Resolutions from the Last Will and Testament

Mutual forbearance

On June 28, 1804, Barton W. Stone (1772-1844) and five other men signed the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery. This document was one of the most significant of the Restoration Movement. It expressed a desire to dissolve their recently-formed body (the Springfield Presbytery) as they recognized that all such denominational bodies and creeds were inherently divisive. The Last Will and Testament also encouraged the members of other such bodies to do the same and unite together simply upon the teachings of the Bible.

“We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one Body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.”

“We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose; for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.”

“Finally, we will that all our sister bodies read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and prepare for death before it is too late.”

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A Sermon Delivered in the Dark

A. L. Todd: At the End of the Trail

The book, Christians on the Oregon Trail, describes the lives and labors of those who were part of the Restoration Movement during the time when settlers were first trekking across the continent to the Oregon Territory. These early pioneers faced many challenges in the Pacific Northwest. As these settlements grew, efforts were made to spread the gospel among those who were arriving in the area.

One of the men who endeavored to preach in Oregon during this time was A. L. Todd (1820-1886). In the book mentioned above, the author presented a picture of this man’s labor.

“A. L. Todd traveled far and wide in pursuit of souls for Christ, and often his audiences were very small. On one preaching tour through Coos County he sent word ahead that he would be preaching at Burton Prairie school house. It was a rainy afternoon in the wintertime, and only four persons came out to hear him preach. All four of his hearers were men, and none of them had thought to bring any matches for the candles. There was not enough time for any of the men to return home, so Todd began preaching in the fading light of a winter evening. The school house was cold, damp and dark, and as he preached the darkness deepened.” (Christians on the Oregon Trail, p. 319)

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L. F. Bittle: Lions and Skunks

L. F. Bittle: Lions and Skunks

L. F. Bittle (1833-1905) worked for about twenty years with Daniel Sommer in producing the Apostolic Review. Sommer described him as “the best educated and the most modest man I ever knew” (Daniel Sommer: A Biography, p. 153). On one occasion when he was challenged for a debate, Bittle gave the following response:

“We can imagine a man brave enough to go forth into the forest to hunt lions, but on his return that same man would step aside when he would be confronted by a skunk” (Daniel Sommer: A Biography, p. 158).

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Tolbert Fanning’s Seven Rules for Studying the Bible

Tolbert Fanning: Study upon the Proper Plan

Most religiously-minded people will affirm that reading the Bible is vital. Many of these would also say that studying the Scriptures is important. Yet among those who read and study the Bible, there is usually a wide range of beliefs and practices that often conflict with and contradict one another. Is this to be expected and accepted? Or is that a sign that we should re-evaluate our approach in studying the Bible?

Tolbert Fanning (1810-1874) was a preacher from Tennessee who had a strong influence among brethren in the South. In his book The True Method of Searching the Scriptures, he outlined seven rules for studying the Bible. As we consider these rules, we will see that these are not just one man’s opinion; instead, these are some basic principles we need to apply if we are to understand God’s word in the way He intended us to understand it.

So let us briefly consider these seven rules for studying the Bible.Continue Reading

Dr. Daniel Hook: Writing His Own Treatment

Dr. Daniel Hook: Writing His Own Treatment

Dr. Daniel Hook (1795-1870) was instrumental in spreading the gospel in Georgia in the mid-nineteenth century. Though he is not as well-known to us today as men like Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone, he helped direct people back to the “ancient order” as “one of the first persons to proclaim the Restoration plea in the Deep South.”

In addition to proclaiming the gospel, he also practiced medicine. The excerpt below describes what he did during the yellow fever epidemic in 1839 in helping others and in dealing with the illness personally.

“In the summer of 1839 a yellow fever epidemic scourged Augusta. Dr. Hook discovered it and remained in town with the stricken. After successfully treating more than 200 patients, and losing only two, he became ill. When he found the fever coming on himself, he sat down on the steps he was ascending to see a patient, and wrote out his own treatment, and directed his driver when he returned to his carriage, to give it to Dr. Johnson (who had adopted his treatment) and tell him to pursue it strictly. He was ill for several weeks, but finally recovered.” (Biographical Sketch on the Life of Dr. Daniel Hook)

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Daniel Sommer: Two Classes of Disciples

Daniel Sommer: Two Classes of Disciples

Daniel Sommer (1850-1940) lived a long life which he devoted to preaching the gospel. He saw the controversy and division among brethren in the second half of the nineteenth century over the issues of the missionary society and instrumental music. Through his preaching and editorial work, he was a powerful influence in opposing such innovations. Yet before division started happening, Sommer could see the beginnings of it. In the excerpt below, he wrote about the different attitudes he saw among brethren while he was still in college at Bethany.Continue Reading

Walter Scott: “A Church That Is All Mouth”

Walter Scott: "A Church That Is All Mouth"

George Darsie (1846-1904) from Frankfort, Kentucky wrote a sermon entitled, To Every Man His Work, which was published in a book edited by J. A. Lord – On the Lord’s Day: A Manual for the Regular Observances of the New Testament Ordinances. In the sermon, Darsie illustrated the importance of Christians fulfilling various roles in the work of the church by telling of a visit by Walter Scott (1796-1861) to the Brush Run Church.

“Walter Scott, an associate of Alexander Campbell in the early days of our religious movement, one time went from his home in Pittsburg over to Washington County to visit and spend a Sunday with Campbell at the Brush Run Church. He found the church service quite lengthy, as every male member of the church was called on for a religious address. After long hours had passed and all had spoken, Scott was asked to make the closing address. He did so. But whether he was hungry for his dinner or worn out by the length of the service, his remarks, though quite pointed, were rather testy.

“‘Brethren,’ he said, ‘my Bible tells me that the church is like a human body, of which one member is a foot, another a hand, another an eye, and still another a mouth. That, in fact, it has, or should have, as great variety in its membership as the human body has. But I regret to see that you have reversed all this. You have here a church with but a single member. You have, in fact, a church that is all mouth!’” (On the Lord’s Day, p. 95)

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