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The Calvinistic Baptists were organized early, probably not long after the Presbyterians. We don't propose, however, to give a history of their church, nor of any of their preachers except Mr. Newport, and of him it is with regret we state that our material is so limited and imperfect. The generation of to-day know of him only by tradition, but that tradition, shaped as it may be, proves that its subject was a person of high public interest. The Rev. Richard Newport first began preaching for the Baptists of this country about 1839 or 40. His energy and great ability soon made him the pride and idol of his brethren. He could hold the largest congregations for three hours at a stretch and then stop from exhaustion only. He read the Bible much, having little or no school education, entertained the opinion that all other book knowledge was useless; that the concentration of mind and thought upon sacred subjects, matured and strengthened the light and power of spiritual discernment in God's elect. This opinion on the subject of spiritual illumination, so common then, and for what we know popular yet, had convinced Mr. Newport that he had received a divine call to preach the gospel;


and believing that a divine call meant pure and unadulterated Calvinism, he held, therefore, that the Armenian's claim to the same office by the same process was a fraud and a swindle.

The right of private judgement on things divine has been popular for centuries, but even among the Baptists and other kindred faiths it has had its disadvantages. The neophyte may happen to have a good opinion of himself or rather of his powers of discernment, and as he reads along he is liable to make discoveries. Discoveries new and important to himself and worth telling to the church, as he supposes. After hearing Mr. Newport on one occasion, we witnessed a member rise and read to the congregation, an "Article of Faith" of his own composition, which was respectfully referred for future action. In a farmer's house we once picked up and looked into an eighty page pamphlet, setting forth Elder Daniel Parker's views or proofs of his "two seed" doctrine. As we laid it back on the table, the owner remarked, "I believe every word in that discourse to be true." This monstrosity prevailed among the Baptists for "a year and a month and for a week and a day."

Mr. Newport's powers of invective together with his intemperate habits naturally caused criticism, probably the best advertisement he could have had. His answer was a denial in general, coupled with the consolation that the world ever had since the Apostles' day, and ever would hate light and the truth, and therefore would persecute and lie about its ministers. He rejoiced that he was held worthy of the world's hatred, for his reward would be the greater. On this subject we once heard him say "I say," and he repeated it, "I say any man must be a start-natur'l fool who will go out into the world calkerlatin' to preach


the gospel in its purity, and expect at the same time to be popular." Mr. Newport showed considerable skill in his treatment of his audiences. He usually commenced his sermons in a rambling sort of "point no point" talk without a Bible. His great memory served every purpose, as he quoted a passage here and there he gradually warmed up, getting deeper and deeper as he went. Finally he would blunder accidentally as it were upon a passage or word, and forthwith take it for a text. The longest sermon we ever heard him preach was upon the word "Salvation." Of course we cannot attempt to reproduce anything about it except a few of our faded impressions. This subject he held to be one of superior importance, and the momentous question would occur, he said, to the hearer, what is it and how is it attained? On the latter point he assumed and proved that his views ("hard shell," as people call them,) were correct, and as a matter of course all others were erroneous. Warming up with his work, he thoroughly condemned the timid and weak-kneed, halters between two opinions, among whom he enumerated the Presbyterians and what he designated as bastard Baptist sects. He called them lame ducks — maimed and blind — and finally consigned them to "shame and everlasting contempt." He next took hold of the Armenian for whom he entertained neither respect nor consideration, and in a very brief space of time ground him to absolute powder. Having cleared this rubbish out of his way as he called it, there then opened up to him as it were, bright lights and a clear sky, a new heaven and a new earth, which he pictured with a rapidity of utterance and earnest vehemence, that sent the froth and saliva from him over a portion of the audience. Swaying his great massive frame to and fro, he broke into a song of praise and triumph, passing thence into a recitative rhapsody, the tones of his voice rising and falling as he proceeded in regular cadence with the notes and bars of his refrain. Thus he held his audience spellbound till exhaustion compelled him to stop.

It is claimed as a matter of history, that preaching in this style — the "Sing Song" or "Tone," as the vulgar call it — took its


origin with a Presbyterian clergyman in the valley of Virginia, about 1740 or 50. Holding, however, to the opinion that as here is nothing new under the sun, this curious mode of preaching — which was successfully used also by the late Rev. John Shields — has in our opinion, its prototype in the liturgy of he Episcopal and Catholic churches. He who visits a Jewish synagogue will recognize in the ancient service of that people, much that is similar. The Psalms of David are an example, and the song of Miriam no doubt had its power in the same musical measure.

Mr. Newport lived in what is called the "rich woods" of dark county. There he followed farming for a living, for he held in accordance with the faith of his brethren, that it was wrong to receive pay for preaching; hence his ministrations were literally without money and without price." In his clerical services we had noticed in him as it were, two different acquirements. Whilst his discourses or sermons were, as the reader may have inferred, delivered in his vernacular — the south-western lingo of that day — his prayers on the contrary were moulded in the purest of scripture language. We have heard him often; once in particular at the residence of the elder Mrs. Sargent, where in a prayer of nearly twenty minutes in length, he committed not one error, either in grammar or expression.

It is said that one of the rules of the Baptist society, forbids its members from joining any other society not in affiliation with it. Unanimously, as it seems, these very excellent people disapprove of temperance societies, whilst at the same time their individual views or reasons on the subject, are various and sometimes very curious. We will mention two. The late Rev. John Shields held, as he once stated to us, that he regarded the existence of Sunday school and temperance organizations, as an evidence of the "last days," and as a forerunner of the Apocalyptic beast. Mr. Newport and very many others held that the evils and temptations of life were decreed and necessary tests of virtue — probationary training — and should be met in open field, with a square front, instead of avoiding or sneaking by them. It was in accordance with this lofty sentiment that the vestals of "virgins" of the primitive church acted. In the elegant language of


Gibbon "they permitted priests and deacons to share their beds, to prove to themselves and the world that their virtue was invulnerable." "Be strong," was the rallying cry of Tecumseh in his last battle. "Resist the adversary and he will flee from you." This is the premise; what is the corollary? "Alas for poor human nature." Mr. Newport was not equal to the occasion in his encounter with corn juice; like the ancient "virgins," he came out of the hand to hand contest second best. His ability to perform the acrobatic feat, of taking just enough and no more, was conceded to be an impossibility.

Not long after his removal to Missouri, the rumor came back that he had there joined a temperance society. This astonishing news proved true, and we have learned from a reliable source, that he gave the following curious reason for it: Having once made an appointment to preach at a certain point, he thought it best before starting, to take into him a good dose of "fortification" by way of a stiffener. As he proceeded on his way he discovered that he had taken too much, and rode on very slowly hoping the effects would pass off in time for his appointment. Getting worse instead of better, and deeming himself unfit to appear before the people, he sought the friendly shelter of a deserted cabin by the road side. Hitching his horse he entered this lonely abode. It had no shutter to the door, no chinkin in the walls, no floor nor roof. Underneath him were the old sleepers, above him were the bare ridge poles. The sun was high and he thought he would wait. Stretching himself between two sleepers with his head to the shady side of the wall, he fell asleep, and dreamed of snakes, and toads, and bats and other harmless creatures. Finally he dreamed that the Devil had come for him, and that he could distinctly hear the sound of his wings. Filled with terror and alarm he awoke; the sun was just then setting, its last rays were coming in through the open logs of the house, and the shades of evening were fast closing in. A slight noise caused him to look up, and there perched upon the ridge pole sat a turkey buzzard peering and looking down upon him


with evident curiosity. The association of his dream with that foul bird, and his own shame and degradation filled him with horror. The idea that he had been mistaken for carrion transported him, not aloft but to the valley of humiliation, and so gathering himself up he put back home. He signed the pledge the next day, and it is a matter of fact and rejoicing for his old friends to know that he adhered to it and at last filled a sober man's grave.