Metcalfe, William, Md
Metcalfe, William, M.D.
a prominent minister of the Bible-Christian Church, was born in the parish of Orton, Westmoreland, England, March 11, 1788. He became a disciple of the Revelation Dr. Cowherd, a noted minister of the Swedenborgian Church, who in 1809 organized the Bible-Christian Church. Metcalfe in 1811 was ordained as a minister of this Church by Dr. Cowherd, and in 1817, with a small company of his fellow-believers, immigrated to Philadelphia, where he continued his ministerial labors till the day of his death in 1862. According to his biographer, the specific work of Mr. Metcalfe's life was " that of sowing the seeds and cultivating the principles of temperance and vegetarianism, and permanently establishing the Bible- Christian Church in this country." The Bible-Christian Church in England founded its doctrinal basis mainly upon the writings of Swedenborg. It propounded views upon two subjects, however, which have never been generally received in the New Jerusalem Church, as the Swedenborgians prefer to call themselves. It inculcated the duty of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks as a beverage, and from the use of animal food. These two requirements were made conditions of Church membership, more particularly by Mr. Metcalfe. He was one of the original members of the American "Vegetarian Society," and was one of his most earnest supporters. On the death of Dr. William A. Alcott, the first president of the society, in 1859, Dr. Metcalfe was elected his successor. He rendered efficient service also in the cause of temperance, and may be termed one of the pioneers of the movement in this country. "As a preacher," we are told by his biographer, "he was not what is called an orator, but his delivery was easy, plain, distinct, and impressive. His action was moderate and graceful. He was never boisterous, never sensational, and seldom allowed his imagination to display its powers in the pulpit. His sermons were suggestive and instructive, always including some teaching on practical, every-day duties. He sought all fields for the illustration of Bible truths, especially availing himself of the lights of modern science and of ancient history in the elucidation of his subject." Seventeen of his Discourses were lately published by his son Joseph, under the, title Out of the Clouds into the Light (Phila. 1872, 12mo). See New Jerusalem Messenger, Oct. 23,1872; Memoir of the Revelation William Metcalfe, MD., by his son Joseph (Phila. 1866, 12mo).