Phillip Slater Fall
Biographical Sketch Of The Life
Of P.S. Fall
Philip S. Fall was
the eldest of twelve children. He was born at Keloedon, England, in September,
1798. He came with his father's family to the United States in 1817 and located
near Russellville, Ky. His father and mother both died the following year and
left him, at the age of nineteen, to become the head of the family. The new
duties and responsibilities weighed heavily upon him. He had been well educated
in England before coming to the United States.
was possessed with rare mental gifts of the highest order, and supplemented
these by a liberal education in the common branches of that day. He is described
as being "dignified without presumption and affable without
familiarity." He was commanding in person and courtly in address.
He was pure in heart and clean in life and loved God and man. He was
admirably fitted for the exalted work of his dual calling teacher of the young
and a preacher of the gospel. He was refined in manners and unblemished in
character, possessing cogent reasoning powers. He was clear in his enunciation
and remarkably correct in his use of words.
His career as an educator began in 1818, when he established an academy
near Louisville, Ky. He conducted this institution of learning with marked
success for some time. In the same year he united with the Baptist Church. He
been a member of the Baptist Church in England. In 1819 he was ordained as a
preacher in the Baptist Church. He married Miss Annie Bacon in 1821. She was a
member of a distinguished Kentucky family. The same year he received a call to
preach monthly to a small congregation of Baptists who were meeting and
worshiping in the courthouse in Louisville. In 1823 he moved to the city of
Louisville and established a school there, and at the same time continued
preaching for the Baptist Church.
In 1824 he was led by the writings of A. Campbell to study prayerfully
the New Testament Scriptures. He soon became convinced that the New Testament
was a sufficient guide in all matters of religion. He led his congregation to
adopt the New Testament as the guide and to follow the principles revealed
therein, and the entire congregation put away the Baptist creed.
In 1825 he came to Nashville, Tenn., and in 1826 began to preach
for the Baptist Church in Nashville. His views in regard to the Baptist
Church and the teachings of the teachings of the New Testament were known in
Nashville before he was asked to preach for the Baptist Church. He would not
accept the work with the Baptist Church, without the privilege and liberty to
express fully his views in regard to the New Testament teachings. Soon the
congregation in Nashville, with but few exceptions, adopted his views, and from
that beginning a church after the New Testament order began and has continued in
Nashville until the present time. He continued to labor with this congregation
until 1831. During this time he occupied a chair in the Nashville Female
Academy, a time-honored institution of learning.
In the winter of 1823 he delivered a discourse to
a large audience at Frankfort, Ky., in which he traced out clearly the
difference between the law of Moses and the gospel. This discourse displeased a
great many of his Baptist friends and Baptist preachers. He gradually came into
the full light of the New Testament teaching, and as gradually left the
principles of the Baptist Church. He became the first resident Baptist preacher
in Kentucky to take his stand openly in favor of the simple New Testament
church. He organized the first church according to the New Testament pattern in
Louisville. He was a great admirer of Mr. Campbell because of his great learning
and the humble respect that he had for the word of God. When Mr. Campbell
visited Louisville for the first time, he called at the residence of Mr. Fall.
He had already had some correspondence with Mr. Fall, but had never met him. Mr.
Fall describes Mr. Campbell's visit as follows: "After a slight repast, he
attended our regular Friday night meeting. The services were opened by me, by
singing the hymn, 'The Law by Moses Came,' etc., and prayer. Brother Campbell, a
total stranger, was then asked to address the audience. My schoolroom was well
filled, and five Presbyterian ministers were present. Brother Campbell read a
portion of the Epistle to the Hebrews and spoke nearly two hours, every person
present giving him the utmost attention. His method of reading the Scriptures,
of investigating their truths and of exhibiting their statements, was so
entirely new and so perfectly clear as to command the respect, if not the
approval, of all that listened."
On account of ill health, Mr. Fall left
Nashville in 1831 and returned to Kentucky and unpopular. He did not care for any fee or earthly reward, but preached
"the unsearchable riches of Christ" because he loved the truth and the
salvation of souls. He did not try to please men, but sought always to follow a
course which would give him the approval of his own conscience.
The church which he had planted and trained
in Nashville was torn by dissensions and reduced to a feeble remnant of his old
congregation, its membership dwindling to twenty-five, and in 1858 he was
recalled to Nashville. He came and brought about peace, uniting the different
discordant elements. He did a great work for the cause of Christ in Nashville.
He remained in Nashville working with the church until 1877, when, through age
and infirmity, he resigned his work to others who were younger and stronger. The
church at this time had a membership of more than six hundred. To Philip S. Fall
much is due for the permanent establishment of the cause of Christ in Nashville.
He was a clear, logical speaker, and withal possessed a thorough knowledge of
the Bible. He had a great mind and a greater heart. He was eloquent in speech,
and still more eloquent in the pure, simple, clean life which he lived. He often
declared: "This life is not and should not be regarded as a preparation for
death. Let men prepare for life, not for death. But one man was ever born to
die, and he was the Son of God, who died that life might triumph over
death." He was positive in his convictions and courageous in maintaining
them. He was tolerant of differences and encouraged liberty of thought and
speech. He was tender, yet brave; gentle, but firm. Such a character impressed
for good all with whom he associated. His sincerity, integrity, purity,
simplicity, and goodness helped to make him a great man among his fellows. His
honesty of purpose commanded the respect of all who opposed him and begat love
from all who admired him. One has beautifully said of him: "His footsteps
were guided by the light of heaven, the rays of which seemed reflected as if to
guide those of others in the shadowy paths of earth."
history of the churches of Christ in Nashville and Tennessee would not be
complete without a history of the labors of Philip S. Fall. He was a pioneer for
the New Testament order of things in Nashville. It was through his influence
that Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell visited Nashville. He did not take
part in the public debates that were frequent in those days, but he was in full
sympathy with them and gave all the encouragement to that kind of public work
for the church of our Lord. He had no sympathy for error and hated sin in every
form. He wrote frequently for the press, and his written efforts were, like his
spoken messages, simple and strong; and they will hold a place in the literature
of the church as long as elegance of style, purity of thought, and the graces of
diction are appreciated.
After giving up the work in Nashville in 1877, he returned to his Kentucky home
and spent his declining years in peaceful retirement and meditation. He preached
occasionally as his strength would permit and wrote frequently for the papers.
Philip Slater Fall passed from labor to rest, December 3, 1890, in the ninety-third
year of his age. He lived a long, useful life, and retained his mental vigor
unto the end. He was buried at Frankfort, Ky. He left four children, Prof. James
S. Fall, Mrs. Taylor, and Miss Carrie Fall, of Frankfort, and William R. Fall,
Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo
Boles, Gospel Advocate Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 1932, pages 86-90
Location Of P.S. Fall's Grave
P.S. Fall is buried
in one of our nation's most beautiful and prestigious cemeteries, Frankfort
Cemetery. It is set on the cliffs above the Kentucky river across from the
downtown area of Frankfort. Many dignitaries are buried there, of which the most
prominent was none other than Daniel Boone. Fall is buried very close to Boone's
grave. After entering the cemetery follow the signs to the grave of Daniel
Boone. Continue past until you see the Revolutionary Section on the right. Stop
there and Fall's grave is across the drive back to your left. While parked there
be sure to visit the Daughters Of The Revolutionary War Section where Rev. John
Gano, grandfather of John
Allen Gano, is buried. (On the map at the entrance of the cemetery, Fall is
shown to be buried in Section M, Number 24 on the tour) For directions to
Frankfort and the Cemetery be sure to see the map hyperlink below.