History of the Restoration Movement


 The Work And Influence Of

Barton Warren Stone



A. Background to the Kentucky Revival of the early 1800’s.

1. Around 1796, 97 many denominational preachers were questioning their orthodox backgrounds.

2. Richard McNemar wrote letters to Malcolm Worley.

a. Recorded in “The Kentucky Revival” by McNemar

b. Letters that included foreign views from the Bible.

1) e.g. One preacher wrote that his sin was greatest among sinners, deserving God’s wrath.

2) e.g. One preacher wrote, “If some people are spotted with sin, I’m spotted all over.”

3) e.g. One preacher thought the world was doomed and waiting on the wrath of God to be revealed and that when God came back he was going to cast everyone into hell.

4) Others thought themselves unworthy of any blessing from God.

3. These were Presbyterian beliefs.

B. The Religious Mood Around The End Of the 18th Century.

1. There were groups around the country that had reached an all-time low ebb of faith.

a. Complacent, Cold/go-thru-the-motions type religion was present.

b. Apathy was strongly felt around the country.

2. In The Northeastern part of the U.S. there were the Puritans “Congregationalists”

a. “Congregationalists” - Each congregation was autonomous.

b. Their worship and lifestyle was cold, formalistic.

c. They went to church because it was expected of them.

d. Faith for many was not their own.

e. Religion was stale.

3. Catholicism

a. Ritualism

b. Stale Worship

c. No feeling in worship.

d. Counted beads, and quoted meaningless repetitions of prayers, etc.

4. Much like today in some cases with the church of our Lord.

a. Could be the reason some have moved away beginning unscriptural practices.

b. Change movement.


I. The Revival

A. James McGready – 1760-1817

1. He was a different kind of Presbyterian preacher.

2. He was developing difficulty toward the Westminister Confession of Faith.

3. He had problems with Calvinistic doctrines upon which WCoF was based.

a. e.g. Once Saved Always Saved.

b. e.g. Doctrine of Predestination.

c. That there is nothing one can do about one’s eternal destiny.

4. Presbyterianism - A short recount of its history.

a. Began in Geneva, Switzerland in the 1530’s under John Calvin.

b. Later in the 1550’s John Knox took it to Scotland starting the Church of Scotland.

c. Later the Church of Scotland was brought to Americas and called the Presbyterian Church.

5. McGready Background

a. Born in Pennsylvania

b. Moved to Guilford County, North Carolina around the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

c. Attended David Caldwell’s school.

d. Later finished his theological studies at Dr. John McMillan’s log college in western Pennsylvania.

e. Initially licensed by the Redstone Presbytery – August 13, 1788

f. 1789 – Moved back to N.C. and was licensed under Orange Presbytery.

g. McGready’s preaching brought opposition by many Presbyterians to the point that they burned his pulpit and sent him a threatening message written in blood.

h. One of the first preachers that impressed the young Barton W. Stone who was attending David Caldwell’s school beg. Feb. 1, 1790.

i. McGready moved to Logan County, Kentucky, 1796

“A hearer in Logan County said, ‘that McGready could almost make you feel that the dreadful abyss of perdition lay yawning beneath you, and you could almost hear the wails of the lost and see them writing as they floated on the lurid billows of that hot sea of flame in the world of woe. His voice, too, was like a trumpet; you could hear it with ease several hundred yard, nor was it harsh or uncomfortable when pronouncing the anathemas of God against men; it came rushing up like the voice of many waters; but when he went to describe the love of God or the Celestial City, it dies away on the air like the symphonies of an Aeolian harp, and its sweet sounds lingered long after the voice of the speaker was silent.’ ”

Finley, Alexander C., History of Russellville, Kentucky, p.12

5. McGready went from town to town in southern Kentucky preaching one. could do something about his own soul if he chose.

a. Preach repentance - not baptism for remission of sin.

b. So, if we can repent, then Calvin’s doctrine falls apart.

c. This made the gospel available to all men, not just the “predestined”

6. Also consider the problems of "religious experience."

B. To Logan County, Kentucky - 1796

1. Logan County was called by Peter Cartwright, a Methodist preacher, “The Devil’s Den”

2. People who were outcasts from society went there to live.

a. Thieves; b. Robbers; c. murderers; d. counterfeiters;

3. McGready came to a meeting house just north of Adairville off US 431 about 3 or 4 miles on the Red River.

a. Began preaching there and the people got religion.

b. Those old heathens began repenting of their sins and turning to God.

c. It was a revival. People realized they had hope.

4. He preached at other meeting houses:

a. Gasper River Meeting House

b. Mud River Meeting House

5. The mainline Presbyterians rejected him.

6. Fall of 1800 – One young Presbyterian preacher 100 miles north heard about his efforts and came to see what was being done. He was B.W. Stone.

C. Barton Warren Stone

1. A little background.

a. Born in 1772 at Port Tobacco, Maryland

b. 5th generation descendant to William Stone, (first protestant governor of Maryland, 1648-53)

c. Father died before Revolutionary War broke out, moved to Pittsylvania Cty. Virginia

d. Educated at David Caldwell’s school beginning Feb. 1, 1790.

1) Arrived there one year after James McGready had been there and converted nearly the whole student body.

e. Taught at Succoth Academy, a Methodist school in Washington, Ga. for one year.

1) Influence by principal, Hope Hull.

2) Hull had been influenced by The O’Kelly movement against Asbury.- 1795

f. Returned to N.C. in 1796 in Alamance Cty. where Stone was converted under the influence of William Hodge. (Presbyterianism)

1) This was the cite of the first Christian Church of the O’Kelly movement.

2) The church where Stone was licensed to preach – Orange Presbytery

g.  After becoming a Pres. minister he moved to Cane Ridge, Ky.

2. Concerning his oath as a Presbyterian minister. - April 6, 1796

a. All who wanted to be a Presbyterian minister had to swear allegiance to the Westminister Confession of Faith.

b. When Stone came to take the oath he said, “I do in as far as it agrees with the Bible.”

c. Remember this was his mindset when he went to see what McGready was doing.

d. When he saw what was going on in Logan County in the fall of 1800 he went back to Bourbon County to plan a similar revival there - at Cane Ridge.

e. July 2, 1801 – B.W. Stone marries Elizabeth (Eliza) Campbell at Greenville, Kentucky – They later have five children.

3. The Revival

a. August 14-19, 1801 (Stone’s Dates) – Others suggest Aug. 7-12.

b. Cane Ridge, a little about its history.

1) It was a hewn out area in a cane break.

2) A few miles east of Lexington, in Bourbon County.

3) Originally discovered by Daniel Boone, named by him.

4) Boone had moved a group from North Carolina to settle there.

5) A meeting house was built there.

c. About 15,000 to 25,000 people showed up.

1) 7 or 8 different preachers could be heard at any time spread out all over the hills around the meeting house.

2) Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterian, etc. from all walks and faiths.

3) People began getting religion, They repented of sin and accepted the Lord.


II. Rejection, Restructuring & Then Restoration.

A. Rejection

1. By 1803 the revival died down a little, but Stone continued preaching.

2. The Presbyterian Church was putting pressure on Stone to quit what he was preaching, and return to mainstream Presbyterianism.

3. He had influenced other preachers:

a. John Dunlavy; b. David Purviance; c. John Marshall; d. Richard McNemar; e. Malcolm Worley; f. John Thompson.

4. The Presbyterians decided that he was to either preach true Presbyterian doctrine or be booted out.

B. Restructuring.

1. These men resigned from their respective Presbyteries: Orange and Washington.

2. They went to Cane Ridge and formed the Springfield Presbytery -

a. There were a number of churches in the area that were included in the Presbytery.

3. They vowed to preach the Bible only.

4. By 1804 they finally realized that all they were doing in restructuring Presbyterianism.

5. Decided to disband the Springfield Presbytery.

C. Restoration.

1. Began With The Last Will And Testament of the Springfield Presbytery of June 28, 1804.

a. Later called, “A most peculiar document.” by another Presbyterian preacher.

b. In it was a call to preach the Bible only.

c. In it was a rejection of the Westminister Confession of Faith.

d. They held that Christians should be called only “Christians” and not denominational names.

2. Began calling themselves “Christians” only at the suggestion of Rice Haggard.

a. His home still stands at Burkeville, Kentucky - Old two story cabin.

b. He was the one who had earlier suggested to (Aug. 4, 1794) James O’Kelly to dissolve the name, “Methodist” and be called “Christians” only.


III. Of John Mulkey, Tomkinsville, Kentucky - 1809

A. The Mulkey Meeting House still stands at Mill Creek - a state park.

B. He was a Baptist preacher.

C. Consider the occasion:

1. One winter day, snow on the ground from the night before.

2. Got up to preach to about 200 people.

3. While preaching out of the book of John (10:28).

a. Could no longer teach the Calvinistic doctrine of Irresistible Grace.

4. Told the church:

a. he couldn’t preach Baptist doctrine anymore.

b. He was leaving out of one door in the building.

c. Anyone who wanted to follow could.

d. 2/3 of cong. followed him out.

e. The other 50 left and went to Tompkinsville, starting the 1st Baptist Ch. of Tompkinsville - still meets today.

f. The 2/3 that walked out took the bldg. and est. the church of Christ.

D. The Old Structure.

1. Preserved by the state of Kentucky - now a state park.

2. Second largest one-room wooden structure in North Americas, 2nd only to Cane Ridge.

3. Grave yard houses one of its members: Hannah Boone, sister the Daniel.

E. Mulkey’s Intentions & Ultimate Outcome.

1. He didn’t originally set out to restore N.T. Christianity when walking out.

2. Later, though, he joined forces with Stone and other in the “Christian” union.

3. Preached and evangelized also in Northern Tennessee.

4. Said by his biographer that John Mulkey, “must have delivered, in the 53 years of his entire ministry, nearly ten thousand discourses, and immersed as many believers.” (The Disciples of Christ, A History, by Garrison pg.287)


IV. The Christian Messenger - Began by Stone in 1826

A. Its Purpose:

1. To teach the Bible.

2. To inform people of groups all around who were trying to restore N.T. Christianity.

B. Its Outcome:

1. It tied the southern churches together with the northern churches.

2. Those on the frontier could feel their efforts were not going unseen. (Encouraging)

3.  It helped the churches to grow.

C. Location: Printed every week from Georgetown, Ky. from Stone’s house. (still standing)


V. Other Works Of Stone

A. Taught In Rittenhouse Academy.

1. A two-room structure that stood until the 1960’s on the campus of Georgetown College, Georgetown, Ky.

2. There he taught men who came to Alabama like:

a. James Matthews

b. Ephraim Moore

c. B.F. Hall

d. and many more.

B. Through His influence other works were united.

1. Old Philadelphia in Warren County, Tennessee who had a spiritual renewal some years before Mulkey.

a. Leaders of different denominations gave up their old doctrines and preached the Bible.

b. The old building still stands.

c. Some who were taught by Stone came down toward Alabama, found this group and others and joined with them and taught the Bible.

d. This united the churches.

2. Came into N.E. Alabama - Bridgeport.

a. The Rocky Springs Congregation est. 1810

b. This is the oldest church in North America that still meets.

c. Has about 40-50 in attendance each Sunday.

d. Oldest in Western Hemisphere.

e. Second oldest in the world.

f. Oldest - Rose Street Church of Christ in Kirkcaldy, Scotland - 1797.

3. Came into Mississippi and established works.

a. Like the old Thyatira Church in N.W. corner of MS.

C. His Students

1. James Matthews

a. Est. 2 congregations in Lauderdale Cty. Alabama

b. At Bartons - out from Florence toward Waterloo.

1) called the Liberty Congregation.

2) Had 156 members at one time.

3) Disappeared during the Civil War.

c. Went on to Mississippi and started others.

d. He became state auditor of Mississippi, serving until his death.

e. His brother, George, was a governor of Miss. in the 1840’s.

f. Buried in DeSoto County, in the N.W. corner of Miss. and is buried there around Hernando.

g. Thyatira was on church he greatly influenced.

h. A student who went to IBC to be trained came from over in the Thyatira area.

1) If he baptized ten people, Stone would be indirectly given some credit.

2) Rev. 14:13 - “Blessed are the dead. . .their works do follow them.”

3) You never know who you may influence who will change the lives of people for generations.

i. e.g. John D. Cox came to Mississippi to preach a gospel meeting, not sure where.

1) Preached his heart out for a week.

2) Went back to Florence having only baptized one little 13 year old girl.

3) Thought the meeting was a failure.

4) That girl grew up to bring four sons into the world who all grew up to preach the gospel.

5) He later said he would “fight” anyone who would say that his meeting was a failure.

6) Her influence may have touched hundreds and thousands of people.

j. Most famous convert was Tolbert Fanning, 1826, Lauderdale Cty., at Republican - later called Stony Point. - Meets today!

1) Republican reported 200 members to Christian Messenger in Dec. 1829.

2. B.F. Hall

a. Began teaching in Alabama in 1826.

b. Married Dorinda Chisholm, daughter of John

c. Baptized D.G. Ligon of Moulton - (Ligon est. church in Moulton)

d. Baptized W.H. Wharton of Tuscaloosa. (Wharton est. church in Tus.)

e. Wrote for Gospel Advocate 1835,36 - (Not Fanning’s paper though Fanning worked in the production of it )

1) Co-edited with J.T. Johnson


VII. Others of Worthy Note Working With Stone.

A. John T. Johnson

1. Brother to Richard Mentor Johnson, who was the 9th Vice President of the U.S.  under Martin Van Buren 1837-41.

a. Colonel in the War of 1812.

b. Reported to have killed Tecumseh during the battle of the Thames.

c. Served Kentucky Legislature & U.S. House of Representatives.

2. Was a Major in the U.S. Army.

3. Studied under Malcolm Worley.

4. Attended Transylvania University, Georgetown, Ky.

5. Served Kentucky Legislature 1815-1819

6. Served U.S. House of Representatives 1820-30

7. Met Stone in 1831.

8. Co-editor of Christian Messenger in Jan. 1832-34 (Three Full Years)

9. Suggested and instrumental in bringing the Stone/Campbell movements together.

10. Died in Lexington, Ky. Dec. 19, 1856

11. Buried at Lexington, Ky. Cemetery

B. Many others will be noted.