Samuel Durant on THE PRIMITIVE EXPOUNDER, 1880


D. W. Ensign & Co.


This paper was originally established at Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1844, by Billings & Thornton. It was a small quarto in form, with two columns to the page, and issued semi-monthly. As its name indicates, it was a religious paper, and devoted to the interests of the Universalist denomination of Christians. The second volume was published at “Alphadelphia” to which place it had been removed by the publishers. The office did not continue long at this place, being removed to Jackson, Mich., some time in 1845.

In 1846, J. H. Sanford, now of Berlin, Ottawa Co., Mich., to whom we are indebted for the information here given, purchased the interest of Mr. Billings, when the paper was removed to Ann Arbor and published by Thornton & Sanford. In 1848, Mr. Sanford became sole proprietor, and in the same year removed the office to Lansing, Mich.

The first issue of the paper in Lansing was on the 1st of January, 1849. With the commencement of Volume VI at Lansing the paper was issued weekly in quarto form, and continued until 1852, when it was merged in the “Star in the West”, then published in Chicago, we believe. Mr. Sanford continued in the editorial department for one year after this change, when he severed his connection.

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Note: Samuel Durant was incorrect on the paper being moved to Jackson in 1845. It was in April of 1846.

Review of the “Primitive Expounder”

From Volume VIII, December 20, 1845, of “The Star in the West”


The first number of a new Vol. was received to day, Dec. 13th. We have always read this paper with pleasure, for it is conducted with prudence and with an eye to enlighten as much as possible those who sit in the region of darkness and the shadow of death. Its general tone too, is good, and the cause of Universalism in Michigan, the State in which it is printed, finds in it a successful advocate. It is printed every other Thursday, in Alphadelphia, at $1 per annum in advance by Brs. Thornton and Billings,who are the Editors.


From Volume VIII, December 20, 1845, of “The Star in the West”


The Primitive Expounder at Alphadelphia, Michigan, tells a good story about the exposure of two Methodist preachers who lately held forth at a Camp Meeting at Romulus in that State. It seems the Methodists, at their Camp Meetings in the West, have a practice of killing Universalism regularly, by the announcement and delivery of a sermon against the doctrine. On this occasion great numbers of people were present, and a Rev. Mr. E., was put forth to preach the sermon against Universalism. He went on, it seems, quite a la mode M. H. Smith, retailing all the slanderous stories he ever heard or could manufacture against the characters of those wicked people who dare believe in the universal and unchangeable goodness of God. Whilst in that part of his sermon devoted to show that we are a set of thieves, robbers, etc, and whilst giving as a fact in proof, the case of somebody who stole, a voice was heard from the body of the great congregation, uttering in a loud voice, above that of the preacher, these mysterious words—”But who stole the beef!” The inquiry raised an excitement, and the Elders came forward and demanded what he meant by such disorderly language? Being called on for an explanation, he went on to say in presence of the multitude, that a few years ago ‘he knew a certain gentleman in Ypsalanti, very intimately connected with the mysterious disappearance of a quarter of beef from that place, and that the said gentleman ran away from there on that account, and that he had never seen him since till that day and that hour when and where he now saw him preaching against Universalism as a licentious doctrine!” Was not that an argumentum ad hominem?

The editor of the Expounder adds to this story, another equally mortifying narrative. lie says that at the same Camp Meeting there was another preacher “who occupied a conspicuous station, by the name of W. T. who also abused Universalists. A gentleman present said he arrested him 7 or 8 years ago in Ann Arbor (I think) and carried him to Poutiac where he was convicted for stealing a horse.”

We mention these things only as an admonition to our opposers to have a care that in condemning their neighbors they do not greatly condemn themselves.—Gospel Banner.