"Any Christians Among Protestant Parties"


                         "The Lunenburg Letter"




                           Alexander Campbell


                          Millennial Harbinger



     This letter and Alexander Campbell's comments or remarks have

affected the thinking of many, both within and without the Restoration

Movement, since first appearing in the Millennial Harbinger for 1837.

     Discussion of the issues raised in Campbell's reply to the

"conscientious sister" from Lunenburg continued in later issues of this

periodical. Articles by Campbell and others--particularly Christianos and

Thomas M. Henley--appeared in the Harbinger from 1837-1840.


Note the following references:


1837--pp. 411-414, 506-508, 561-567, 577-578

1838--pp. 348-349, 426-427, 520-521

1839--pp. 43-45, 124-128, 168-.179, 213-216, 292-294, 395-401,

     475-476, 529-531, 547

1840--pp. 21-22, 106-109, 125-128, 162-165, 275-277


     The statement by Campbell that induced the lady from Lunenburg

to write the editor of the Harbinger is in an article entitled "Letters to

England-No. 1," which was published in the June, 1837, issue. So that it

may be kept in context, we give the entire paragraph preceding the

statement and the paragraph in which the statement is found. The

statement to which objection was raised is printed in capital letters so as

to be easily identifiable.


     "Touching your inquiries on some matters, I hasten to observe,--that

our brethren generally regard the church as the only moral or religious

association which they can lawfully patronize. Hence they form not

Missionary, Education, Tract, Bible, Temperance, Anti-Slavery

confederations. If these are good works, they belong to the church in her

own proper character; and every member of the church is, as a Christian,

obliged to promote these objects as far as he has the means and the

opportunity. The Christian institution, in our judgment, demands of all its

subjects their best efforts to put down all profanity, unrighteousness,

injustice, oppression, and cruelty in the world; and to promote every

benevolent, humane, and charitable object which can ameliorate the

conditions of human existence. That the gospel ought to be preached; that

evangelists or missionaries ought to be sent out and sustained by the

church; that the whole community should be intellectually and morally

educated--every child born upon our soil so trained as to be a useful, safe

and honorable member of society; that the Bible always, and sometimes

religious tracts, newspapers, magazines and pamphlets should be widely

circulated in the world; that Christians should be temperate in all things,

and especially so in the use of all intoxicating liquors, and perhaps

sometimes wholly abstinent; that they should not, after communing at the

Lord's table, unite in any secret, political, or moral combination with the

Lord's enemies, Turks, Jews, or Atheists; that they should oppose all

schemes of robbery and oppression, whether the victims be white, black,

or yellow--bond servant or hired servant; that Christians should render to

their servants every thing that is just and equal; that they should not, even

when the laws permit them, violate or cause others to violate God's most

ancient, venerable, and holy institution of marriage, by selling a wife from

her husband, or infants from the embraces of maternal and paternal

affection; that they should treat every human being, without regard to

political or other factitious and circumstantial distinctions and differences,

as their fellow-creatures, as subjects of God's philanthropy, to be taught

his religion, and trained for immortality, are propositions or tenets held by

us sacred as the precepts of Christ.


     We would, indeed, have no objections to co-operate in these matters

with all Christians, and raise contributions for all such purposes as, in our

judgment, are promotive of the Divine glory or of human happiness,

whether or not they belong to our churches: FOR WE FIND IN ALL

PROTESTANT PARTIES CHRISTIANS as exemplary as ourselves

according to their and our relative knowledge and opportunities; but we

cannot form a confederacy with the troops of Satan, or tax his subjects to

sustain the Christian cause; and, therefore, so long as all these

associations openly and avowedly form a community on any one of these

bonds of union, irrespective of citizenship in the kingdom of heaven; I

say, so long as they hold communion with profane and ungodly persons,

or with Gentiles of no creed and every creed, because of a single point of

coincidence, whatever that point may be, we cannot unite with them, or

sail under such a flag. Besides, if such schemes are really necessary, then

has the church failed--then the Divine institution must yield the palm to

institutions merely human. (pp. 271-273)





Lunenburg, July 8th, 1837.


     "Dear brother Campbell-- I WAS much surprised to-day, while

reading the Harbinger, to see that you recognize the Protestant parties as

Christian. You say, you 'find in all Protestant parties Christians.'

     "Dear brother, my surprize and ardent desire to do what is right,

prompt me to write to you at this time. I feel well assured, from the

estimate you place on the female character, that you will attend to my

feeble questions in search of knowledge.

     "Will you be so good as to let me know how any one becomes a

Christian? What act of yours gave you the name of Christian? At what

time had Paul the name of Christ called on him? At what time did

Cornelius have Christ named on him? Is it not through this name we

obtain eternal life? Does the name of Christ or Christian belong to any but

those who believe the gospel, repent, and are buried by baptism into the

death of Christ?"


     In reply to this conscientious sister, I observe, that if there be no

Christians in the Protestant sects, there are certainly none among the

Romanists, none among the Jews, Turks, Pagans; and therefore no

Christians in the world except ourselves, or such of us as keep, or  strive

to keep, all the commandments of Jesus. Therefore, for many centuries

there has been no church of Christ, no Christians in the world; and the

promises concerning the everlasting kingdom of Messiah have failed, and

the gates of hell have prevailed against his church! This cannot be; and

therefore there are Christians among the sects.

     But who is a Christian? I answer, Every one that believes in his

heart that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the son of God; repents of his

sins, and obeys him in all things according to his measure of knowledge

of his will. A perfect man in Christ, or a perfect Christian, is one thing;

and "a babe in Christ," a stripling in the faith, or an imperfect Christian,

is another. The New Testament recognizes both the perfect man and the

imperfect man in Christ. The former, indeed, implies the latter. Paul

commands the imperfect Christians to "be perfect,"  (2 Cor. iii. 11.) and

says he wishes the perfection of Christians. "And this also we wish" for

you saints in Corinth, "even your perfection:" and again he says, "We

speak wisdom among the perfect," (1 Cor. ii. 6.) and he commands them

to be "perfect in understanding," (1 Cor. xiv. 20.) and in many other

places implies or speaks the same things. Now there is perfection of will,

of temper, and of behaviors. There is a perfect state and a perfect

character. And hence it is possible for Christians to be imperfect in some

respects without an absolute forfeiture of the Christian state and

character. Paul speaks of "carnal" Christians, of "weak" and "strong"

Christians; and the Lord Jesus admits that some of the good and

honest-hearted bring forth only thirty fold, while others bring forth sixty,

and some a hundred fold increase of the fruits of righteousness.

     But every one is wont to condemn others in that in which he is more

intelligent than they; while, on the other hand, he is condemned for his

Pharisaism or his immodesty and rash judgment of others, by those that

excel in the things in which he is deficient. I cannot, therefore, make any

one duty the standard of Christian state or character, not even immersion

into the name of the father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and in my

heart regard all that have been sprinkled in infancy without their own

knowledge and consent, as aliens from Christ and the well-grounded hope

of heaven. "Salvation was of the Jews," acknowledged the Messiah; and

yet he said of a foreigner, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a

Syro-Phenician, "I have not found so great faith--no, not in Israel."

     Should I find a Pedobaptist more intelligent in the Christian

Scriptures, more spiritually-minded and more devoted to the Lord than a

Baptist, or one immersed on a profession of the ancient faith, I could not

hesitate a moment in giving the preference of my heart to him that loveth

most. Did I act otherwise, I would be a pure sectarian, a Pharisee among

Christians. Still I will be asked, How do I know that any one loves my

Master but by his obedience to his commandments? I answer, In no other

way. But mark, I do not substitute obedience to one commandment, for

universal or even for general obedience. And should I see a sectarian

Baptist or a Pedobaptist more spiritually-minded, more generally

conformed to the requisitions of the Messiah, than one who precisely

acquiesces with me in the theory or practice of immersion as I teach,

doubtless the former rather than the latter, would have my cordial

approbation and love as a Christian. So I judge, and so I feel. It is the

image of Christ the Christian looks for and loves; and this does not

consist in being exact in a few items, but in general devotion to the whole

truth as far as known.

     With me mistakes of the understanding and errors of the affections

are not to be confounded. They are as distant as the poles. An angel may

mistake the meaning of a commandment, but he will obey it in the sense

in which he understands it. John Bunyan and John Newton were very

different persons, and had very different views of baptism, and of some

other things; yet they were both disposed to obey, and to the extent of

their knowledge did obey the Lord in every thing.

     There are mistakes with, and without depravity. There are wilful

errors which all the world must condemn, and unavoidable mistakes

which every one will pity. The Apostles mistook the Saviour when he said

concerning John, "What if I will that John tarry till I come;" but the Jews

perverted his words when they alleged that Abraham had died, in proof

that he spake falsely when he said, "If a man keep my word he shall never

see death."

     Many a good man has been mistaken. Mistakes are to be regarded

as culpable and as declarative of a corrupt heart only when they proceed

from a wilful neglect of the means of knowing what is commanded.

Ignorance is always a crime when it is voluntary; and innocent when it is

involuntary. Now, unless I could prove that all who neglect the positive

institutions of Christ and have substituted for them something else of

human authority, do it knowingly, or, if not knowingly, are voluntarily

ignorant of what is written, I could not, I dare not say that their mistakes

are such as unchristianize all their professions.

     True, indeed, that it is always a misfortune to be ignorant of any

thing in the Bible, and very generally it is criminal. But how many are

there who cannot read; and of those who can read, how many are so

deficient in education; and of those educated, how many are ruled by the

authority of those whom they regard as superiors in knowledge and piety,

that they never can escape out of the dust and smoke of their own

chimney, where they happened to be born and educated! These all suffer

many privations and many perplexities, from which the more intelligent

are exempt.

     The preachers of "essentials," as well as the preachers of

"nonessentials," frequently err. The Essentialist may disparage the heart,

while the Non-essentialist despises the institution. The latter makes void

the institutions of Heaven, while the former appreciates not the mental

bias on which God looketh most. My correspondent may belong to a class

who think that we detract from the authority and value of an institution

the moment we admit the bare possibility of any one being saved without

it. But we choose rather to associate with those who think that they do not

undervalue either seeing or hearing, by affirming that neither of them, nor

both of them together, are essential to life. I would not sell one of my eyes

for all the gold on earth; yet I could live without it.

     There is no occasion, then, for making immersion, on a profession

of faith, absolutely essential to a Christian--though it may be greatly

essential to his sanctification and comfort. My right hand and my right

eye are greatly essential to my usefulness and happiness, but not to my

life; and as I could not be a perfect man without them, so I cannot be a

perfect Christian without a right understanding and a cordial reception of

immersion in its true and scriptural meaning and design. But he that

thence infers that none are Christians but the immersed, as greatly errs as

he who affirms that none are alive but those of clear and full vision.

     I do not formally answer all the queries proposed knowing the one

point to which they all aim. To that point only I direct these remarks. And

while I would unhesitatingly say that I think that every man who despises

any ordinance of Christ or who is willingly ignorant of it, cannot be a

Christian; still I should sin against my own convictions, should I teach

any one to think that if he mistook the meaning of any institution while in

his soul he desired to know the whole will of God he must perish forever.

But to conclude for the present--he that claims for himself a license to

neglect the least of all the commandments of Jesus because it is possible

for some to be saved who through insuperable ignorance or involuntary

mistake, do neglect or transgress it; or he that wilfully neglects to

ascertain the will of the Lord to the whole extent of his means and

opportunities because some who are defective in that knowledge may be

Christians, is not possessed of the spirit of Christ and cannot be registered

among the Lord's people. So I reason; and I think in so reasoning I am

sustained by all the Prophets and Apostles of both Testaments.        A.C.





     In an article on a query from Lunenburg which appeared in the

September number, certain sentences have been objected to by some two

or three intelligent and much esteemed correspondents. We gave it as our

opinion that there were Christians among the Protestant sects; an opinion,

indeed, which we have always expressed when called upon. If I mistake

not, it is distinctly avowed in our first Extra on Remission; yet it is now

supposed by these brethren that I have conceded a point of which I have

hitherto been tenacious and that I have misapplied certain portions of

scripture in supporting said opinion. In the article alluded to, we have said

that we "cannot make any one duty the standard of Christian state or

character, not even Christian immersion," &c. Again, we have said that

"there is no occasion for making immersion on a profession of faith

absolutely essential to a Christian, though it may be greatly essential to

his sanctification and comfort." These two sentences contain the pith and

marrow of the objectionable portion of said article to which we again

refer the reader.

     Much depends upon the known temper and views of a querist in

shaping an answer to his questions. This was the case in this instance. We

apprehended that the propounder of the queries that called for these

remarks was rather an ultraist on the subject of Christian baptism; so far

at least as not to allow that the name Christian is at all applicable to one

unimmersed, or even to one immersed, without the true intent and

meaning of baptism in his understanding previous to his burial in water.

This we gathered from her epistle; and of course gave as bold an answer

as we ever gave--perhaps more bold than on any former occasion, yet

nothing differing from our former expressed views on that subject.

     My high regard for these correspondents, however, calls for a few

remarks on those sentences, as farther explanatory of our views. We

cheerfully agree with them, as well as with our sister of Lunenburg, that

the term Christian was given first to immersed believers and to none else;

but we do not think that it was given to them because they were

immersed, but because they had put on Christ; and therefore we presume

to opine, that, like every other word in universal language, even this term

may be used as Paul sometimes uses the words saint and sinner, Jew and

Gentile--in a part of their signification.

     We have, in Paul's style, the inward and the outward Jews; and may

we not have the inward and the outward Christians? for true it is, that he

is not always a Christian who is one outwardly: and one of my

correspondents will say, 'Neither is he a Christian who is one inwardly.'

But all agree that he is, in the full sense of the word, a Christian who is

one inwardly and outwardly.

     As the same Apostle reasons on circumcision, so we would reason

on baptism:--"Circumcision," says the learned Apostle, "is not that which

is outward in the flesh;" that is, as we apprehend the Apostle, it is not that

which is outward in the flesh; but "circumcision is that of the heart, in the

spirit, and not in the letter [only,] whose praise is of God, and not of

man." So is baptism. It is not outward in the flesh only but in the spirit

also. We argue for the outward and the inward--the outward for men,

including ourselves--the inward for God; but both the outward and the

inward for the praise both of God and of men.

     Now the nice point of opinion on which some brethren differ

is this: Can a person who simply, not perversely, mistakes the outward

baptism, have the inward? We all agree that he who willfully or

negligently perverts the outward cannot have the inward. But can he who,

through a simple mistake, involving no perversity of mind, has

misapprehended the outward baptism, yet submitting to it according to

his view of it, have the inward baptism which changes his state and has

praise of God, though not of all men? is the precise question. To which I

answer, that, in my opinion, it is possible. Farther than this I do not


     My reasons for this opinion are various; two of which we have only

time and space to offer at this time. Of seven difficulties it is the least;

two of these seven, which, on a contrary hypothesis would occur, are

insuperable:--The promises concerning an everlasting Christian church

have failed; and then it would follow that not a few of the brightest names

on earth of the last three hundred years should have to be regarded as

subjects of the kingdom of Satan!!

     None of our brethren regard baptism as only outward. They all

believe that in the outward submersion of the body in the water, there is at

the same time the inward submersion of the mind and heart into Christ.

They do moreover suppose that the former may be without the latter.

They have only to add that it is possible for the latter to be not without the

former in some sense, but without it in the sense which Christ ordained.

     Still my opinion is no rule of action to my brethren, nor would I

offer it unsolicited to any man. But while we inculcate faith, repentance,

and baptism upon all, as essential to their constitutional citizenship in the

Messiah's kingdom, and to their sanctification and comfort as Christians,

no person has a right to demand our opinions on all the differences of this


except for his private gratification. He is certainly safer who obeys from

the heart "that mould of doctrine" delivered to us by the Apostles; and he

only has praise of God and man, and of himself as a Christian, who

believes, repents, is baptized, and keeps all the ordinances, positive and

moral, as delivered to us by the holy Apostles.

     The scriptures quoted in the essay complained of, are all applied to

the Christian character, and not to the Christian state, as contemplated by

one of our correspondents. 'They are therefore not misapplied. It is hoped

these general remarks will be satisfactory on this point.             A.C.


Ohio River, Sept. 28th, 1837.





     JUDGING from numerous letters received at this office, my reply to

the sister from Lunenburg has given some pain to our brethren, and some

pleasure to our sectarian friends. The builders up of the parties tauntingly

say to our brethren, "Then we are as safe as you," and "You are coming

over to us, having now conceded the greatest of all points--viz. that

immersion is not essential to a Christian." Some of our brethren seem to

think that we have neutralized much that has been said on the importance

of baptism for remission, and disarmed them of much of their artillery

against the ignorance, error, and indifference of the times upon the whole

subject of Christian duty and Christian privilege.

     My views of Opinionism forbid me to dogmatize or to labor to

establish my own opinion, and therefore I hope to be excused for not

publishing a hundred letters for and against said opinion. Only one point

of importance would be gained by publishing such a correspondence; and

I almost regret that we have not a volume to spare for it. It would indeed

fully open the eyes of the community to the fact that there are but few

"Campbellites" in the country. Too many of my correspondents, however,

seem to me to have written rather to show that they are not

"Campbellites," than to show that my opinion is false and unfounded.

     While, then, I have no wish to dogmatize, and feel no obligation to

contend for the opinion itself, I judge myself in duty bound to attempt--


     1st. To defend myself from the charge of inconsistency.

     2nd. To defend the opinion from the sectarian application of it.

     3rd. To offer some reasons for delivering such an opinion at this


     I. With all despatch, then, I hasten to show that I have neither

conceded nor surrendered any thing for which I ever contended; but that

on the contrary, the opinion now expressed, whether true or false, is one

that I have always avowed. (Footnote in original reads: It is with us as old

as baptism for the remission of sins, and this is at least as old as the

"Christian Baptist." Read the first two numbers of that work.)

          1. Let me ask, in the first place, what could mean all that we

have written upon the union of Christians on apostolic grounds, had we

taught that all Christians in the world were already united in our own


          2. And in the second place, why should we so often have

quoted and applied to apostate Christendom what the Spirit saith to saints

in Babylon--"Come out of her, my people, that you partake not of her

sins, and that you receive not of her plagues"--had we imagined that the

Lord had no people beyond the pale of our communion!

          3. But let him that yet doubts, read the following passages

from the Christian Baptist, April, 1825:--"I have no idea of seeing, nor

wish to see, the sects unite in one grand army. This would be dangerous

to our liberties and laws. For this the Saviour did not pray. It is only the

disciples dispersed among them that reason and benevolence would call

out of them, "&c. &c. This looks very like our present opinion of

Christians among the sects!!! 2d ed. Bethany, p. 85.

          4. Again, speaking of purity of speech in order to the union of

Christians, we say, "None of you [Christians] have ever yet attempted to

show how Christians can be united on your principles. You have often

showed how they may be divided, and how each party may hold its own,

but while you pray for the visible unity of the disciples, and advocate their

visible disunity, we cannot understand you." March, 1827, vol. 4.

          5. Various essays and letters on "Christian union" from our

correspondents, are given to our readers with our approbation; from one

of which we quote these words:--"I suppose all agree that among

Christians of every name there are disciples of Jesus Christ, accepted of

God in him, real members of his body, branches in the true vine, and

therefore all one in Christ." October, 1826, vol. 4, p. 53.

          6. ln a letter to Spencer Clack, August, 1826, I have said, "As

to what you say concerning the evils of division among Christians, I have

nothing to object. I sincerely deplore every division, and every sectarian

feeling which now exists; and if I thought there was any man on this

continent who would go farther than I to heal all divisions and to unite all

Christians on constitutional grounds, I would travel on foot a hundred

miles to see him and confess my faults to him." vol. 5, p. 15.

          7. On the evening before my departure to debate with Mr.

Owen, vol. 6, p. 239, April 6, 1829, in alluding to that crisis, I say--"I

rejoice to know and feel that I have the good wishes, the prayers, and the

hopes of myriads of Christians in all denominations." So speak the pages

of the Christian Baptist on many occasions. (Original footnote states: "Let

the curious reader consult the essays on Christian Union in the Christian

Baptist, so far as I have approbated them, especially my replies to an

Independent Baptist.")

          8. The views of the Millennial Harbinger on this subject are

condensed in a work called "Christianity Restored," or, as we have

designated it, "A Connected View of the Principles," &c. "of the

Foundation on which all Christians may form one communion." (See its


          9. In that volume there is a long article on the foundation of

Christian union, showing how the Christians among the sects may be

united. We refer to the whole of this article from page 101 to 128, as the

most unequivocal proof of our views of Christians among the sects.

Indeed we say (page 102) of our own community, that it is a nucleus

around which may one day congregate all the children of God. In that

article we wax bolder and bolder, and ask, (page 121,) "Will sects ever

cease? Will a time ever come when all disciples will unite under one

Lord, in one faith, in one immersion? Will divisions ever be healed? Will

strife ever cease among the saints on earth?"

          10. But in the last place in the first Extra on Baptism for

Remission of Sins, we exclude from the pale of Christianity of the

Pedobaptists, none but such of them as "wilfully neglect this salvation,

and who, having the opportunity to be immersed for the remission of sins,

wilfully neglect or refuse"--"of such," indeed, but of none others, we say,

"We have as little hope for them as they have for all who refuse salvation

on their own terms of the gospel." 1st Extra, 1st ed. p. 53.

     With these ten evidences or arguments, I now put it to the candor of

those who accuse us of inconsistency or change of views, whether they

have not most evidently misrepresented us. Were it necessary we could

easily swell these ten into a hundred.

     II. We shall now attempt to defend this opinion from the sectarian

application of it:--

     1. It affords them too much joy for the consolation which it brings;

because it imparts no certainty of pardon or salvation to any particular

unbaptized person whatsoever.

     In reference to this opinion, all the unimmersed are to be ranged in

two classes;--those who neither know nor care for this opinion, and those

who know it and rejoice in it. It will require but a moment's reflection to

perceive that those who care nothing for this opinion will not rejoice it

nor abuse it; and that those who would, for their own sake, rejoice in it

are not included in it. He that rejoices in such an opinion, for his own

sake, has had the subject under consideration; and it is a thousand

chances to one that he is obstinately or willingly in error on the subject;

and, therefore, in the very terms of the opinion, he is precluded from any

interest in it. His joy, indeed, is strong presumptive evidence against him;

because it is proof that he is one sided in his feelings, which no upright

mind can be--at least such a mind as is contemplated in the opinion; for it

respects only those who have not had any debate with themselves upon

the subject, and have, without any examination or leaning, supposed

themselves to have been baptized.

     In no case, indeed, can there be the same certainty (all things else

being equal) that he who was sprinkled, poured, or immersed on some

other person's faith; or that he who was sprinkled, or poured on his own

faith, shall be saved, as there is that he that first believes and is then, on

his own confession, immersed, shall be saved. In the former case, at best,

we have only the fallible inference or opinion of man; while in the latter

we have the sure and unerring promise of our Saviour and Judge. It

cannot be too emphatically stated that he that rejoices for his own sake,

that he may be accepted by the Lord on his infant or adult pouring or

sprinkling, because of his dislike to, or prejudice against believer's

immersion, gives unequivocal evidence of the want of state of mind

which is contemplated in the opinion expressed; and has proved himself

to be a seeker of his own will and pleasure, rather than rejoicing in the

will and pleasure of God; and for such persons we can have no favorable


     2. But that the aforesaid opinion does not disarm us of our

arguments against ignorance, error and indifference, is evident; because it

assumes that the person in question is acting up to the full measure of his

knowledge upon the subject, and that he has not been negligent,

according to his opportunities, to ascertain the will of his Master; for in

the very terms of the opinion he is not justified, but self-condemned, who

only doubts, or is not fully persuaded that his baptism is apostolic and


     3. To admit that there may be Christians among the sects, does not

derogate from the value or importance of baptism for the remission of

sins, any more than it derogates from the superior value and excellency of

the Christian Institution to admit that salvation was possible to the Jews

and Patriarchs without the knowledge and experience of all the

developments of the New Testament. For besides the Christian

disposition, state and character, there are the Christian privileges. Now, in

our judgment, there is not on a earth a person who can have as full an

assurance of justification or of remission of sins, as the person who has

believed, confessed his faith, and been intelligently buried and raised with

the Lord; and therefore the present salvation never can be so fully

enjoyed, all things else being equal, by the unimmersed as by the


     4. Again, as every sect agrees, that a person immersed on a

confession of his faith is truly baptized, and only a part of Christendom

admits the possibility of any other action as baptism: for the sake of union

among Christians, it may be easily shown to be the duty of all believers to

be immersed, if for no other reason than that of honoring the divine

institution and opening a way for the union and co-operation of all

Christians. Besides, immersion gives a constitutional right of citizenship

in the universal kingdom of Jesus; whereas with our opponents,

themselves being judges, their "baptism" gives the rights of citizenship

only in some provinces of that kingdom. For as far as baptism is

concerned, the Greek, the Roman, the English, the Lutheran, the

Calvinian, the Arminian, the Baptist communities will receive the

immersed; while only a part of Christendom will acknowledge the

sprinkled or the poured. Therefore, our opinion militates not against the

value of baptism in any sense.

     5. In the last place, to be satisfied with any thing that will just do in

religion, is neither the Christian disposition nor character; and not to

desire to know and do the whole will of God, places the individual out of

the latitude and longitude of the opinion which we have advanced. These

things being so, then we ask, wherein does the avowal of such an opinion

disarm us of arguments for professor or profane, on the value of the

baptism in the Christian Institution; or the importance and necessity of

separating one's self from all that will not keep the commandments of

Jesus; and of submitting without delay to the requisitions of the illustrious

Prophet whom the Almighty Father has commanded all men to obey?

     III. In the third and last place, we offer some reasons for delivering

such an opinion at this time:--

          1. We were solicited by a sister to explain a saying quoted

from the current volume of this work, concerning finding "Christians in

all Protestant parties." She proposed a list of questions, involving, as she

supposed, either insuperable difficulties or strong objections to that

saying; and because she well knew what answers I would have given to

all her queries, I answered them not: but attended to the difficulty which I

imagined she felt in the aforesaid saying.

          2. But we had still more urgent reasons than the difficulties of

this sister to express such an opinion:-- Some of our brethren were too

much addicted to denouncing the sects and representing them en masse as

wholly aliens from the possibility of salvation--as wholly antichristian and

corrupt. Now as the Lord says of Babylon, "Come out of her, my people,"

I felt constrained to rebuke them over the shoulders of this inquisitive

lady. These very zealous brethren gave countenance to the popular clamor

that we make baptism a saviour, or a passport to heaven, disparaging all

the private and social virtues of the professing public. Now as they were

propounding their opinions to others, I intended to bring them to the

proper medium by propounding an opinion to them in terms as strong and

as pungent as their own.


     The case is this: When I see a person who would die for Christ

whose brotherly kindness, sympathy, and active benevolence know no

bounds but his circumstances; whose seat in the Christian assembly is

never empty; whose inward piety and devotion are attested by punctual

obedience to every known duty; whose family is educated in the fear of

the Lord; whose constant companion is the Bible: I say, when I see such a

one ranked among the heathen men and publicans, because he never

happened to inquire, but always took it for granted that he had been

scripturally baptized; and that, too, by one greatly destitute of all these

public and private virtues, whose chief or exclusive recommendation is

that he has been immersed, and that he holds a scriptural theory of the

gospel: I feel no disposition to flatter such a one; but rather to disabuse

him of his error. And while I would not lead the most excellent professor

in any sect to disparage the least of all the commandments of Jesus, I

would say to my immersed brother as Paul said to his Jewish brother who

gloried in a system which he did not adorn: "Sir, will not his

uncircumcision, or unbaptism, be counted to him for baptism? and will he

not condemn you, who, though having the literal and true baptism, yet

dost transgress or neglect the statutes of your King?"

          3. We have a third reason: We have been always accused of

aspiring to build up and head a party, while in truth we have always been

forced to occupy the ground on which we now stand. I have for one or

two years past labored to annul this impression, which I know is more

secretly and generally bandied about than one in a hundred of our

brethren may suspect. On this account I consented the more readily to

defend Protestantism; and I have, in ways more than I shall now state,

endeavored to show the Protestant public that it is with the greatest

reluctance we are compelled to stand aloof from them--that they are the

cause of this great "schism," as they call it, and not we.

     Now, with this exposition in mind, let us examine the meaning of

the alleged concession. And first let me ask, What could induce us to

make it at this crisis? or, I should more correctly say, to repeat it so


     No one will say our opponents have compelled us by force of

argument to make it. Themselves being judges, we have lost nothing in

argument. All agree that the "concession" was uncalled for--a perfect

free-will offering.

     Neither can they say that we envy their standing, or would wish to

occupy their ground; because, to say nothing of our having the pure

original gospel institutions among us, regarding us merely as a new sect

like themselves, we have no reason to wish to be with them, inasmuch as

we have the best proselyting system in Christendom. Faith, repentance,

and baptism for the remission of sins, with all the promises of the

Christian adoption and the heavenly calling to those who thus put on

Christ, is incomparably in advance of the sectarian altar and the straw--

the mourning bench, the anxious seat, and all the other paraphernalia of

modern proselytism. That it is so practically, as well as theoretically,

appears from the fact of its unprecedented advances upon the most

discerning and devout portions of the Protestant parties. No existing party

in this or the father-lands has so steadily and rapidly advanced as that now

advocating the religion of the New Testament. It has been successfully

plead within a few years in almost every state and territory in this great

confederacy, and even in foreign countries.

     All agree, for a thousand experiments prove it, that all that is

wanting is a competent number of intelligent and consistent proclaimers,

to its general, if not universal triumph, over all opposing systems. We

have lost much, indeed, by the folly, hypocrisy, and wickedness of many

pretenders, and by the imprudence and precipitancy of some good

brethren: yet from year to year it bears up and advances with increasing

prosperity, as the present season very satisfactorily attests.

     Do we, then, seek to make and lead a large exclusive sect or party?

Have we not the means! Why then concede any thing--even the bare

possibility of salvation in any other party, if actuated by such fleshly and

selfish considerations? With all these facts and reasonings fresh in our

view, I ask, Is not such a concession--such a free-will offering, at such a

time, the most satisfactory and unanswerable refutation that could be

given to the calumny that we seek the glory of building a new sect in

religion? If, then, as some of our opponents say, we have made a new and

an unexpected concession in their favor, we have done it at such a time,

in such circumstances, and with such prospects before us, as ought (we

think) henceforth to silence their imputations and reproaches on the

ground of selfish or partizan views and feelings.

     Some of our fellow-laborers seem to forget that approaches are

more in the spirit and style of the Saviour, than reproaches. We have

proved to our entire satisfaction, that having obtained a favorable hearing,

a conciliatory, meek, and benevolent attitude is not only the most comely

and Christian-like, but the most successful. Many of the Protestant

teachers and their communities are much better disposed to us than

formerly, and I calculate the day is not far distant when many of them will

unite with us. They must certainly come over to us whenever they come

to the Bible alone. Baptists and Pedobaptists are daily feeling more and

more the need of reform, and our views are certainly imbuing the public

mind more and more every year.

     But to conclude, our brethren of Eastern Virginia have been the

occasion at least of eliciting at this time so strong an expression of our

opinion; and we have now many letters from that region for one from any

other quarter on the aforesaid opinion. Had not some of them greatly and

unreasonably abused the sects, or countenanced, aided, and abetted them

that did so, and had not a few in some other regions made Christianity to

turn more upon immersion than upon universal holiness, in all probability

I would have answered the sister from Lunenburg in the following

manner and style:--


          The name Christian is now current in four significations:--


     1. The ancient primitive and apostolic import simply indicates

follower of Christ. With a strict regard to its original and scriptural

meaning, my favorite and oft repeated definition is, A Christian is one

that habitually believes all that Christ says, and habitually does all that he

bids him.

     2. But its national and very popular sense implies no more than a

professor of Christianity. Thus we have the Christian nations, as well as

the Pagan and Mahometan nations; the Christian sects as well as the sects

political and philosophical.

     3. But as soon as controversies arose about the ways and means of

putting on Christ or of making a profession of his religion, in a new and

special or appropriated sense, "a Christian" means one who first believes

that Jesus is the Christ, repents of his sins, is then immersed on

confession into Christ's death, and thenceforth continues in the Christian

faith and practice.

     4. But there yet remains the sense in which I used the term in the

obnoxious phrase first quoted by our sister of Lunenburg. As in the

judgment of many, some make the profession right and live wrong; while

others make the profession wrong, but live right; so they have adopted

this style--"I don't know what he believes, nor how he was baptized, but I

know he is a Christian." Thus Adam Clarke quotes some poet:


     "You different sects who all declare,

     "Lo! Christ is here, and Christ is there!

     "Your stronger proofs divinely give,

     "And show me where the Christians live!"


     Now in this acceptation of the word, I think there are many, in most

Protestant parties, whose errors and mistakes I hope the Lord will forgive;

and although they should not enter into all the blessings of the kingdom

on earth, I do fondly expect they may participate in the resurrection of the


     The words Jew, Israel, circumcision, disciple, are used in the same

manner, even in the sacred writings: "They are not all Israel that are of

Israel"--"An Israelite indeed"--"The true circumcision"--"A Jew inwardly

and outwardly"--"Then are you my disciples indeed," &c.

     I am glad to see our brethren so jealous of a correct style--so

discriminating, and so independent. They are fast approaching to the habit

of calling Bible things by Bible names. They only misunderstood me as

using the term in its strictest biblical import, while in the case before us I

used it in its best modern acceptation.

     I could as easily at first as at last have given this reply to our sister's

queries- but I thought the times required something else--and I was not

mistaken. I have no doubt but it will yet appear to all that I have pursued

in this the more useful and salutary course.

     Our Eastern brethren were indeed, I opine, hasty and precipitate

enough in expressing themselves--almost indeed before they had time to

hear and consider the whole matter. I wish they had been as prompt on

another occasion, and I should not have been addressed on this subject by

the worthy sister so often named. But we are all learning and progressing

towards perfection. If any of them, and not all, wish their communications

to appear in this work, accompanied with a few pertinent remarks, I am in

duty bound, according to my plan, to publish some of them.

     I do not indeed blame them altogether for being prompt; for I had

rather be an hour too soon as half an hour too late; yet I think some

resolutions which I have received, were, upon the whole, rather

premature. May the Lord bless all the holy brethren, and give them

understanding in all things.    A. C.


(furnished by Jim McMillan)