Category Archives: Restoration Movement

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.’

Restoration Movement Week – Barton W. Stone (part 2)

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



July 2, 1801, B. W. Stone married Miss Elizabeth Campbell, a pious woman. In August of the same year came the great meet­ing at Caneridge. “The roads,” he tells us, “were crowded with wagons, carriages, horsemen and footmen, moving to the solemn camp.” The number was estimated as be­tween twenty and thirty thousand. Method­ists and Baptists united with them in these meetings. The services continued six or seven days until provisions gave out. There were many conversions. Most remarkable bodily agitations were seen here. Some with a pierc­ing scream would fall like a log and appear dead for an hour at a time and awake crying for mercy. Others would be seized with “the jerks,” sometimes the head alone being af­fected, jerking backward and forward or from side to side so quickly the features could not be distinguished, or moving backward and forward till the head would almost touch the floor. Wicked people cursing “the jerks” would be seized with this exercise. Sometimes the jerks would cease and they would begin to dance, praying and praising as they moved until they fell exhausted. Barking would also at times accompany this strange affection, and at other times loud, hearty laughter. The subject of these curious agitations would be solemn and his laughter or actions would im­press others with the deepest solemnity. It was indescribable. The running exercise was another of these manifestations when, through fear, persons would run until they fell. Some indulged in a peculiar singing, the sound is­suing not from the lips but from the breast, and the music was described as heavenly.

Stone was employed day and night, preach­ing, singing, praying and visiting, until his lungs failed him and he felt that his end was near. His special associates at this time were Richard McNemar, John Thompson, John Dunlavey, Robert Marshall and David Purviance. The distinguishing doctrine they preached was that God loved the world—the whole world—and sent his Son to save men on condition that they believed on him; that the gospel was the means of salvation, but to be effectual must be believed and obeyed by the sinner; that God required men to believe and had given sufficient evidence in his Word to produce faith; that sinners were capable of un­derstanding and believing the testimony and acting upon it by coming to Christ and obey­ing him, and from him obtaining salvation and the Holy Spirit. They urged the sinner to believe now and to receive salvation, that in vain they looked for the Spirit to be given to them while remaining in unbelief. God was willing to save now, and no previous qualifica­tion was required as necessary to come to Christ.

This teaching aroused the sticklers for or­thodoxy, and they cried, “The confession is in danger!” The matter came before the Synod of Kentucky, at Lexington, which re­sulted in the suspension of Stone and his co-­laborers. They were bitterly assailed on all sides. Stone called together his congregations and stated he could no longer conscientiously preach the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church, but would henceforward labor to extend the Redeemer’s kingdom irrespective of party, and dissolved his connection with them. At this time, also, he emancipated his slaves and retired to his farm. He continued preaching, however, night and day. He concluded to throw all creeds overboard and to take the name “Christian.”

In 1804 he had become disturbed on the question of baptism and was immersed, and came also to feel that baptism was for the remis­sion of sins when Acts 2:38 occurred to him while mourners were gathered at the altar and were being prayed for. But for the full Scriptural views of the design of baptism he acknowledges his indebtedness to Alexander Campbell. In the winter of 1809 his only son died, and in May following his wife died also, leaving four daughters. In 1811 he married again, a cousin of his first wife. About this time A. Campbell visited Kentucky. He saw no distinction between Campbell’s teaching and that he had preached for years except on the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins, and the practice of weekly communion. He did not think Mr. Campbell sufficiently explicit on the influ­ences of the Holy Spirit. In 1831 special meetings were held in Georgetown and Lexing­ton, and a union between the followers of Stone and Campbell was readily secured.

In 1826, Stone began the publication of the Christian Messenger. John T. Johnson was associated with him. The work went forward with great success, and A. Campbell’s visits to the state gave it renewed impetus. In 1834, Stone moved to Jacksonville, Ill. In 1841 he was stricken with paralysis, still he made preaching tours into Ohio, Indiana and Ken­tucky. He died at Hannibal, Mo., in 1844.

Some years ago I visited the old Caneridge meeting-house. It was here this great and good man instituted, in the face of great opposition, a church on the Bible alone, and in harmony with Christ the great head of the church. And in pursuance of apostolic example, it was called the “Christian Church” or “Church of Christ.” And here on the 28th of June, 1804, he proclaimed to the church and to the world, that he took from that day forward and forever the Bible alone as his rule of faith and practice, to the exclusion of all human creeds, confessions, and disciplines, and the name Christian to the exclusion of all, sectarian or denominational names.

The union of Christians on Christ’s own terms was nearest and dearest to the heart of Stone. For forty years most sincerely, indus­triously, consistently, and successfully he ad­vocated this doctrine. He loved the church of God, and wished to see it harmonized. He loved the world lying in wickedness, and longed to see the church united that the world might be converted. Hence when the Campbells came forward to advocate the return to primi­tive Christianity in faith and practice, laying down the simple terms of Christian union as found in the Scriptures, and sanctioned by common sense, Stone and his co-workers hailed them at once as brethren and fellow laborers in the gospel.

Restoration Movement Week – Barton W. Stone

Since we’re still away, we’ve decided to give you some more special freebies!

Our most popular book each and every month is Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History.  So, this week, we’re going to post some of the twenty chapters contained in it.

Without further ado, here’s chapter one: Barton W. Stone (part 1)


This co-laborer of Alexander Campbell was born at Port Tobacco, Md., December 24, 1772. He was the son of John Stone and Mary Warren. When he was very young his father died, and his mother moved to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1779, during the Revolu­tionary War. General Greene and Lord Corn­wallis fought at Guilford Court House, N.C., about thirty miles from his home, and young Stone heard the roar of their guns. He at­tended school for four or five years, and re­ceived instruction in the simpler branches. He was a great reader, but could get but few books. Religion was at a low ebb following the war; the Bible was little read, the Lord’s day was given to pleasure, and the houses of worship were deserted. Then came the Bap­tists into that region, and young Stone was greatly impressed by the scenes he witnessed at their revivals. People claimed to be de­livered from sin by dreams, visions, voices or apparitions, or the actual sight of the Savior. “Knowing nothing better,” he tells us, “I considered this to be the work of God and the way of salvation.” These preachers had a way of affecting their hearers by a “singing voice” in preaching.

Following these came the Methodists, who were very plain and humble, but zealous men, and were warmly opposed by the Baptists, who represented them as “the locusts of the Apocalypse” and warned the people against them. Young Stone’s mind was much agi­tated by their conflicting teachings. He had an earnest desire for religion, and often retired in secret to pray, but, ignorant as to what was required of him, he became discouraged, and joined in the sports of the time.

February, 1790, he entered Guilford Acad­emy, North Carolina, worked hard, lived on milk and vegetables, and allowed himself only six or seven hours out of twenty-four for sleep. There was great religious excitement at the time, and many of the students united with the Presbyterian Church. This was distasteful to him, and he determined to leave the institu­tion, but a little circumstance changed his plans. His room-mate asked him to go with him to hear the preacher. The sermon so im­pressed him that he resolved to become a Christian. For a year he was tossed on the waves of uncertainty, laboring, praying, and striving to obtain “saving faith,” sometimes desponding and almost despairing. The com­mon doctrine was that men were so totally de­praved they could not believe, repent, and obey the gospel; regeneration was the im­mediate work of the Holy Spirit, and now was not the accepted time, but the sinner must wait.

While in this state he heard a sermon on the words, “The Sacrifices of God are a broken Spirit.” It described his condition, and hope sprang anew in his breast. But another ser­mon on “Weighed in the Balances and Found Wanting,” cast him down as profoundly as before, and his days were full of sighs and groans. Still another discourse, on “God is Love,” gave him great comfort, and he found his way to peace.

He was very poor. He could not secure sufficient clothing. But he passed through the Academy, and in 1793 became a candidate for the ministry. The particular subjects assigned him for study were the Trinity and the being and attributes of God. “Witsius on the Trinity” greatly confused him, and before he was licensed he became so unsettled by the doctrines presented that he determined to give up the idea of preaching. Early in 1795 he went to Georgia and became teacher of languages in a Methodist school near Wash­ington. In the spring of 1796, however, he returned to North Carolina, and was licensed to preach. He preached for a time in Wythe County, Virginia, and then journeyed into Tennessee, preaching at Cumberland. The Indians were still in this region, and he had several narrow escapes from them. In 1798 he was regularly ordained pastor of Caneridge and Concord churches, Bourbon County, Ken­tucky. Knowing he would be required to adopt the Confession of Faith, he determined to examine it. This was the beginning of sor­rows. The doctrines of election, reprobation, and predestination, and of the Trinity as set forth in that instrument, he could not accept. When the Presbytery put the question, “How far are you willing to accept the Confession?” he answered, “As far as I see it consistent with the Word of God,” and on that statement they ordained him.

His mind was constantly tossed on the waves of speculative theology, the all-engrossing theme of that period. “I believed and taught,” he declares, “that mankind were so totally de­praved that they could do nothing acceptable to God till his Spirit, by some physical, almighty and mysterious power, had quickened, en­lightened, and regenerated the heart, and thus prepared the sinner to believe in Jesus for sal­vation. Often when addressing listening mul­titudes on the doctrine of total depravity, their inability to believe, and the necessity of the physical power of God to produce faith; and then persuading the helpless to repent and be­lieve the gospel, my zeal would be chilled by the contradiction. How can they believe? How can they repent? How can they do im­possibilities? How can they be guilty in not doing them? Wearied with the works and doctrines of men, I made my Bible my constant companion. I earnestly, honestly, and pray­erfully sought for the truth, determined to buy it at the sacrifice of everything else.”

In 1801 he was led “out of the labyrinth of Calvinism and error into the rich pastures of gospel liberty.” He preached from Mark 16:16 on the universality of the gospel and faith as the condition of salvation, and urged sinners to believe now and be saved. His con­gregation was greatly affected. He tells how religious excitement ran high at this time. In the revivals scores would fall to the ground pale, trembling, speechless. Some attempted to fly from the scene panic-stricken, but either fell or returned to the crowd, as if unable to get away. An intelligent deist approached him and said, “Mr. Stone, I always thought you an honest man, but now I am convinced you are deceiving the people.” “I viewed him with pity, and mildly spoke a few words to him. Immediately he fell as a dead man, and rose no more till he confessed the Saviour.”

Abner Jones – A Bonus!!!

If you read the other posts this week, you’ll know more about Abner Jones than 99.9999% of the people in the world.  But, if all those footnotes scared you away, today’s post will hopefully make things a bit easier.

What you see below is the text of a lecture given by Bradley Cobb on the life and work of Abner Jones.   The focus in the first section is on how he was never at peace until he actually obeyed the gospel.  If you’d rather just listen to the lecture, then just click here and select the Abner Jones lesson.

This will also be included in the upcoming book, Abner Jones: A Collection (Volume 2).


Abner Jones is not a familiar name to most people. And even for those who are somewhat familiar with the Restoration Movement, he is usually nothing more than a name to them. We think about Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell, and others, but Abner Jones is usually only given a passing notice—perhaps a sentence or two, if anything at all. Today, we will try to remedy that. Obviously, there’s no way of covering everything he ever did, but we’ll look at his life and see the things that he did to help restore New Testament Christianity.

One thing that I want to make very clear—Abner Jones was working to restore New Testament Christianity almost a decade before Alexander Campbell ever set foot on American soil.

Birth and early life:

Abner Jones was born in 1772, four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Both of his parents were hard-core Calvinist Baptists. In fact, his father was a Baptist preacher. Needless to say, the idea of religion and eternal torment was pressed into Abner’s head from a very early age.

When he was eight years old, in the middle of winter, their family moved to Bridgewater, Vermont, which was basically a wilderness. The closest neighbor was around two miles away. They built a house completely out of logs. And in his autobiography, he makes it very clear that there were no planks, no windows, nothing except for logs stacked on each other. One side of their new home was left open, and they had a continual fire going throughout the winter.

Throughout much of his early life—even up into his 20s—Abner suffered from depression. This was not a clinical depression or some chemical imbalance, but instead it was an immense depression brought on by the thought that he might not be one of the “elect”, and that he might burn forever in hell. Calvinist doctrine teaches that man has no control over his destiny—that God determined whether you are going to heaven or hell before you were even born, and that you have no choice in the matter. Even before he turned ten years old, Abner said that he was fully convinced that he must be born again or be damned. He desperately wanted it, but his Calvinistic Baptist upbringing warred in his mind, telling him that it didn’t matter how much he wanted it—if God planned to send him to hell, that’s what would happen. Because of this, his depression continued—feeling as though life was pointless unless God had chosen you to salvation. And with that depression, Abner was more and more convinced that God hadn’t chosen him.

When he was ten years old, he went to a meeting (having prayed his usual prayer for God to have mercy upon him), and the message he heard made him feel alive inside. For a time, he took this to mean that God had saved him, that God had made him alive. But the feeling went away, leaving Abner more depressed than before. He did not then realize it, but his feeling of joy came when he first believed in Christ.

Because of his uncertainty about this experience, he determined to keep it to himself. However, he made the mistake of telling his mother’s nosey friend that he had a secret, and she hounded him until he told her. However, after making his confession of faith, he again had a feeling of joy. But, as he did not continue on the path to salvation, his joy subsided once more.

He admits in his autobiography that he felt the need for baptism pressing upon him, but he continually rejected it—likely owing to the teaching of his parents that baptism is of no importance. As he fought against being baptized, his depression grew more and more. One day he went to his mother and told her “I am going straight to hell.” Her response was that it was still possible that he was one of the elect. This caused even more depression, because as bad as Abner wanted to go to heaven, he felt he had no power to do anything about it.

For the next six years, he did everything he could to embrace universalism (the belief that everyone will go to heaven, regardless of how they live their lives). He went to dances (which he admits he knew was wrong), and spent his time with those who didn’t have any care for religion at all. But still there was a sorrow, a deep longing for heaven—and a depression because he had resigned himself to never being able to get there. And within there was also a fear of what his friends would say if he suddenly “got religion.”

It was during these years that he had a series of events happen that he describes as God’s judgments against him—judgments because he refused to be baptized. He got sick of fever so bad that he lost his apprenticeship in one place. While chopping wood, once, he missed and implanted the axe into his foot. During another incident when he was fighting even harder against God, he suffered a massive hernia that was never able to be completely fixed. From that point onward, he was unable to do any real physical labor.

Finding Religion

He went back home to Vermont, and there was quite the revival going on there. Abner felt ashamed of the life he’d been living, but still did nothing about it. His pride kept him from being able to publicly admit the need for salvation. Months went by, and finally he repented of his sins and determined to follow God. He began to pray a couple times at some Baptist meetings, but had not yet been baptized. He felt an intense inner feeling that he would someday have to preach.

It was upon reading his Bible and finally admitting to himself that baptism was a requirement of God for salvation that he finally submitted to the divine ordinance, in 1793. For months afterwards, Abner would occasionally preach the Calvinistic doctrines that he was raised with—but this didn’t last very long, because he was studying his Bible. He realized very quickly that the Calvinistic ideas of “predestination” and “election” were foreign to the Bible, and he rejected them.

It was shortly after this that he came to the realization that the name “Baptist” was never applied to the church in the Scriptures, and he rejected that as well. From that point on (1794), he determined only to use the name “Christian.” In his studies, he also realized the entire Baptist organization was unscriptural: the way one becomes a member of the Baptist Church, their confessions of faith, and their leadership councils. So he rejected all of them.

It was around this time that he got married and went into the practice of “physic” (he became a physic-ian). He began to build up some wealth with his medical practice, but he continued to feel the pressing urge: I need to preach. Eventually he completely gave up his medical practice.

The Christian Connexion

He went about preaching wherever he had the opportunity, calling people to follow only what the Bible says and nothing more. At this point, he was still aligned with the Baptist Church—though he expressly stated that he would not abide by any of their unscriptural doctrines or practices. In 1801, after ruffling many feathers in the Baptist Church, he planted a congregation of about 25 people, and they went by the name “Christians.” Later, Elias Smith joined forces with him, and they spread the wonderful news about the ability to become “Christians only.” These congregations were loosely joined together (like churches of Christ today), and as a whole, they were called “the Christian Connexion.” In 1802, A group of like-minded brethren came to him with an offer: We believe God has called you to preach, and so we are going to make sure your family is financially supported so that you can go about preaching wherever you feel God wants you to preach. Abner took this as a sign from God that preaching was what he was meant for.

Because he preached heavily against Calvinism, the Free-Will Baptists endorsed him, and even ordained him—though he refused to wear the name Baptist or to be associated with any of their confessions and practices that couldn’t be found in the Bible.

In 1804, and in the years following, Abner wrote and published quite a few hymnals—some of them with Elias Smith.

In 1805, some of the congregations gathered together and had a conference where they drew up articles of faith—old habits die hard. However, they quickly realized what they were doing, and “agreed that their articles were useless, and so they abandoned them, taking on the New Testament” as their guide.

Abner was content to let Elias Smith be the visible face in spreading the message of the Christian Connexion. Meanwhile, he was going around to churches, strengthening them and encouraging them. And these congregations grew, which Abner believed was God’s sign that he was doing the right thing.

He caused quite an uproar when he began preaching against drinking alcohol in any amount—but he held his ground. He also came under fire at one point because he joined the Freemasons. Because of the outrage of a few, he resigned his membership with that group, believing that Christian Unity was far more important than belonging to any social club.

The Decline

When Elias Smith drifted into universalism and basically left the Christian Connexion for a time, it dealt a staggering blow to the congregations—and to Abner. He went about trying to keep encouraging the members, but the one who had been their unofficial leader had abandoned the cause—and the people became quite disheartened. Abner Jones did not know what to make of this, because if growing congregations were a sign of God’s being pleased with him, what did it mean when the congregations were shrinking?

Because of an outbreak of disease, he again took up his medical practice while working with the congregation in Hopkinton. After six years’ work there, he returned to Salem—only to find a congregation in ruins, having turned completely to emotion as their guide. It took seven years, but Abner rebuilt the congregation. Meanwhile, the Hopkinton congregation had merged with the Baptists.

By the 1830s, the Christian Connexion was having annual conferences (the first one was convened to discuss how to deal with the fallout from Elias Smith’s departure), and was showing the signs of drifting into denominationalism. Many of the congregations were being led by people who were Unitarians (denied the three-fold nature of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Jones’ own son identified himself as a “Unitarian minister.” Another thing that was taking place in a couple of the Connexion congregations was that women were being allowed to preach. This was not widespread, and there is nothing to suggest that Abner Jones condoned or accepted it, but it was happening.

Perhaps the final death knoll came when a man named William Miller—a charismatic man—famously predicted the coming of Christ would take place on a specific date in 1843. By 1839, he had taken in close to half of the Connexion members with his lies. The other half was derided as being “faithfless” for not believing him.

The former leaders in the Connexion were gone. Elias Smith was no longer among their number. Abner Jones was approaching 70 and was “well stricken in years.” Daniel Hix, preacher for one of the largest congregations in the movement, had died the year before. And without strong leadership in the congregations, they became ripe for the plucking.

When William Miller’s date came and went in 1843, he announced a miscalculation and said it should be 1844 instead. Undaunted, those who followed him were even more determined than ever. When the date came and went (an event, which by the way is known historically as “the Great Disappointment”), many of those who were taken in by his lies were too ashamed to go back to the brethren they had made fun of previously. The Connexion suffered an irreparable split. Those who bought into Miller’s lies were too ashamed to face the ones who knew better. The ones who knew better decided they couldn’t put their trust in those who were so easily led astray. Ultimately, the Christian Connextion split into two separate bodies. One of them joined forces with other “Christian Churches” (like those led by Alexander Campbell or Barton W. Stone) or “churches of Christ” (back then, they went by both names). The other group stayed independent and called itself “The Christian Church” (not to be confused with the group today called the Christian Church). This group later joined with the “Congregationalists Churches,” and that group has come to be known as the United Churches of Christ.

Thankfully, Abner did not have to live to see the day when close to half of the people that he had worked so hard to teach the true gospel would fall away. He passed away in 1841.

The Christian Connexion (and Abner Jones) have been claimed as part of the history of multiple religious groups including the Seventh-Day Adventists (one of William Miller’s followers started that group), the Mormons (who claimed his restoration movement was to prepare the way for Joseph Smith in New England), and even the Jehovah’s Witnesses (because a hymn book by a different man named Abner Jones used the name “Jehovah” repeatedly).

Throughout his life, Abner Jones’ main desire was to simply be a Christian and to go to heaven.