I have been enjoying Eva Jean Wrather’s Alexander Campbell — Adventurer in Freedom the past several weeks. I have completed the first volume which covers Alexander Campbell’s birth, coming to American, printing of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration & Address, and his first debate which was with John Walker, Seceder Presbyterian. I just finished her writing on the debate with W. L. MaCcalla in Kentucky, and Alexander Campbell’s launch of his new periodical The Christian Baptist in Wrather’s second installment of her Alexander Campbell Trilogy.
I can understand why Alexander Campbell’s writings generated so much controversy then, as I have been discussing various points of doctrine with friends who do not agree with my teaching’s of the New Testament. I am struck by how forceful and powerful Alexander Campbell’s writings were in his day which motivates me to read more about him and his writings. For example, Alexander Campbell attacked the Presbyterian Moralists Societies for their binding of Sundays as a “Christian Sabbath” even going so far as having people fined by magistrates for not adhering to their view on “Christian Sabbaths” and other matters. If a citizen witnessed someone doing work on Sundays, then they could report them for a portion of the fine imposed.
Alexander Campbell’s essay on the subjection of “Christian Sabbaths” in 1823 was very powerful, and it would bring people to the discussion who may have otherwise never meditated on such matters. Consider this statement from his essay:
“No two days are more unlike in their import and design, than the Sabbath and the first day. The former commemorated the consummation of the old creation, the cessation of creation work; the latter commemorates the beginning of the new creation. The former was to Israel, a memorial that they were once slaves in Egypt—the latter assures us that the year of release has come. The former looked back, with mournful aspect, to the toils and sorrows entailed upon the human body, from an evil incident to the old creation—trie latter looks forward, with en eve beaming with hope, to perpetual exemption from toil, and pain, and sorrow. The sabbath was a day of awful self-denial and profound religious gloom—the resurrection day is a day of triumph, of holy joy, and religious festivity.”
(Alexander Campbell, Editor, “Address to the Readers of the Christian Baptist, No. 3,” The Christian Baptist, Vol 1, No. 7, February 2, 1824)