A discussion of Christian baptism : as to its subject, its mode, its history, and its effects upon civil and religious society : in opposition to the views of Mr. Alexander Campbell ... and in opposition to the views of the celebrated Mr. Robinson, and other Baptist authors online

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Online LibraryUnknownA discussion of Christian baptism : as to its subject, its mode, its history, and its effects upon civil and religious society : in opposition to the views of Mr. Alexander Campbell ... and in opposition to the views of the celebrated Mr. Robinson, and other Baptist authors → online text (page 1 of 29)
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Received October, 1894.
Accessions No.5*f gfl %. Class No.












*> * r > |*







Pastor of the Eighth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, and
author of " A Discussion of Universalism*"


ttt* **



IN consequence of a general challenge, long published by
Mr. Alexander Campbell, and at last accepted by the Author,
a debate was held in Washington, Kentucky, in October, 1823,
on Christian Baptism. With the expectation that it would
last three hours, or a day at most, Mr. Campbell came pre-
pared with a printed prospectus, promising that " All the ar-
guments on both sides shall be faithfully and impartially de-
tailed." As there was no stenographer, a detailed report was
literally impossible; and, as the debate occupied seven days,
instead of one, a detailed report would have been a losing, in-
stead of a lucrative enterprise. He therefore published 6000
copies of the promised volume, in which all the speeches were
composed by one man, in such a way as to answer the pur-
pose of one party. Providence enabled me afterward to ex-
pose this forgery, in an Octavo volume of 150 pages, entitled
"The Unitarian Baptist of the Robinson School exposed."
To this he replied in a Duodecimo of 24 pages. An exposure
of this pamphlet, and of the book which it is intended to sup-
port, is prefixed to the argument in this volume.

The public are already informed that want of time com-
pelled me to omit, in the debate, much matter which had been
prepared for it. This need not be suppressed in a pr-nted
publication. As Mr. Campbell's report has taken the liberty
of making new speeches, in part, for himself, as well as en-
tirely new ones for me, I shall, when necessary, answer such
interpolations, or, at any time, strengthen the cause of truth,
by introducing new matter on my part, and by very freely
condensing the matter delivered on the stage.


As the audience who attended the debate was chiefly con* -
posed of plain men, so it is my wish to adapt this publicatioi
to the plainer class of readers. This may account for some
things which would otherwise appear very incorrect. One of
these things is, that all my references to the Bible are made
to suit that division of chapters and verses which is found in
our English Translation, although hundreds of those references
are professedly made to the Hebrew and Septuagint Scrip-
tures. Without this method, ordinary readers would be ut-
terly perplexed, in searching authorities, whereas, those of
better opportunities need be at no great loss by the adoption
of this plan. In quoting uninspired works, whether ancient
or modern, second-hand authorities are often more accessible
than originals. To the use of them, both parties were com-
pelled, in a great measure, by necessity, during the debate ;
and where the credit of the reporters is untouched and almost
intangible, the plan may be sometimes continued in this pub-
lication. Detections of errors will be thankfully received.

If my friends and the friends of truth knew the difficulty
with which 1 write, they would no longer censure me for un-
avoidable delays, .but help me to give thanks to that God,
whose mercy has enabled me to progress thus far in the work.
To him it is sincerely and solemnly dedicated. May he be
pleased to accept the humble offering ; to pardon its faults and
imperfections, through the atoning blood of the divine Re-
deemer; and to grant the influence of his divine Spirit, to bless
that portion of truth which it contains, to the good of all


IT is amusing to observe the time and labour which Mr,
Campbell and his testifying satellites have spent, in assigning
to him and his Antagonist, their respective grades in the scale
of talents ; without being able to come to any certain estimate,
at last. If I were in his place, it seems to me, that I could set-
tle this darling question, upon a firm basis in a few words. I
would sit down and write a certificate declaring that Alexander
Campbell was a Solomon, and that his Antagonist was a Sim-
pleton. This certificate should be signed by Alexander Camp-
bell himself, and by a competent number of NEUTRAL Unitarians
and Baptists, and Non-professing sons and brothers of Baptists
and Baptist preachers. If it were then published without ano-
ther word about the matter, it would save the party and his wit-
nesses, from the unhappy appearance of inconsistency and self-
complacency which they now assume. At present they certify
that he could change sides and beat me ; whereas he says that
he did once advocate my side, and was overcome by an old
woman. During the debate, he often represented me as incom-
petent and inadequate to the task which I had undertaken ; in
his book written afterward, he represented me as competent and
adequate: in his late pamphlet his witnesses certify that I am
incompetent and inadequate; yet in the same pamphlet he extols
my defence so far as to say that " nothing better has ever been
said, and nothing better can be said," on my side of the ques-
tion. After thus exalting me to a level with any Pedobaptist
who ever wrote, he gets three of his witnesses to certify, that.
"Mr. Campbell was successful in argument, and greatly the
superior of Mr. M'Calla in point of talents." Therefore, of
course, he is greatly superior to any Pedobaptist who ever

As an apology tor this strange proceeding, in a man of com
mon sense, he would have the community believe, that it is only
a retaliation upon me, for claiming a superiority of talents over
him. If I have ever done so, it has entirely escaped my memory.
Nothing but inexcusable pride and ignorance could ever have
led me into such folly. My innocence of the charge is plain,
from the fact that my accuser has not been able to give one in-
stance, in which this offence has been committed. It is true, I
have claimed the victory in the debate ; and I believe that a ju-
dicious community will admit my claims, when they read my
own argument, instead of one forged for me by an unprincipled
adversary. Yet, be it remembered, that I claimed the victory,
not on account of superior talents, but because I advocated
God's truth, and because the God of truth condescended to ena-
ble a feeble advocate to defend his cause against a powerful as-
sailant. With regard to Mr. Campbell's talents, we are all, in
a great measure, agreed. He considers them great, and so do I.
Their superiority to mine he has established by several certifi-
cates. I do not deny it. Why, then, so much about a matter,
on which there is no issue ?

We are not so well agreed on every thing said by him and his
witnesses. Mr. Vaughan has made a very dashing general ac-
cusation, about the affair of Captain Buckner It is time enough
to make a particular answer, when he shall make a particular
allegation. Until then, I must be satisfied with pleading not
guilty to his general charge. (a) In the mean time, let it be re-
membered that Captain Buckner was a member of my church,
and so uniformly and perseveringly attached to me, as a Chris-
tian Pastor, that, before my leaving them, he declared that if he
were possessed of his former means, he would pay my salary out

(a) This reminds me, that Mr. Campbell mentions certain things,
which he says were published against me in Lexington, subsequent to my
departure from that place. Their truth he takes for granted, because
they have never been contradicted. To this I answer, that I have never
got a sight of them. I publicly solicited the writer and his phalanx to
come out, like men, while 1 was on the spot. But they chose, like Mr,
Vaughan, to shew their bravery, after the mountains lay between us.

( vii )

of his own pocket, rather than part with me. Mr. Vaughan ad
inits that this warm friend is " a man of incorruptible integrity.'*
If so, it seems to me, that Mr. Vaughan himself must be some-
what deficient.

In another charge of his, he has not left us to mere presump
tive proof. Unhappily for this witness, he does not always deal
in vague generalities, but, by venturing a specification, has
shewn himself indisputably guilty of the very crime, with which
he charges an innocent man. The following are the facts. In
my exposure of Mr. Campbell's report, I had written to Mr.
Edgar the following words, viz. " You were very well satisfied
"that I had encountered Mr. Campbell, until your mind was
" changed a few months afterward, by information received from
"his neighbourhood. You then told we, that, from unanswera-
ble evidence, his character was too low to justify so formal a
notice by any respectable man ; and that, in defence of my
" own character, an apology should be made to the public. '"
Compare this with Mr. Vaughan's certificate, and a note which
Mr. Campbell has published as Mr. Vaughan's, and which I will
here add in brackets, to that part of the text, from which he
refers to it by an asterisk. It is as follows, viz. " Edgar did
u not inform Mr. M*Calla by letter, that you were a man of too
" low a character for him to have any thing to do with. [This
" Mr. M'Calla said in his pamphlet.]" According to this pam-
phlet of mine, Mr. Edgar's communication to me, was a verbal
one. made a few months after the debate, and, of course, before
I had removed from Kentucky to Philadelphia. The words are,
" You then told me." Mr. Vaughan certifies that my pamphlet
said that this communication was "BY LETTER." Now it ap-
pears, from Mr. Vaughan's own shewing, that Mr. Edgar has
never denied that he " told" me this, as my pamphlet declares,-
he only denies that he communicated it by letter, a thing which
my book does not declare, but which Mr. Vaughan has forged for
it. Now where does the real falsehood lie ?

Another of Mr. Campbell's witnesses subjects himself to a
very easy refutation. " Mr. Moses Ryan, once a zealous Pedo-

( viii )

baptist,'- as Mr. Campbell states, testifies as follows, viz.
" I had to experience the mortification of seeing Mr. M'Callu
" exposed for misquoting the Scriptures to suit his own pur-
" poses : and in reading extracts from Robinson, with the book
" in his hand and before his eyes, he would put language in Ro-
" binson's mouth that was no where to be found in it." " I can
" unhesitatingly say, that Mr. Campbell has given a fair repre-
" sentation of all of Mr. M'Calla's arguments, during the four
" days that I attended, excepting the leaving out of Mr.
" M'Calla's vulgar, abusive, and ungentlemanly language, to-
" gether with his base misquotations of the Scriptures and
" Robinson's History of Baptism."

From this certificate, it appears that I have been guilty of
vulgar, abusive, and ungentlemanly language; but Mr. Camp-
bell charitably dropped this from his report, while he faithfully
recorded every thing that was decent. It seems that I was
guilty of base misquotations of the scriptures, to suit my own
purposes 5 and of basely interpolating and misquoting Robin-
son's History of Baptism, while the book was in my hand, and
before my eyes: but Mr. Campbell tenderly concealed these er-
rors from the public, while he faithfully reported all my correct
quotations from the Scriptures, and other books. If there is
any meaning in language, this is the meaning of the above

Let it be remembered that this witness attended only four
days, and that two of these four were the sixth and seventh.
Then his testimony goes to show that Mr. Campbell, in his re-
port of the sixth and seventh days, omits nothing that I said,
except my vulgarities, and my misquotations of the Bible and
Robinson. On examining his report, it will be found, that, for
each of my half hours on these two days, he has allowed me,
upon an average, between one and two pages ; which, accord-
ing to my way of speaking, would be delivered in less than three
minutes. The result then is, that, during the two last days of
our debate, I occupied twenty-seven or eight minutes out of
every thirty, in gross vulgarities, or base misquotations of tin-

Bible and Robinson ! This must be true, if Mr. Ryan's testi-
mony be true.

It is a general principle of all law, civil or military, ecclesi-
astical or social, that particular facts are necessary to support
general charges. Notwithstanding Mr. Ryan's testimony, it can
be proved, that, during the debate, Mr. Campbell ridiculed my
inaccurate quotations of scripture* and in his subsequent report,
accused me of making " material alterations" of the sacred text.
It can also be proved that I called upon him for specifications.
He has never, to my knowledge, condescended to produce one
instance, in which I interpolated or misquoted Mr. Robinson,
whether before my eyes or not ; he has never produced one in-
stance of my misquoting the scriptures, when before my eyes 5
nor one inaccurate quotation of them from memory, which would
favour my own cause. If my charges against him, had depend-
ed upon the general certificates of such men as Mr. Ryan, he
would have justly laughed me to scorn. But when I accused
him of misquoting the scriptures, or Dr. Owen, or Mr. Walker,
or other writers, (and they were not a few,) I submitted to
the drudgery of producing Mr. Campbell's words, and compar-
ing them with the original. How gladly would he have done the
same, if I had ever given him an opportunity. May God accept
my sincere and humble thanks for preserving me from such
crimes, and for giving me a cause which needs not such artifices
to support it.

The most important object of Mr. Campbell's pamphlet was
to shew that his book, which is such a lucrative speculation to
him, is really a correct account of our debate. On this subject I
would observe, that he has a very unsatisfactory way of proving
the correctness of his reports, by the objections of those who im-
peach them. Mr. Walker published several pages of exceptions
to Mr. Campbell's account of their debate; to which he added a
dozen pages of exceptions, by one of the Moderators. Mr. Camp-
bell would persuade the public that these u altogether would not
make one page ;" and then pretends that if all these exceptions
were well substantiated, his Report. " would appear from Mr


c Walker's own treatise to be a correct representation of the con-
" troversy." My exposure of his Report in our case gave a very
great number of particulars. Of these he speaks as follows, viz.
"Even when all the particulars he gives are excepted, still the
'debate as published by me is worthy of the title and credit
" which it has received." Now let us examine the title and
credit which it has received, and compare these with my excep-

The title as published in the printed Prospectus, is" A De
" bate on Baptism, between Mr. W. L M'Ca'Ha, of Kentucky.
" and A. Campbell, of Virginia, held in Washington, Mason
" County, Kentucky, on the 15th of October, 1823, in the pre-
" sence of many witnesses." The very next words of the Prospec-
tus promise that *' All the arguments on both sides shall be
" faithfully and impartially DETAILED." Nothing less than this
detail would make it the debate which was held between the
parties mentioned, at the time and place specified, and in the
presence of many witnesses. In the title page of his book, he
is still more particular, informing us of the debate which he
reports, " commencing on the 15th and terminating on the 21st
[22nd] Octob. 1823." The TITLE of the book, then, authorizes
us to expect a faithful and impartial detail of all the arguments
which I delivered in Washington, Kentucky, in a number of
speeches, which commenced on the \5ih and closed on the 22nd of
Octob. 1823, lasting seven days; for the sabbath was left out.
This ig a fair account of the title of his book.

Now for the kfc credit which it has received." Mr. Cftrapbell'9
own explanation of ihis expression is to be found in the certifi-
cates of his witnesses, who profess to have heard the debate, as it
actually took place, and then to have read and compared his print-
ed report. They testify that so far as they "heard and read,"
u Mr. Campbell has given in his publication of the debate, both
' in substance and FORM, fairly and substantially, ALL the argu-
** merits ottered on both sides of the question." One calls it "a
. fair, -md faithful exhibition of all the principal argument*
''iw'cs." Another says that <tH the matter and

( xi )

argument advanced by both disputants." Another adds, " very
generally the phraseology itself" Thus much for the credit of
the book. Now add this to the title ; and we are authorized by
< the title and credit which it has received," to expect that
Mr. Campbell's book will furnish a detailed report, full, faith-
ful, and impartial, in respect of matter, form, and phraseology,
of all my topics and arguments, in the seven days debate in Ken-
tucky, October, 1823.

Mr. Campbell has assured us that this is the real character of
the report, even after admitting all the exceptions which I have
made. The judgment of candour will consider him as virtually
admitting the correctness of my exceptions, in fact, since, serious,
numerous, and tangible as they are, he has not overthrown a sin-
gle one of them ; but reposes himself upon their supposed harm-
lessness. Taking my objections, therefore, for granted, let us
compare them with some of the alledged features of his book,
and in the undisturbed possession of which he thinks that my
exceptions leave it. This must, of course, be done with great

1. He promises a DETAILED report. My objections, which
he has virtually admitted, prove from the book itself, that a
great part of it is professedly an ABRIDGED report.

2. He and his witnesses call it a FULL report. My objections
shew from his own book, that a great part of it confessedly
records short sums, specimens and abstracts* instead of full
speeches, while there is not even a specimen recorded of very
much that I said.

3. He and his certificates call it a FAITHFUL report My
objections, which he has virtually admitted, shew very nume-
rous misstatements, as to matters of factj they shew that he has
written for me in his dialect, which is, in some instances, foreign
to my own, and foreign to correct English; they shew that while
using his own language, he has so transposed and altered my
sentiments, as to make them error, contusion, and norisepsc;
they shew that the bodv of my quotations he has suppressed,
while he has partly supplied their place, by greatly and stupidly

enlarging others, and quoting for me, from books which I had
never named, nor even seen.

4. It is called an IMPARTIAL report. My objections shew that
he, though one of the parties, constitutes himself a judge of the
weight of argument ; and when Mr. Campbell the Judge, has
decided against the relevancy of arguments opposed to Mr.
Campbell the Party, he then forbids Mr. Campbell the Reporter
to record them. This is a very cheap sort of impartiality.

5. He and his witnesses alled^e that his report has the above
qualities in respect of MATTER. My objections prove from his
printed book and my manuscript notes, that the matter of my
speeches is not in his report. His very preface expressly pro-
fesses to abbreviate whole days of my matter as my publication
shewed at large.

6. They attach the above qualities to his report, with regard to
FORM and PHRASEOLOGY. Surely these men must know that there
is a difference in the form of a SPEECH and a SPECIMEN. They
must know that there is a difference in the form of an oration
occupying thirty minutes, and an abstract occupying three
minutes. Besides, the very face of the book shews that these
miniatures ar given in his own phraseology, and my admitted
objections prove that where he pretends to use my language, he
actually substitutes his own phraseology, even to his idiomatic
violations of grammar.

7. Mr. Campbell and his witnesses insist upon the fulness and
excellency of his report, in relation to my TOPICS. My manu-
script notes and my actual speeches contained seven topics : but
where will you find these in Mr. Campbell's book? Where, for
instance, will you find the history of the mode of baptism? My
printed objections, which he has virtually admitted, shew, that
he, as well as other Baptists, claimed the most respectable
Pedobaptists, as advocating their views of the mode of baptism;
my objections shew, moreover, that these claims were most tri-
umphantly refuted, in my discussion of this topic. Perhaps there
was not another part of the debate, in which the gross dishonesty

)f my Opponent, and Danvers, and other Baptist writers, apt

( xiii )

peared in a more disgraceful light. To bury the remembrance of
such an exposure, he has suppressed the whole topic, and then
persuaded his impartial, disinterested and neutral followers,
such as Walker Reid, to certify that his report is " a faithful
representation of the TOPICS !" I would not be the writer of such
a declaration, for ten thousand times all the votes, and all the
fees, which this neutral certificate will procure its author, from
the dense Baptist population around him. But let it not be
thought that the above is the only instance of dishonesty on this
subject. His report allows one page to my fifth topic ; he al-
lows another page to my sixth and seventh topics, which are
directly called for by his challenge, and without which, I am
deprived of a defence. To the sixth topic, which was the most
important, he has allowed six lines of that one page. Thus he
has entirely suppressed one of my seven topics, and half of the
remaining six, he has reported in two pages, and that in his own

8. Mr. Campbell and his witnesses, alledge, moreover, the
excellency and fulness of his report, in relation to my ARGU-
MENTS. This leads us to evidence from Mr. Campbell's own
pen, that he has laid violent hands upon another topic, which has
not yet been mentioned. His preface informs us that he has
indulged in " abbreviating" " the argument from ecclesiastic
history." This argument occupied the third and fourth topics,
which related to the history of the subject of baptism, and the
history of the mode. One of these, I have shewn, he has entirely
suppressed ; and he expressly confesses that he has abbreviated
the other.

9. Mr. Campbell and his witnesses consider his book as *
report of the Debate which took place between him and myself,
in Washington, Kentucky, on the 15th to 22nd days of Octo-
ber, 1823. If it be so, it must give my speeches, whether vulgar
or polished, relevant or irrelevant, during all the seven days,
on all my seven topics, relating to the nature or effects of baptism,
and embracing the arguments from scripture and from ecclesias-
tical histery. Instead of this, we find one topic entirely suppres?

xiv )

ed, three others occupying two pages, and a fifth abbreviated, by
the impartial guillotine of the opposite party. Two out of the
seven still remain. These I have exposed in a printed volume
of objections, not one of which he has refuted, and the validity
of which he has virtually admitted, by declining to make any
particular exception, and by asserting that when my objections
are admitted, his report '* is worthy of the title and credit
which t has received.'' I have shewn that if these objections
be valid, they will prove, that, in reporting me, his work is a
mass of misstatements, Campbellisms, transpositions, supple-
ments, interpolations, suppressions, and alterations. The evi-
dence of this is found not only in my notes, but abundantly in
his own book, which, of itself, is ground enough for contradicting
all his certificates. Even when he and his witness agree in
matter of fact, it is amusing to see how they will differ as to the
reason of the fact. After all that has been said about the fulness
of the report, Mr. Campbell, and his witness Mr. Ryan, can-
not help conceding that much is omitted ; that is, that it is not

Online LibraryUnknownA discussion of Christian baptism : as to its subject, its mode, its history, and its effects upon civil and religious society : in opposition to the views of Mr. Alexander Campbell ... and in opposition to the views of the celebrated Mr. Robinson, and other Baptist authors → online text (page 1 of 29)