Religious Discussion between Elder Richard M. Newport and Mr. Anderson

Russellville, Ky., April 22, 1839.

"On my way towards Tennessee, after staying a night with my venerable brother and faithful defender of the truth, Elder John Bobbitt, I reached Hopkinsville. There is no Old School Church in this town, and my friends did not think proper to solicit the New School Baptist for their meeting house; but made application to the Old Side Presbyterians, who cheerfully gave the use of their house; which at the ringing of the bells was filled with an attentive audience. I preached a plain old fashioned sermon to them. When I was done, and had dismissed the congregation, a Mr. Anderson arose and announced to the congregation that, on tomorrow night he would take notice of the discourse delivered tonight. I asked him, "Sir, in taking notice of the discourse delivered tonight, do you wish an opponent?" He answered, "Yes, I do." I then gave notice that I would stay, and attend to what notice the gentleman would take of my discourse. Accordingly we met at the Campbellite's house next evening, with a congregation which crowded every corner and avenue. Mr. Anderson addressed them at considerable length, and strove hard to build up the tottering and fanciful fabric of Campbellism; but to my astonishment, he scarcely touched the discourse I had delivered the evening before. He only occasionally made even an allusion to it, and I found that he did not understand even the first rule of a logical process of investigation. I replied in an address of an hour and a half, and then told Mr. Anderson that I was willing to let the people judge between us, and I advised him to leave the matter just where it was. I believe he would have been willing to have taken the advice; but his friends were unwilling to let the matter rest where it was, they therefore urged him on. I told him that I did not consider that the cause for which I pled had sustained any injury at all; but if he thought his had, and that he could better it, he should be gratified with a further trial. We met next morning, and I expected a long heat from his bundle of notes, as he stated that he had matter enough to occupy a whole week. The arrangement was all his own. He stated his own propositions, and named the time when each should speak; which was 30 minutes each alternately. He led the way in order to build up the grand pillars of his fanciful system, which were briefly these: 1st. The sufficiency of the written word without the Holy Spirit. 2nd. The universality of the atonement; and 3rd. That all men by properly using the means in their power may be saved and become immortal. I have not the original before me, and therefore only attempt to state the substance. Between one and three o'clock, the Board adjourned for dinner. After which Mr. Anderson closed his week's work by speaking a little more than half his second hour. I then briefly recapitulated my former arguments; made a few additional remarks, and closed the discussion by announcing to the people that I would preach at candlelight, which I did, to a large and well composed congregation. I will only add, the discussion between Mr. Anderson and myself was conducted in an entirely friendly manner, and I believe we parted with mutual feelings of friendship and respect. The three gentlemen who presided on the occasion, are justly entitled to my most unfeigned respect; and the citizens generally of the town and vicinity, I shall bear in respectful remembrance, however much, many of them may differ from me in doctrinal sentiments. Their treatment towards me was every way respectful, and their conduct on the occasion highly honorable to themselves. Mr. Anderson has been somewhat in the habit of challenging, but hitherto had met with no opponent; and all parties were pleased to find him at length fully gratified. As to the merits of the debate, the people, and will judge of that. I only venture to predict that hereafter, an Old School Baptist preacher may pass through Hopkinsville and preach without the least apprehension of an attack from Mr. Anderson." Signs of the Times, 1839.

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