« PreviousContinue »
ture of good and evil, of truth and error, to oppose each other. We cheerfully confess that it is much to be regretted that controversy amongst Christians should exist; but it is more to be regretted that error, the professed cause of it, should exist. Seeing then that controversy must exist, the only question is, how may it be managed to the best advantage? To the controversies recorded in the New Testament we must appeal, as furnishing an answer to this question. They were in general public, open, plain, and sometimes sharp and severe. But the disputants who embrace the truth in those controversies, never lost the . spirit of the truth in the heat of conflict; but with all calmness, moderation, firmness, and benevolence, they wielded the sword of the spirit; and their controversies when recorded by impartial hands, breathe a heavenly sweetness, that so refreshes the intelligent reader that he often forgets the controversy, in admiration of the majesty of truth, the benevolence and purity of their hearts.
In the following pages there is detailed a controversy of seven days on a question which to some may appear of very subordinate importance, but, in fact, of very great magnitude, if we view all its bearings and consequences. The substance of the Debate is, We believe, faithfully presented, and not one argument or principal topic of illustration or proof left out, or intentionally withheld. Indeed, to say nothing of the honesty of our motives ; our interest, and our reputation demand that the Debate should be faithfully and impartially exhibited. Our interest is to convince the reader that our views äre correct; now if we either suppressed an argument, or presented it in a weaker form than our opponent did, or than the reader himself would conceive of, we, in that instance, injure ourselves : for so long as the reader thinks that he could have advanced something stronger, so long he Yesists the evidence adduced. Our reputation too is at stake. A very numerous and respectable congregation heard this discussion, and although there were
many enlisted on both sides, yet the number of those that belonged to neither party was very respectable. These were the only umpires, and their testimony is of much more influence, in matters of this rature than either friends or opponents.
As to the means I had of giving the Debate in writing, they were quite sufficient for a person accustomed to writing off discourses from notes taken down when the discourses were delivered, a practice in which I had engaged myself for years. I have, at this time, volumes of discourses in manuscript, which were transcribed from notes taken down in an abbreviated form from public lecturers on languages and sciences, as well as from those called Divines. The I:otes taken of this discussion were unusually volumi
Besides those taken down by myself which were very copious, I was favored with those taken by Bishop. Sidney Rigdon of Pittsburgh, Dr. A. D. Keith of Augusta, and Dr. Augustus Davis of Washington, Kentucky. It is necessary for me to be thus particular, in acquainting the reader with the means which I had in possession of doing justice to the subject. Especially as mr. Maccalla in the Kentucky Gazette of Feb. 19. insinuates that I have not the means of giving the Debate fully and impartially
" he and a few friends took some notes, but not in short hand. My friends did the same. But their assistance would not enable me, nor perhaps any one, to write his arguments accurately and fully." Mr. M. rather holds out the idea in these words, that he has as many notes, or the same means as those which I possess. Yet hë took no notes himself, and all those taken by the Rev. mr. Lyle, and the young divine that took his place, after he quit the ground, from close inspection, were not as lengthy as those which I took myself. And no doubt mr. Maccalla declares the truth when he
" that the assistance of those notes would not enable him, nor any one else to give my arguments accurately and fully.' But this is not all, mr. M. dreading the appearance of this discus.
sion in print, very injudiciously begins to condema it before it appeared : for having prejudged and condemned it before it appeared, he has shewn his determination to decry it when it does appear, and has thus deprived his testimony of that character essential to credibility and authority.*
He complains, in the same publication, that I should have proposed to give the discussion in a volume of 3 or 400 pages with animadversions on sundry works, and that before I knew how lengthy the discussion might be. In reply we observe, that the length of the animadversions depended upon the merits of the controversy. If the controversy took in all the ground usually occupied, the animadversions would then be anticipated or interspersed in the discussion. If it would not, then the animadversions would be the more lengthy. Taking this into view, with the allowance of 100 pages to circumstances, as the Debate might be more or less tedious; and knowing that if a man should talk a year upon the subject, his arguments could not be more numerous, if at all relevant, than to cover the ground enclosed in the prospectus, there was nothing incongrous in the proposed limits of the volume. But now when the work is completed, we can, from the actual result, fully demonstrate, from the face of the volume, the justice and proprie-, ty of our proposals. The Debate ends on page 393. We have put a good deal of matter in small type, which if given in such type as the body of the work, would have brought this volume to nigher 500 than 400 pages.
As it is crowded and disfigured with bre-vier it occupies 420 pages, and, with the exception of the Bible, it is the cheapest religious work published in this country, as respects the quantity of matter and execution. The addition of twenty pages to this work is worth 375 dollars on the whole edition we have printed, at the proposed price of $ 1 25 per volume of 400 pages.
We, then, bestow on the This reminds me of some of the Paido-Baptists in Ohio, who, seven days before the Debate took place, reported, that I was put to silence by mr. Maccalla.
whole edition 6 375 for the sake of doing the most ample justice to our own proposals, and to the cause which we have espoused. Besides we have animadverted as fully on some works viz. those of Pond and Campbell, as though we had named them in our prospectus.
Had we been as contiguous to all those who took notes as we are to mr. Rigdon we should have handed them the sheets when printed, as we have done to him. On perusing the argument on the subject of baptism, on the action, and on the evils resulting from infant sprinkling, he was pleased to furnish us with the following recommendation.
To all whom it may concern : This is to certify that having been present at the Debate in Kentucky, in October last, between blessrs. A. Campbell and W. L. Maccalla, and that beiÁg engaged in taking notes of that discussion, which I handed oxer to A. Campbell, and having read over that disscussion on the subject and action of Christian baptism, now presented to the public in the following pages, I can recommend the same as a fair and full exhibition of both sides of the controversy, of the arguments and topics of illustration, used by the aforesaid gentlemen. May, 4, 1824.
SIDNEY RIGDON. With regard to the length of the speeches on both sides, it is necessary to inform those who did not hear the Debate, that I pronounced more words in a given time than my opponent. I think it will be granted, on all sides, that I pronounced as many words in twenty minutes as he did in thirty. There is not, however, this disparity in the speeches as published, for a greater portion of what I said is abbreviated than of what he said. And as the topics which we were pledged to discuss were chiefly taken up in the first five days, we have given the arguments of those
great length, abbreviating only such matter as had little or no bearing upon the subject; such as the argument from ecclesiastic history, the origin of the modern sects, and such matter as inr. M. introduced having no bearing upon the controversy whatever. Of this the reader will have a full specimen in the 6th and 7th days.
The correspondence which resulted in this discus
sion is fully printed in this work, and is itself the best preface to the volume. It not only fitly introduces the Debate, but it also serves to corroborate the correctness of the narrative given, in as much as the ground proposed by mr. M. and the topics presented in his own letters, are such as appear in my statement of the Debate. Indeed his letters, are letters of recommendation to this work as being faithful and correct. The matter and style of his letters, the views which they exhibit, the spirit which they breathe, admirably correspond with his side of the argument, if We only subtract one consideration, viz. that mr. M.'s talent consists much more in that kind of management and address, that kind of adroitness and etiquette which is manifest in his letters, than in strength of argument, or biblical knowledge.
It would be, perhaps, unbecoming and unnecessary to say any thing about the talents or acquisitions of my opponent. His own letters shew that he was competent, and his speeches evince that his industry and research were adequate, to the task proposed, if his cause had been tenable. But it requires more than Herculean strength to bring something out of nothing. Had mr. M. been on my side and I on his, doubtless, I would have been put to confusion; for I remember to have been vanquished by an old lady when I argued up infant baptism against her. It is true I had something to say, and held on stoutly to the last; but I felt in my own heart that I was defeated; and what mortifxed me no little was, that with all my philosophy and divinity, an old woman's common sense overpowered me.
It may be necessary to inform the reader, that being in the habits of reading and using different translations of the scriptures, as well as sometimes translating for myself, he may sometimes find quotations in this book even where the authorities are not adduced, which may differ from the common version. We believe, however, that, in every instance, where any great emphasis was laid upon any difference of transla'. tion ; either the authority is given, or the translation