Tag Archives: Restoration Movement

Restoration Moments – The Heresy Trial of Solomon Morton

The name Solomon Morton is probably unfamiliar to most people.  In fact, it’s unfamiliar to most church historians as well.  But his story is well worth noting.

This week’s Restoration Moment comes from “Alexander Campbell’s Tour in Scotland” (written by Thomas Chalmers) which is available in Alexander Campbell: A Collection (Volume 1) from Cobb Publishing.  Enjoy!

Mr. Campbell’s victory over the Edinburgh audience was local, not general. It served rather to unite his enemies and intensify their bitterness for him. “Campbellism,” which had before been but a harmless delusion, became in the danger that now threatened Scotland’s religious peace, a ‘damnable heresy.’ No man now defended Alexander Campbell, the “arch-heretic” from this on, with impunity.

In my own congregation there had been many who held views similar to those preached by Campbell and who had even advocated them before his coming, but they were quiet now unless they dared to face the music.

Among these daring ones was Solomon Morton. Her­esy had been whispered against him before—now it was loud, since he was fearless in his defense of Campbell and his views. I tried as much as I thought prudent to shield my friend, but he had become so fully converted to the new ideas (or “the old ones” as he used to call them) that he could not refrain from openly expressing his confidence in them. This was going a little too far, and against my earnest action, he was brought to trial, charged with “holding doctrines contrary to the teachings of the Holy Spirit and perilous to be held both for the soul’s salvation and the safety of God’s church.” I tried very hard to prevail upon Morton to retract, but he firmly held his ground.

The day for trial came—it was held in the vestry of the church and many ecclesiastical dignitaries from abroad were there to witness the first trial for the Campbellistic heresy. It began at ten o’clock. After a prayer by a visiting preacher the proceedings of the day began. The presiding presbyter stated the purpose of the meeting; and the general charge, which we have mentioned, was read, and followed by a warm discussion on the part of his prosecutors. He was accused of sympathizing with slavery and man-stealing, of holding doctrines not in consonance with the Westminster Confession, of having discarded the Presbyterian name, and of many other things which made him unworthy of further Christian communion.

Morton was then called out to answer these charges. He came forward, took out his Bible and opened it. Just then one of the prosecutors arose and reminded the chairman that a categorical answer should be required of the heretic on trial, he should respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to every separate accusation. The injustice of such a requirement was obvious. And, besides, it was contrary to the custom the Scottish Church had always observed. I immediately arose and objected to such a course of action as unworthy of the church and as likely to do us more harm in the eyes of our people than all the protection it could be in this case. I trusted we were not so fearful of Morton in his use of Scripture that we could not accord him such a hearing as heretics had always been afforded.

At this, one of the prosecutors responded that permission should not be given anyone to desecrate the Word of God by using it in support of heretical notions. “We are all convinced,” said he, “of his heresy. I move that we proceed at once to a vote.”

Deacon Morton then spoke: “Brethren,” said he, “is this a matter in which I am to have nothing to say? Am I to be condemned upon the testimony of others, who can not, by the nature of things, possess quite as accurate knowledge of the state of my heart and mind as I possess myself? I have been charged with sympathizing with and believing in certain things. Full and unhindered testimony has been rendered in this matter by others. Is not my testimony on a subject concerning which I claim to be as well informed as they, worth something, and can they not accord me as much patience, while I defend myself as I have given them while they were accusing me? I ask, will you hear my testimony on this subject?”

After some discussion, Morton was voted ten minutes in which to make his reply.

“The specific, written charge against me,” said he, “is that I hold doctrines contrary to the teaching of the Holy Spirit. To this much I can give a categorical answer. I hold the words of the Holy Spirit in my hand. I deny that I cherish one doctrine contrary to the teaching of this book. Let my accusers specify one and I shall humbly retract it in your presence today. This answer covers the whole of the written charge, for if my doctrines are not contrary to the teachings of the Holy Spirit, they can not be perilous to the soul’s salvation nor to the safety of God’s church. I deny the charge until more definite accusations are made. Wherein do I offend the Holy Spirit? It has been said today that I sympathize with slavery. For this charge there is no foundation, and I hardly need take the trouble to deny it. It has been also said that I do not respect the Westminster confession. I frankly own that it exercises no power over my convictions. If it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, then have I offended against God, but if it is not the voice of Holy Spirit, why should you or I respect its spiritual dominion over us? I ask you, is it the voice of the Holy Spirit? If so, then, it have I offended. If not, then surely I have avoided that same offense in refusing to place it in the throne of the Holy Spirit, an offense which you commit, and not I. The only question, therefore, which determines whether heresy lies on your side or on mine, is whether the Westminster creed is the voice of the Holy Spirit.”

“I have also been charged with rejecting the Presbyterian name. Show me where such a rejection is contrary to the teachings of the Holy Spirit, and again I shall own my fault and abjure my heresy. Again the point upon which our respective orthodoxy is to be hung is whether the Presbyterian name has been applied to us by the Holy Spirit. If it has, then am I a heretic for rejecting it; if not, then you are the heretics for assuming it.”

There was no response to anything that Morton had said. He was called down by the chairman on the second, but his ten minutes had been sufficient. His prosecutors became more rabid in their remarks, but the more reasonable portion of the session considered him with some favor. The vote was taken and by a plurality of two votes against him he was pronounced a heretic. This trial did us more harm than anything else that had happened to us. It was universally condemned as an outrage and such a reaction followed that several of our best members went with Morton and joined the Disciples in Edinburgh. It was the first and last trial for “heresy” of Campbellism that was ever precipitated upon a Scottish Kirk-session to my knowledge.

Restoration Moments – The Rafting of Pardee Butler

American slavery had been a hot topic for many years, and tempers flared whenever it came up.  What is a Christian to do in such cases?  Should he (like Isaac Errett) pretend the problem doesn’t exist?  Or should he (like Pardee Butler) stand up and fight against it?

This week’s Restoration Moment comes from “The Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler,” which appears in Pardee Butler: The Definitive Collection.  These are Pardee Butler’s own words:

The things that had been happening in the Kansas Territory [regarding slavery] had been so strange and unheard of, and the threats of the Squatter Sovereign had been so savage and barbarous, that I wanted to carry back to my friends in Illinois some evidence of what was going on. I went, therefore, with Bro. Elliott to the Squatter Sovereign printing office to purchase extra copies of that paper. I was waited on by Robert S. Kelley. After paying for my papers I said to him: “I should have become a subscriber to your paper some time ago only there is one thing I do not like about it.” Mr. Kelley did not know me, and asked: “What is it?”

I replied: “I do not like the spirit of violence that characterizes it.”

He said: “I consider all Free-soilers rogues, and they are to be treated as such.”

I looked him for a moment steadily in the face, and then said to him: “Well, sir, I am a Free-soiler; and I intend to vote for Kansas to be a Free State.”

He fiercely replied: “You will not be allowed to vote.”

When Bro. Elliott and myself had left the house, and were in the open air, he clutched me nervously by the arm and said: “Bro. Butler! Bro. Butler! You must not do such things; they will kill you!”

I replied: “If they do I cannot help it.”

Bro. Elliott was now to go home. But before going he besought me with earnest entreaty not to bring down on my own head the vengeance of these men. I thanked him for his regard for me, and we bade each other goodbye.

Bro. Elliot had come to feel that my life was precious to the Christian brethren in Atchison county. Except myself they had no preacher. And they needed a preacher.

The steamboat bound for St. Louis that day had been detained, and would not arrive until the next day. I must, therefore, stay overnight in Atchison. I conversed freely with the people that afternoon, and said to them: “Under the Kansas-Nebraska bill, we that are Free State men have as good a right to come to Kansas as you have; and we have as good a right to speak our sentiments as you have.”

A public meeting was called that night to consider my case, but I did not know it. The steamboat was expected about noon the next day. I had been sitting writing letters at the head of the stairs, in the chamber of the boarding-house where I had slept, and heard someone call my name, and rose up to go down stairs; but was met by six men, bristling with revolvers and bowie-knives, who came upstairs and into my room. The leader was Robert S. Kelley. They presented me a string of resolutions, denouncing Free State men in unmeasured terms, and demanded that I should sign them. I felt my heart flutter, and knew if I should undertake to speak my voice would tremble, and determined to gain time.

Sitting down I pretended to read the resolutions—they were familiar to me, having been already printed in the Squatter Sovereign—and finally I began to read them aloud. But these men were impatient, and said: “We just want to know will you sign these resolutions?” I had taken my seat by a window, and looking out and down into the street, had seen a great crowd assembled, and determined to get among them. Whatever should be done would better be done in the presence of witnesses. I said not a word, but going to the head of the stairs, where was my writing-stand and pen and ink, I laid the paper down and quickly walked down stairs and into the street. Here they caught me by the wrists, from behind, and demanded, “Will you sign?”

I answered, “No,” with emphasis. I had got my voice by that time. They dragged me down to the Missouri River, cursing me, and telling me they were going to drown me. But when we had got to the river they seemed to have got to the end of their programme, and there we stood. Then some little boys, anxious to see the fun go on, told me to get on a large cotton-wood stump close by and defend myself. I told the little fellows I did not know what I was accused of yet. This broke the silence, and the men that had me in charge asked:

“Did the Emigrant Aid Society send you here?”

“No; I have no connection with the Emigrant Aid Society.”

“Well, what did you come for?”

“I came because I had a mind to come. What did you come for?”

“Did you come to make Kansas a Free State?”

“No, not primarily; but I shall vote to make Kansas a Free State.”

“Are you a correspondent of the New York Tribune?”

“No; I have not written a line to the Tribune since I came to Kansas.”

By this time a great crowd had gathered around, and each man took his turn in cross-questioning me, while I replied, as best I could, to this storm of questions, accusations and invectives. We went over the whole ground. We debated every issue that had been debated in Congress. They alleged the joint ownership the South had with the North in the common Territories of the nation; that slaves are property, and that they had a natural and inalienable right to take their property into any part of the national Territory, and there to protect it by the strong right arm of power. While I urged the terms of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and that under it Free State men have a right to come into the Territory, and by their votes to make it a Free State, if their votes will make it so.

At length an old man came near to me, and dropping his voice to a half-whisper, said in a confidential tone: “Nee-ow, Mr. Butler, I want to advise you as a friend, and for your own good, when you get away, just keep away.

I knew this man was a Yankee, for I am a Yankee myself. His name was Ira Norris. He had been given an office in Platte County, Mo., and must needs be a partisan for the peculiar institution. I gave my friend Norris to understand that I would try to attend to my own business.

Others sought to persuade me to promise to leave the country and not come back. Then when no good result seemed to come from our talk, I said to them: “Gentlemen, there is no use in keeping up this debate any longer; if I live anywhere, I shall live in Kansas. Now do your duty as you understand it, and I will do mine as I understand it. I ask no favors of you.”

Then the leaders of this business went away by themselves and held a consultation. Of course I did not know what passed among them, but Dr. Stringfellow many years afterwards made the following statement to a gentleman who was getting up a history of Kansas:

“A vote was taken upon the mode of punishment which ought to be accorded to him, and to this day it is probably known but to few persons that a decided verdict of death by hanging was rendered; and furthermore, that Mr. Kelley, the teller, by making false returns to the excited mob, saved Mr. Butler’s life. … At the time the pro-slavery party decided to send Mr. Butler down the Missouri River on a raft…”

The crowd had now to be pacified and won over to an arrangement that should give me a chance for my life. A Mr. Peebles, a dentist from Lexington, Mo., … a slave-holder, was put forward to do this work. He said: “My friends, we must not hang this man; he is not an Abolitionist, he is what they call a Free-soiler. The Abolitionists steal our niggers, but the Free-soilers do not do this. They intend to make Kansas a Free State by legal methods. But in the outcome of the business, there is not the value of a picayune of difference between a Free-soiler and an Abolitionist; for if the Free-soilers succeed in making Kansas a Free State, and thus surround Missouri with a cordon of Free States, our slaves in Missouri will not be worth a dime apiece. Still we must not hang this man; and I propose that we make a raft and send him down the river as an example.”

And so to him they all agreed. Then the question came up, What kind of a raft shall it be? Some said, “One log”; but the crowd decided it should be two logs fastened together. When the raft was completed I was ordered to take my place on it, after they had painted the letter R. on my forehead with black paint. This letter stood for Rogue. I had in my pocket a purse of gold, which I proffered to a merchant of the place, an upright business man, with the request that he would send it to my wife; but he declined to take it. He afterwards explained to me that he himself was afraid of the mob. They took a skiff and towed the raft out into the middle of the Missouri River. As we swung away from the bank, I rose up and said: “Gentlemen, if I am drowned I forgive you; but I have this to say to you: If you are not ashamed of your part in this transaction, I am not ashamed of mine. Goodbye.”

Pardee Butler survived his “rafting,” and later returned to town where he was “tarred and cottoned” (they had no feathers to use).  But still he kept returning, and kept fighting against slavery until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln.

 

Restoration Moments – A Lesson in Giving

You have only a dollar to your name–and no food to feed your family.  Then a man comes to your door, deeply in need, begging for help.  What do you do?

Today’s Restoration Moment comes from Memoirs of Abner Jones (by his son, A.D. Jones), which will appear in the upcoming Abner Jones: A Collection (Volume 2).  Enjoy!

How often I have heard the good old man relate this story, which, however, it might affect others, never failed to bring tears into his own eyes:

On Saturday morning, as I was sit­ting in my study, pondering the poverty of my condition, my wife came in with her accustom­ed inquiry of “well, Mr Jones, what shall we have for dinner?” Adding, “we have not a grain of meal,”—flour was out of the question—”nor a particle of meat of any kind in the house. Then the sugar is out, there is no butter, and in fact there is nothing to eat, and tomorrow is Sunday.”

So saying, she quit the room, leaving me in such a state of mind as may well be con­ceived, when I say that a solitary one dollar bank note was the only money I had on earth, and no prospect whatsoever appeared of getting any until the accustomed weekly contribution should be put in my hands. And what would a single dollar do at the prevailing high prices, towards feeding seven hungry mouths for two whole days? I saw no way of escape, and in the agony of spirit which may well be guessed, I lifted up my heart in supplication to Him who feedeth the ravens when they cry. And a sin­gular answer to my prayer I seemed speedily to attain.

I had just risen from my knees, when my wife again appeared at the door, all unconscious of the struggle which was going on within me, and ushered a gentleman into my study. His whole appearance was of that shabby genteel which betokens a broken-down gentleman.  And from the first moment of beholding him, I took him to my confidence as unfortunate but not debased. “Sir” said he, “I am a stranger to you, and you are utterly so to me, save that I once heard you preach in ______.”

My home is in that place—if indeed I may now claim a home. I sailed from that port nearly a year since, with all my earthly possessions, and embarked in a promising adventure. My ship fell into the hands of the enemy and I became a prisoner, my property of course became lawful plunder. After suffering many hardships and much indignity, I effected my escape on board a vessel bound to St. John. From that place to this I have worked my way along with incredible fatigue and pain. I have suffered much from hunger, cold and wet, and have slept many a night in the open woods. And here I am, in one word, Sir, penniless, and altogether too much worn down to proceed further without aid. I have friends in ________, to whom I am pressing on as fast as I can, and who will relieve my necessities when I reach them. I am an utter stranger in your town, and you are the only person I ever knew or saw in the whole place. I cannot beg, and I feel entirely reluc­tant to ask a loan of an utter stranger.”

Here was a struggle. I was poor, very poor; but here was one poorer than I. I had a hungry family to feed—so had he. And even more, a heart-breaking fact, his family was even now mourn­ing him as dead. I could hesitate no longer. I thrust my hand mechanically into my pocket, and pulling out my last dollar, which I pressed upon the unfortunate mariner—for he could hardly be persuaded to take it, when he knew how low my finances were,—I blessed him in God’s name, and he left me with no words of thanks; but I knew that, had I from a full purse bestowed a liberal sum, he could not have felt more grateful.

When he had gone, and absolute hunger for me and mine, stared me full in the face, I be­gan to doubt the propriety of my act in taking the very bread from my children’s mouths to feed a stranger. But it was now too late to repent. The last dollar was gone and my chil­dren must go dinnerless and supperless to bed. For myself I cared nothing, but how would my family bear this unusual fasting? I seized my hat and cane and rushed into the street to escape from my own thoughts, which had become too painful to endure. I knew not—cared not whither I should bend my steps.

As I walked moodily and mechanically on, thinking o’er all the bitterness of my situation, suddenly the thought came into my mind: — why should I despond? Have I ever gone hun­gry, even for a day—me and mine? Has not the Lord provided hitherto? And will he not in time to come? —in the present time?  I had scarcely concluded this soliloquy, when one of my neighbors, whom I knew to be a Universalist, and whom I had occasionally seen at our meetings—the members of his family came frequently—accosted me with, “good morning, Mr. Jones. I have been thinking for some time past that I ought to discharge a debt I owe you.

“I was not aware,” I replied, “that you had incur­red such an obligation.”

O, but I have,” said he, “my family goes occasionally to hear you preach, and once in a while I go myself. Now as the laborer is worthy of his hire, and as I wish no man to labor for me without pay, I beg you will accept this trifle as in part a liquidation of the debt.

The “trifle,” was a five dollar note, which I received with feelings that I will not mock by attempting to describe. I returned to my house, and after again falling on my knees, hum­bled under a sense of my lack of confidence in God, and grateful for his goodness to me, all unworthy as I felt myself to be; I sallied forth to the market, and soon came back ladened with the things necessary to our comfort.

Restoration Moments – Samuel Rogers’ Surprise

He’s cold, wet, and completely at the mercy of total strangers.  And when he sees their faces–he learns something very important.

Today’s Restoration Moment comes from the pages of Toils and Struggles of the Olden Times: The Autobiography of Elder Samuel Rogers, available in print or as an eBook from Cobb Publishing.  Enjoy!

It had been raining on me most of the way, but it now suddenly blew up from the North and be­came quite cold. I crossed a small river about dark, near Madison, called Indian Kentuck. I learned of the ferryman that my way led up a small stream, and that the nearest house was about five miles distant. I suppose I could have found lodging with the ferryman, but, being anxious to get home, I determined to pass on to the five-mile house. I found the way very rough, and, I think, in going the four miles, I crossed this stream, which I was following, at least a dozen times. I now came to what proved to be the last ford I had to cross until I arrived at camp. There was a thin ice upon the water, and my horse seemed unwilling to cross. I struck him with my whip, and he plunged into the water, which covered horse, saddle and all; but Paddy, being an excellent swimmer, landed me safe on the shore; but I was completely drenched up to my waist. I had gone but a short distance when I discovered that my clothing was frozen stiff upon me. I now traveled at a rapid gait until I came to the house alluded to, and saw through the window a large, blazing fire. Never in my life had a fire appeared so inviting. I hallooed, and a gentleman came to the fence to learn what I wanted. I soon told him my condition, and was not slow in making known my wants. “Light,” said he, “and go in to the fire; my wife will assist you in drying your clothes, while I will attend to your horse.”

I was soon by the fire, and the woman of the house was very active and handy in waiting upon me. To my astonishment, I discovered that she had a black face. When the gentleman came in, I saw that he was of the same color, but I felt that this was no time for drawing nice distinctions. They were kind, their fire was warm, their house was comfortable, and I was made welcome.

The whitest faces could do no better.

In the course of the conversation, the woman found out that I was a preacher, and that I had obtained my first license from Barton W. Stone, at Cane Ridge, in Bourbon County. “Why,” said the woman, “my father-in-law lives there now; and we are all members of that church.” Upon inquiry, she told me her father-in-law’s name was Charles Mason. I knew him very well. We now seemed almost like kinsfolk. A good, hot supper was soon prepared for me, and I enjoyed it very much. We then had worship. They then left me for the night, to enjoy to myself a warm room, nice, clean bed, and refreshing slumbers. They were up before daylight; had a blazing fire for me to get up by; had my horse fed, and an excellent breakfast prepared, which I ate with a relish. I offered to compensate them for their trouble, but they would not receive anything. After a morning prayer, I thanked them, and went on my way for sweet home. I shall ever remember with gratitude the kind­ness of those people, and I hope they may be abundantly rewarded— here and hereafter.

Restoration Moments

Beginning next week, we will be starting a series called Restoration Moments.  These are stories taken from the lives of men who lived for Christ, and struggled to bring about the restoration of New Testament Christianity.

However, these stories aren’t about the work of people leaving denominationalism behind to just be Christians.  These aren’t about doctrinal struggles.  These true stories are about people who lived for Christ, and how that affected their thoughts and actions.

For example: next week’s Restoration Moment is about a drunken wretch, a compassionate preacher, and what happened when the congregation made it clear they didn’t want him as part of the church.

A later Restoration Moment tells about the moment that a prominent preacher let go of any feelings of racism.

These Restoration Moments are meant to be informative, encouraging, and helpful to you.  They also happen to make really great illustrations.

We are confident that you will enjoy them.

Pardee Butler–The Definitive Collection

“By faith Pardee Butler became a sojourner in the land of Bleeding Kansas, dwelling in dugouts…who through faith subdued slavery, wrought righteousness and prohibition, escaping the edge of the sword. He was tortured, not accepting deliverance, that he might obtain the victory of the Gospel and establish an unsectarian, undenominational New Testament Church of Christ in the free and virgin soil of the great plains of the West.”

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An abolitionist, a statesman, a writer, a farmer, a crusader–but most of all, a preacher.  This is Pardee Butler.

The newest release from Cobb Publishing is Pardee Butler: The Definitive Collection.This 438-page book covers the life of this pioneer Kansas preacher from start to finish.  When you see what’s in it, you’ll know why we call this the definitive collection.

Contents

Pardee Butler: Kansas Crusader
This work, graciously provided by the Kansas State Historical Society, looks at the life of Pardee Butler as he fought against slavery and saloons.  And in Kansas, he won both fights.

Pardee Butler: Kansas Abolitionist
An extensive look at the life of Pardee Butler during his years of trying to make Kansas a “free state.”

Pardee Butler’s Reply to Attacks made by Elders Isaac Errett and Benjamin Franklin
This article was written for publication in answer to personal attacks made against him by his own brethren.  These attacks were made by the leaders who thought the best tactic to take in regards to slavery is to just not bring it up.  Of course, those brethren refused to print it, so Butler published it himself.

Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
This is part autobiography, part history, and every bit of it interesting.  Read his personal account of being “rafted” down the Missouri River by an angry mob.  See how the same mob later tarred and cottoned him (they didn’t have feathers).  But even more than that, You will see his incredible love for the truth and care for the churches in Kansas.

Pardee Butler: Pioneer Minister and Statesman
This is the “final word” on Pardee Butler, written by his son, Charles P. Butler.  It gives a very balanced look at his life and shows that he was much more than an abolitionist.

Over a hundred hours of work have gone into preparing this 438-page book.  We know that you’ll enjoy it!

Kindle version is available via Amazon.com.