life.
Chapter Two: Charges of Heresy.
Chapter Three: The Kentucky Revival
Chapter Four: Conversion and New Order
Chapter Five: An Account of Labors and Suffering.
Chapter Six: Travels and Special Missions.
Chapter Seven: Literary and Other Industries.
Chapter Eight: Persecution, Expulsion, Triumph, and Death
Appendix: A Brief Overview of the Shakers

Published by Cobb Publishing, 2014.

To read this book or download it for your PDF collection, just click the link below!

Richard McNemar

-Bradley S. Cobb


An interesting Restoration Movement Coincidence(?)

Abner Jones wasn’t the kind of man to toot his own horn, like his co-worker, Elias Smith, was.  True, he wrote his autobiography at the request of friends and co-workers in the kingdom who wanted a first-hand account of his efforts at restoration, but if you read it, he doesn’t make a big show out of himself.

Abner, for the most part, quietly went about his work of preaching and teaching and trying to help plant congregations and build them up.

Meanwhile, the denominational mindset that he hated so much had worked its way into the congregations that he had been laboring for. It started off innocently enough in 1808, with ministers from the New England area decided to get together for a meeting of sharing news and encouragement and fellowship.  Then they met again in 1815, and discussed whether it was scriptural to have a conference like that to discuss matters.  They decided, based on Acts 15, that it was, and so they made it an annual event.  After that, they began to elect officers to preside over the meetings.  Then they started making decisions for the whole group.  In 1824, this group, calling themselves the United States Christian Conference, decided to welcome any church, whether they practiced baptism or not, so long as they weren’t opposed to the practice.

As we saw in a post last week, this stance put them at odds with the Bible, and also with the disciples, Christians with whom Alexander Campbell was associated.  It is interesting that this resolution came at the first meeting after Campbell began writing and arguing heavily about the essentiality and mode of baptism.  Already there had been some congregations who had started uniting with the disciples, due in large part to the Scriptural stance they were taking.

It was in 1832 that Barton W. Stone, as a representative of the Christian Church (Christian Connexion) in the midwest, officially gave the right hand of fellowship to Raccoon John Smith, the representative of the disciples.

The portion of the Christian Church (Connexion) in New England wasn’t as thrilled by this measure, and there were some who wanted official resolutions against the disciples and this union that they did not agree to.  So, later that year, when they came together for the annual meeting of the United States Christian Conference, they  turned to Abner Jones, their elder statesman, to preside over it all.

And then something quite extraordinary happened.  Under Abner Jones’ leadership, a motion was made, seconded, and passed, “dissolving the United States Christian Conference forever.” (Herald of Gospel Liberty, June 16, 1910, pages 758-759).

It seems that Abner Jones knew that this body was primed to act in a very un-Christian way.  It also appears that Jones was ready and willing with work with the disciples as brethren in Christ, endorsing the union of forces.

To the outsider, the dissolution of this body, so soon after the union of the Christian Church (at least the part that followed Barton Stone) and the disciples, might appear to just be a coincidence.  But it wasn’t.

It is no coincidence that the dissolving of this body–the body who had, just eight years earlier, denied that baptism was essential for salvation–came immediately after the union of Stone and Campbell.  It is also no coincidence that it was eliminated as a decision-making body through the leadership of Abner Jones.  It is almost as though it was his way of retracting the horrible decision they made in 1824, and his desire to remove any obstacle to working together with the disciples.

Unfortunately, the elimination of the conference didn’t last long.  The next year, a prominent Christian Church (Connexion) preacher called for a conference, and the whole mess started up again.  On the funny side, they met again in 1834, and there was great confusion, because no one could agree on why they were there.  Some thought there was an official convention (like before), others thought it was just a meeting to discuss the publishing of books by members of the Christian Church.  It was agreed and resolved that the United States Christian Conference had dissolved, and so they must be there because of book publishing. (Herald of Gospel Liberty, June 23, 1910, page 790).

In 1838, Abner Jones presided over the meeting, and made it a point to stress that it was a meeting regarding the “General Book Association.”  Jones died before the next meeting (which was now being held every four years).  It wasn’t long before these meetings once again morphed into a decision-making body over the churches.

But in 1832, a wonderful thing took place; something that might, on the surface, seem like just a coincidence; yet was anything but.

-Bradley S. Cobb

(NOTE: Abner Jones’ autobiography is included in our book, Abner Jones: A Collection.)

How do You Want to be Remembered?

When your time on this earth is through, how do you want to be remembered?  Some people want to be thought of as having been a great financial success, others want to be remembered as being famous, and still others want to be remembered for some single achievement that they did.

There was a man who lived in Vermont over 200 years ago.  He was at one point a deacon in the Baptist Church.  But in 1806, he led that congregation out of denominationalism and taught them to simply be “Christians Only.”  That same year, after the Baptist Church officially dissolved, he helped form the “Christian Church,” and served as an elder there for over 25 years.

In the early 1800s, he was one of the primary men who tried to help unite different groups who were trying to restore New Testament Christianity.  He was present at the baptism of both Abner Jones and Elias Smith, and was well-respected by both.  He baptized nearly 100 people during 1808.  He was instrumental in training other men for the ministry.

It has taken me a significant amount of time in research and reading to find out much about this man.  He’s mentioned in passing in several biographies and autobiographies, but never is there much detail given about him.  He never wrote a book about himself.  He never sought the limelight.  Instead, he worked tirelessly as an elder and occasional preacher for a single congregation for nearly three decades.

Near the end of his life, he moved a few towns over and helped serve a congregation there.  He died in the service of His Lord.

He left behind a very simple legacy.  Those who pass by his tombstone will only see his name, date of his death, and then the words “Elder of the Christian Church.”

That is what Elias Cobb [no relation] wanted people to know about him.  What do you want people to know about you?

-Bradley Cobb


Due to having a very full schedule, our posts have been less than regular, and for that I apologize.  But because of your patience, we’re going to give you a freebie.  And feel free to tell others about it too.

The issue of demons and evil spirits is prevalent once again in our culture, and people are asking questions like: what does the Bible say about demons?  Where did they come from?  Do they still work among men today like they did during the Bible times?  What are demons anyway?

Alexander Campbell took the time to give a lecture on this very topic, and it is quite interesting and informative.  I won’t give away his conclusion – then why would you read the lecture?

His lecture on Demonology is featured in the book Alexander Campbell: A Collection, (which is well worth getting, believe me), but since you’ve all been so patient with us, we’ve giving it to you for free today.

Click the link below to download it:

Campbell, Alexander – Demonology


Alexander Campbell: A Collection (Volume 2)

We are proud to announce the latest book from Cobb Publishing is now available!

Campbell(02) FRONT Cover

While about half of the previous volume was about Campbell, with the other half being some of his writings, this volume is almost all him.  There is a very brief biography of Campbell to start off the collection, and then the spotlight shines on Campbell’s pen.

In this brand-new collection, you can read his famous “Sermon on the Law,” get his thoughts on instrumental music in the church, find out what he has to say about the Bible and capital punishment, and even see his own translation of the book of Acts.  This book contains over 300 pages of material for your enjoyment and edification.

We have spent well over 100 hours in selecting, proofreading, and formatting this book to give you the best possible reading experience.  We believe it was worth the effort, and after seeing it, we think you’ll agree!


  • Alexander Campbell: Matchless Defender of the Protestant Faith
    By W.L. Hayden
  • Sermon on the Law
  • Life and Death
  • Instrumental Music in Worship
  • Is Capital Punishment Sanctioned by Divine Authority?
  • Confession Unto Salvation
  • The Bible
  • God has Spoken to Man in the Bible
  • Principles of Interpretation
  • Musings on a Christmas Morning
  • Acts of the Apostles (translation)

This book is now available at in print ($9.49) or in Kindle format ($3.99), and if you use Amazon, feel free to go that route.  The direct link to it is here.

However, for the first week (that is, until next Monday), we will be offering a special price of $7.99 for the paperback, and $1.99 for the eBook!  Click here to order it from us directly.

And may your day be full of God’s blessings!


Restoration Moments – The Final Day of Knowles Shaw

“Oh, it is a grand thing to rally people to the Cross of Christ!”

Those were the final words of Knowles Shaw, a preacher and hymn-writer in the late 1800s.

We present to you now a Restoration Movement Moment that comes from The Life of Knowles Shaw, Singing Evangelist (by William Baxter), which is available as a free download from the Gravel Hill church of Christ website.


[Knowles Shaw] telegraphed to the church at McKinney, that he and I would be there the next day. Early the next morning there was a tremendous rain-fall, lasting two or three hours. The brethren tried to prevail on him not to go to McKinney that morning, urging that the weather was so unfavorable that he could not have a meeting if he went, and insisted that he should remain in Dallas that day and rest. He replied, “No; we have telegraphed the brethren we would be there, and we must go; that there was no time for rest now; rest would come by and by.”

I met him at the depot about seven o’clock that morning, as lively and cheerful as I ever had seen him. He had bought his ticket and was ready to start. We took a seat in the car, and, in a few moments, were off. We conversed a few moments in regard to the work at McKinney. He then took up the morning paper and looked through it.

While thus engaged, I left him, and went forward to the front of the car, and was about to pass out to the coach ahead, when someone called me by name. I turned, and saw a Methodist minister, Mr. Malloy, whom I had known years before in Arkansas. I sat down by him, and spent some time in conversation. He asked me about our meeting in Dallas, and Brother Shaw. I told him that Mr. Shaw was on the train, and just at that moment caught his eye, and beckoned to him, and he came to where we were seated.

I introduced him to Rev. Mr. Malloy, and gave him my seat, and took the next one. Mr. Malloy asked him to tell him the secret of his success in protracted meetings, which Brother Shaw proceeded to do in a very earnest manner, saying he depended much on the power of a song-preached Christ.  He always kept Jesus before the people, made them feel that they were sinners, and needed just such a Savior as he preached. That he never became discouraged, had confidence in the gospel truth as the power of God, that he loved his work, and became wholly absorbed in it.

Then he added: “Oh, it is a grand thing to rally people to the Cross of Christ.”

At that moment, I turned to see if we were in sight of McKinney, and I felt the car was off the track, bouncing over the ties. I did not feel in any danger; did not know that we were on an embankment, and expected that we would check up in a moment or two. I saw Brother Shaw rise from his seat, and realized at once that the car was going over.

Not a word was spoken.

I saw Brother Shaw alive no more.

All became as dark as night. When I came to myself, the coach was at the bottom of the embankment, and I was its only occupant. I looked round, but all were gone. When I got out, I saw the passengers on the railroad track above me, and made my way up to them. The first one I met was Mr. Malloy, with whom Brother Shaw was seated at the time of the accident. I said to him, “Have you seen Brother Shaw?”

“NO,” said he, “I fear he is under the wreck; but he saved my life by pushing me from the position in which he himself fell.”

I waited to hear no more, but ran down to the wreck, looked in, and saw a man’s hand pointing upward out of the water. It was Brother Shaw’s hand. I called for help, and in about fifteen minutes he was taken lifeless from the water. Portions of the wreck had to be cut away with an ax before the body could be reached and removed. I had the body placed in the baggage-car, which had not been thrown from the track, and sent to McKinney, where it was taken charge of by the brethren and placed in the church. I sent a telegram to Dallas, telling the sad news.

In a short time, a deep gloom pervaded the whole city, as from house to house passed the sad words, “Brother Shaw is dead.” Quite a number were injured by the accident; some very severely. My own injuries were of a serious nature, much more so than I at first supposed. Such was Brother Shaw’s last day on earth.

Restoration Movement Week – Samuel Rogers

From Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History.


This faithful servant of the primitive Gos­pel was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, Nov. 6, 1789. His father served through the Revolution and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. In 1793, the fam­ily moved to central Kentucky, and settled in the forest two miles from Winchester, where they lived until September 1801, when they went to Missouri, known at that time as New Spain. They were four weeks on this journey and lived on venison, buffalo meat, and fish, which they found plentiful in their line of travel. The mother carried her Bible sewed up in a feather bed for fear of the priests. “All that I knew of the Christian religion, until I was grown to the stature of a man.” says Samuel Rogers, “I learned from those two preachers, my mother and the old family Bible which she took to that country in her feather bed.” He had the opportunity of attending school but three months in his life.

In 1809, his father returned to Kentucky, and in 1812 Samuel married Elizabeth Irvin, and soon after, under the preaching of Stone, became a firm believer in Christ, was convicted of sin and immersed. War being declared between England and the United States he volunteered and served throughout the strug­gle. After the war he entered upon the work of the ministry and preached on both sides of the Ohio River from Portsmouth to Cincinnati. In those days it was the current belief that the Lord called men to the ministry in some ex­traordinary way, that he opened a door of ut­terance and put words in the speaker’s mouth, and by a special interposition of power he would furnish his outfit, and direct and sustain him on his way. It is not strange with this faith the preacher would start on a tour of sev­eral months with only “a cut ninepence” in his pocket.

In 1818, he settled in Clinton county, Oh., where John I. Rogers was born January, 1819. Here he organized the Antioch Church and was ordained by two ministers of the Gospel. “Old Sister Worley” he says, “also laid hands on me, and I have always believed that I re­ceived as much spiritual oil from her hands as from the hands of the others.” Under the rules of the “New Lights” he could not bap­tize until this was done. He baptized forty persons at that time and during his ministry over 7,000. Not long after this he made his first preaching tour into Missouri. The coun­try through which he traveled was wild, and often as he camped out in the forest he was awakened by the howl of wild beasts. He saw elk, deer, wolves and bears. He was over­taken by a prairie fire and escaped by firing the grass around him and keeping to the wind­ward of it. He was three months on this tour as an evangelist.

His labors extended now in all directions. He journeyed as far east as Baltimore, where he preached a few discourses and baptized sev­eral persons, and held meetings also in Harford County, Md. This trip must have been a try­ing one for he speaks of his “many privations” and tells how he was forced to sell his Bible and hymn book to pay ferriage and other expenses. On one of these trips he lived for two days and nights on “a few apples,” but he tells us “the truth triumphed gloriously.” He made a half dozen tours through the State of Missouri, and traveled extensively in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia preaching the Gospel to the people and receiv­ing less than his actual expenses. “Both among our preachers and people,” he says, “there was prevalent a foolish sense of timidity upon the matter of taking up contributions of money for the ambassador of God. The little that we did receive was collected and given to us in a manner so sly and secret that the giver often appeared more like a felon than God’s cheerful giver. When a brother or sister in telling you ‘Good-bye,’ took hold of your hand in a clumsy sort of a way, with their hand half shut and half opened, you might look out for a quarter or a few cut ninepences. I have had money slipped into my vest and pocket, into my pants’ pocket, and in my sack while I was asleep. All this was done that the ministry might not be blamed, and for the purpose of keeping the tell-tale left hand in blissful ignor­ance of what the right had done.”

Rogers first met A. Campbell in 1825 at Wilmington, O. He heard him preach one sermon two hours in length, and afterward had a free and full conversation with him at the home of Jacob Strickle. As he listened to this great teacher, cloud after cloud rolled away from his mind, “letting in upon my soul light, joy, and hope that no tongue can express.” He looked upon Mr. Campbell as a modern Ezra sent to restore the lost law of God to the people. “The reformation,” he says, “had an easy conquest over all our churches, for the reason that they were right constitution­ally; they had taken originally the Bible alone for their rule of faith and practice. This ex­plains the fact of the early triumph of the reformation in the Blue Grass region of Ken­tucky. Stone, and those laboring with him, had constituted churches throughout central and northern Kentucky upon the Bible and the Bible alone, and all these without excep­tion came early into the reformation. Stone’s reformation was the seed bed of the reforma­tion produced by Campbell.”

In 1827 Rogers rode 200 miles on horse­back to Warren, Oh., to attend the Mahoning Association and to meet with Walter Scott and the Campbells and their co-laborers. He be­gan at once to preach these views with great fidelity and power. “I never made a fine ser­mon in my life,” he declared, “but I have preached a great many very fine sermons, yea as powerful sermons as were ever uttered on earth. But all of these fine sermons were borrowed. I borrowed them from Christ and the apostles. They contained the most sublime facts in the universe to be believed, the grand­est commands to be obeyed, and the most precious promises to be enjoyed.”

November 14, 1833, the day after the great “star-shooting,” he started with his family for Indiana. His near neighbors in his new home were Joseph Franklin and wife, who were im­mersed Methodists. He began at once to preach in a school house and among the con­verts was Benjamin Franklin, who became a famous preacher of the primitive Gospel. Seven preachers came out of this meeting. His son, John I. Rogers, was one of them. For five years he labored in Indiana. In 1838 he moved back to Ohio, and in 1840 made his third missionary tour on horseback to Mis­souri. He was the second preacher to carry beyond the Mississippi the doctrine that the Bible and the Bible alone is a sufficient rule of faith and life, Thomas McBride having pre­ceded him.

An idea of his preaching may be gathered from the sketch of a sermon about this time on election, I Pet. 1:1. He showed the election of believers to be according to an arrangement which God had previously made known; that elections in a state are carried on according to the law and the constitution previously ar­ranged and made known, that is, according to the foreknowledge of the framers of the con­stitution; that every man, elected at all, must be elected according to that previous arrange­ment made known and promulgated; that the law clearly defined, first, the character of the person to be elected to office, and secondly, the mode and manner of holding said election. God has made and promulgated such a law for the election of men to a place in the kingdom of Christ; that kingdom was set up on Pente­cost; Peter was the one chosen to publish the law of election and Jerusalem the place and Pentecost the time, and this one at the proper time and place opened the polls, laid down the rules regulating the election, and 3,000 men were elected according to the previous arrangement of God the Father, etc. He de­clared the same law in force today and the polls open, and asked all to come forward who desired to be chosen.

On his fifth tour to Missouri he had a most successful visit to Gasconade County. He tells how the primitive teaching was introduced here. A daughter of James Parsons heard him, was convinced of the truth, and demand­ed baptism at his hands, but her physician prevented her obedience. Later, finding her days were numbered, she desired her father, an unconverted man, to baptize her. He de­clared himself unworthy to perform the sacred rite. She urged him, saying that the validity of the ordinance did not depend on the ad­ministrator. Her family and friends were greatly moved by her dying entreaties. They sent far and near for a preacher, but could find none. Finally, the girl remembered her old colored “mammy” was a pious woman and she called for her and demanded that she should baptize her. The old colored woman con­sented, a bath tub was provided, and Sarah, the believing girl, was immersed, and rejoiced in the Lord. This opened the doors to the hearts of the people, and the Gospel triumphed in all that region. On this tour he associated with him a young man, Winthrop H. Hopson, who became afterward the gifted and eloquent Dr. Hopson, who did such noble service for Christ.

In 1844 Samuel Rogers settled in Carlisle, Ky., where he remained seven years. He continued to travel and preach constantly and in his eighty-fourth year made his last visit to Missouri. His end was full of peace. “I shall greet,” he said, “first of all, my Father, whose hand has led me all the journey through, and my Savior, whose grace has been sufficient for me in every day of trial. And next I shall look around for her whose love and goodness have imposed on me a debt of gratitude to God I can never repay. When we meet shall we not gather up the children and grandchildren and sit down under the shadow of the throne and rest?”

Restoration Movement Week – John T. Johnson

From Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History.


The religious movement of the Campbells was not only thoroughly evangelical, but it was intensely evangelistic. One of the best examples of this spirit among the pioneers is the subject of this sketch. He was born in Scott County, Ky., near Georgetown, October 5, 1788. His parents were Virginians and members of the Baptist Church. Kentucky was then a frontier state and Indians were still committing depredations upon the settlers. He received a fair education, completing his studies in Transylvania University. He studied law and practiced for a time. In 1811 he mar­ried Miss Sophia Lewis, a girl of fifteen. In 1813 he served as aid on the staff of Gen. W.H. Harrison and saw active service. After the war he was for several years a member of the Kentucky legislature and in 1820 was elected to congress.

He became a member of the Baptist Church in 1821. Speaking of this he said: “It was a most glorious thing for me. It preserved me from a thousand temptations and kept me a pure man.” “During the years ’29 and ’30,” he says, “the public mind was much excited in regard to what was vulgarly called ‘Campbellism,’ and I resolved to examine it in the light of the Bible. I was won over; my eyes were opened, and I was made perfectly free by the truth, and the debt of gratitude I owe to that man of God, Alexander Campbell, no language can tell.”

He began preaching and sought the refor­mation and enlightenment of the church of which he was a member. As they would not hear him, he, with two others, formed “a con­gregation of God,” February, 1831. He sur­rendered a lucrative law practice and began his career as an advocate of simple New Testa­ment Christianity. At this time in Kentucky there were eight or ten thousand people vari­ously styled “Marshallites,” “Stoneites,” “Schismatics,” but who claimed to be simply Christians, taking the Word of God as their only rule of faith and practice and repudiating all human creeds. He was soon associated with “that eminent man of God,” Barton W. Stone, and became co-editor of his paper, The Christian Messenger, then published at George­town, in 1832, the same year the followers of Stone and Campbell effected a union.

“I was among the first of the reformation in co-operation with Stone,” he tells us, “to suggest and bring about a union between the Christian churches and that large body of Baptists who had abandoned all human isms in religion.” 1833 was a remarkable year in Kentucky. Asiatic cholera swept the state. It was remarkable also for the success of this new plea for the union of Christians and con­version of the world. Thousands were added to the churches. J.T. Johnson was eminently successful. For the first time he extended his labors beyond the borders of the state, vis­iting Walter Scott at Carthage, Oh., and preaching with great power and acceptance to the people. His advocacy of the principles of reform in the Messenger was at the same time forcible and untiring.

In 1834 he closed his connection with the paper, Stone having removed to Illinois, and in the following year he began the publication of the Gospel Advocate. In labors he was every way abundant. He preached constantly and gathered into the churches large numbers of converts. In a meeting of ten days in Sep­tember of this year 135 persons “were im­mersed for the remission of sins.” “There was nothing of excitement peculiar to revivals so called. Nothing was preached to excite the animal feelings. It was the gospel of truth that did the work.”

The cause of liberal education had also a large place in this good man’s affections. Ba­con College, of which Walter Scott was the first president, was founded in 1836 at George­town, afterwards was moved to Harrodsburg and later became Kentucky University. John­son was a fast friend of this institution. His suggestion also that some work should be undertaken for orphan children no doubt had its influence in bringing into exis­tence, through the efforts of Dr. L.L. Pinker­ton, that noble beneficence known as The Mid­way Orphan School.

In the year 1837 he published The Christian, in the editing of which he was assisted by Walter Scott. In a meeting conducted by him in Madison County, Kentucky, about this time, 185 persons obeyed the gospel in three weeks. Two meetings held at Caneridge and North Middletown resulted in 300 accessions. A man of most sanguine and buoyant nature, enthusiastic and unwearying in his labors for the spread of the gospel, he was a wonderful evangelist. He never for one mo­ment doubted the correctness of the great principles he advocated and of their ultimate triumph. He was thoroughly absorbed in the work of converting the world and building up a united church as his master passion. He led thousands to decision for Christ. Some idea of the intense interest in the work of these men may be formed from the character of their meetings. They would speak for hours to audiences that never wearied. His labors were by no means confined to his own state. In 1843 he made a visit to Missouri in company with John Smith, preaching at St. Louis, Palmyra, Hannibal, and other points. In 1845 he made an exten­sive tour in the Southern States, holding meetings in Little Rock, New Orleans, and elsewhere. In 1845 he visited Virginia and labored in Louisa, Caroline and York counties, and in the City of Richmond, meeting with great success.

He was full of the spirit of missions. “The imperious mandate of our King to his apostles,” he declares, “is ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ The law says the laborer is worthy of his wages. Can we get along without consultation and co-operation? If we can, there is no need of congregations. Every divine dispensation of God’s goodness, Patriarchal, Jewish and Chris­tian, has been distinguished by consultation and co-operation.” He suggested an appor­tionment plan for raising money, that church officers take the list of members and let each member furnish the committee the value of his estate, the committee ascertain at an equal vote what each member has to pay and affix it to his name, and the members be furnished each with a quota in writing.” His idea of the relative importance of the different de­mands upon the benevolence of the church is seen in this illustration: “Let the church de­cide upon the amount that can be raised with­out oppression, say $600. Let this sum be divided according to the magnitude of the objects to be accomplished. For example, expend $225 for preaching at home and the support of the poor, $200 for evangelical oper­ations, $100 for colleges, $75 for the education of beneficiaries.” Such a system as this, if practiced, he thinks would “soon bear the gospel over America and Europe.” He advo­cated the sending of A. Campbell to England and David S. Burnet to the old world.

He was an ardent temperance advocate. Not only was he a total abstainer, but he publicly opposed the making, vending, and using of intoxicants as “Anti-patriotic, Anti- philanthropic, and Anti-Christian.” On this great issue the pioneers were sound. A. Campbell wrote in 1842: “For my own part for more than twenty years I have given my voice against the distillation of ardent spirits at all. I have both thought and said that I knew not how a Christian man could possibly engage in it. And how a Christian man can stand behind the counter, and dose out dam­nation to his neighbors at the rate of four pence a dose, is a mystery to me, greater than any of the seven mysteries of popery. I wish all the preachers who drink morning bitters and juleps would join the temperance society. All persons too should take the vow of total abstinence who habitually or even statedly or at regular intervals, sip, be it ever so little of the baleful cup.”

John T. Johnson fell asleep in Christ on December 18, 1856, at Lexington, Mo., where he was in the midst of a successful protracted meeting. His remains were taken to Lexing­ton, Ky. Thus he fell in the ranks. His whole life for a quarter of a century was a series of protracted meetings. In labors he was as constant as Wesley. A man of delicate frame yet of great endurance and intense en­thusiasm, he rested best when most laboriously and successfully engaged in the great work to which he had devoted his life. A man of apostolic zeal and fervor he was an evangelist of evangelists.

Restoration Movement Week – Thomas Campbell

From Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History.


Thomas, father of Alexander Campbell, was born in County Down, in the north of Ireland, Feb. 1, 1763. He was very devout from his youth. His father belonged to the Church of England and was determined, as he was accustomed to say, “to serve God according to Act of Parliament,” but the son was led to prefer the Church of the Secession and early inclined to enter its ministry. He entered the University of Glasgow and com­pleted the literary course of three years, and received his theological training in the Divin­ity School at Whitburn. June, 1787, he mar­ried Jane Corneigle.

After his graduation, Thomas Campbell gave himself to teaching and preaching. In 1798 he accepted the care of a church at Rich Hill, in County Armagh, not far from the town of Newry, within sight of Lough Neagh, and in one of the most beautiful regions of Ireland. Here the youthful days of Alexan­der were spent. The home was a model Chris­tian home. Father and mother were Bible-reading, praying, godly people. Regular Scriptural instruction and worship were pur­sued in the household, and Thomas Campbell sought to introduce the same practice into every home. He was a diligent and faithful pastor. In addition to his ordinary visits, he made a regular tour of his parish twice a year in company with one or more of his elders, inquiring into the state of religion in every home, catechizing the children, examining the older members of the family upon the Bible readings, praying with them, and giving such instructions and admonitions as seemed neces­sary.

As a preacher he had fine talents and his evident earnestness and personal piety gave great weight to his teachings. The salary of Seceder ministers averaged about $250 a year, and, while the Campbells lived on a farm, they found themselves unable to keep the family on their small income. When Alexander was seventeen, Thomas Campbell opened a school near Rich Hill, associating his son with him in its management. After several years spent in teaching, the excessive labor in dis­charging the duties of both church and school began to tell seriously upon Thomas Camp­bell’s health. Physicians advised an entire change of life and such relief as a sea voyage might afford. At length it was decided that Alexander should take entire charge of the school and on April 1, 1807, the father started for America, reaching Philadelphia after a sail of thirty-five days. The Anti-Burgher Synod of North America was in session there, re­ceived him very cordially, and commended him to the Presbytery of Chartiers in Wash­ington County, Pa., where he again took up the work of the ministry.

The spirit of sectarianism was very bitter in this region. Different branches of the Pres­byterian faith would have no fellowship with each other. Mr. Campbell deplored these differences and permitted members of other Presbyterian churches to partake of the Lord’s Supper with his people, and was arraigned be­fore the Presbytery for failing to inculcate strict adherence to the church standards. His pleadings in behalf of Christian liberty and fraternity were in vain; they censured him.

He appealed to the Synod and they released him from the censure. Such was the feeling toward him, however, that he finally with­drew from the Synod. He continued to preach in groves and private houses and to plead openly for Christian liberality and union upon the Word of God, and the people thronged to hear him. He found many pious and intelli­gent Christians who, like himself, were dis­satisfied with existing religious parties, the intolerance and sectarianism of the times, and inclined to accept the Bible as their supreme guide. A special meeting was appointed at the house of Abraham Altars, where Thomas Campbell declared his conviction that the sacred Word was all-sufficient and alone sufficient as a basis of union and Christian co­operation. He urged the entire abandonment of everything in religion for which there could not be produced a divine warrant, and an­nounced the sentiment “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.”

“The Christian Association of Washington” was formed Aug. 17, 1809, and the Declara­tion and Address issued September 8, 1809. These marked the beginning of the movement which today enrolls a following of millions. At this time Alexander and the other members of Thomas Campbell’s family joined him in the New World. A church was organized on the basis of the principles expressed in the Declaration and Address at Brush Run, which in 1811 became a congregation of im­mersed believers and united with the Redstone Baptist Association.

Thomas Campbell moved to Cambridge, Oh., in 1813 and opened a school. Two years after, he went to Pittsburg and engaged in preach­ing and teaching. In the fall of 1812 he removed to Newport, Kentucky and for a time taught an academy at Burlington, returning in 1819 to Washington County, Pa. He found but little progress had been made in the work of reform during his absence. The struggle between sectarianism and the principles of the Declaration and Address was strong and bitter. His son Alexander was now leading the movement. With the publication of the Christian Baptist the principles made great strides. Thomas Campbell made frequent tours, preaching in Western Pennsylvania and the Western Reserve of Ohio, and, while over­shadowed in the later development of the cause he pleaded by his more gifted son, his counsels were always potent and his labors untiring and successful.

On the 4th of January, 1854, the long and useful life of this saintly man ended at Bethany. He continued until eighty-three years of age his work of itinerating among the churches. His last sermon was preached in his eighty- ninth year within a few weeks of his death.

“I never knew a man, in all my acquaint­ance with men,” wrote his son, “of whom it could have been said with more assurance that he ‘walked with God.’