Barton Warren Stone (1772 to 1844)
Barton Warren Stone was born on December 24, 1772 in Port Tobacco Creek, Maryland. His mother widowed, after his father died when he was only three years old, moved the family shortly there after into the Dan River country of North Carolina.
When Stone was sixteen The division of the family estate was made and decided to use his portion to obtain an education. He had decided to become a judge and to study jurisprudence.
He went to the famous school of David Caldwell, in North Carolina and was made very uncomfortable because of The dominant influence in the school Caldwell, operated was religion.
Stone had not joined any of the denominations near his home as he forced himself to avoid religious interest, as he felt this would hinder his being a judge.
He determined to leave Caldwell’s school, and attend Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia, but the day he was to leave there was a violent storm and he spent the day in his room in deciding upon his course of action. Changing his mind he remained there.
Shortly thereafter, he attended a revival being conducted in the neighborhood by James McGready, and came away vary impressed.
In the spring of 1791, he heard William Hodge, a Methodist, preach on the love of God and he struggled for months to “get religion.
Stone concluded from this sermon that he could be saved, as he said in his own words:
“I loved Him (Christ) I adored Him; I praised Him; I confessed to the Lord my sins and folly in disbelieving His word so long and in following so long the devices of men. I now saw that a poor sinner was as much authorized to believe in Jesus at first as at last (alluding to the Calvinistic doctrine) that now was the accepted time and the day of salvation.”
With this experience it caused him to become intensely interested in Bible study and he determined to become a preacher and according obtained a license to preach from the Orange Presbytery. Then after later moving to Cane Ridge Kentucky he was ordained to preach in the Presbyterian church.
Stone did not accept all of the Presbyterian doctrines. He had serious doubts about their teaching, their creed. At his ordination upon being asked:
“Do you receive and adopt the Confession of Faith, as containing the system of doctrine as taught in the Bible? He replied: “I do, as far as I see it consistent with the Word of God.”
As he began to preach, Stone made his plea directly to the Scriptures and his views were considered unorthodox by most of the Presbyterians who were strict Calvinists. His preaching was not of the strict Calvinism to which they were accustomed. He stressed from the Scriptures to obey the Lord.
The revivalistic preaching of Stone which was being conducted by Stone and four other Presbyterian preachers at Cane Ridge was condemned at a meeting of the Kentucky Synod. These men separated themselves from the Presbyterian church and formed the “Springfield Presbytery” in September 1803. Letters were sent out to all of the churches announcing that they had severed connections with the Presbyterian church and abandoned all doctrines except the Bible.
Many of their positions they found unscriptural, they hastened to abandon. They came to the conclusion that the forming of a presbytery had no foundation in the Bible, and in June 1804, they dissolve this union. A Presbytery is a body of presbyters or elders.
One of the classical documents coming out of the restoration movement was penned by Stone and his associates:
“The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.”
Containing less than 800 words.
Years later when he summarized the importance of this separation from the Presbyterian church he wrote:
“When we at first withdrew, we felt ourselves free from all creeds but the Bible, and since that time by constant application to it, we are led farther from the idea of adopting creeds and confessions as standards:than we were at first; consequently to come under the jurisdiction of that church now is entirely out of the question.”
Continuing to preach in Kentucky, he established churches according only to the New Testament teachings. Stone first met Alexander Campbell at Georgetown, Kentucky in 1824, becoming fast friends their fellowship became very close by 1832.
Stone arrived at New Testament practices through his own study of the scriptures and became part of the restoration.