Life of Elder Walter Scott
(Cincinnati: Bosworth, Chase, & Hall, 1874)
LIFE OF ELDER WALTER SCOTT.
Not long after his removal to Cincinnati, Mr. Scott made another change to Carthage, about eight miles north of the city, where he remained for about thirteen years. He visited this village several times before his removal, and the success which attended his labors, doubtless, had much to do with making it his home. Although pleasantly situated, there was little about Carthage to make it agreeable as a residence; all the vices of the country village of forty or fifty years ago flourished there; drunkenness, profanity, idleness, and neglect of the public and private duties of religion were common, and the store and the groggery were the chief places of resort. Fishing and hunting were common on Sunday, as well as coarse jesting and unseemly merriment among those within the tavern or under the trees that shaded its door. The single redeeming feature was a Sunday-school, with which was connected an incident of interest that took place on Scott's first visit....
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LIFE OF ELDER WALTER SCOTT.
About 1840, the name by which the people should be known who had been gathered together by the labors of Campbell and Scott began to be an important question. Hitherto they had been known as Reformed Baptists or Reformers, Disciples, Campbellites, and at an early stage of the movement, in some localities where Scott labored, they were termed Scottites. This use of his name Elder Scott publicly rebuked by calling one who had made shipwreck of his faith a Scottite. The necessity of having one name as the body increased in numbers became manifest, and, as points of difference in other matters had been settled by the Word of God, it was supposed that this also could be decided in the same way. Modern names, of course, made no figure in the discussion, as they were given by the other parties, and were rather nicknames than otherwise, and never had been acknowledged by those to whom they were given, and the choice was soon narrowed down to two -- namely: Disciples of Christ and Christians. For the former Mr. Campbell contended, while Scott thought that stronger reasons could be urged in favor of the latter. Mr. Campbell regarded the name "Disciples of Christ" as preferable on several accounts,
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but the reasons which doubtless weighed most with him were, that the name Christian had been appropriated by a people who were regarded as denying the divinity of Christ, and that no religious denomination would ever consent to its being worn by the new party, as it would be a reflection on themselves for having abandoned it for some other.
Elder Scott was of the opinion that to call Bible things and persons by Bible names was a correct principle, whether other parties would admit and practice it or not, and thought that they would be as likely to object to the name "Disciples of Christ" as to the name Christian; that the latter meant all that the former did, and even more, being a more extensive term, and better than any or all others describing the relation of the saint to the Savior. He, moreover, urged that the word "Disciple" was not a proper name at all, but a common noun, and hence but a relative designation, like brethren, children, saints, and that as the Holy Scriptures inform us that "the disciples were named Christians," no other name could be lawful or necessary. He likewise argued from the language of Agrippa to Paul, "almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian," that the apostle was persuading men to become Christians, and that the commendation of the church at Pergamos, "Thou holdest fast my name," and the similar one to the church at Philadelphia, "Thou hast not denied my name," sanctioned the use of the name Christian. "It is," said he, "a royal name, if we retain and honor it, and we can not honor it unless we retain it." He gave also a fine analysis of the passage in Acts xi: 26: "The disciples were called Christians first in
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Antioch," arguing that the name was given by Barnabas and Paul by divine authority and direction, and showed, by the admission of the greatest names in theology, that, in opposition to the practice of the various churches which they represented, the members of the primitive church were known every-where as Christians. He also introduced the well-known fact, that, when the followers of Jesus were brought before the pagan magistrates in the days of the persecuting emperors, the question proposed to each one was, "Are you a Christian?" and that to own this name was a capital crime; and in his mind it was a name not only taken from that of the Master, and descriptive, as no other was, of the pardoned sinner's relation to him, but also one that bore the seal of the blood of the martyrs.
Since the period of this discussion the other names have gradually become less common, and it now seems probable that the one name, "Christian," will be the only one by which the people separated by the labors of Scott and Campbell will be known.
During the winter of 1841-42, Elder Scott spent some three months in the East, visiting successively Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. He gives the following account of his journey over the Alleghany Mountains, and the truly warm and primitive Christian reception he met with at his journey's end:
"Friday morning being snowy, and the passengers for the East numerous, each stowed himself away in his respective seat in the stage the best and warmest way he might, and late in the evening of the same day we all reached the foot of the Alleghanies, and began amidst a snow-storm to ascend the mountains. Our stage broke down, but without
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damage to the passengers. Here I may just note that perhaps never was it before the fortune of a poor Christian to be pent up in the same small space with an equal number of more immoral and irreligious persons than was the writer in this stage. They were utterly abominable, and we bore till patience ceased to be a virtue. Lord Bacon says that 'certainly virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed.' We felt ourself, after a certain length of time, incensed or crushed, or, as his lordship means, bruised and burnt by their guilty and irreligious behavior, and we could restrain the savor of our religion no longer. As the apostle commands, we rebuked them sharply, but in a tone, and temper, and measure so suited to the occasion, as, without giving offense, to leave them rather crest-fallen. Fain would two or more of the oldest and boldest of them have rebelled, but the hammer, and fire, and flaming sword of the Spirit of God, not imprudently nor unskillfully applied, proved more than a match for their carnal courage, and the whole were ultimately subdued to silence. In spite of storms and other casualties by steamboat, stage, and steam cars, we all arrived safe in the city of Baltimore, early on the 20th of December, for which we had a thousand reasons to bless our good and gracious God.
"From the Exchange Hotel we repaired to the hospitable domicil of our brother in faith and spirit Alexander Reed, and certainly never was man by man or brother by brother received in a manner more congenial with the spirit and precept of primitive Christianity than we by him. 'Simon,' said our great and glorious Master to a certain Pharisee, 'I entered into thine house, and thou gavest me no water for my feet -- thou gavest me no kiss.' Not so with this man of God -- this disciple of Christ. He embraced us, kissed us, and graciously washed our feet. Before we commenced this journey, we had campaigned it for a series of weeks together; had lifted from the bosom
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of the Ohio River twenty converts at a time, with our own hands; and, enfeebled in body and exhausted in mind, had seen a hundred happy citizens born into the kingdom of our God. These, with the difficulties of our journey up the river and over the mountains, had well prepared us for appreciating the Christian custom of washing of feet attended to on this occasion by our brother Reed. Our heart was touched. We thought we saw in the faith and manners of this disciple both the principles and practice of our own dear Redeemer, and we made no effort to restrain our tears. We were both silent, but we both wept.
"In the afternoon we had an introduction to the two other elders brethren Austen and Dungan, with many others. Great, indeed, was the brotherly kindness tendered me by the elders of this dear congregation -- not in word and courtesy alone, but in truth and in very deed. We felt at first what we learned at last, that we had a home in every heart and in every house of the rich and the poor together."
From New York he returned by the way of Philadelphia and Baltimore, and the effect of his visit may be gathered from a letter from the church at the latter place to the church at Carthage, where he resided.
"To the Saints and Faithful Brethren in Christ Jesus at Carthage, Ohio, the congregation of Baltimore wisheth peace:
"BRETHREN: The bearer being about to return home, we conceive it due to him and to you, agreeably to primitive custom, to give him a letter of commendation. We should be wanting in the courtesy, gratitude, and affection of the gospel did we fail to testify our approbation of the course pursued by our brother since he came among us. His deportment, zeal, piety, and devotion are to be highly commended, inasmuch as they have exerted a sanctifying influence upon all who have become acquainted with him here
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and we have the testimony of brethren in Philadelphia and New York to the same amount. His affectionate, lucid, and venerable manner of presenting the truth has commended itself to all who heard him, and been very instrumental in disabusing the public mind of certain prejudices and errors in reference to some things we believe and practice, occasioned by the unskillful and injudicious manner of some unwise though honest advocates. His addresses to the brethren have exerted a most salutary influence in awakening them to that perfection of spirit and character by which we must enter the kingdom of God. And now we do most cordially commend him to your regard.
"FRANCIS DUNGAN, Elders."
About this time the teachings of Miller and others with respect to the second advent were creating great excitement, particularly in the West. The second appearing of the Son of man was, according to them, to take place in 1843; many sincerely believed it, and acted as those who expected to witness that glorious event. Prominent ministers in nearly all denominations became interested in the subject, and the prophecies in regard to the second advent were eagerly and carefully studied. The religious press teemed with arguments pro and con, and religious society was moved and agitated as it never was before in this generation. Mr. Campbell wrote and spoke much in regard to the matter, and, without committing himself definitely with regard to the time, seemed to be under the impression that the world was on the eve of some great and wonderful event. Mr. Scott, who was of a more excitable temperament,
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entered warmly into the discussion and investigation of the subject. The event was so glorious and to him so desirable, that many mistook his wishes for his convictions in regard to the matter, and he was regarded for a season as identified with the Second Adventists. He mingled freely with them at their meetings and participated in them, and invited eminent preachers of that faith to Carthage, and afforded them every facility for the presentation of their views to the people. He did not forget, however, to present before them the views of the gospel in which he was regarded as peculiar, and this he did so successfully that a number of the Second Advent preachers embraced his views of the primitive gospel and publicly advocated the same.
While he was greatly excited and interested by the event which was the great theme of the Adventists, he did not seem to be convinced by their reasonings with regard to the time at which they expected it to take place. The following, from his pen, is quite as sensible and pertinent upon this point as any thing written at that time:
"Touching the chronological part of the great question of the second coming of Christ, it is impossible that men should not have their reflections on this point, and perhaps it is equally impossible they should not occasionally hazard a thought upon the probable era of its occurrence; but whether those who dogmatize on the hour, day, or year of this illustrious event afford high evidence of superior sagacity, or are by so doing likely at last to confer any permanent benefit on true Christianity and the cause of reformation, may be deemed extremely problematical. Our Lord has said that of that hour knoweth no man; no, not the
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angels of God; no, not the Son, but the Father only. This, however, was uttered, as the advocates for a particular date sagely observe, eighteen hundred years ago, when men, and angels, and the Son himself did not enjoy the benefit of the superior and increased illuminations of the New Testament. It is different with themselves. They have all the wisdom of the ancients, and of angels, and Christ; and more, too, they have the New in addition to the Old Testament; they have the apostles in addition to the prophets. This, indeed, is one way of accounting for their own superior attainments above men, angels, and Christ himself; and the argument, it is likely, will go a good way to annihilate the scruples of many. But a man of prudence will pause before he leaps into the conclusion here. He would probably oppose serious objections to this argument. Perhaps he would ask, 'Who gave the New Testament?' 'Was it not the Son?' 'And if the Son gave the New Testament, did he reveal any thing there which he himself did not know?' It is important to the character of those who have entered upon discipleship to Christ by obedience to the true gospel, that they have their hopes elevated to the appearing of Christ, and fixed upon the purity, perfection, and glory of his kingdom; but whether an attempt to accomplish this by appealing to an exact and fixed chronology, would not, if successful, be followed by a reaction disastrous to their morals and religion, in the event of a disappointment, deserves solemn deliberation. For the consideration of all the faithful, it ought to be noted that the chronology of the New is, in all its important features, precisely that of the Old Testament. The chronology of the Revelations is Daniel's chronology, and affords no additional light on this part of the question touching the appearing and kingdom of Christ. Let us, then, who advocate original Christianity, preach to the saints for their perfection the second coming of Christ,
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with all its adjuncts, for its own intrinsic merits, its own divine importance alone, and leave the chronological question where Christ and his apostles left it--that is, let us leave it in the moral uncertainty in which they left it, and, in the hope of its speedy occurrence, purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, that whether he comes at midnight, at cock crowing, or in the morning, we may be accounted worthy to stand before him.
"Mr. Miller affirms that this dreadful catastrophe will occur next year--that the present order of things will be arrested in its boasted progress in 1843, and the world come to an end. We will not deny this, and dare not affirm it; but we do affirm that, as the moral lies, not in the chronology of the event but in the event itself, then, whether the Lord comes next year or in the present one, it is our duty to prepare ourselves and our families for this awfully momentous event. Do we desire that our children should go to heaven, that they should share in the glory to be revealed? What, then, if it should be written on to-morrow's sun, with the pen of midnight darkness, that "time should be no longer." Have you, reader, any rational or scriptural assurance that the Lord will accept your children with yourself? Were the sign of the Son of man now to appear in heaven, would you exult? would you say, 'My redemption draweth nigh?' Where are your deeds of charity? where your acts of munificence to the poor? Have you fed his hungry ones and given the cup of cold water to his thirsty saints? Have you clothed the naked, visited the sick, and lodged the stranger? Or has your obedience been of a positive nature rather than a moral one? Have you only to say, 'Lord, I have been baptized' -- 'I have eaten and drunken at thy table!'"
In 1844, Mr. Scott left Carthage, where he had spent some thirteen laborious and useful years, and
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returned to Pittsburg, the scene of his early labors. Here he published a weekly paper, styled the "Protestant Unionist," which was well supported and did good service, especially in advocating the union of all the people of God on the Bible alone as the rule of faith and practice. He preached for both the church in Pittsburg and for the much larger congregation in Alleghany City. He paid much attention also to the instruction of a class of young men in biblical knowledge, some of whom became able ministers of the Word.
He also, for a considerable length of time, did service as a "colporteur;" he had heard of the great good achieved in Europe, through the agency of the humble men who carried the Bible into every hamlet and cottage, leaving a copy wherever it was needed, with money for it or without price, as the particular case required, and reading to those who were unable to read the precious truths of the Word of Life; and the example seemed one worthy of imitation and that might result in great good. Taking a basket well filled with Bibles and Testaments, he visited those parts of the two cities most likely to be destitute of the Scriptures, and actually found many without a copy of the Word of God. All who needed a Bible received one, and his experiences at the close of each day's labor in this field were interesting in the extreme. His basket of Bibles served as an introduction to professors of every name, and in many families where the Bible was read and loved he was long and lovingly detained; aged saints were strengthened and comforted as he read and commented on the book they loved, and the young were delighted and charmed
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with the wondrous conversational eloquence of a man who had drunk deep into the Spirit of the Book he was striving to circulate. He met with kind treatment from all classes, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans; all bade him God-speed, and gave him a warm welcome whenever he came back; and had the history of the events of those days been preserved, it would have formed one of the most delightful chapters in his eventful life.
He met with some reverses of fortune about this time, but they were regarded as light, as he never had much to lose, and never set his heart upon what he had. The chief of these losses was by the great fire in 1845, which was somewhat against him by delaying the issue of his paper, which, however, he was soon able to resume. An account of that terrible conflagration was given in an "extra" of the "Protestant Unionist," which we subjoin:
"TERRIBLE VISITATION."Like the broad river whose silent flow renders us insensible to the sources whence it derives its waters, the ordinary providences of God are so mild and equable that they frequently lull us to repose, and fail to make us feel that the Most High either pervades them with his presence or controls them by his power. It is when his judgments, like the mountain torrent, come 'rushing amain down,' that man is made sensibly alive to his glory. If night shines forth in unsullied beauty -- calm, broad, and glorious, mortals rightfully indeed, but thoughtlessly alas! embrace its sacred repose, and softly dream away the lee-long night; but if the Eternal pitch his tent in the heavens; if he make his pavilion round about him dark waters and thick clouds of the sky; if he flies upon the wings of the wind, and the
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stars are the dust of his feet, men are wakeful, they tremble and are afraid, and confess a present God. When Morn enthrones herself on the brow of heaven, arrayed in glory and beauty, heralded by the throng of woodland voices, fanned by scented breezes, her feet washed in the dews of night; when Flora scatters her path with flowers, and the whole earth is responsive to her all-cheerful voice, mortals are entranced with the beauty and sublimity of nature. But does she come on in clouds and storms? Does she array herself in bickering lightnings, and speak to the nations in peals of thunder? then men stand aghast, they are aroused, and lose their sense of the sublime and beautiful in their reverence for Him
"These moralizings are preliminary to recording one of the most calamitous and fearful conflagrations that ever invaded the streets of any city. One fourth of Pittsburg is a heap of ruins -- absolutely consumed by fire, so that, with one of old, we may say, 'Behold and see, all ye that pass by, whether there be any sorrow like unto our sorrow wherewith the Lord hath afflicted us in the day of his
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fierce anger.' Almost sixty broad acres of our dear city have become a wilderness, in which nothing is beheld but stacks of chimneys, shattered colonnades, pillars of blackened stone, unshapely fragments of ruined workshops and overthrown factories, the leaning relics of ruined temples, edifices, and public buildings, now, alas! no more!
"The field of this mighty devastation lies in the form of an isosceles triangle, the Monongahela River, for more than a mile in extent, constituting the base, and the other two sides, commencing at the two extremes of this line, running diagonally into the heart of the city, and meeting in a common point somewhere near the court-house. The vast area embraced in this regular figure is said to have included 12 or 1500 houses and public edifices, not one of which is left unconsumed. All are reduced to indistinguishable ruin -- overthrown, broken down to the ground, burnt to ashes.
"Ferry Street commences at the Monongahela River, and extends thence in a direction toward the Alleghany River. It was near the Monongahela terminus of Ferry Street the great conflagration commenced. It is ascertained to have originated in an ice-house, whence in the lapse of a few hours it spread its destructive flames with fearful effect over the whole immense area already described.
"We could wish to communicate to the readers of the 'Protestant Unionist' some adequate idea of the whole extraordinary scene, and of some points in it in particular, but our faculties are unequal to the task. The broad acres, as they were convulsed by the fiery deluge and swept by the whirlwind of flame, presented a scene so vast and awful, and in some points so inconceivably grand and terrific, as to defy all our feeble powers of description. The ocean of tumult and fire would have supplied matters and marvels for the faculties of Dante or Milton. At first vigorously opposed, repressed, and hemmed in by the efforts of the firemen, the conflagration progressed but slowly, but at one
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o'clock the wind, veering round two points against the city, and, arming itself with the strength and fury of a tempest, spread the fire abroad with amazing rapidity, and, by inflamed shingles, fagots, and burning fragments of windows, doors, and casings, inoculated with the burning contagion every thing within the precincts already described! Let the reader imagine what a flood of fire that must have been whose fuel was supplied with all that was combustible in 1200 houses, offices, temples, workshops, academies, universities, market-places, and manufactories! Then it was the affrighted populace might be seen fleeing from their inflamed vicinities like a flock of sheep, happy to outstrip the fiery storm that pursued them, and consumed without remorse all they owned of earthly goods! Hundreds were beggared in an hour! 'O Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, thou art the potter; we are all the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity forever; behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.'
"The burning of Mr. Bakewell's glass-house was a splendid and affecting scene in the drama of the great conflagration; but the Monongahela House, as it passed through the fiery ordeal, presented to the eye and the feelings the most awful and exiting spectacle. We beheld the destruction of this great ornament of our city with lively anguish. It was five stories, and extended in breadth across an entire square. The flying fagots first seized upon the wood casing of the brass cupola with which the building was surmounted. In fifteen minutes it flamed like a Pharos on the lofty pile, then burning shingles struck against the eaves of the building, which kindled with amazing rapidity, and the house forthwith was corniced with fire. In ten minutes more, flames began to ascend from the roof. The windows burned, and burst, and broke. The flames were speedily seen devouring the interior; they seized upon the doors and floors, the internal casings, and all the various articles
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of furniture with which this spacious hotel was enriched. The most tempestuous conflagration now pervaded the entire house; and while the interior raged like a volcano, the west corner and west side were lashed with unequaled fury by flames from the adjacent warehouses; the whole edifice trembled to its foundation; its floors sunk, its doors and windows vanished like a dream; its walls fell, and in an amazing brief space of time it came forth from the terrible ordeal the unshapely ruin which is now seen where the once celebrated Monongahela House so lately reared its head. The Lord have mercy upon us. It was a fearful sight to behold! We are mortals of a day.
"We never before witnessed any spectacle so extraordinary as the conflagration of the Monongahela bridge. A few fagots first dropped upon the roof of the structure at the end of the bridge next the city; they burnt through it in a moment, and falling, with other inflamed matter, upon the immense quantities of furniture which had been thrust into the bridge for safety, fired them instantly. This caused a great and sudden expansion, and the bridge became a vast funnel, through which the streaming atmosphere roared with the noise of thunder. It must be remembered, however, that all the phenomena here were short-lived truly, for the whole affair was over in twelve minutes! A leader of smoke without, preceded by a train of fire within, ran along the eaves of the structure and in its course fired the whole length of the bridge. It crossed the river in seven and a half minutes. The floor of the bridge now poured downward toward the surface of the water a vast volume of dark, black smoke. This the winds turned upward under the bridge, so that the whole inflamed fabric seemed to rest upon this as a basis; and while the entire frame, yet unbroken, glowed with scarlet brightness, it seemed some aerial machine panting to ascend on its black yet gracefully fashioned basis of cloud to some destined ethereal port in the heavens. But lo! in a moment all
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the phenomena are reversed, changed; the scarlet weather-boarding and the roof are for an instant powdered over with white ashes, the whole is then convulsed suddenly and bursts like a bubble; then the timbers crack and break, and the flaming arches in quick succession and with fearful combustion descend in horrid ruin to the bosom of the river. 'O Lord, all our righteousness is as filthy rags, and we do all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have carried us away.' 'Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we are weak.'
"But while we have seen the monuments of our civic greatness yield in succession to the devouring flame; while we have witnessed much of what was magnificent, beautiful, and excellent in our city reduced to ashes; while we have beheld banks, offices, churches, academies, and whatever commanded the admiration of foreigners, or formed objects of just satisfaction to our own citizens, consumed by fire, much is there, nevertheless, in the whole calamity to excite our gratitude. Very few lives have been lost; much sympathy has been excited in behalf of the sufferers, and a new and vast field has been opened for the liberality, love, and best feelings of the philanthropist and the Christian. Let it not be with us, as with those of whom it is said, 'They repented not to give him glory.' 'Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt us in due time.' Let us take with us words and come and say, 'Take away our iniquities and receive us graciously; heal our backslidings and love us freely.' And the Lord will be to us 'as the dew.' We shall 'grow as the lily,' and shall 'cast forth our roots as Lebanon.' The Lord grant that all our citizens may hear, and fear, and rely upon the Lord, and make him their fear forever!"
LIFE OF ELDER WALTER SCOTT.
In addition to all the labors we have mentioned, others were added; after being a few years in the city he was chosen as bishop or elder of the Alleghany Church, which imposed upon him the new cares and duties growing out of the oversight of the flock. For those duties he was admirably fitted; few men ever took a more sympathetic heart into the house of mourning than he, or ministered more tenderly to broken hearts the consolations of the gospel of peace. He well knew, too, how to deal with the erring, and he was greatly successful in bringing back to the fold the wanderers that had strayed. His heart was in his work, and this made it pleasure rather than toil....
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