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Stone's baccalaureate address
letter, Bedell, McIlvaine, Stone, baccalaureate
Bedell, Bishop, "Letter to Charles Petit McIlvaine" (1868). Charles Pettit McIlvaine Letters. 214.
Gambier Jun 21 1868
My dear Bishop,
On returning from Church, before I go to rest, I wish to give you my impressions of the Baccalaureate. Of course, under all the circumstances, I went to Church with considerate trepidation, for it would not have been strange, if [Stone] had taken the opportunity to explain himself. Nor was my mind much relieved when I saw [?] [?] there, for the first time in two Sundays, coming out on a [damp] chilly night to [?], when he has not been well enough for two Sundays to come out to worship. [Bro?] was in his place, & half: [et] [id] [?] [?]. All these things were not reassuring, nor was the President’s [?] nor text. Below when I wish [?] you [?] the [?] solution it [?] needful for me to [?] [?] you & [exhal?] to contend earnestly for the fourth [?] delivered unto the saints.
The introduction was beautiful, & the [entrance] [?] his [?] quite good. I began to breathe more freely. Then he began to define the faith & the body [?] it was given, & then he began to get into depths & had to swim. He said some true things, & some false things, & said some true things, which became false because of their [connection]. But he said nothing which would not bear a right interpretation which you or I might not have said. [And] yet he said very little which [?] [?] or [Bro?] could not [weave] into a rope that would hang so shallow a theological [?]. I was never so thoroughly impressed with his [feebleness] as a reasoner, or as a definer. He was all the while feeling around for truth. He had it, & did not know it, and then would shift it for a doubtful truth, and then would catch it again-no method no coherence no consequence a [wandering] among true & beautiful things reaching no point. The only sayings really [?] were that we are the Bible to the Church, & that the Church is [older] than the Bible. It is true or false according [?] you view it. He said only that we derive the Canon of [?] through the Church, which is true. But it would be easy to twist his words as no dumb Mr. [?] will do to mean that the authority of the Bible is derived from the Church, which he did not say, nor hint at. Still what he said, that the Church is older than the Bible is false, if you mean by the Bible, the Word: for the Church was formed by believers of the Word, and therefore the Word was older.
So again he allowed to the Reformation in [?] terms. He said the truth about its aspect as a [warring] [mass] of sects, and [showed] its danger while the hostile Church of [?] was [leering] down upon it. But he spoke forgetting the unity of truth that all [Protestant?] holds. It would be easy to dream heresy as [?] uniform from his words, but you could not fairly find it in the words. So he was utterly confused when he spoke about the Church, he defined it truly as the body of saints, & then went on to speak about it as if it were entirely the [?] Church. He said only a few sentences on these questionable [facts]. If one had not known what had [?], no one would have supposed that there was any [error] hinted of in any sentence. [?], a malicious eyes could gather no little to [?] at.
On the whole, I am of the [?] want of clearness & want of power of thinking. The burden of his [exhaltion] to the Class was that they should [?] for the [?] Church. It was like all the rest true or false according to his meaning. But the words impressed me not pleasantly.
I am disappointed in the sermon as an effort to teach, as very illogical & inconsequential, and as proving him not half as good a reasoner as I had supposed. The errors in it were [germs], not full growths. I only trust he will be [?] from the issue to which his mind seems tending.
I send this to New York thinking that it may [?] reach you there. I am quite satisfied that in this case any power of [?] will be wasted, for he has too little depth of theological learning.
G. T. Bedell