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Alexander Campbell
Facts and Documents...
The Debate on Baptism

(Bethany, Virginia: 1828)

  • Title Page
  • Preface
  • Correspondence
  • The Debate

  • Campbell's 1824 report  |  The Unitarian Baptist 1826  |  Discussion of Christian Baptism (1831)






    Between W. L. M'Calla and A. Campbell.



    OF  A



    BY  THE  REV. W. L. M'CALLA.






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    I have often thought, and sometimes said, that if only the one-tenth of the charges, allegations, and evil reports, put into circulation by interested individuals against the candidates for a seat in congress, or the gubernatorial chair of some of the states, were true and to be relied on; no two persons more wanting than they in capacity, fidelity, and general good character, could be found in the commonwealths to which they belong. This is not only true of the competitors for those offices just mentioned, but of the rival candidates for all the lucrative and honorable offices in the confederation. Before some of the more interesting elections take place, and until they are closed, the tongue and the pen, two of the most powerful instruments in the government, though often fitly styled "unruly evils, and full of deadly poison," seem to be free from every restraint which reason, good breeding, law, or gospel, would impose upon them. I do not think that the wisest and happiest administration of the national government for one presidential term can wipe from the escutcheons of the nation the disgrace and indignity done to ourselves in the slanders and detractions of the current year. I cannot be persuaded that the most prudent and beneficent administration for any prescribed term, to which the nation would submit, could compensate, either in the present or future state, for the outrages committed against, and the countless infractions of, the principles of morality, politeness, and religion, in all the calumnies and detractions with which the public prints have overflowed for the last three years. This unclean spirit of detraction, falsehood, and slander, like the frogs which plagued Egypt, has found its way into every house and contaminated almost every fireside, in our highly favored and still comparatively happy country. But where and when will this contagion cease! Our infants are taught by example, that sovereign teacher, to blaspheme the character and to blast the reputation of every one that stands in the way of their follies and caprices. When neither the blood-bought honors of the "tented field," nor the more gracious and venerable decorations of senatorial dignity, crowned with the hoary head, and fragrant with the manly virtues of a life eminently devoted to the greatest national services, can exempt the honorable possessor from the impudent invectives of garrulous knaves, and the gratuitous slanders of cheap politicians, what shall become of the great mass of our citizens, when a million of infants, graduated in this school of slander, shall, have come to act their parts on the great theatre of human life?

    But what is much worse, and more to be deplored, is, that this evil spirit has invaded what is called "the house of God," and polluted both "the priests, the altar, and the offerings of the people." In the language of the day, we may say that even

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    "Sunday shines no Sabbath day" to the tongue of slander and the lips that speak guile. Schism and partyism in the church originate these evils and contribute to their support, just as certainly as competition in the state by rival interests, moved and directed by pride, avarice, and ambition, license the tongue and unseal the lips of defamation. This is one of the great evils incident to rival interests and sectarian competition in the church of God. Under pretence of doing God service and of saving the consciences of the congregation from damning errors, "the sacred desk," as it is ludicrously styled, is converted into a place of slander; envious insinuation, evil speaking, and detraction. This has become so fashionable that few seem to know when they do it: and a very considerable portion of our public harangues are either direct or indirect defamation. Preachers, finding themselves invulnerable because of the panoply of the "sacred desk," can deal out with grace and prayers their benevolent inuendoes, their soul—saving and truth-guarding cautions, against preachments and preachers, without, as some suppose, sinning against politeness, morality, or religion. But what makes this matter the more grievous and the more difficult to be fully exposed, is, that the cause, like the prompter on the stage, stands behind the scenes -- I mean that which stimulates them on to this conduct. It is usually ascribed to their zeal for truth, and affection for men's souls. But Paul, who had the gift of discerning spirits, ascribed a large share of these efforts neither to the head nor to the heart, but to the belly. And had it not been for one or two inadvertencies, a superficial reader of M'Calla's "Unitarian Baptist" might have been a little embarrassed in finding out the primum mobile of the matter. But when he hears Mr. M'Calla groaning over this sentence, "It is well known that he (myself) is opposed to the voluntary support of the clergy," he is no longer kept in suspense as to the motives which stimulated to the creation of a "Unitarian Baptist." It is better that one man be made a "Unitarian Baptist," and denounced as worthy of bonds or of death, than that the clergy should be deprived of heir morsel of bread.

    But leaving this propellant consideration to a more favorable occasion, I wish to remark, however uncharitable it may appear, that this sectarian and party spirit has long appeared to me to be a hungry rather than a religious spirit. And under the influence of the cravings of this spirit many an opinion has been propagated, many a new system originated, many an old error has been defended, and many a good man denounced as a heretic. Some have vindicated partyism, I say vindicated it, (for there are few religious errors concerning which something plausible may not be said) because it made religion flourish, by making the preachers of the respective sects exceedingly zealous; whereas, were it not for these differences of opinion, they would fall asleep at their posts. How unwise the founder, and impolitic the propagators of the christian religion, to make sects one of the works of the flesh, to denounce divisions as the life and soul of antichrist, to condemn schism as the worst of evils in christian society -- when their existence

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    would, according to this doctrine, have been the only means of keeping religion alive in the world!

    But what objections had the wise and benevolent propagators of the christian religion to sects and parties in the church? It was not solely nor chiefly because of the injury sustained from the want of harmony, but from the actual evil resulting from division. As a sin of omission the absence of harmony or unity is comparatively insignificant, when contrasted with the actual violations of the fundamental principles of law and gospel, to which it gives birth, and with which it is unavoidably accompanied. While love covers a multitude of sins which actually have existed, the spirit of anti-Christ, or sectarianism, gives being, and activity to thousands of sins which, otherwise, would never have been born. Where divisions and strifes exist, there is confusion and every evil work. Pride, avarice, and ambition, with envy, malevolence, and all their train of subaltern passions, rage with overwhelming fury. Let partyism become extinct, and myriads of slanders defamations, and inuendoes, which are preached with a good conscience, would no more be heard. How many volumes of sermons would be consumed to ashes; how many pamphlets of scandal would be thrown into the devouring element; how many religious controversies would be considered profane and immoral -- few are prepared to calculate. It is this mischief-making fiend of party spirit which fills our libraries and surfeits our appetite for reading on the subject of religion. When a man has arisen from rending such a book as the Rev. W. L. M'Calla's "Unitarian Baptist," he is as well qualified for devotion as if he had risen from a game at cards, or as if he had returned from a horse-race, or some such dissipating scene. I have thought better of some of my Presbyterian neighbors, and of some of their teachers, than formerly. since I understood that they declared this production of their brother M'Calla's "unfit to be read ore the Sabbath," and scarcely tolerable on any other day. There is less of the gentleman, and more of the rancor of disappointed ambition, manifested in most of our religious discussions, than in our political controversies: and, in proportion as the powers of understanding are unequal to the contest, in that exact ratio are the evil passions and dispositions of corrupt human nature displayed. I cannot attribute the virulence and religious rage which relieved itself by nicknaming me and other Baptists, to any thing else than the conscious want of strength in the argumentative department. Had Mr. M'Calla good arguments to offer, would I have sought relief to his perturbed mind in addressing me, as a "clerico-anticlerical knight errant, with his Sancho, Sidney Rigdon?" Would he have eased his heart by saying "The Lord rebuke thee; child of the Devil, enemy of all righteousness?" instead of supporting his views by good logic or scriptural authority! Were it not that the majority of mankind would rather be considered knaves than simpletons, we would, for the honor of human nature, feel disposed to attribute this "Unitarian Baptist" to a fit of insanity, rather than to the exercise of reason or religion. And this might perhaps be done in the present case with less offence

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    than usual, as it has been more than once the misfortune of this creator of "Unitarian Baptist" to have fallen into fits of this sort, both from love and hatred. His biography and valorous achievements from his retreat from the Green River country until his hegira from the state of Kentucky, were most eloquently exhibited under the character of "the Knight of the Bandana Handkerchief;" in one of the Lexington newspapers. As these sketches of his life were given by an able and faithful hand, and have never been contradicted, they afford some data explanatory of the causes of those paroxisms into which disappointments, religious zeal, &c, have, occasionally thrown our author; and we would rather ascribe to this cause, than to pure rancor, the ebullitions of wrath which distinguish most of his religious efforts.

    But that I may abstain from every appearance of retaliation, I shall proceed to state the argument and design of the present publication. This I do without canvassing the merits of a single sentence in his pamphlet. Had there been but one redeeming quality in the whole work, or had there been only a few outrages against reason, morality, and religion, I might have felt some disposition to expose them; but as it is, I dismiss the whole as a mass of moral putridity, indicative of the worst state of the human heart which I have ever seen, in the person of a religious, teacher. I will therefore proceed to state the argument and design of the following pages: --

    More than seven years ago a Paido-Baptist clergyman challenged the whole army of the Baptists on the subject of "infant sprinkling," engaging to prove it to be a divine ordinance. I was called upon to debate this question with him. After some months deliberation I consented. We met according to previous arrangements in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, on the 20th of June, 1820. On the day following the debate closed. With the exception of some members of the Rev. John Walker's congregation, or of the zealots on that side of the question, it was by the audience agreed that Mr. Walker failed to support his positions; and it is now almost universally admitted that the Paido-Baptist side of that question was fairly and completely lost in that discussion. The debate was published. This occasioned several pamphlets, all of which concurred in gaining more proselytes to the Baptist side of this question. So that the farther this matter was prosecuted the more desperate became the rite of infant sprinkling. This induced the Rev. W. L. M'Calla, of the village of Augusta, to call upon me for another debate. According to previous agreement we met in Washington, Ky. in October, 1823. This protracted discussion of seven days, gave still a more deadly wound to the cause of infant aspiration, and not only were the neutrals and the Baptists on one side of the controversy at its close, but some of the Paidos themselves surrendered themselves up as "prisoners of war," or as fairly proselyted to the Baptist views on this subject. It was Very generally admitted by all parties that Mr. M'Calla failed in every single attempt to establish, any one position connected with the question; and so complete was the discomfiture of Mr. M'Calla

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    and his cause, that, it was said, it soon became necessary for him to seek for a new congregation in a new quarter of the United States. Accordingly on the May following Mr. M. decamped from Kentucky to Philadelphia, and has not since, as far as we have heard, visited his friends in the West. But they wrote to him that something must be done. This, after the interval of years, gave birth to a pamphlet called "The Unitarian Baptist exposed," &c. This being chiefly composed of a variety of scurrillous pieces, aimed at sundry distinguished Baptists, and the impudent and notorious falsehoods of a man of no character or standing in this western country -- I mean that Lawrence Greatrake, who has been shut out of Regular Baptist meeting houses in his western country, and who will be permitted to say any thing of any christian in this country without being called to account for it. I say having thus filled his pamphlets with such exquisite morsels, he has rendered it entirely unnecessary for me, as, indeed it would be altogether humiliating, to give it any formal reply. More especially, as he has offered nothing argumentative on the subjects at issue, having devoted all his energies to destroy the credibility of the statement of that debate which I gave to the public a few months after it took place. In confirmation of the correctness and credibility of the statement I have published, it may be necessary to present a few certificates obtained from the most respectable sources. This I do for the sake of those unacquainted with Mr. M'Calla and myself. To those who are only partially acquainted with either of us, it is, I presume, altogether unnecessary.

    The whole drift and scope of his book, so far as it has any object at all, or any bearing upon the debate, are intended to induce the reader to believe that Mr. M'Calla is a very great man; of uncommon argumentative powers, and most prodigious literary, attainments. To carry this point, he represents me as the greatest Anabaptist in the United States, or perhaps in the world, and that he completely and fairly put me to silence. Now, gentle reader, pause and admire the greatness of Mr. M'Calla, who, in his own words, has vanquished "the greatest champion of anabaptism in the world!!"

    The proof urged in favor of this burthen of his book, is, that the general impression on the mind of the auditors was, that Mr. M'Calla was triumphant in the aforesaid debate; consequently, that it is not fairly or correctly published by me. This he proves by the solitary testimony of Mr. Lowry, a young Presbyterian divine. All the rest of his book is mere gratuitous slander and defamation. He endeavors to hold me up as a Unitarian: in short, as an enemy to all righteousness. As my writings and character are before the public, I have nothing to say on these topics except to, request those who are unacquainted with my views, not to condemn me unread or unheard. And if, after reading what I have written on these subjects, they are prepared to say that Mr. M'Calla is a man of truth and candor, I will not make use of one argument or word to convince them otherwise.

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    I have thought it due to those at a distance to solicit a few certificates from some of the more distinguished hearers of that debate, who afterwards read it as I published it. I could have filled a volume with letters from some if the most respectable gentlemen in the community, who and read either the whole or a part of that debate; but concluded that it was superfluous to multiply them. I have published a few obtained from different classes in society as respects religious belief. The testimony I have produced is Baptist, Paido-Baptist, and neutral. I have given a specimens of each. So that not only are the gentlemen whose names appear in confirmation of the impartiality and credibility of my statement of the debate of the first standing in society, but of all religious opinions, as respected the question at issue.

    It never was proposed by me to do more than to give a fair exhibit of all the arguments and principal illustrations advanced on both sides. This has been done. Nothing has yet been produced by the opposite side to shew that it has not been done, except Mr. M'Calla's own objections; and even when all the particulars he gives are excepted, still the debate as published by me is worty of the title and credit which it has received.

    It was necessary, from what Mr. M'Calla has published, that the certificates should not only attest the correctness of the statement given by me; but also the general impression made on the public mind, as far as that was known to them, respecting the comparative strength of the arguments adduced on both sides. Some of them have gone even farther than this, and have spoken of the comparative talents of the parties. This I would much rather had been omitted; but as those who real Mr. M'Calla's "Unitarian Baptist" saw so much of the writer's conceits and ambition to be thought a very great man, it seemed good unto some of them to express their own opinion and that of others on the talents of the parties.

    Whenever any thing on the subject of baptism is produced, which I have not noticed before, I stand pledged to examine it. If Mr. M'Calla has any new light on the subject, let it be exhibited. But as the matter now stands -- so long as the report of his debate with me is read and credited -- so long I feel it unnecessary to add a single word on the subject. And as I have not seen one new argument on the subject since Mr. M'Calla's brief ran out, I have nothing to do save the publication of the annexed certificates. I shall therefore suffer them to speak for themselves.



    NO. 1.

    From WALTER WARDER, Bishop of the Church in May's Lick.
                                                  May's Lick, July 27th, 1827.

    Brother Campbell,

    I attended each day of the debate on baptism held at Washington, Ky. between Mr. M'Calla and yourself,

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    and paid all the attention I was capable of doing to what was said on both sides of the question. I read attentively your publication of the same and confidently believed you had given a correct and faithful representation of the arguments and illustrations used by each of you on the occasion. And though I have often. heard the publication spoken of by persons not connected with any society, no insinuation has ever been made in my presence, or that I have heard of, unfavorable to the correctness of the statements made by you. As far as my knowledge extends, the general opinion of that class was decidedly in favor of the superiority of your arguments; and I supposed the marked attention paid by them while you were speaking, over and above what was paid to Mr. M'Calla (particularly the last five days) gave evidence of the effect produced on their minds.

    Affectionately yours,

    NO. 2.

    From W. PAYNE, Bishop of Mount Gilead Church.
                                                  Bath County, Ky. August 18, 1827.

    Mr. Alexander Campbell,

    Dear Sir -- Being on a visit to my son, on near Mount Sterling, and understanding that you had written to him on the subject of W. L. M'Calla's publication touching the debate on baptism, at Washington, in October, 1823, a sense of justice prompts me to'say something to you about that matter; particularly so, from, the extraordinary, and, indeed, false and slanderous publication made by Mr. M'Calla, in a pamphlet which he is pleased to call "The Unitarian Baptist of the Robinson School exposed, &c." The debate being held within a few miles of my residence, I had frequent and many opportunities of hearing the opinions of a vast number of persons as to the merits of the arguments, reasonings, and illustrations, used both by yourself and your opponent, Mr. M'Calla, and must say that the general, and, indeed, I might say, unanimous opinion of those who belonged to neither party, concurred in stating that your arguments, &c. were completely and absolutely triumphant -- that your opponent did not even hold you a tight debate,

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    This I can say from hearing the opinions of others, and in addition to which I attended myself the three first, and the two last days of that debate, and must add 'my belief of the truth and justice of the statement just above made, "that you were completely triumphant in all your arguments so far as I heard." I have since carefully read the debate as published by you, and can say that it is a fair representation of all the arguments advanced by both during the five days that I attended. The only difference I see in it is, that you have left out all of M'Calla's vulgarity, and most of his opprobious and abusive language in relation to yourself: and the general impression I believe is, that you have made M'Calla appear better in the debate as published than he did on the ground, and I am satisfied that the Paido-Baptist will not again want such another triumph as Mr. M'Calla says he obtained. As the effect produced by the debate in its practical influence in settling the minds of persons upon that subject, I have personal knowledge of some who belonged to the Paido-Baptist church, who, on hearing that debate, came out from among them and joined the Baptist society: beside several who belonged to neither party have had their minds settled by that debase, and have joined the Baptists; and I do not know nor have I heard of one single individual of the Baptist order, or of Baptist feelings, that has gone over to the Paido-Baptist in consequence of that debate, unless, indeed, one of Mr. M Calla's correspondents be one, (if indeed be had such) an extract from whose letter I see in his pamphlet. This much I have deemed necessary to truth and justice to say, was due to you, which if it be advantage in aiding you, my dear brother, in putting to rest the slanders of Mr. M'Calla, you can use it in any way you think proper.

    With feelings of the kindest regard, yours in the love of Christ.
    W. PAYNE.    

    NO. 3.

    From Fourteen Respectable Professors.

    We whose names are hereunto annexed, having attended a public debate held in the town of Washington, Mason county, Kentucky, in October, 1823, on the

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    subject of "Baptism," between William L. M'Calla of Kentucky, and Alexander Campbell of Virginia; and having read the said debate, as published by Alexander Campbell, shortly after its publication; do state, that as far as we heard public sentiment expressed as to which speaker offered the strongest arguments? it was always said, He on the side of adult baptism, both pending and since the publication of the debate. We do not hesitate to say, that we believe Mr. Campbell has given in his publication of the debate, both in substance and form, fairly and substantially, all the arguments offered on both sides of the question, so far as we heard and read. We will, however, remark, the reason why Mr. M'Calla's arguments appear shorter than Mr. Campbell's, was owing to the fact, that Mr. M'Calla spoke slower, and occupied considerable time in giving references to, and reading publications on the subject under discussion. And farther, so far as we have heard public opinion expressed, we do not recollect of an instance in which we have ever heard it contended the publication of the debate was unfair or incorrect in narrating the arguments adduced by each speaker. We have heard of a number of neutrals, who have been convinced (from hearing and reading said debate) that adult baptism, and that by immersion too, is the only scriptural mode.
    No. of


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    NO. 4.

    From T. M. MORTON, J. FORMAN, and L. CAHILL.

    The undersigned were present during the debate between Mr. M'Calla and Mr. Campbell, at Washington, in Kentucky, and do believe that the same, as published by Mr. Campbell, is correct and true. We do not believe that Mr. M'Calla sustained any single point; and it is our opinion that Mr. Campbell was successful in argument, and greatly the superior of Mr. M'Calla in point of talents.
    THO. M. MORTON,    
    L. CAHILL.    
    August 16th, 1827.

    NO. 5.

    From GURDEON GATES, A. B. Bishop of the Church in Paris.
                                                  Paris, Ky. August 25th, 1827.

    Having attentively heard a debate on christian baptism between the Rev. W. L. M'Calla, a Presbyterian teacher, and Alexander Campbell, held at Washington Ky. on the 15th and terminating on the 31st October, 182[3]," and having carefully perused Mr. Campbell's publication of that debate, I am prepared to state confidently that, in my judgment, it presents to the public a faithful exhibition of all the matter and argument advanced by both disputants. There is not the least injustice done to any of the arguments of Mr. M'Calla. But I am of the opinion that they appear in a stronger and more convincing attitude in the publication than they did as delivered upon the stage

    NO. 6.

    From WM. VAUGHN, Bishop of the Church in Washington,
                                                  Mason County, Ky. Aug. 21, 1827.

    Very dear brother Campbell,

    Absence from home, a sick family, and a multiplicity of engagements, combined with a reasonable portion of indolence, have prevented me from attending to your requests relative to Billy M'Calla's fibs. As that work carries its own condemnation with it, myself

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    and numerous friends in this state, were in hopes that you would deign it no reply. With respect to the book, it is a tissue of falsehood and scurrility -- Mr. Edgar, the Presbyterian preacher at Maysville, has said it is not fit to be read on the Sabbath day, and that he (Edgar) did 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 I state, upon the authority of the very intelligent young lady so frequently mentioned by Mr. M'Calla in his book, a young lady equally as much famed for her moral worth, as intelligence. It is at all times unpleasant to have to speak evil of any one, it is forbidden by our King, but there are cases in which we are justified in declaring the truth, although it should be unfavorable, and the present is one of them. I believe Mr. M'Calla to be one of the most malicious and contentious creatures living, and withal not a man of truth, for I once proved him guilty of downright lying, before his own church session, by captain Wm. Buckner, of Bracken county, (now of Augusta) a man of incorruptible integrity, and a member of the august congregation of which Mr. M'Calla was at that time pastor. This you are at liberty to publish in your reply, and I hereby challenge him, or any friend he has in the world, to call me to account for the above statement.

    Yours in the hope of immortality,

    NO. 1.



    From J. C. PICKETT, Esq. Secretary of State.
                                                  Frankfort, Ky. September 20, 182[6].
    I have received your letter dated the 4th instant, and, as far as it is in my power, will comply very cheerfully with the request contained in it.

    It is true that I was present at the debate on baptism between yourself and Mr. M'Calla, at Washington, in this state; but I was not present more than 3 or 4 days, and whether three or four, I do not distinctly recollect.

    * This Mr. M'Calla said in his pamphlet.

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    I have since locked over the volume you published in consequence of that debate, though in a cursory, and irregular manner, but I have perhaps, at different times read nearly the whole of it; and it is my belief that, as far as I can recollect the arguments of Mr. M'Calla, they are stated by you with great candor and fairness. My attention was particularly attracted to this circumstance in the perusal of your book; and not being unapprized how rare a virtue the virtue of candor is among controvertists, I did not myself consider it the least meritorious part of your volume. But it must be borne in mind that I did not hear more than half (and perhaps less) of Mr. M'Calla's arguments, and much that I did hear, must have unavoidably escaped my recollection, so that I speak of them under restriction. It is proper too that I should remark, that I am wholly unskilled in the tactics of polemic divinity, and that, for aught I know a more acute examiner than myself may find in Mr. M'Calla's arguments, as represented by you, absurdities involved, and inferences warranted, at which he himself would revolt.

    As it regards the "comparative weight of argument and evidence adduced on both sides," perhaps I am not disinterested enough to venture an opinion. It is known that the doctrine of infant baptism, and the mode of administering that ordinance, were the prominent topics of the discussion. As it concerns these matters I was rather inclined to entertain the opinions defended by you, previous to your examination of them at Washington. I have not been able in my opinion, to find any thing in the scriptures, though I have searched for it, enjoining infant baptism, with any kind of certainty; and as it regards the mode, it appears to me that the current of biblical testimony sets rather in favor of immersion. But I think at the same time that neither of these questions can be of the slightest importance. Infant baptism I must believe has not ever either made or marred a christian; and I think the same of adult baptism. We all know that very learned and pious men have differed widely about these things; which circumstance appears to me to constitute a very sufficient apology for entertaining either opinion, and equally a sufficient one for believing that they cannot be matters of very momentous import. The

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    christian religion I believe to be a religion of action, not of profession; demanding purity of thought and of life, and dispensig with all that wretched and fantastical jargon about creeds and articles of faith, &c. &c. with which this poor world has been so horribly annoyed for the last 1800 years. It wants no gorgeous temples, no altars, and no sacrifices. It is simple in its doctrines, unostentatious in its worship, and consolatory in its promises: And when stripped of that veil of mystery and of mysticism which artful and ambitious men have contrived to fling around it, it will be found to be comprized, as Doctor Paley says, in three simple words -- "Devotion, Self-Government, and Benevolence." It was thus that Christ defined it himself, and I cling to the definition as the only sound one -- the only one that will endure.

    Many of the foregoing remarks you will perceive to be entirely gratuitous on my part, and not by any means confined within the scope of your queries; and I certainly should not have obtruded them on your attention but for the purpose of shewing (if they do shew it) that in expressing an opinion about the controversy between you and Mr. M'Calla, I have neither prejudices nor partialities to combat. With this premonition, I say, as it concerns the weight of argument and evidence adduced," that, in my opinion; in point of scholastic and biblical learning, you had the advantage of your antagonist, that you were generally more successful in your illustrations, and that you were the more adroit and experienced disputant. At the same time I thought that Mr. M'Calla managed his side of the question with great skill and judgment, and that in his argument he was logical, zealous, persevering, and methodical. This is my opinion, candidly given, and with great diffidence I know -- -with what correctness others must determine.

    To your inquiry concerning "public opinion," as connected with your debate, I answer as follows: -- Immediately afterwards, I conversed with several persons for the express purpose of hearing what they would say. If with a Baptist, he assured me that you had gained a most signal victory; that your arguments were all unanswered and unanswerable, and that he who doubted before hearing them, surely could doubt no more. If with

    16                           FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                              

    a Presbyterian, he would tell me that Mr. M'Calla came out of the arena decidedly triumphant, and that he had established all his positions as fast and as firm as the rock of ages. Perceiving among these something like the spirit of partyism, I inquired among those who professed neither to know nor to care any thing about the subjects of the debate. A majority of this description (though I conversed with but few) expressed the opinion that the advantage was on your side; but that Mr. M'Calla had maintained his ground resolutely, and had maintained it well.

    This is all I can say respecting "public opinion," and in this I have not pretended to give the language of any I conversed with; though I know I have given their opinions, as expressed to me with entire accuracy. I do not pretend to say what the "public opinion" was: I state only facts, leaving it to others to determine how far those facts may be indicative of it.

    I regret that I have been compelled to trouble you with so tedious a letter; but to have answered you in any degree satisfactorily, and at the same time, with that impartiality, which I am satisfied you would desire me to do, I could not well bring it within a more reasonable compass. I am, Sir,
                  With great respect,
                                Your obedient servant,
                                              J. C. PICKETT

    NO. 2.

                                                  Mason County, Ky. 22d August, 1827.

    I, the undersigned, attended every day during the debate in Washington Kentucky, between Alexander Campbell and Wm. L. M'Calla, and have since read the debate, in part, as published by Mr. Campbell, and believe the same to be a correct report so far as I have read it. It is farther the opinion of the undersigned, that Mr. Campbell had decidedly the advantage of Mr. M'Calla in the argument, and I further believe it was a general opinion of those who attended the debate, who, like myself, were not members of any religious society.

                              FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                               17

    NO. 3.

                  From Nine Respectable Non-Professors.

    We, whose names are hereunto annexed having attended a public debate held in the town of Washington, Mason county, Kentucky, in October, 1823. on the subject of "Baptism," between William L. M'Calla of Kentucky, and Alexander Campbell of Virginia; and having read the said debate, as published by Alexander Campbell, shortly after its publication; do state, that as far as we heard public sentiment expressed as to which speaker offered the strongest arguments, it was always said, He on the side of adult baptism, both pending and since the publication of the debate. We do not hesitate to say, that we believe Mr. Campbell has given in his publication of the debate, both in substance and form, fairly, and substantially, all the arguments offered on both sides of the question, so far as we heard and read. We will, however, remark, the reason why Mr. M'Calla's arguments appear shorter than Mr. Campbell's; was owing to the fact, that Mr. M'Calla spoke slower, and occupied considerable time in giving references to and reading publications on, the subject under discussion. And farther, so far as we have heard public opinion expressed, we do not recollect of any instance in which we have ever heard it contended that the publication of the debate was unfair or incorrect in narrating the arguments adduced by each speaker. We have heard of a number of neutrals who have been convinced (from hearing and reading said debate) that adult baptism, and that by immersion too, is the only scriptural mode.

    J. M. RUNYAN,
    No. of


    Who says he was raised as Episcopalian, and if he had any prejudice it must have been in favor of infant sprinkling -- now acknowledges he had been in an error, and that immersion is the only scriptural baptism.

    18                           FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                              

    NO. 4.

                  From JAMES W. COBURN, Esq.
                                                           August 18th, 1827.
    I attended the debate near Washington Ky. between Alex. Campbell and Wm. M'Calla during the two first days. and have since examined the debate as published by said Campbell -- I was struck with the correctness of the report in the main; finding, as I did, very generally the phraseology itself. Not being a member of either church, I was, at the time, clearly impressed with a belief that Mr. M'Calla was unequal to the contest in which he had engaged.
    JAMES W. COBURN.    

    NO. 5.

                  From MR. A. D. VARDEMAN.
                                                       North Middletown, Ky. August, 31st, 1827.
    Having attended a debate on the subject and mode of christian baptism, between the Rev. Wm. L. M'Calla and Alexander Campbell, held at Washington, Mason County, Ky. commencing on the 15th, and terminating the 21st October, 1823, and having attentively perused that discussion as published by A. Campbell, I have no hesitation in pronouncing it a full, fair, and faithful exhibition of all the principal arguments and topics advanced and discussed by each disputant on that occasion.

    NO. 6.

                  From JOHN KERCHEVAL, Esq.
    I do hereby certify, That in the month of October, 1823, I attended four days at the debate in Washington, between Mr. M'Calla and Mr. Campbell, on the subject of baptism, and took extensive notes of the whole of the debate on the days I attended, and afterwards became a subscriber for the book published by Mr. Campbell. I have carefully examined and compared the publication with the notes I took, and have no hesitancy in saying it is among the most correct reports of the kind I have ever read, and that the arguments on both sides are not only given fairly, but substantially in the words of the speakers.

                              FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                               19

    Given under my hand, at Mays Lick, Mason county, Kentucky, this 9th day of August, 1827.

    NO. 7.

                  From WALKER REID, Esq. a very respectable member of the Bar.
    The undersigned heard the debate at Washington, Kentucky, between Wm. M'Calla and Alexander Campbell and believes Mr. Campbell's publication to be a faithful representation of the topics and of the arguments on both sides.

    It was the general impression that Mr. M'Calla failed to support the positions he assumed -- and many who thought with him on the subject, admitted in conversation "that he was overmatched in argument," and attributed his failure to the superior abilities of his opponent.

    I well remember that a respectable lawyer said in my hearing, about the last of the debate, while speaking of the comparative strength of the arguments, that "Campbell (in his opinion) could change sides with M'Calla, and beat him." This man, like myself, belongs to no denomination of christians, certainly to none that immerse, and, is esteemed on of the most respectable citizens of the state.

    If I had any religion at all, if I believed in any baptism, it is that of the heart -- the holy fire which cometh down from heaven, and influences every one that cometh into the world, but which some have no disposition to heed, and against which some harden their hearts; while as many was receive, and obey, are rendered happy in this life, and enjoy endless felicity in that which is to come. I had not therefore investigated the subject for myself, and was contented with the baptism which my parents informed me I had received in my infancy at the hands of a reverend clergyman of the Episcopal church. But upon hearing the debate between those gentlemen, I determined not to have any of my children baptized without their consent, having become convinced that none but believers ought to be baptized; and -- and what shall I say? why that, in my opinion, it is to be performed by immersion.

    20                           FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                              

    Having pronounced Mr. Campbell's book to be a faithful representation of the topics of debate, and arguments on both sides, I will farther state that I have read with attention Mr. M'Calla's pamphlet on the subject of that debate. The evening after I read it I observed to my Presbyterian host that I would go early to bed. for I sat up late last night reading to some ladies Mr. M'Calla's book -- have you seen it, said I? I have just read it, he answered -- "what a scurrillous thing it is." How? -- what do you say? I answered, surprized at his words. He answered, "Don't understand me as saying Mr. M'Calla has told lies; he has given vent to bad feeling, and introduced characters who had nothing to do with the debate."

    All this is true, I answered; and I think his friends will blush that he ever wrote it; I still think so. Why in this part of the world the people say it is as unlike the debate as any thing written on the subject can be. And it would be doing injustice to Mr. M'Calla's talents to suppose that he even intended it as a brief outline of the debate -- it is more generous to suppose it was done with a view of bringing into contempt that kind of discussion, one in which the author felt himself discomfited. However this is my opinion; and I have frequently heard my friends and acquaintances speaking of it say, "Mr. ___ and Mr. ___ quoting Presbyterian gentlemen) allow that Mr. M'Calla's book wont do to read on the Sabbath day."
    WALKER REID.    
    July 8th, 1827.

    (In a letter to me of a more recent date than the above, certificate, speaking of a number of respectable citizens of Mason county, from whom certificates might be obtained, Mr. Reid speaks in the following words:) --

    "I will venture to affirm that I could find a thousand persons who would swear in a court of justice that you excelled Mr. M'Calla in manner as well as matter, and that such was the general belief here, as well among those who heard the debate, as those who frequently conversed about it afterwards, from information derived from those who did hear it and from reading it."

    (Mr. Reid is a warm friend of Mr. M'Calla, and I heard from some source that he volunteered his services to plead for him in an action.

                              FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                               21

    for slander, brought in the Bracken court against Mr. M'Calla by Elder Matthew Gardner, a short time before our debate.)

    NO. 8.

    From CHARLES B. SMITH, a respectable member of the Methodist Church.
                                                        MAY'S LICK, July 26, 1827.
    Mr. A. Campbell,

    I attended the three first days of the debate held at Washington, Ky. between you and Mr. M'Calla; and, as an auditor, was neither unconcerned nor inattentive. I read, cursorily, your subsequent publication, and I rose from the perusal with the impression that the "arguments and illustrations" were neither garbled nor misrepresented. I was rather surprized to find the features of the original so faithfully preserved in a situation so peculiar and under circumstances so disadvantageous. Your friend and admirer. if not your, adherent,

    NO. 9.

    From Mr. MOSES RYAN, once a zealous Paido-Baptist.

    Being called upon by a friend of A. Campbell for a statement respecting the debate upon baptism, at and near Washington, in October, 1823, between Messrs. Campbell and M'Calla, I now make the following: --

    I attended the debate the two first and the two last days, with strong predilections in favor of Mr. M'Calla's side of the question, and the ardent wish and hope that he would be completely triumphant over his opponent, and forever put Mr. Campbell upon that subject to silence. With those feelings in full tide, and expectation much excited, it may (as really was the fact) be readily presumed that I should pay the strictest attention to the arguments of Mr. M'Calla, particularly the two first days of the debate; during which I had to experience the mortification of seeing Mr. M'Calla exposed for misquoting the scriptures to suit his own purposes; and in reading extracts from Robinson with the book in his hand and before his eyes, he would put language in Robinson's mouth that was no where to be found in it. It may, perhaps, be necessary here to say, that on the two first days I paid particular attention to the arguments

    22                           FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                              

    of both; but the two last days, such were my feelings towards Mr. Campbell, that I could not, and did not, stay in the house whilst he was speaking, but frequently went out so soon as he would commence, and so soon as he would sit down I would return to hear Mr. M'Calla, and it was owing in a measure to Mr. M'Calla's violent, abusive, and vulgar manner, that I was led to suspect that all was not right about that matter; and reflecting much on it, and recollecting the powerful arguments adduced by Mr Campbell the two first days of the debate, and reading much in the scriptures in order to satisfy myself, I came to the firm conclusion, from a careful examination of them and the debate which Mr. C. published, that infant sprinkling or baptism is a human tradition, and unfounded in the scriptures of truth -- and I can unhesitatingly say, that Mr. Campbell has given a fair representation 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, together with his base misquotations of the scriptures and Robinson's History of Baptism -- but the arguments are fairly given; and taking the whole debate together, so far as I was present and heard it, I have no hesitation in saying, that Mr. M'Calla appears to much better advantage in the published debate than he did upon the ground. I have also seen Mr. M'Calla's pamphlet and have read it, and am much surprised, nay, astonished at a quotation given in No. 15 and page 63 of that book, purporting to be a letter from Mr. Lowry, accompanying an abstract of his notes. This gentleman and myself, being of Paido-Baptist feelings and sentiments, we formed a kind of how-do-ye-do acquaintance on the ground, and if the certificate in page 11 and the letter just alluded to in page 63, be really from the pen of that gentleman, and fairly given by Mr. M'Calla, I must say that, of my own knowledge, I do know they are irreconcilable with fact; for, as I before stated, that I frequently got up and went out when Mr. Campbell was speaking, during the two last days of the debate. I frequently saw Mr. Lowry out also; and if, as Mr. M'Calla represents him as saying that he "was present during the whole discussion and took notes," many of his notes of Mr. Campbell's

                              FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                               23

    speeches must have been guess work; for at one time, ether on the sixth or seventh day of the debate, and whilst Mr. Campbell was speaking, I went out and found Mr. Lowry engaged in a high dispute with a young gentleman, which I feared would terminate in a serious quarrel, if not a fight, and this circumstance riveted it upon my mind, so that I cannot be mistaken and therefore hope there has been some oversight in printing Mr. Lowry's statements, as I would feign hope, and must think, that Mr. L. would not wilfully mistate any thing about the matter, and until I have evidence to think otherwise, must say, from the little acquaintance I had with him, I have great confidence in his integrity, and therefore believe a fair representation has not been given of what he really did write to Mr. M'Calla.

    Given under my hand this 20th day of August, 1827.
    MOSES RYAN.    

    From the facts and documents in my possession, I think I my say, that no volume published on the subject of Baptism has been more useful in convincing the ignorant and erring, than the volume containing the forementioned debate. Nothing has appeared on that question that deserves to be read since the publication of that volume. And we are always prepared to shew, when fairly called out, that nothing better has ever been said, and nothing better can be said in favor of infant sprinkling, than Messrs Walker aid M'Calla have advanced in their debates with me. The only hopeful attempt that can be made to counteract the influence of these debates, is to represent them as unfaithful reports, and to deceive the public by holding out the idea that something more conclusive was said or can be said, than is found in them: Until some new ground is taken, or something argumentative appears; on the subject, I feel nothing needful on my part to be done, unless to afford good testimony in confirmation of the credibility of my report. This, I presume, is satisfactorily done in the preceding pages. There is Baptist, Paido-Baptist, and neutral testimony on the subject, from sources the most respectable, and from persons who heard and read the debate, and some who had actually taken notes of it I could have greatly augmented the number of witnesses, but thought it quite superfluous to produce more. If about forty persons of such character and standing in society as the preceding gentlemen, are not sufficient to attest the correctness of my report, I should fear that any greater number would be incompetent.

    Mr. M'Calla tells us he has been, and will be for many months yet, engaged in writing out his side of the debate, or rather a new treatise on the subject. If, in five or six years, he should accomplish any thing argumentative, different from the ground

    24                           FACTS  AND  DOCUMENTS, &c.                              

    assumed in his actual debate with me, I may make some strictures upon it. But he must be apprized by this time, that his reputation in and thing pertaining to matters of testimony, is not of that high and exalted character, as to merit any refutation from me, Moreover, he must know by the frequent lessons he has got from his friends and opposers, that his style is too scurrilous and low to be proper matter of criticism. Upon the whole, he must feel himself to be a very "privileged character," as we say in this part of Virginia; for against religious people he may say any thing with impunity.

    I do hereby apologize to all persons of discernment for humbling myself to notice this production of Mr. M'Calla. I do ask my friends to pardon me -- and I hope they will do it when I tell them that Mr. M'Calla's pamphlet had been confined to Kentucky, I should never have noticed it; but it was published in Philadelphia, where Mr. M'Calla has lived but a short time.

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