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THE CANE RIDGE READER The Biography of Elder…

THE CANE RIDGE READER The Biography of Elder Barton Warren Stone,…

by Hoke S. Dickinson, Editor

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A collection of works by and about Barton W. Stone, the Cane Ridge revival, and the beginnings of the "Stone" part of the Stone-Campbell movement.

Barton W. Stone is the highlight of the book: in it are preserved his autobiography, and a biography by Rogers that picks up where his autobiography leaves off, including preservation of many of the accolades given of Stone after his death. The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery is included as well as its summary defense; thoughts on church governance; and Stone's recollections about the beginning of the movement as written in The Christian Messenger.

The collection does well to show how Stone and his associates came out of the Presbyterian church and for what reasons, along with early conflicts with Calvinists and Shakers, and the ultimate union with the Campbell wing, leading to the full Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. One can see the theological development of Stone as he was given reason to question various beliefs he held as a Presbyterian; one can also see his great heart for Jesus, his ecumenical spirit, and can tell quickly that while Campbell might have been the brains of the movement, he was assuredly its heart.

Notable quotes:

"A word to my brethren in the ministry.-- My dear brethren:-- Permit an old man, now about to leave you, to speak plainly to you. We have a superabundance of hard speeches against us by our sectarian neighbors, without our adding to the number of them. 'Let us love one another; for love is of God.' Not long since I read an address of an Elder to his preaching brethren. It was short, but to the very point, in these words: 'Be humble,-- Be humble,-- Be humble.' I adopt the language and sentiment with application to you. We may get a name among men; but the grave will son bar us from the enjoyment of it--eternal things will eclipse all the dim splendors of time. Avoid all reproachful, irritating language; it genders strife, and cools brotherly love; and may, from small beginnings, end in an exterminating war. We are all poor ignorant, imperfect creatures, and liable to err. If we are wise, we know our ignorance, and therefore can bear the infirmities of a weak brother. Co-operate heartily together, in the great work of saving souls, and of building up Zion. Are you editors? Say and do nothing to the injury of a fellow editor, nor admit into your columns any offensive communications. It will neither add to your celebrity nor interest. 'Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.'" --B. W. Stone (as recorded in The Biography of Barton W. Stone 2.3.10).

"But some, to avoid the odium of setting up their creed, in place of the Bible, call it an imperfect standard...If it is imperfect, we must see the perfect word of God differently from it, or be in error. Would it not be better, to commit this book, which has been so long idolized, to the moles, and to the bats; and take the infallible word of God; ask and obtain his Spirit to understand and practise it? Others again more modest, call creeds and confessions, Helps. But strange and unnatural as it may appear, the help stands first in point of orthodoxy. For a man may be permitted to explain many passages of Scripture differently from his fellows; but if he rejects the common acceptation of one article of this help, he is at once proclaimed a heretic, without ever trying his doctrine by the word of God. God has not recommended any help to understand the Scripture, but his Spirit of wisdom, which he gives liberally to them that ask. Recommending a help, implies that the Scriptures are not sufficiently plain, and that men can remedy that defect;-- that God will not give his holy Spirit, or that it is easier to obtain help from man, than from God. Many have thought that by such helps they could enter into the spirit of the Scriptures. But this is a mistake. Spiritual things can never be understood, until we submit to the teachings of God, by believing in Jesus. Then the Spirit of Christ leads the soul, experimentally into those heavenly truths, and gives him ideas, which he could not obtain otherwise; even though he had all the creeds, and confessions in the world to help him. These helps, while they endeavor to make those understand the exercises of religion, who never experienced them, generally explain away the spirituality of the Scriptures, to accommodate them to carnal reason....That real Christians would be united, if human creeds were laid aside, is evident; because we find, that such do agree, on practical religion, when they enjoy the Spirit of Christ....
But these human aids fail to attain the end designed by them, that is unity. For people soon begin to dispute as much about the meaning of their creeds, as about the Scriptures. And any unity which they do preserve, is like its source, human, barren, unsavory; not like that sweet union of soul, which is produced by the Spirit of God, living in his people. Say, ye that love the Lord, what is it that unites you together? Is it a creed, or the living Spirit of the crucified Jesus?
Some think it not possible for a church to subsist, without a confession of faith. But we think they betray their ignorance, of the uniting, cementing power of living religion. They will tell you, if Christians had always the Spirit of Christ in plentiful effusions, they would not need those aids, which are so necessary, in times of deadness. But we answer, Christ never allowed his church to be without his Spirit, which he gives liberally, and upbraideth not. Therefore, he has made no provision for such a scarcity of his Spirit, as is caused by the indolence of professors. He provided no armour for the back, because he never allowed his followers to turn their backs to the enemy, but to go on from conquering to conquer. The Roman Catholics say, they use their images only as helps, to enliven their faith. But we believe they are a hindrance, instead of a help, and keep the soul away from God. Thus we conceive that confessions of faith, keep the soul away from the word of God. These things we know by experience. That book never helped, but hindered our faith. When we neglected it and followed the Spirit of God, in his word, our minds were enlightened, and our souls were quickened. But when we compared this light, with the confession, they would not agree. We could not withstand God. We chose to hearken to God, rather than men; and therefore, have taken our leave of that book." -B.W. Stone, Remarks on Creeds and Confessions in General.

Highly recommended for investigation into the history of the Stone-Campbell or Restoration Movement. ( )
  deusvitae | Feb 12, 2014 |
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