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Category: Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
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Immediately on obtaining my claim, brethren had sought me out and made my acquaintance, and soon it appeared that there were enough Disciples in the settlement to constitute a church. But the times were stormy, and we delayed making any movement in that direction. It had now come to be the month of June. There had been refreshing showers. The singing birds had come, and the bright sunshine. The prairie had put on its royal robes, the forest its richest garments, and the people had become impatient with their long isolation from religious meetings. The Lord's day was almost ceasing to be the Lord's day to them, and they demanded a sermon. We, therefore, came together in the timbered bottoms of Caleb May's claim, on the banks of the Stranger Creek.

The gathering was primitive and peculiar, like the gathering at a Western camp-meeting--footmen, and men and women on horseback, and whole families in two-horse lumber wagons. Some were dressed in Kentucky-jeans, and some in broadcloth; there were smooth-shaven men and bearded men; there were hats and bonnets of every form and fashion; all were dressed in such ways as best suited their convenience or necessities. In this crowd were those that, as the years should go by, were destined to grow in wealth, in understanding, in popularity and high position, and they should be known as the first in the land.

The singing was not in the highest style of the musical art, but it was hearty and sincere.

Looking up at the thick branches of the spreading elms above our heads I said:

MY FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS:--I have never seen trees clothed with leaves of so rich a green as the trees above our heads, I have never seen prairies robed in richer verdure than the prairies around us.

Since the year of 1832, it has been known that what is called the "Platte Purchase," in Missouri, is the garden spot of the West; and now it is apparent that we have here on the west side of the Missouri River what is the exact counterpart of the Platte Purchase on the east side. It is the same in genial suns, refreshing rains, and unequalled fertility of soil. It is, moreover, true that, owing to the peculiar circumstances under which this Territory will be settled we shall have a population inferior to no population on the face of the earth.

After the deluge was past, God promised enlargement to the sons of Japheth. "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem;" and more than 3,000 years the sons of Japheth have been fulfilling their destiny. They came originally from the mountain regions around Mount Ararat, and moving westward, they have filled all Europe; and these tribes coming from the east have created the modern European nations. The last and westernmost settlement was made on the island of Great Britain, and here they were stopped from further progress by the Atlantic Ocean; and here, after many generations of war, they coalesced and mingled their blood together, and thus became the British nation; and thus out of the commingling of the blood of the most enterprising races that came out of the loins of Japheth has grown that nation, that in all lands has vindicated its right to be known as the foremost nation of the world.

Christopher Columbus discovered America, and now new causes began to operate that called for the planting of new colonies here in America. Martin Luther asserted the right of a man to stand immediately in the presence of the Lord, to be answerable directly to the Lord, and to confess his sins to the Lord alone, and from the Lord to receive pardon, without the intervention of any pope, priest, or ghostly mediator. This was counted by the Catholic Church a horrible blasphemy, and the Diet of Worms was called, and Luther was commanded to appear before it and recant. Presiding over this Diet was Charles V., Emperor of Germany; here were Electors, Princes and crowned heads, popish priests, bishops and cardinals, together with the principal nobility of Catholic Europe--these all came together to compel the recantation of Friar Martin Luther. But Luther said; "Unless I be convinced by Scripture and reason, I neither can nor dare retract anything for my conscience is a captive to God's Word, and it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience," and a great multitude of men in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Great Britain stood beside Luther and protested that they were amenable to the Lord alone, and that they could do nothing against conscience. But these Protestant governments stopped midway between popery and Protestantism; for each of these nations, while renouncing the Pope of Rome, assumed that it was the business of the king to instruct the people what to believe; and so instead of having one pope they had many popes, consequently many Protestant sects; and these took the place of that one apostolic church originally established by the apostles. Notwithstanding, there were some, in all lands that remained steadfast to the principle enunciated by Martin Luther: "Unless I be convinced by Scripture and reason, I neither can nor dare retract"; and so it came to pass that there were Protestant persecutions as well as Catholic persecutions; and so also it came to pass that men became wearied with this intolerance, and determined to seek beyond the Atlantic Ocean a place where they could worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, with none to molest them or make them afraid. It was for such cause that the Puritans settled in New England, the Quakers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Scotch and Irish Presbyterians in North Carolina; and it was for this cause that the French Huguenots, driven out of France by the French king, came to South Carolina. The most notable cause that induced the planting of the thirteen original colonies here in North America was religious persecution in the Old World. And as the oak grows out of the acorn, so out of these colonies has grown this nation of which we are so proud.

Great Britain became more Lutheran than Germany, the native land of Luther, and God lifted the British nation up to become the chiefest nation of the world; the United States of North America became more Lutheran than Great Britain, and the eyes of the world are fixed on us in admiration and astonishment. God blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had, because the ark of God was in it.

But there are spots on the sun, and there are exceeding blemishes in our Protestantism, notwithstanding the fact that the glory of the American people has grown out of it. The image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream had feet and toes, part of iron and part of potter's clay, partly strong and partly broken. So it is with our Protestant sectarianism, and because of it we are partly strong and partly broken. Compare the Protestant United States with Catholic Mexico, or compare Protestant Great Britain with Catholic Spain, and compared with these nations we have the strength of iron, but judged by our sectarianism we have the weakness of miry clay.

My friends and fellow citizens, I have the honor to represent to you a people that have said we will go back to that order of things originally established by Jesus and the apostles--we will make no vow of loyalty to any but Jesus, and we will have no bond of union save the testimonies and commandments of the Lord as given to us by the Lord himself and the holy apostles. Out of this we hope may grow such a union of God's people as Jesus prayed for when he prayed that all Christians might be one. We are striving for such an order of things that Protestants may present a united front against the world, the flesh and the devil, and against all disloyalty to Jesus.

To this appeal men often make reply: "We can not break loose from our religious surroundings, dear to us through life-long and most tender associations." But, my friends, this objection can have no weight with this audience, assembled here on this glorious Lord's day, and on this our first religious meeting. Here we have already broken loose from these associations. These ties, how dear so ever to us, we have already sundered. The people with whom we once met, and with whom we once took sweet counsel, the churches in which we once worshiped, shall know us no more forever. Here we are free to act, and to correct the mistakes that have been unwittingly made by the churches with which we have formerly been connected, just as our American fathers were free to frame a better government than the government of the nations out of which they came.

May I not appeal to you, my friends, and say you owe it to yourselves, you owe it to Christians in every land, you owe it to your Lord, you owe it to the future State of Kansas, to so act as to free the Christian profession from the trammels that have hindered its progress and glory ever since the days when our divisions began. If Protestantism seas done so much in spite of all its divisions, what will it not do if these hindrances are taken out of the way?

Kansas is certainly predestinated to be a great State. The fertility of its soil, the healthfulness of its atmosphere, and the fact that its population is to be made up from the bravest, most daring and most enterprising men in the nation, all look in this direction; you ought, then, my friends, to see to it that as far as your influence may go its religion shall be nothing less than primitive and apostolic Christianity.

In ascertaining what is primitive and apostolic Christianity, we shall pay supreme respect to the time when the old or Jewish dispensation came to an end, and when the new or Christian dispensation began. The first, or Jewish dispensation, Jesus took out of the way, nailing it to the cross. The second, or Christian dispensation, began after Jesus arose from the dead and ascended up on high, far above the thrones, dominions, principalities and powers of the world of light, and became the Head over all things to the church. This was the proposition with which Peter closed his sermon on the day of Pentecost: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." To this agree the words of Jesus after his resurrection, as recorded in the close of Matthew's gospel: "All authority is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Luke records some things which Matthew does not record: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved the Messiah to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins might be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem; and ye are witnesses of these things." But Mark records some things that neither Matthew nor Luke have recorded: "Go ye into all the, world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." In carrying out this commission, thus recorded by these three evangelists, if we find an ignorant pagan that knows nothing of Jesus we shall say to him, as Paul said to the Philippian jailer, ignorant pagan that he was: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house."

But if we find men who already believe, as did the three thousand who were pierced in the heart on the day of Pentecost, we shall say to them, as Peter did: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." If, however, we find a man that not only believes, but is a penitent believer, such as Saul of Tarsus was when Ananias found him, we shall say, as Ananias said: "And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

In all this there is nothing human, nothing schismatical. All can accept it who are willing to accept the Word of the Lord. In the baptism we administer, we will give no cause for schism: it shall be a burial, and this, so far as the action of baptism is concerned, will meet the conscience of the Greek Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and of all Protestant churches.

Do not, my friends, attempt to turn aside this appeal which I now make to you with a laugh or a sneer. This is the Lord's word, and the word of the Lord is not to be put aside with a sneer. Do not scoff at this as a water of salvation. You certainly will not scoff at the word of the Lord.

And now, my friends, will you not demean yourselves worthy of the high place that God has given you? Adam and Eve carried in their hands the weal or woe of the unnumbered millions of their children that should come after them. Abraham, because of his great faith and because of his high integrity, sent down a blessing upon his fleshly seed for fifty generations; and for the same cause was constituted the spiritual father of a spiritual seed as numerous as the stars of heaven or as the sand upon the seashore. A few Galileean fishermen have filled the world with the glory of the Lord. Luther drove back the darkness of the dark ages and has filled the world with the light of God's Word. And now, my friends, you are laying the foundations of many generations, and will you not take heed how these foundations are laid? Can you repent if you take God at his word and do as did the apostles and the primitive Christians?

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