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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“You Have Killed Yourself”

Reuben Dooly: You Have Killed Yourself

The three previous Restoration History articles have focused on examples of some lesser-known preachers found in the biography of David Purviance – Purviance himself (1766-1847), George Shidler (1776-1828), and William Kinkade (1783-1832). In this article, we are going to look at another lesser-known preacher found in the same book: a man named Reuben Dooly (1773-1822) – sometimes spelled “Dooley.” In this account, we can read about the final sermon that he preached while battling with poor health.Continue Reading

“Better to Go Alone on the Word of God”

William Kinkade: "Better for Me to Go Alone on the Word of God"

In the early days of the Restoration Movement, many people were leaving various denominations in order to try to serve God according to His word without the addition of man-made creeds. One of these individuals was William Kinkade (1783-1832). He was raised as a Presbyterian, but later forsook that sect and others in order to simply follow the word of God alone.

“I then refused to call myself by any name but that of Christian, bore a public testimony against all party names, and declared that I would take no other book for my standard but the Bible. I did not then know that any other person would unite with me to have no name but Christian and take no standard but the Bible, but I thought it was right, and therefore determined to pursue it, let the consequence be what it might. I could have been a Baptist, a Methodist, or a Presbyterian preacher. The two latter sects both strongly solicited me to be a preacher among them, but I utterly refused, because I thought it would be better for me to go alone on the word of God, than to put myself under obligation to believe and preach any system framed by fallible men.” (The Biography of Elder David Purviance, p. 217-218).

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“Every Man Can’t Be a Great Preacher”

George Shidler: "Every man can't be a great preacher..."

George Shidler (1776-1828) – sometimes spelled “Shideler” – was converted to Christ in 1808 through the preaching of David Purviance. Two years later he was engaged in the work of preaching the gospel, doing most of his work in Ohio. He preached for eighteen years before he passed away at the age of fifty-two.

One of the aspects of Restoration History that I enjoy is learning about the lesser-known men who contributed to the work of preaching the gospel. I first learned about George Shidler when I read The Biography of Elder David Purviance. He was a “minor” figure in this book about one of the often forgotten men of the movement. In the anecdote quoted below, Shidler talked about his feeling of inadequacy for the work of preaching when he compared himself to one he considered to be great example of a preacher – a man named Brother Kincade.Continue Reading

“Jesus Christ Had Not Joined the Shakers”

David Purviance: "Jesus Christ Had Not Joined the Shakers"

One of the principle documents of the Restoration Movement was The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery. It announced the dissolving of this religious body (the Springfield Presbytery) and articulated a desire for all such bodies to “be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large.”

This document was signed by six men – the most well-known was Barton W. Stone. Two of the men – Richard M’Nemar and John Dunlavy – later departed from the faith to join the Shakers. In his memoirs, David Purviance – another one of the six who signed The Last Will and Testament – described their departure and the impact it had upon the church.

“They were not content to abide in the simplicity of the truth. They became fanatics, and were prepared for an overthrow — when the Shakers entered in among us and swept them off with others who were led into wild enthusiasm. The shock to the church was severe — but it terminated for good. It served as a warning to us to watch and pray, and cleave to the Lord and to his word. We heard the word of the Lord: ‘Is there no king in thee, is thy counselor perished?’ M’Nemar was gone, but Jesus Christ had not joined the Shakers. The bond of union and fellowship was dissolved between us and those who had received the Shaker testimony. They were moved from ‘the foundation of the apostles and prophets,’ and had received a new revelation — ‘another gospel.’ ‘They went out from us, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.’ We found their character delineated: 1st Tim. 4:1, ‘Some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils’” (The Biography of Elder David Purviance, p. 115).

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“Raccoon” John Smith: Relying More on the Word Than the Holy Ghost

"Raccoon" John Smith: Relying More on the Word Than the Holy Ghost

When “Raccoon” John Smith (1784-1868) began preaching, he was part of the Baptist church. As a result, he was heavily influenced by Calvinism. This led him to believe that no one could be converted except by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on his/her heart. Without this kind of direct operation of the Spirit, no one could be saved.

At this time, his wife – who was “unconverted” when they married – developed an interest in religion. She asked him the meaning of a certain passage of Scripture; however, he would not answer her question. It was not because he did not have an answer or because he did not want her to know the answer. There was another reason behind his refusal to answer her Bible question:

“His wife, who was unconverted at the time of her marriage, soon became deeply concerned on the subject of religion. He was, of course, much interested in the progress of her experience; but he reverently and hopefully left her alone with her God. The young husband, who, in any other trouble, would have succored her, even at the sacrifice of his life, abandoned her in this, the most solemn and perplexing of her trials; for no obtrusive human agency, he thought, must interfere with the work of the Spirit. She asked him one day, what was the meaning of a certain text; and he was too considerate to give her any explanation at the time, fearing that, in the simplicity of her unregenerate heart, she might improperly take comfort from it, and rely more on the Word than on the Holy Ghost” (Life of Elder John Smith, p. 59).

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