[Table of Contents]
Alexander Campbell, ed.|
The Millennial Harbinger, Vol. I, No. III (1830)
I saw another messenger flying through the midst of heaven, having everlasting
good news to proclaim to the inhabitants of the earth, even to every nation
and tribe, and tongue, and people--saying with a loud voice, Fear God and
give glory to him, for the hour of his judgments is come: and worship him who
made heaven, and earth, and sea, and the fountains of water.--JOHN.
Great is the truth and mighty above things, and will prevail.
A DEMAND FOR JUSTICE FROM EDITORS IN GENERAL,
AND MR. BRANTLY IN PARTICULAR.
OFTEN have I said, and often have I written, that truth, truth eternal and divine, is now, and long has been with me the pearl of great price. To her 1 will, with the blessing of God, sacrifice every thing. But on no altar will I offer her a victim. If I have lost. sight of her, God who searcheth the hearts knows l have not done it intentionally. With my whole heart I have sought the truth, and I know that I have found it. Not all truth, but the lifegiving truth of Jesus. But I ask no man to take my word for it. Neither my devotion to the truth professed, the earnestness nor the industry with which I have sought it, the sacrifices which I have made in the pursuit of it, nor any aid supernatural which I have received in the discovery of the truth, shall ever be plead by me as a reason why any person should receive a single saying of mine upon my authority. Nor shall I plead the success which has attended my labors, the great revolution in sentiment, feeling, and practice, which is every day progressing, as a proof, or as any evidence of truths for which I am the humble advocate. No authority of great names., no authority of great success, no authority of great devotion, no authority but that of the Apostles and prophets shall ever be urged by we in proof of any proposition respecting the religion of Jesus Christ.
I have given my readers both sides of all controversies, my own side, so to speak, and the side of my opponents. If the Christian Baptist does not prove this proposition, it proves nothing. Few, if any, of the papers devoted to religion, have taken this course. He who has read only the Columbian Star can have no correct idea of a single question which I have discussed--of a single proposition which I have advanced; nay, he must have the most incorrect ideas of my writings. As soon could a Mussulman of the order of Omar discover the christian religion through the Koran, as a citizen of Georgia learn any thing of my views through the columns of the Columbian Star.
They who have. some sectarian, or party cause to serve, must take this course, hey dare take no other. It will never do to let people have both. sides. It would ruin the whole concern, I will venture to predict that Mr. Brantly will not let his readers hear what I have to say in reply to Mr. Clopton: if he do I will  acknowledge that I am mistaken in my views of him. If he will fill as many columns with my replies as he does with his accusations, it will be the most impartial looking thing I have ever known him to do. At all events, I will permit my readers to hear both sides, and to judge for themselves. In the name of sacred justice--in the name of christian righteousness, I demand it of every christian editor who publishes any thing against my views, to let me speak to the people through their columns. This I ask not as a favor to me, nor as a favor to the truth, but I demand it as the decree of immutable justice--as a debt due to me as man, as a professor of the christian faith. If my arguments be puerile, be weak, be foolish, and unscriptural, let them appear, and they will call for no elaborate refutation.
One time I am represented as a Hercules, and the success attendant on my labors is attributed to some peculiar tact or talent for writing and speaking; at another time I am represented as a mere pigmy, as an impotent driveller who can write nothing worthy of reading or of hearing. Whatever weapon will most likely aid my opponents is seized with eagerness. I attribute whatever force is in my writings to the truth which is in them, the almighty truth. I claim no peculiar ability. I claim no extraordinary powers. I can only carry, and I know I can carry, an ordinary burden. I am at no pains to polish any thing I write, I have not time for it, I have not much taste for it. It only pleases a few, and it is the many who need instruction to whom I wish to speak plainly and forcibly. I will treat my opponents with all courtesy as gentlemen, if they profess to be such, or as christians if they will allow me to treat them as such. But here comes Mr. Clopton, let him speak for himself.
|From the Columbian Star.|
THE "SAYINGS" OF A. CAMPBELL EXAMINED.
|CHARLOTTE COURT HOUSE, VA. FEB. 20. 1830.|
Dear Brother--It will not be denied by those acquainted with the passing religious events of the day, that few men in this country, since the days of George Whitfield, have produced so much agitation in the religious community, as Alexander Campbell, of Brooke county, Va. And yet scarcely any two men professing to be teachers of biblical truth, have been more unlike in their religious sentiments. This difference, if my apprehension of it be correct, arises not so much from a disparity in the original constitution of their minds, as from that distinguishing grace of God, by which the one, was made a signal benefactor to mankind, whilst the other seems to be the appointed instrument of disorganization and confusion. The difference betwixt them, is not like that between Luther and Melancthon; for these great reformers held the same fundamental doctrines. Nor is it like that between Dr. Gill and Andrew Fuller for they, too, agreed in doctrines considered vitally important to the salvation of the soul. But, if I be not altogether under a  misapprehension of Mr. Campbell's religious sentiments, the difference between him and Whitfield, resembles that between Saul of Tarsus and Paul the Apostle--or that between Lord Byron and Milton. The God of nature endued both Byron and Milton with extraordinary mental powers, but they viewed the revelation, which he has given, through optics vastly dissimilar. Perhaps it would not be doing violence to truth, to consider these two distinguished individuals, in connexion with the following words of our incarnate and adorable Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Luke x. 21.--"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." Milton, though unequalled in mental endowments, wearing, without a rival, the wreath of poetic fame, was an eminent example of that childlike docility to which God reveals those things which are often hidden from the wise and prudent. Thus Whitfield also, though followed by thousands of admiring hearers, who were borne away while they listened to the charms of his matchless eloquence, was as remarkable for his humility as for his untiring zeal in the cause of the Redeemer. But, with all my partiality for the term Baptist, I cannot discover. any thing like this grace or disposition, in the writings of Mr. Campbell. On the contrary, if I were called upon by the mandate of superior authority to name the man, who, above all others, in the bounds of my knowledge, excels in speaking and writing "great swelling words of vanity;" I should not hesitate a moment, to name Mr. Alexander Campbell.
In his extemporaneous sermons, Whitfield seems to have lost sight of himself, in the contemplation of the worth and danger of the immortal soul--the fulness of redemption in Christ--and the kingdom of ultimate glory. In the pulpit harangues of Mr. Campbell, the critic, the linguist, and the disputant, are prominent characters. From Whitfield's sermons, sinners often retired with fearful apprehensions of the wrath to come, and crying "What must I do to be saved?" From the exhibitions of Mr. Campbell, sinners retire in all the levity and sportiveness of theatrical spectators. Whitfield, seldom, if ever, failed to urge home upon his hearers the unchanging obligations of a violated law, and the consequent terrors of a sin-hating and sin-avenging God. Mr. Campbell seems to think, that he has discovered, in the abrogation of the Moral Law, a much shorter, easier, and safer way to the heavenly Canaan, than that leading by Mount Sinai. Whitfield believed, preached and maintained the fundamental doctrines, commonly called the doctrines of grace. Mr. Campbell is so averse to these, that, if I mistake not, the words grace and repentance are scrupulously excluded from the new translation of the Testament which he has published.
That the friends of truth may understand his views of these doctrines, I will quote, from a manuscript in my possession, the "dicta" (or sayings) of a certain Mr. J. C. a proselyte of Mr. Campbell's. In his preaching he declared, according to the testimony of the  writer who was present and heard him: 1st. That there had been no preaching of the gospel since the days of the Apostles. 2dly. That the people had been preached to from texts of Scripture, until they had been literally preached out of their senses: 3dly. That all the public speaking now necessary, was to undo what had already been done: 4thly. That John Calvin taught as pure deism as was ever taught by Voltaire or Thomas Paine; and that this deism was taught in all the colleges in christendom: 5thly. That all the faith that men could have in Christ, was historical: 6thly. That the words "little children" in the phrase, I write unto you little children (in the epistle of John,) are to be understood literally. I am aware that a teacher should not always be held responsible for the precise sentiments and words of his pupil. And I should not have quoted these extraordinary "dicta" (sayings) of Mr. J. C. as the sentiments of Mr. Campbell; if I were not fully persuaded that they are substantially maintained and published to the world by Mr. Campbell, in his little pamphlet called the Christian Baptist. Besides Mr. J. C. modestly declared in the presence of the same witness, that no two red cherries were more like each other, than himself and Alexander Campbell.
Now if these things and many others, which Mr. Campbell teaches, and which to me appear equally preposterous, be true; if this be the way to learn Christ and him crucified; if this be the faith once delivered to the saints; if these be the means by which the saints are to come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; then do I confess before God and the world, that hitherto I have been, and am still, a stranger to the meaning of God's book. Nevertheless, if all the other professed ministers of Jesus Christ, except Mr. Campbell and his proselytes, be in this doleful condition, this worse than the Egyptian darkness; still the churches ought to understand, believe and practice the truth. Let God be true: but every man a liar. But on the contrary, if these be the mere proselyting "dicta" (sayings) of the natural man, though he may have been immersed in the name of the Lord Jesus; if they be the wild and incoherent deductions of the carnal mind, aspiring to pre-eminence--to wealth and fame; if consequently, they be found dangerous to those children who are liable to be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; then certainly the churches cannot too soon be apprized of the fact; they cannot too speedily take unto them the whole armour of God, that they may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.
Paul in his last letter and his farewell address to Timothy, and as a reason for his preceding, and most solemn charge, says, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall  be turned unto fables." It is probable that this prediction related primarily to some period during Timothy's life: but it may possibly apply with equal force to the day in which we live. It is very evident, that the Baptist churches both in England and America, though they have abundantly prospered in number and respectability, without the extraordinary light and aid of Mr. Campbell, have, if he teaches sound doctrine, been in darkness exceeding gross. It is my intention, therefore, to examine his writings, and especially his little pamphlet called the Christian Baptist, and by your permission, to publish in the Star and Index the result of my examination.
My opinion of the New Translation of the Testament which he has published with his appended glossary, is, that it is an elaborate attempt to adapt the humbling doctrine of the cross to the relish of the carnal mind. The fact, that, in this translation, the word immersion is inserted in lieu of baptism, and which, in the opinion of some Baptists, is a warrant for the truth and validity of all the rest, throws not a a particle of light on the subject in contest; but leaves the controversy between the Baptists and their opponents precisely where it found it. It is my design also to examine more particularly this translation. It is not improbable that these remarks, should Mr. Campbell read them, may excite his contemptuous smile, as though I intended, with a feeble straw, to pierce the scales of Leviathan. But if the God of truth should direct and bless the effort, I have no need to tremble at the gasconade of Goliath. Some of my brethren for whom I entertain the most cordial friendship, and with whom I have enjoyed sweet fellowship, have dissuaded me from this attempt. They think that it promises no good, but evil: that controversy is the life-blood of his cause: and that in it, like the salamander in fire, he will grow and thrive. But the same reasoning, if it may be considered such, would argue silence and submission in regard to all the errors which have ever crept into the church. Surely it will be admitted by all, except Mr. Campbell and his proselytes, that what we consider error, in regard to the ordinance of baptism, is like a drop of the ocean, in comparison of the new "dogmas" and "dicta" (sayings) which are now severing the bonds of union and fellowship between so many individuals and churches. If, therefore, the discussion of these matters should extend the knowledge of his sentiments, be it so. He boldly challenges contradiction. While his confirmed proselytes in "compassing sea and land" to make others, urge the truth and validity of his sentiments under the plausible plea that no one has been able to controvert them. In conformity to this plea, I say, if they be true, we ought to believe, and adopt them; but if they be untrue, we ought to prove them to be such. I wish to be understood distinctly, that it is not my intention to engage in a formal controversy with Mr. Campbell as did Messrs. Walker, M'Calla, and Owen. But I purpose to examine, calmly, and at my leisure, his writings, and to state my objections to what I consider inconsistent with truth, and of course evil in its tendency. If in doing this, my remarks should he characterized occasionally with a degree of animation, which some may consider  incompatible with meekness and the dignity of the cause which I am to support, I must beg them to read more carefully the Acts of the Apostles, and the succeeding Epistles, and the Revelation. Surely the Apostle cannot be supposed to violate his own injunctions and precepts when he urges upon the church at Philippi what they had, in all probability, heard from him more than once before; Philip. iii. 2. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
I am constrained to beg my dear brethren to bear with me, while I confess, that it would be altogether inconsistent with an inviolable regard to sincerity and truth, should I speak or write of Mr. Campbell as I should feel bound to speak or write of a Presbyterian, Episcopal, or Methodist minister, whom I considered a real christian; and from whom I differed in some point of doctrine not essential to salvation. He himself treats the Presbyterian clergy, if not all others who preach from texts, or who presume to think themselves capable of forming conclusions different from his own, as unceremoniously and as magisterially as if he did really believe that they had always been, and are still, in the mere alphabet of religious knowledge; and that himself alone (with the aid of his proselytes) were qualified to teach, and that without the aid of the Holy Spirit, the more docile, and to scourge the dunces into the knowledge and obedience of the truth.
In conclusion I must remark that I enter reluctantly upon this business. For the last seven years I have devoted my time and my talents to the work of the ministry. It has been in many respects pleasant, if it has not been my meat and my drink, to preach to sinners, as well as I know how, "the unsearchable riches of Christ"--to feed the flock of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. I aim to serve, with religious instruction, a poor people, scattered over a considerable extent of country, where preachers are scarce and the people willing to hear. Whatever therefore interferes with that which I feel to be a privilege, if it be not a duty, I regard as a cross. But I have been personally acquainted with some of the distresses brought into the churches at Hopeful and Southanna worship houses, through the medium of the little pamphlet called the Christian Baptist. Even so faithful a reporter as Mr. Aristarchus, will allow, no doubt, that there were "bitter envyings, and strife, and confusion, and every evil work." What has already been the lot of these churches may be the lot of others. Keeping in view the patience of my Divine Master, who "when he was reviled, reviled not again;" sustained by the conscious sense of an inviolable regard to the unadulterated truth of the gospel; mourning over the calamitous visitations of that error which is robbing our churches of their genuine glory; and feeling sensibly impelled by the strong convictions of duty to give my feeble aid in raising the embankments of TRUTH against the coming inundation of SOPHISTRY, I hesitate no longer in estimating the probable consequences of my appearance before the public, as the open and decided disclaimer and opponent of Mr. Campbell's views. As I send this only as an introductory communication, it is proper for me to mention that I purpose, God willing, to forward to you the result of  my examinations, about once-a-month. Since these examination, will be confined to the volumes of the Christian Baptist, I shall not turn aside to notice any replications or vindications which the author of that work may think proper to make during the progress of the discussion.
|ABNER W. CLOPTON.|
REPLY TO MR. CLOPTON'S INTRODUCTION.
THE preceding is Mr. Clopton's introductory, and, as usual in such cases, it abounds in assertion only. Nothing was to be proved but Mr. Clopton's opinions of me, and that required nothing but his simple assertion. That he has a very unfavorable opinion of me, he has fully declared, and I acknowledge myself convinced of it. Such an opinion had many of the most devout of the Scribes and Pharisees, of the elders and rulers of Israel, both of Jesus and his Apostles. Such an opinion of Wickliffe, Jerome of Prague, John Huss, Luther, Melancthon, and all other eminent reformers, had the pious clergy of the Roman church. Such an opinion had the Virginia Episcopalians of the old Baptist teachers in Goochland, Culpepper, and many of the lower counties. Let the pages of Semple's History of the Baptists, of Benedict's History, of Jones' History, be examined, and a thousand instances of the same sort will be found. It is not extraordinary that Mr. Clopton should have such opinions of me, nor that he should honestly avow them. Thousands of good and honest Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, have entertained and honestly avowed such opinions of the most eminent public benefactors.--Whether the opinions are well or ill-founded, is another question; and Mr. Clopton is too good a scholar to be told that it is one thing to assert an opinion, and another to show that it is well founded.
Mr. Clopton has honored me with a comparison with Whitfield, Lord Byron, and Saul of Tarsus. He ranks me among the sages and the learned from whom God has hid the gospel, and of course he places himself among the babes to whom it is revealed. God hid the gospel from the learned Byron, and revealed it to the babe Milton; from the learned Saul of Tarsus, and revealed it to the babe Paul; from the Scribe Alexander Campbell, and revealed it to the babe Abner W. Clopton. In this Mr. Clopton seems to rejoice.
I cannot avoid remarking, as I pass along, that the meaning of this sentence has never yet been revealed to Mr. Clopton. He applies Luke x. 21. in the Calvinian sense. It has been revealed to him (in my opinion) by Dr. Gill or Andrew Fuller! Having renounced these masters, I have learned that the passage in its context reads thus:--"At that time Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou, having hid these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to babes; yes, O Father, that it thus seemed good in thy sight." Thou didst not employ the sages of this world to publish thy gospel; thou didst not reveal to the philosophers of Greece and Rome thy gospel, but to the poor and illiterate, that they might with more credibility publish it to the world.--No man can know the Father  but the person to whom the Son reveals him. Therefore come to me, said Jesus, that you may know; for none else can teach you. It was designed by this saying to draw sinners to Jesus for instruction, and to his Apostles; and not to discourage any person by telling him that God hides from him, or may hide from him, and reveal to some other person, regardless of his coming to Jesus, or attempting to come.
But to return. Mr. Clopton considers himself as one of the babes to whom this revelation has been made, and places me among those persons from whom it is hid; and thus he feels himself authorized to decide my character and state, and to speak of me with all the certainty that a philosopher could decide and speak of the attainments of a pupil just entering the school of science. Against such assumptions there is no argument, for there is no argument in them. I know of no cure for conceit; neither did Solomon. "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit: there is more hope of a fool than of him." When two persons meet in argument, and the one saith, "Sir, I have a special revelation, and you have not; it is given to me to understand--to you it is not given;" what reply can be given? It is of no use to quote scripture: for he will tell you that he has had it revealed to him in this sense, and you take it in the ordinary meaning of the text and context. You are unregenerate. I am, says he, regenerate; to me it has been revealed; from you it is hid. This is a triumphant argument. It is like rising up against a king, to rise up against such a "spiritual man." Mr. Clopton is, then, an inspired man, having had a special revelation. I am not inspired, and make no such pretensions. I claim no infallibility. I therefore argue that the Bible means what it says; for if it do not, it is no revelation at all. To say that we have a written revelation from God, and at the same time affirm that unless there is another revelation of it, it is unintelligible, is a contradiction in terms.
It is owing to this inspiration, this superior advantage which Mr. Clopton has over me, that he can describe my manner of public speaking, and the effects produced upon my hearers, though he never heard me in his life, nor witnessed the effects of my instructions upon my hearers! He has seen what I never saw; and has promulged it as a fact, that, "from the exhibitions of Mr. Campbell, sinners retire in all the levity and sportiveness of theatrical spectators." On what authority does Mr. Clopton affirm this? Those who have heard me, can, in myriads, attest that the very reverse of this is fact, as respects the character of my congregations. I have seen more laugh, more gaiety, and more dissipation at one Association, than I have seen at all the meetings I have addressed. And it is a fact, that, never in my life, in city or country, did I reprove man, woman, or child, for rudeness or for noise, or for misbehavior of any sort while I was speaking. But, perhaps, as Mr. Clopton looks beyond the literal meaning of scripture, he sees farther into the human heart than I can.
In his third paragraph he gives some positions from some manuscript, said to have been written by some person who said he heard some J. C. affirm them, and then concludes that the said positions are  substantially the same with what he read in the little pamphlet. Why did not Mr. Clopton appeal to the Christian Baptist direct? It is probable he never read it.
Mr. Clopton was a subscriber for some four years for the Christian Baptist. A preacher from Kentucky once called by me on his return from a visit to Mr. Clopton. He informed me that he had spent some time reading in Mr. Clopton's library, and that he saw a file of the Christian Baptist, lying by themselves, the leaves uncut, and obviously never read. He may yet find it more convenient to glean from manuscripts and from hearsay, than to examine for himself. I do hope that he will now be under the necessity of reading the work carefully; and if he do, I flatter myself that perchance he may find it not so condemnable as to excommunicate its author.
"If these six positions, says he, "be the way to learn Christ, the faith once delivered to the saints, the means by which the saints are to come to the unity of the faith, &c. then he is a stranger to the meaning of God's book." This is a possible case, and to me a probable one. But surely Mr. Clopton will not affirm that either Mr. J. C. or myself held or taught these positions in this light! Are his logical powers of no higher order than to cause him to infer that every five or six positions which every preacher assumes or defends, are held forth as the way to learn Christ, or as the faith once delivered to the saints, &c.!! I hope he will appear to more advantage than this in his future efforts. If he should not, we will make free to show that his reasoning powers need a little cultivation, notwithstanding his high attainments in language and criticism.
He next boasts of the prosperity and respectability of the English and American Baptists, and thence infers that their faith and doctrine are sound. Mr. Clopton will have to use better logic that this if he expect the thinking part of the community will respect his conclusions. Will not the prosperity and respectability of the Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, &c. &c. &c. prove as much for them as the prosperity and respectability of the Baptists!!
He next gives his opinion of the New Translation. He promises to examine it! We hope he may furnish us with some improvements and emendations. We shall thank him for them. I am willing to learn even from Mr. Clopton. Fas est ab hoste discere. (It is right to learn even from an enemy.) We shall expect solid reason, good sense, and sound criticism from Mr. Clopton on the New Testament. His mere opinion, influenced, as he has proved it to be by strong prejudice, will not go far with those who think, and I would flatter myself that he will not deal out mere assertions, as though a saying of his would preponderate the decision of seven men who can render a reason.
His telling the readers of the Star that my mind is carnal; that I am aspiring to pre-eminence, to wealth and fame, may come with a good grace from one of those who are inspired and supernaturally endowed with the "gift of discerning spirits;" but from me it would not pass for much, and therefore I will only return it as an uncurrent note to  its owner. I have attended in the 10th number of the Christian Baptist to Mr. Brantly's note upon the word "wealth," and shown the injustice he has done me in it.
I am sorry to observe the signal of retreat in Mr. Clopton's "gasconade" He breathes out threatening and slaughter, but tells us when boasting of his designs, that if he is likely to be hard pressed, he will leave the field; nay, rather, that he will fight outside of the fence. He is determined to keep out of the entrenchment. He will neither be a Walker, nor a M'Calla, nor an Owen.
He asks for the indulgence of a little animation, but promises to be calm; and claims the licence of the Mahometans to call me not a "christian dog," but simply a "dog!" But he will not turn aside to notice "any replication or vindication" which I may offer. No, indeed, he asks for the indulgence of being animated, of talking of my natural or carnal mind, of representing me "an evil worker;" and that I will indulge him so far as not to expect that he will vindicate nor defend himself, but just fire his gun and retreat!! Ah! what cowards are these supporters of human traditions! How fearful to risk themselves or their system to manly, rational, and scriptural examination. Yet this man talks of "great swelling words of vanity," and of his "knowledge of the scriptures."
He moreover claims the privilege of abusing me as one not to be treated with the courtesy due any Presbyterian or Methodist. He begs of his "dear brethren" with whom he has had "sweet communion, to indulge him in not speaking or writing of Mr. Campbell as he should feel bound to speak or write of a Presbyterian, Episcopal, or Methodist minister"!! and hopes he will have the patience of his Divine Master in reviling me!!! I dare not say much upon this point. I am determined to submit to indignities and reproaches, and I fear to allow my pen the licence of a single remark upon the above. I will speak and write of Mr. Clopton as I would of any Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Methodist minister. I will not declare him out of the pale of common courtesy, and shall treat him with at least common respect. What have I said which provokes such hatred and resentment? And who is Mr. Clopton? A solicitor for the Columbian College and Star.
I thank Mr. Clopton for his coming out. I hope he will persevere until he is better informed, and that he will not only make assertions, but attempt to fortify them with all his talents and learning, that the people may again see how destitute of reason and scriptural support every sectarian scheme is. If any thing can be said better than his predecessors have said, we shall pay all attention to it; and if not, we shall be farther convinced that the supporters of popular notions follow one another as oxen treading upon a wheel.
HISTORY OF SIN, INCLUDING THE OUTLINES OF
ANCIENT HISTORY--NO. I.
AS respects the malignity of sin, I have found but two sects. The one expatiates upon its demerit until language fails; the other is  always extenuating its malignity. One class represents it as a natural and almost innocent infirmity of human nature, while the other fails to give birth to their conceptions of its atrocious nature and destructive tendency. To those who labor to diminish our abhorrence of sin, christianity and all its wonderous works of mercy and favor appear an unnecessary and extravagant display about nothing; but to those who contemplate it in the light which revelation pours upon it, every thing in the economy of mercy attests the wisdom and favor of God displayed in the gospel.
Observing the tendency of the two systems, we are induced to propose the question, What is sin? In defining the act, it is no more, says John, than "the transgression of law." And if we ask, what is law, as respects sin, Paul avers that it is "the strength of sin." But to develope the import of the monosyllable sin, it is necessary to consider what are the prominent ideas attached to law. There is the authority of the lawgiver which passes into the law, and there is the nature and design of the law itself. As far as relates to the authority of the law, sin is simply rebellion; but as respects the nature and design of the law, it is what is sometimes called wickedness. The transgression of a law purely arbitrary, positively requiring obedience without regard to any thing but the authority of the lawgiver, is pure rebellion. But if the law have a moral tendency, then the transgression of it superadds to rebellion the idea of wickedness or crime.
The first law promulgated on earth, under which man was at first placed, was a positive and arbitrary statute prohibiting an act neither good nor evil in itself; and was therefore, the best conceivable test of the loyalty and subordination of the subject to whom it was given. The transgression of such a law can be considered in no other light than as an act of pure rebellion. The language of such a transgression is simply this, "Thou shalt not reign over me." In an act of pure rebellion, the malignity of sin appears more striking, more plain than when contemplated in connexion with an immoral tendency. The enormity of such an act, which has nothing to call it forth but simple aversion or disregard to the authority of God, can never be developed in language intelligible to mortal man. When any creature acquainted with his Creator tells him to his face, either in word or deed, "Thou shalt net reign over me," before we can have any idea of such an act, we must understand the relation and obligation in which a man stands to his Creator. But this is impossible. When a child rises up against his father and dethrones him, all men of clear perceptions consider him as a monster rather than as a man. They know something of the relation existing between the parties, and of the obligations and duties thence resulting. But this is a very faint and a very imperfect analogy of the relation and obligation existing between man and his Creator. It is just as easy for man to weigh the universe in scales, as to fathom the nature of sin contemplated only as an act of rebellion against God.  The Bible itself makes no effort to develope the nature of sin by any description drawn up in words. This admonishes us not to attempt it. What shall we say then? Are we without any means of forming any idea at all of the nature of sin? No, we have to learn it not from verbal description, but from its effects and from the means of its cure. It is very difficult to explain any of the vegetable or mineral poisons. When we see a dog, a horse, or a man drop dead in an instant of time, when only touched with a drop of prussic acid, we have a better idea of its inherent poisonous influence, than from any verbal description of it.
The history of sin is then the best developement of its nature. But all the history to which we have access, belongs to time, and time only belongs to history. The history of sin, therefore, to which we look, is a history which only reaches back to the birth of the world. At its birth all was good, and therefore all was happy. Before the rebellion in Eden, all was good, all was very good. In the world not a groan, not a sigh was heard, till sin was born. No gloom, no pain, no sorrow any where. But the instant man rebelled, the heavens were overcast, the Sun lost his brightness, the earth its fertility, the air its salubrity, Eden its bloom, woman her beauty, and man his crown. Nature was immediately diseased in all her members. A consumption was introduced into her whole system, which must issue in a universal decline. The leprosy continued to spread until the whole habitation of man was infected. Human enjoyment was poisoned at the fountain, and all its streams were corrupted. The fruit of every tree degenerated, and the tree of life was rendered inaccessible to mortal man.
In contemplating this change, these results, we begin to learn something of the nature of sin. Hearing all nature groan, seeing the agonies and pains of all that live, feeling the seeds of mortality thickly sown in our own persons, and tracing all these to their proper source, we discover that one sin, one act of rebellion, one single transgression, is the root of all this bitterness and grief. This brought death into the world, and all our woe. When we hear all the millions of human beings begin the journey of life with a scream, and see death lording it over them all; when we survey the rueful wastes, we begin to feel that there is a malignity in sin which no eye can see, which no tongue can utter and which no pencil can paint.
From one act of rebellion, called the sin of Adam, death entered the world, and passed down with every generation; so that all the millions of infants and men pine away and die. By that one offence death has reigned even over them who never sinned as Adam did by transgressing a positive law. All have felt the pains, all, all have tasted the bitterness of transgression in being subjected to death, and to corruption in the grave.
The first sin can be estimated, only in connexion with all that has followed. For all the sins of sinners are the consequences of the sin of Adam, The serpent which stings a tree poisons not only  the roots, trunk, branches, and foliage, but every insect which feeds upon it feels the sting in its own privations, pains, and death. In one word, every disease, moral and physical, in the experience of the whole animal creature, is but a consequence of that one transgression. One transgression hurled from their dignity the legions of heavenly potentates, and cast them down to Tartarus forever without the hope of reprieve, and without remedy; and in our world one transgression has visited upon all the generations of men all the calamities to which mortal man is heir.
Angels had but one life, and were incapable of another, and that one life was lost forever. God put the sin of angels forthwith under punishment; but the sin of Adam was put under government that there might be a possibility of its cure. The nature of sin is further developed, as we learn the character of that remedial government under which it has been placed. We shall, therefore, attend to some of the more signal acts of the divine government over sin.
And first let it be remarked, that had it not been for this remedial government, man would have been snatched from transgression to judgment, as were the angels who sinned. But man is spared. "A respite unto life," a sentence "of justification unto life," as Paul affirms, has come upon all men, in consequence of the mediation of Adam the second. But notwithstanding the respite which has been granted, (and were it not for that none could have been born, nor any of those since born, could have lived;) still there is a maximum in the sin of man beyond which it has not been permitted to reach.
The sin of Cain differed from that of Adam in many respects: I shall only mention one. It was not like Adam's original sin; for that was the act of rebellion of a perfect man; this was not only an act of rebellion as respected the great Lawgiver; but as respected the nature of the act, it was wicked and vicious in the extreme. Its consequences upon Cain and upon his family for generations, cannot now be traced. But it stung his posterity down to the Deluge. At the Deluge the sin of the world had attained to that maximum beyond which it could not be permitted to pass.
But to resume the sin of Adam again, I would say emphatically that it differed from every sin since committed upon the earth. It was the sin of a perfect man. All other sins are the sins of sinful men. The malignity of sin can therefore be more clearly discerned through this consideration, than through any other media. There have been but two sins committed, of which the ear of man has ever heard, from which the malignity of sin can, in any degree, be apprehended. This idea, though new to me, I think is entitled to some consideration. The crucifying the Lord of glory, though the greatest sin of sinners, and entailing upon a nation a curse which almost two thousand years has not completed, is but a feeble illustration of thee malignity of sin compared with the two sins I have now in my eye. All sins flowing from a sinful nature, or from a nature impaired and debased, have some or many extenuating considerations which keep the malignity of sin out of view, and actually diminish it. The  injurious acts of an idiot have not the demerit of the same acts of one of sound mind and reason. No sin which one of Adam's children can commit, has the same malignity in it which the first transgression had, and from it alone can we learn the heinous nature of transgression. I need scarcely inform my readers that the other sin, to which I allude, is the sin of the rebel angels. Their transgression, whatever the act may have been, was the transgression of perfect intelligences and of perfect beings. I pretend not to explain either of these acts--the consequences of them are the only explanations of them which can be relied on. Many have impiously laughed at the story of Eve's eating the apple as a ridiculous cause for entailing such mischiefs upon the world. Their laugh deserves such pity as the laugh of an idiot, at the cause which deprived him of his reason. The liberality of the grant made to the progenitors of our race, and the smallness of the restriction laid upon them, exhibit the magnitude of the transgression. So we must reason. The less the temptation, the greater the sin. He, who owning ten thousand sheep, seizes by violence the widow's lamb, sins more grievously, than would the widow if she should steal the ten thousand sheep.
But as was said, the only exposition of the nature of these two sins is the consequences which flow from them. The former involved in irremediable ruin the angelic transgressors. The latter subjected the human race to all the miseries of the present life; and such of them as are not cured of the deadly disease, are, with the angels who kept not their first estate, doomed to everlasting destruction, Sic stat sententia omnipotentis. So stands the decree of the Almighty. All the sins of all the world, and all the evils attendant on them, are developements of the sin of Adam (or of Eve,), and must be all taken into view with all the train of natural evils consequent upon them, before we can think aright of what sin is. The sins of sinners, though so grievous and so full of misery, are but specks in comparison of the sin of a perfect being. Yet we find some of those singled out, and the history of their consequences detailed for many generations, to teach men the malignity thereof.
Cain's transgression drove him still farther from the presence of the Lord. Not one of his posterity is distinguished for piety, and the whole of his race perished in the Deluge. The virtuous and devout part of the race sprang from him who filled the place of Abel in the affection of his parents and the favor of God. The children of Cain were the children of men, and were skilled in the arts of men; but the sons of God were amongst the children of Seth, and the intermarriages of these with the daughters of men, consummated the apostacy of the old world; and so filled the earth with violence that their crimes reached unto heaven and brought down ruin upon a whole generation.
It was 1656 years from the Creation to the Deluge. Allowing that the posterity of Adam after deduction for the loss by death, only doubled every 40 years, which is a very reasonable calculation, then there must have been upon the face of the earth at the time of the  Deluge, more than two billions of human beings. But this is almost incredible; yet dividing 1656 by 40, it gives 41 generations; and 2 multiplied into itself 41 times gives more than two billions as the product. There can be no reasonable doubt, however, taking the longevity of that period into view, but that a number far surpassing the present population of the earth, perished in the Deluge. Of all these millions, "of their names, their exploits, their fame, there is no memorial. The earth once glowed with their labors, and groaned under their wickedness; but they with all the monuments of their skill and power sunk in the remorseless deep." Sin has in this universal catastrophe a monument erected to its memory on which is inscribed its awful enormity, and the sure and certain consequences which must follow in its train to every child of Adam, who is not released from its guilt, cleansed from its pollution, and emancipated from its dominion.
CHRISTIANOS AND THE EIGHTH CHAPTER OF ROMANS.
A WRITER in the Religious Herald, signed "Christianos," has taken a prodigious alarm, and vows that he will sound an alarm on some holy mountain in the plains of the Bowling Green. And what is the alarm? He sees, or thinks he sees, "some attempts to banish the persuasion of a divine operation upon the soul of man"--"a sentiment which ought to make every christian shudder"--"and other items of grievous import;" such as man's ability to obey the gospel; the identity of baptism and being born of water and of the spirit, what he calls regeneration. He sees, or thinks he sees, other monsters squinting at a rejection of the atonement. All these he sees like a race of giants springing from the stones Deucalion threw over his shoulder. Such spectres haunt the imagination of this timorous unknown Christianos.
I sincerely pity every man who is the subject of such periodical paroxisms. Whether to recommend the shower-bath, or an electrifying machine, I know not; but I presume something is necessary to give a healthy tone to his nervous system. To have cured the good Richard Baxter of the hydrophobia, and the mild Christianos of such spasmodic affections, perhaps may be equally beyond the skill of the medical and spiritual faculty.
This fit was brought on by hearing me lecture upon the 8th chapter of the Romans, in the Bowling Green, Caroline county, Va. in January last. Had I known that such a nervous hearer was in the congregation, I might have been more cautious. But my ignorance, I hope, will excuse me. We shall, however, examine into the cause. It is this: I gave a view of the 26th verse which did not accord with the philosophy of Christianos. And such is, or appears to be, the temperament of Christianos, that, if a favorite text is not applied as he has been wont to apply it, the church is in danger! the essential doctrine is denied! His confidence is gone. His eye is jaundiced.
|"He sickens by the very means of health." |
With him "a divine operation upon the soul" is the life's blood of christianity. My discourse in the Bowling Green was to declare for practical purposes a divine operation upon the bodies of the saints. Now I teach both a divine operation by moral means upon the soul, and a physical operation upon the bodies of saints. This is a fair statement of the case. I know of but two kinds of power in the universe. The one is moral, and the other physical. The minds of christians are the subject of the former, and their bodies will be the subject of the latter. I make this statement for the benefit of Christianos and all who have drunk out of human fountains of theology. The Spirit of God, clothed in the gospel institution, is the operator in the one case; and that same agent which raised to life again the dead body of Jesus and gave to it immortality, will exhibit itself in the other.
But these admirers of Fuller and Gill, these adorers of St. Andrew and St. John, are alarmed if a single text is not applied according to their direction. So entrammelled are their minds with the cords of system, they never can progress farther than the spider whose walks are measured by the thread he weaves out of his own bowels.
I selected the 9th chapter of the Romans, from the 17th verse to the end, as a proper subject from which to enforce with exhortations this most consoling hope, that our bodies shall be the subject of a divine and supernatural operation. I shall, for the sake of some who have solicited it, and for the sake of others who have misrepresented that discourse, and especially with a view to relieve Christianos, give a very condensed view of that branch of my discourse based on that section of the 8th chapter. Premising here what I said there, that, in the views given of the 26th verse, I had no authority nor countenance from any of the living, nor from any of the writers on that epistle now dead, that I know of. I gave it as resting solely upon my own judgment, and therefore wished all to examine it with caution and candor.
The following is an outline of the view given of the whole section; 'All Christians are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ in the future and eternal inheritance. If, therefore, we hold fast our begun confidence unshaken to the end; if persecutions and bodily afflictions cause us not to apostatize; if, in one word, we suffer with Christ, we shall be glorified with him at the resurrection. To patience and perseverance, therefore, I exhort, because of the certainty and the magnitude of the glory to be revealed in us and upon our bodies when the Lord comes.
So high, argues he, are my conceptions of the glory to be displayed in our bodies at the resurrection, that I do not reckon the sufferings of this present time, in their most complicated and appalling form, as worthy to be compared with that glory which shall be revealed in our persons at the resurrection. The most earnest desire and longing expectation of mankind, of the sensitive creation, waits for nothing, anticipates nothing more desirable, more transporting, than the full developement of the saints in their glorified bodies as the sons of God. We are not yet revealed in person as the sons of God; the world  knoweth us not; we know not the beauty and majesty of our immortal bodies; but we know that we shall be like the Son of God in personal beauty and glory.
To decay, corruption, and worms, or to vanity, this creation, these mortal bodies of ours have been subjected; not, however, as a voluntary agent subjects himself to a master; but by him we are subjected to this vanity or corruption, in hope; yes, to a hope that this very creation, these mortal bodies of ours shall be freed from the slavery of this corruption that they may enjoy the glorious freedom from corruption which belongs to them who are children of God.
For we know that this whole creation is groaning together, and even till now are all in pain, as a woman in travail. Nay, even they who have the first fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves, are groaning within ourselves, waiting for an adoption--I mean, the redemption of our bodies from the dominion of mortality. For to this hope we have escaped, and by it we are sustained. But remember it is hope, and not enjoyment; for hope attained is not hope; for what a man enjoys he does not hope for. But, beloved, if we hope for these glorified bodies, let us patiently wait for them. 'Tis to a patient endurance of afflictions in these mortal bodies I exhort you.
Now if we exercise this patience in our corporeal sufferings, the spirit helps us to sustain these bodily infirmities; for we do not know when oppressed with bodily pains and infirmities, what we should pray for as suitable to our condition. I, Paul, when groaning under these infirmities, have repeatedly prayed to be delivered from some trials, but the Lord did not deliver me as I expected, or as I prayed, but in a way which I did not expect. I say, then, the spirit itself speaks for us to God; it intercedes for our deliverance by groans which cannot be expressed in words. For although our spirit groans under these bodily afflictions and infirmities, and cannot give utterance to its own desires; yet when patiently bearing these trials, its groans have a meaning which is understood. Yes, he who searches the heart knows what these groans mean. He knows the bent of the spirit; he knows that it desires deliverance for the saints according to the will of God. And although we may not understand the design or utility of these afflictions which make our spirits groan, we know that all things are working together for good to them who love God--to them who, according to a previous purpose, are now actually called. For those who love God, whom he before approved, even these he marked out, beforehand to be of a form the same as that of the image of his Son, that, as they had borne the image of Adam the first, so exactly they shall wear the image of Adam the second; so that the only difference in appearance between him and his joint heirs, between the Son and the children of God, will be, that he is the first born from the dead, and they, the children, the second birth of the resurrection. And permit me to add, that those whom he predestinated, or before marked out to be of a like form and glory with his Son, be has now actually called and acquitted them; he has pardoned them, and glorified them with the title, rank, and spirit of sons of God. So that we are now  the sons of God, though not revealed as such. We know, then, brethren, that when this earthly house of our tabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this creation we groan in the earnest expectation and desire to clothe ourselves with that house of ours, that heavenly habitation; and surely, having that on, we shall not be found naked. For, indeed, we who are in this dwelling do groan, being loaded with a burthen, for which we do not wish to unclothe ourselves, but to be clothed with immortality, that what is mortal may be swallowed up of life.1
What, then, shall we say to these things? God being for us, who can be against us? He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how can it be that he will withhold less favors from us! Will he not, with this inestimable gift, freely give us all things! Who shall lodge an accusation against them whom God has chosen? God who acquits them! No. Who shall condemn them? Christ who died for them! rather, indeed, who is raised up for them, placed at the right hand of God, and who intercedes for us! Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ which burns within us? That love which we have for him, who shall extinguish it? Shall tribulation. bodily distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or the sword of our enemies? True, indeed, to these we are exposed; for so a prophet foretold--"For his sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." We, indeed, in all these bodily sufferings, are more than conquerors through him who first loved us, and called us into his kingdom and glory. Though I thus expostulate with you, brethren, I am persuaded that neither bodily sufferings, nor persecutions; nay, not death itself, nor the promise of this life, nor angels, principalities, nor powers on earth, nor things present, nor future; nor height, nor depth, nor any other created being, shall be able to separate us from loving God, from the love of him which is produced in us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Such was the view given of this passage. This was the cause of the alarm! Now, candid reader, I ask you, is there not a unity, a correspondence, a perfect compatibility in this whole section with that one object avowed in the introduction; with that position which gave rise to, it, viz.--If we suffer with him, that so we maybe glorified together with him." Does he not declare the grand purpose of God to be, to conform the saints in their bodies hereafter, as in their minds now, to the image of his Son? Has he not promised to change our humbled bodies into a form like to his own glorious body, according to that strong working by which he is able to subdue all things to himself? And is not this the hope from which the Apostle exhorts to patience under bodily sufferings?
But we differed from Matthew Henry, from John Wesley, and from John Gill. The two former argued the restoration of the brutal creation from this passage. And the latter, with a hundred others, made  the spirit of man, in verse 26th, the Spirit of God; or rather, the spirit of patience the Spirit of God "in his official character." Christianos sees through his green glasses some squinting here against a divine operation upon the soul! For my part, I have no squinting, in right or left eye. I have no system to squint to, nor any to squint against. I wish to look straight forward to the infallible guide. And this way of interpreting scripture to aid a system is most obnoxious to my aversion, because I think it profaning the oracle of God, and destructive to all true piety.
It is true I have given to the 26th verse a meaning which is not fashionable; but I hope none will reject it on that account, until they examine the passage and compare it with the references alluded to in it. I do not here, give the arguments, nor the criticisms by which this view is supported. I simply present the view itself. And I ask, is it either immoral or irreligious in its tendency? Nay, is it not most moral and religious, most practical in its tendency? But I make no bond of union, no term of communion, no condition of fellowship in the adoption or rejection of it. I have no such intolerant spirit. I offer it as favor to those who look for instruction. If they tell me they cannot receive it, I feel no indignation. If they acquiesce in it, I feel no complacency in them unless their lips and lives agree. But if Christianos denounce me on this account, let him prove that he is not intolerant as a Pope, and let him give us a connected view of the whole passage.
I will suggest to him the following hints to aid him in approving or condemning according to his superior judgment:--
1. There is no adjunct or epithet attached to the term spirit, in the 26th verse, which would authorize the conclusion that the Spirit of God is referred to.
2. To represent the Spirit of God as interceding for the saints, is incompatible with any office or work assigned to the Spirit in any passage in the Old or New Testament. He cannot furnish a sentence in all the volumes of revelation which looks like it.
3. Paul, in this context, represents the Lord Jesus as interceding for us. QUERY.--Does the Holy Spirit and the Saviour sustain the same office?
4. Why should the Spirit of God use groans which cannot be expressed in words? Does this weakness belong to that Divine Agent?
5. In some versions, in Thomson's, and in the King's Translation, it reads, "He or it makes intercessions for the saints according to the will of God." Is it admissible to say that the Spirit of God, in this or any given case, makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God, or according to God. The Spirit of God, acting according to the will of God, in any one case, implies an incongruity for which there is no analogy in the book of God.
6. If I were to make this matter plain to a child, I would ask what propriety in saying that these groans were examined in the heart and understood in the heart by God, if the Spirit of God uttered these groans himself? 
An inattention to the Hebraisms in Paul's style, and in the style of the New Testament, has given rise to some difficulties. Why a man's spirit could speak for himself or intercede for himself, or how the first person and the third person can be applied indiscriminately to the same being, at the same time, is a puzzle to some. But to those who study the style of the New Testament, such usages will not appear strange. "Jesus rejoiced in spirit;" "Shall I come to you in the spirit of meekness?" "Lord Jesus receive my spirit;" "I will pray with the spirit;" "Paul was pressed in spirit;" "I go bound in the spirit;" "be renewed in the spirit of your mind." The pronoun I represents the whole person; but how often in all languages is the body and the spirit personified and distinguished from one another; so that I represents the one, and you and it the other? The love of God, denotes both our love to him, and sometimes his love to us. I know, said Jesus, that you have not the love of God in you. This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. Keep yourselves in the love of God--are instances of the former. In this was the love of God manifested. Hereby perceive we the love of God--are examples of the latter. In Romans viii. 39. it must mean our love to God, because afflictions and persecutions could not cause the love of God towards us to abate; but they might be supposed to lessen our love to God. These hints I suggest to him, or any other person, who may take a different view of this passage.
To conclude. What a consolation to christians, that, when groaning under afflictions, and unable how to express themselves, not knowing what to ask, their groans, which they cannot turn into language, have a meaning which God understands and regards. A patient spirit sustains infirmity, lightens the weight of persecution, and has a language more eloquent than the voice of words, and prays more effectually than any form of expression which the most fruitful imagination could invent.
|From the Vermont Chronicle.|
IN the daily revolution of the earth, after midnight, we are borne on towards that point, at which the Sun will become visible; but before we arrive there, the light of the Sun, striking upon the higher parts of the atmosphere, is refracted or bent out of its natural course, and a few straggling rays find their way down to us, enabling us to see that we are surrounded with objects, but not to learn their true form and color, and thus giving occasion to errors, from which we should be perfectly safe in total darkness. And as the earth rolls on, and the light increases to the full blaze of day, and the illusions of twilight give place to objects clearly seen, other parts of the earth are following us through the various stages of the progress from midnight to noon-day; and their twilight visions, half fact, half fiction, indicate, as ours did, the approach of the light, in which they shall see all things clearly. 
There is something much like this, in the progress of the human family from the depths of ignorance towards that fulness of knowledge, which is in reserve for us. It will, we think, invariably be found, that every error in theology, which has shown a tendency to reappear in different ages, and distant countries, is but "the refraction of some truth, yet below the horizon" of those who embrace it. Error it may really be, and hurtful; yet it arises from a degree of light, just sufficient to show that there is something to be seen, without showing distinctly what that something is.
These thoughts have been recalled to our mind, by seeing notices of the spread of "Campbellism," as it is called, at the West. This term is used to designate the doctrines of Alexander Campbell, well known for his dispute with Mr. Owen, on the evidences of christianity. The peculiarities of this scheme seem to be mainly comprehended in two points. First, that saving faith is only an historical belief of facts stated in the Bible. Secondly, that baptism, which is synonymous with immersion, and for which every such believer is a proper subject, actually washes away sin, and is regeneration. Of its progress at the West, a correspondent of the New York Baptist Register, says, "Mr. Campbell's paper, and their vigorous missionary efforts, are making great achievements. It is said that one half of the Baptist churches in Ohio have embraced this sentiment and become what they call, "Christian Baptists" It is spreading like a mighty contagion through the Western States, wasting Zion in its progress. In Kentucky, its desolations are said to be even greater than in Ohio." Other accounts confirm this statement.
It will be seen, that neither of these doctrines is new; and it would seem no very difficult task, to detect the truths of which they are the "refractions" As to faith, Mr. Campbell evidently overlooks the distinction between believing a proposition to be true, and believing the truth asserted in that proposition. We may believe an assertion in the Bible to be true, as in the cases of many prophecies, not yet fulfilled, while we are conscious that we do not understand it, and therefore do not believe the truth contained in it; nay, while perhaps, without knowing it we incline to the contrary opinion. The Jews believed most firmly that all that Moses had said was true; but yet they did not believe what Moses said; for he spake of Christ, whom they continued to reject. So most men in a christian land, believe that what the Bible says is true, but they do not believe the things, which the Bible says, in the sense attached to them by the Spirit of God. When men become really penitent, the terms used in the scriptures have a new meaning to them. Sin, holiness, mercy, justice, heaven and hell; what is said of the character of God, of Christ, and of man, as now understood, is new to them. They have new ideas on these subjects,--ideas, which stir their affections and control their lives. Whoever believes the assertions of scripture, understood as such men understand them, has a "faith which works by love," and which "purifies the heart." He who thus, understandingly, believes the assertions of the gospel, shall be saved. We might even  say, he that believes the single fact, of the death of the Son of God as a propitiation for sin, as is taught in the gospel, just as he believes any other historical fact, shall be saved; for we are taught in the gospel, that his death was an expression of holy love; and how can we understandingly believe this, unless we have learned, by feeling it, what holy love is?
One, who thus believes the truths of the gospel, will be obedient to its precepts; and the first act of obedience, flowing from faith, is evidence of forgiveness, and is connected with eternal life. Generally, among these converted under the preaching of the apostles, the first public act, by which this faith was manifested, was an open profession of it, and submission to the ordinances of christianity. Hence the language which is misinterpreted into the other error of "Campbellism"
From what we have learned concerning the state of theological opinions at the West, we anticipate a continued spread of this new edition of old errors; and we doubt whether those who seem now active in opposing them, will meet with much success, till 'they give up some favorite points of their own system.
WE do protest against christening the gospel of Jesus and the christian religion, by the name of any mortal man. To carry the principle out, we ought to call every man's sentiments by his name. Because we have disclaimed creeds, names. and sects, our adversaries seem to take a pleasure in designating our writings and speeches by the name creed, Campbellism, theory, system, &c. This is both unmanly, and unchristian. Men, fond of nicknaming, are generally weak in reason, argument, and proof.
The writer of the above despatch, is not without his share of good reason and common sense. There are sundry good remarks in it. We differ from him in the application of them. He says, "there is a fulness of knowledge in reserve for us christians." Why, then, oppose any attempt to contribute to that fulness of knowledge? He has too much good sense to expect any new revelation from heaven--any new apostle or prophet. He expects this knowledge will be acquired from what is already written. We think so, and have a hundred times declared that there is a general--an almost universal ignorance of what is written in the oracles of God. The contradictory commentaries and sects are proof of this. The commentaries of Dr. Gill and Adam Clarke, works copiously strewed with the spoils of Rabbinical and Pagan literature, are incontestable proofs of the general ignorance of the scriptures. Does not every sect suppose that from all others the true meaning of the Scriptures is hid! The secret cause of this ignorance is the general presumption that the Bible is not to be submitted to all the natural and common rules of interpretation to which all other books in the world are to be subjected. The remains, and the  principles of the Gnostics,2 those early corruptors of christianity, are yet operating in the minds of sectarians. The mystic doctors are yet in high repute.
The Baptists have their share of veneration for the mystic interpreters. Their Gill, excepting George Fox, is, perhaps, of all that have lived since the Reformation, the most finished mystic. He threw a seven fold veil over the face of the New Testament, and although frequently declaiming against the Gnostics, was as deeply imbued with their leading principles of interpretation as any Valentinian.
The writer of the above remarks has not, I think, perused many of the volumes of the Christian Baptist. If he had examined that work, he would not have made the two items he selects the peculiarities of the views he is pleased to ascribe to me. They are but "the refractions," to use his similitude, of some great truths contended for in that work, which are yet below his horizon. What he says upon the subject of faith, or my first peculiarity, I accede to. The proposition which he says I "evidently overlook," is, I was going to say, taken from the Christian Baptist. It is almost in the same words, found in one of my essays upon faith. He gives up that item in the conclusion of the fourth paragraph. I do not differ from himself in the value of a monosyllable, a mere expletive, upon that subject, Had he read the Christian Baptist, he would have found all his own distinctions clearly marked, and in support of the position which he pleases to call my first peculiarity.
His second is not so accurate a refraction of my views, but it is a refraction from them; and, therefore, I must request him to read again, that he may keep pace with the progress of the light or darkness as he may choose to designate it.
It is easy to call any thing "an old error" or "a new notion." And if I stood on the vantage ground, I could deal out as many "old errors"  and "new notions" as would employ the Vermont Telegraph a year to despatch, secundum artem, according to his art of deciding.
He anticipates a continued spread of these "old errors." He reminds me of Erasmus. "Unless those active in opposing them renounce their errors, this new edition of old errors will continue to spread." I think he is a true prophet, and I hope the event will prove him more sagacious than those Stars which rise in the West and set in the East. I care not for his calling them old errors. Old they may be, and old they are. The Jews considered the christian scheme an error and the Apostles as errorists; and it is a right which the Vermont Telegraph has to think and speak for himself. It is in the power of a few men to give great spread to these "old errors." Mr. Clopton and Mr. Brantly, and a few others, will aid much in their dissemination. They are not as wise as Dr. Gamaliel, though they mimic his brethren of the Sanhedrim. Perhaps my friend of the Telegraph may introduce these old errors into Vermont. I am sure they will never break one of his bones, nor cause his heart to ache when he thinks of appearing in the presence of the King.
One of my "new edition of old errors" is found well expressed in the following sentence: "The Jews believed most firmly that all that Moses had said was true, but yet they did not believe what Moses said; for he spoke of Christ whom they continued to reject. So most men in a christian land believe that what the Bible says is true, but they do not believe the things which the Bible says, in the sense attached to them by the Spirit of God." This is just the fact. And it is the reason why most of the sectaries oppose the things taught in the Bible advocated by me. The Bible says, "He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved." How few believe it! The Bible says, "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." How few believe it! The Bible says, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." I hope my friend of the Telegraph will not prove himself to be one of those who believe that what the Bible says is true, and yet reject the things which it most explicitly affirms!
FOR THE MILLENNIAL HARBINGER.
|Bloomfield, Ky, March 18, 1830.|
FROM a very cursory perusal of the first number of your Millennial Harbinger, I learn that your pages are open to those of a different sentiment with yourself. Now, though I am not altogether opposed to your sentiments as expressed in your writings, yet I consider the invitation as extended to me; and, therefore, without further apology, I forward you for insertion a few prefatory paragraphs.
During my editorial labors, encomiums on your erudition, talents, &c. expressive of my regard for you, were presented before the public. My letters to you were dictated by the kindliest feelings, and every editorial paragraph was free from acrimonious invective. I have  long since learned that good men may, and often do, think differently on a variety of religious subjects. I never expected that in all things a perfect coincidence of opinion should exist between myself and any man living. Neither is such a coincidence to be desired.
In your writings I found much to approve, and some things which I thought merited censure. From my first entrance into the church of God till the present moment, it has been my constant practice to "call no man master." Considering myself as alone responsible to my God, I drew the conclusion that I must think for myself. This most inestimable privilege, I, with the utmost cheerfulness, concede to all others; nor do I censure any one for the free exercise of this inalienable right.
Another point, namely this: "All men err," is to me self-evident. It needs no proof. If this be the fact, will it not necessarily follow that you, too, have erred? that in your writings sentiments have been expressed, and opinions advanced, and a spirit manifested, not sanctioned by the holy dicta of the inspired penmen? John, the holy and beloved disciple, recommends love to the brethren. Is it not a fact, brother Campbell, that, in some instances, your heart did not glow with that fervent charity which veils a multitude of faults? When making out your long list of specifications against your brother, it is thought that your feelings were not of the most peaceful nature. When castigating those from whose pens you have received a similar treatment, have you not sometimes forgotten those maxims of christian conduct which require gentleness, kindness, mercy, and love--forbearance and long suffering?
Now, if it be admitted, (and you can but subscribe to the admission,) that you have often erred, both in judgment, and in awarding to all that benevolence inculcated by the gospel; ought you not to listen to the suggestions of a brother who seeks not to make himself known through your work, but to enter on the pages of your journal his objections to some of the exceptionable parts of your writings? He has no by-ends in view--open, unreserved, and free, he now approaches you, as he has always done, with the expectation of a most dispassionate hearing. Your former mode of replication can now have no place; but arguments of a milder nature are expected.
But for the unfavorable impression made on the minds of your readers, through the Christian Baptist, these remarks would never have appeared. Your readers have never heard me themselves; and many of them have been led to think of my course and sentiments as opposed to the gospel of God. For thinking that no discrepancy exists between your views and those taught by Paul and the other Apostles, my dissent from what you have taught will be considered by them as a dissent from the truth; whereas you yourself must confess that your sentiments are not worthy of all acceptation.
The vantage ground is all on your side. Not compelled, like myself, to labor daily for a dependent family, you have leisure to clothe your ideas, in all the loveliness of the brightest drapery, to give harmony and  cadence to every period, to revise, give strength to the weak, and perspicuity to the obscure parts of every sentence and paragraph.
The vantage ground is yours. You hold the helm--I am only a passenger.
The vantage ground is yours. You write for those of your own opinion--I for those of a different opinion.
The vantage ground is yours. Your readers have an exalted conception of your talents--mine are esteemed of the humbler sort.
Thus, in every way, you have the vantage ground of me, excepting one, and that not the least--I have the same sure word of prophecy which you have--and to this shall be my first and last appeal--by its decisions are all human actions to be sustained or censured. If, in the honest, sober, dispassionate examination of your sentiments, I should be successful in bringing yourself, and those who have imbibed your sentiments, to a nearer approximation to apostolic doctrine, I shall he amply rewarded.
In my next I shall present my first objection to your writings, with my reasons annexed. As I have not leisure for long communications, nor have you room for their insertion, I come to a close by subscribing myself yours, &c.
REPLY TO BROTHER CLACK.
IN addition to the good character which I had of you from some brethren of note in Kentucky, especially from the venerable standing Moderator of the Elkhorn Association, our brother Keeling, editor of the Religious Herald, Richmond, spoke to me of you in a manner very favorable and honorable to you as a disciple. I think he told me that you and he were classmates for some years under Doctor Staughton.
I have not supposed that you were, at any time, when editing the Baptist Recorder, wilfully or obstinately opposing my course from sinister motives. I never attributed it to you. I did consider you as simply mistaken, and that you were too much under the control of your brother editor, and somebody near Frankfort. But I harbor no resentment against any human being, and surely none against you for any thing you may have published, either as editorial or otherwise, in your paper. Indeed, I know not what you may have said of me in your paper, for I only saw it occasionally: by some fatality it came more irregularly to my office than any other paper. But, from what I have seen, and from what you say in your favor before me, I do assure you that there is no necessity ever to allude to the past to correct any impression on my mind injurious to you--for there is no such impression. If there ever was, it is erased. I am no longer conscious of it. If it did exist, I remember it no more.
That all men err, and, consequently, you and I, is, as you say, a self-evident position, and it is one reason why I never dare impose my inferences or my reasonings and conclusions upon others as terms of christian communion. Whatever is matter of fact, plain and  incontrovertible testimony, is that, and that alone, in which we cannot err--and that only should be made a term of communion. Our safety is in an unerring rule. By that let us walk; and if in any thing we should be otherwise minded, God will teach us, by our own experience, what we fail to learn from precept.
You ask me for a confession of my feelings, or propose such questions to me as call for an examination of the motives or influences which governed me in many pieces which I have published. Now it would be saying too much, for one who has been so roughly and so savagely used by many, under the cloak of religion, to say that I have never felt angry, or set down aught in a spirit incompatible with the gospel. But without conceding the right which any person may claim to bring me to confession, and without boasting of my motives and feelings, I will say, that they have been, if not universally, very generally, of the most benevolent and charitable character. Always in benevolence, but not always in the spirit of christian love, have I written. Let me explain. Some persons who have slandered and abused me, I do not love as christians. For as soon would I call the highwayman who had attacked me on the road, a christian, as some persons who have aspersed me. I feel, I think, towards them, as Paul felt towards Alexander the coppersmith. But yet there is not one of them for whose reformation and salvation I could not pray. And if it were in my power to reward them good for evil, I should rejoice in the opportunity. But when they appear as religious instructers and advocates of sound doctrine, I must not, I dare not, and I will not spare them. If I were writing my last essay, and about to lay down my pen forever, and they were the theme, I do not think that I would write in a different spirit, or speak in a different style of such persons. I differ, perhaps, in sentiment from you and many of my brethren, in what consists a christian spirit, a charitable spirit. John the Immerser, the Saviour of the World, and the Holy Apostles are my models in this, as in many other respects. To a generation of vipers, to a fox-like Herod, to Scribes and Pharisees who tithed mint, anise, and dill, and neglected righteousness, mercy, and the love of God; of such men as the false teacher in Corinth, the judaizers in Galatia, and the false teachers mentioned by Peter and Jude; of such men as Hymeneus, Philetus, Alexander, and Diotrephes, I would speak as the New Testament speakers have spoken. And still I would become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some. Such is my christian spirit. It is not the christian spirit of monks, friars, and nuns; of Shaking Quakers, flaming zealots, morose devotees, and superstitious ascetics.
My writings, I have learned from many sources, sometimes possess an asperity which is not at all indicative of my temperament of mind. I am, perhaps, in this a sort of paradox--constitutionally mild and charitable; but, as a writer, tart and severe. Of this, however, I am not an impartial judge; but it is an apology which my acquaintance make for me. 
You place me on a new vantage ground, which I do not claim, and one which cannot in all respects be admitted. My readers, in the aggregate, are not of my views more than they are of yours. But whether or not, you shall have a fair hearing, and every reasonable facility afforded you in correcting any of my errors. While ever I conduct a press, it shall be a free press! and my readers shall hear both sides. I will always judge for myself, and they shall have the same opportunity.
As you have read the Christian Baptist, it will be presumed that your objections, whatever they may be, will be such as have not been removed by any thing in that work. I should also wish you, brother Clack, to read, with your critical attention, the Cincinnati discussion upon the evidences of christianity, and to let your objections be such as remain after posting up the books till this date.
Be assured that your arguments shall be weighed, and examined, and responded to, if a response become necessary, in all christian candor, and in all regard for your christian character. And believe me, without guile, yours affectionately.
|April 1, 1830.|
THE VOICE OF GOD AND THE WORD OF GOD.
THE GOSPEL NOW THE WORD OF GOD.
IT is very instructive to examine, with great accuracy, the various uses and applications of important words and phrases in the sacred writings. By so doing we form an acquaintance with the language which those holy men used as they spoke by the Holy Spirit; and from such an acquaintance with their language, we obtain the same ideas which they entertained of the great objects of christian faith and hope. Words and phrases which, in the Jewish writings, were used in a more general sense, are, in the New Institution, used in an appropriated sense. Thus while the term Christ was generally applied to all the anointed ones in the Jewish Age, it is in the apostolic writings exclusively appropriated to the Saviour. The phrase "the Word of God," is used in a like restricted sense in the apostolic writings. From the ascension of Jesus it is appropriated to denote the glad tidings concerning Jesus. This is its current acceptation; so that out of thirty-four times which it occurs, from Pentecost to the end of the volume, it thirty times obviously refers to the gospel. On three occasions it is applied to the literal voice of God at the Creation and the Deluge, and once to him who is in his own person the Word of God. But what I wish to note here, is, that it is never applied to any writing or speech from the day of Pentecost, but to the gospel or proclamation of mercy to the human race. The previous writings given to the Jews are not called the word of God now, because this phrase has in it the idea of the present command and will of God.
"A word of God," or "a word of the Lord," or "a message from the Lord," are phrases which frequently occur in the Jewish scriptures,  and always refer to the immediate communication made by some messenger and addressed to some particular occasion. It did not mean what was before written or spoken, but what was spoken at that particular time, and by that particular person. For example, "a word of God came to Nathan;" "a word of God came to John in the wilderness." Some particular message is always intended, implying a command with promises or with threatenings accompanying. Now this is the word which as glad tidings, says Peter, has been announced to you. This is now the will of God that we should obey him whom he has commissioned.
If it were necessary to establish this by proofs and arguments, it were easy to adduce many. But I shall only add, as a very strong evidence of the justice of this discrimination, the following fact:--Multitudes who received the Jewish scriptures as containing revelations from God--the former communications and messages of God, are, by the penmen of the New Testament, said to receive the word of God only when they obeyed the gospel. Acts iv. 31. "They spoke the word of God with boldness;" "the word of God increased in Jerusalem." viii. 14. "They heard that Samaria had received the word of God." xiii. 44. "The whole city came to hear the word of God." 46. "It was necessary that the word of God should have been first spoken to you Jews."
The same remarks apply to the phrase "the word," without any discriminating epithet, such as "the word which God sent to Israel"--by John. "Labor in the word and teaching." "If any one obey not the word." "They received the word with all readiness of mind." And so in every passage in the Epistles where there is no peculiar direction given to it from accompanying explanations.
Having so far traced the exact import of the phrase "the word of God," and "the word," in the apostolic writings, I proceed to notice the various epithets which are used to designate the peculiar character of the word of God, or the gospel.
It is called "the word of reconciliation; the word of life; the word of his favor; the word of faith; the word of truth; the word of righteousness; the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." Such are the titles and descriptive epithets by which the word of God is commended to us by its author. It is the word which reconciles man to the divine character, will, and government. It is the word through which life is communicated to man, and by which he comes into the enjoyment of life. It is the word of faith, the subject matter of the christian's belief, and the means by which we have confidence in God. It is the word of truth, or the truth emphatically, which delivers us from error and darkness, and imparts to the mind certainty in things unseen and future relative to the divine purposes. It is the word of righteousness by which we are accounted righteous in the sight of God, and by which alone we are qualified to live righteously. It is the implanted word, the word established by the Apostles in the world, which is able to save the soul. In a word, it is the word of God's  grace, or favor, by which alone we do enjoy the favor of God here, and are prepared to enjoy it forever.
The attributes of this word are strikingly displayed in the apostolic writings. It is called the living word, the sword of the Spirit. In one period Paul gives us a full description of it. Heb. iv. 12. "The word of God is living and effectual, and more cutting than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the parting of both soul and spirit, and of the joints also and marrows, and is a discerner of the desires and purposes of the heart?"
By it we are said to be purified, sanctified, begotten again, enlightened, saved. Nothing is so much extolled; no instrument so powerful, energetic, and effectual; so well adapted to its end, as the word of God. Every great moral change in man is ascribed to it; and it is uniformly presented to us as the great instrument of God's almighty power. It is the voice of the Almighty. By his voice all his great works have been accomplished. God commanded light to shine out of darkness, and the only instrument which he is said to have employed in the original creation was his word. In the new creation he has not changed his plan, or employed a new instrument. Of his own will he has impregnated us by the word of truth, and has made his word the very principle of renovation. Hearing is imparted to man by his word; for faith comes by hearing, and hearing itself comes by the word of God.
To hear many of the moderns, who profess to preach the word, talk of it as they do, and represent it as a dead and inefficient letter, is enough to provoke the meekness of a Moses, or to awaken the indignation of a Paul. The voice of God spoke the universe into being from the womb of nothing. The same voice recreates the soul of man, and the same voice will awaken the dead at the last day. His voice, heard or read, is equally adapted to the ends proposed. Some look for another call, a more powerful call than the written gospel presents. They talk of an inward call, of hearing the voice of God in their souls. But what greater power can the voice of God in the soul have, or what greater power can this inward call have, than the outward call, or the voice of God, echoed by the Apostles? God's voice is only heard now in the gospel. The gospel is now the only word of God, or will of God--the only proclamation and command addressed to the human race. 'Tis in this word of God his Spirit operates upon men, and not out of it. Were the Spirit to lay it aside, and adopt any other instrument, it would be the greatest disparagement of the word of God, "which is the wisdom and power of God," "the word of life," and able "to save the soul;" it would be to dishonor that word as men do who prefer other means for converting men to the gospel of Christ.
But let me ask, and seriously ask these inward called saints, who have heard some other voice of God than the word of God, What did that voice say? Any thing different from that which is written? If so, how did you judge it? To what standard did you refer it? If it said any thing to you different from what is written, you dare not hearken to it: for the written gospel, Jesus declared, will judge you  at the last day. If it said nothing different from the written gospel, it must have repeated the same, and what was the meaning of repeating it? Does the word of God derive power from a mere repetition of it; or must God, like men, use frequent repetitions to supply the lack of power? Can the voice of God have more power in one language than another--at one time than another--in one place than in another? You cannot answer, Yes. What do you mean by an inward call? If there be a word spoken it must be what is written or what is not written. And you must see that either hypothesis issues in that which is inadmissible--in that which is absurd.
Do you mean, with Andrew Fuller, that the Spirit which first gives you life, quickens you without the word? Then I ask you two questions: First, Does it use any means? If you say, No: then you contradict universal analogy as well as the oracle of God: for the Spirit was to speak of Christ in doing its work. If you say it uses any means to quicken you, then those means are the principle of life. But then I ask, Have you not, in supposing life infused without the gospel by any other means, deprived the gospel of its character as the word of life--as the living word--as living, and powerful, and effectual--as the incorruptible seed?
But if you have heard a voice simply telling you, by name, that you are welcome, remember, I pray you, that that particular call or invitation to you destroys the veracity of God, and makes what is written of no value whatever. For if the general invitation is insincere, if it cannot be relied on, if there must be a particular assurance that you are welcome, that assurance given to you, implies that, without it, you had no assurance before; which would be directly to impeach the veracity of God; yes, his promise, though signed by his name and sealed by his hand. The special call, then, is either a lie or it makes the general call a lie. This is where your system ends. And let him who has an ear to hear hearken.
The voice of God, and the only voice of God which you will hear till he calls you home, is his written gospel. This is now the only word of God, the only command and the only promise addressed to all men; proclaimed by his authority to every creature. The gospel is the power of God to salvation, to every one who obeys it. 'Tis in it the Spirit of God exhibits his energy, and he who thinks that the Spirit operates in any other way than clothed in the word of God in convincing and converting the world, feeds upon a fancy of his own, or of some other distempered mind.
I have never yet heard a person attentive to the apostolic writings, never heard a student and practitioner of them, complain of any want of power or energy in them. I have seen and felt their power to be that of the Spirit which endited them, an omnipotent moral instrument in his hand exactly adapted to man. Not physically omnipotent, as in creating something out of nothing; but so morally omnipotent that he who regards them not, could not be persuaded though angels, and spirits, and the dead revived, did appear and speak to them in a language never before heard. It is a mistake, a gross  mistake, in my judgment, of the means necessary to restore man--a mistake of the nature of the government of God over man, of the actual condition of man, to imagine that any other than moral means, than the well attested developement of the love of God in the mission and sacrifice of his Son, is necessary to renew the heart of man, to reconcile him to God, and to prepare him for the enjoyment of the friendship and favor of God forever. But this only by the way. They who talk of a resistible and irresistible voice of God--who talk of a gospel grace common and special, have found a new Bible and a new gospel which I have not seen, nor read, and of course do not understand. The book, commonly called the New Testament, (rather the sacred writings of the Apostles and Evangelists of Jesus Christ,) is that from which I have derived my views of christianity, and to which alone I subscribe as the infallible arbiter of all questions touching the word of God, and the salvation of Jesus Christ. The voice of God has, in it, bid me welcome, and my ability to come I find in the welcome which he has given. "The Spirit and the church say, Come: every one who hears, says, Come; and Jesus says, Let him who is thirsty, come; and WHOSOEVER will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." In this WHATSOEVER, I have found every letter of my name, and have had as special a welcome as if Gabriel had paid me a visit from heaven.
EMANCIPATION OF WHITE SLAVES.
MR. BRANTLY has cautioned his slaveholding readers of the Star against admitting this work into their territory. He intimates that it may bring ruin to their interests in their slaves. Now, if I could speak to all the slaves on this continent, I would say to them, Be faithful and obedient servants, not only to masters good and gentle, but even to the froward and perverse. I would tell the christian slave to obey his christian master with pleasure and fidelity, because he that obtained the benefit of his labor was faithful and beloved. I would tell the christian slave who had an unbelieving master, to work heartily, as if serving the Lord; knowing that whatever good any man does the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he be bond or free. Paul thus taught me, and thus would I teach them.
But what ruin can this work bring to the interests of the slaveholders? Can it move slaves to sedition? No: for they cannot read it. If it was ever so seditious it can do no mischief to those who cannot read it. Have not those to whom Mr. Brantly volunteered this advice, I mean the states in which they live, taken good care, by penal statutes, to punish every man guilty of the sin of teaching a slave to read the life of the Saviour of the world. Mr. Brantly has to volunteer no advice to them to shut from the eyes of these unfortunates the Book of Life. He sounds no caution into their ears upon this subject. But take heed, brethren, how you introduce the Harbinger among you; it may jeopardize your interests in the persons of  your slaves, and in the heavenly inheritance. This the Star will not do. It will aid you in both. It will aid you in keeping your slaves in this world, and secure to you and them the best reception in the next.
It is not for slaves I write. It is not for the slaves of the priesthood, for they will not read; and it is not for the negro slaves of the South, for they cannot read. It is masters I wish to emancipate. Masters of the South, you will find that I am not visionary on this subject. Nor have I a desire to see you lose one dollar, nor one hour's sleep, nor that you should feel one pang of a guilty conscience, because of your happening to possess servants white or black. The relation of master and servant is older than Abraham, and has been found in all ages and countries, Patriarchal, Jewish, and Christian. Even in the Millennium, I presume there will be masters and servants; but every servant is not a slave, nor every master free.
Paul teaches, "To whatsoever you deliver yourselves up as servants, you are the slaves of that which you obey"--yes, you may be more really slaves, than those you designate by that name. The fear of your slaves in many instances is master over you. You are in this view the slaves of slaves, while your slaves are only the servants of masters. Is this too paradoxical? Permit me to explain. Many of you in the South are more afraid of your slaves, than your slaves are of you. How many masters fear insurrections? how many have to garrison their houses, and awaken at midnight in terror of their own life, and that of their offspring? But where are the slaves who fear assassination, or massacre, from the hands of their masters at midnight? You tremble by night--your slave may fear the lash by day, but he sleeps sound. Of the two kinds of bondage, which is the more difficult to be borne? Your emancipation then deserves our attention; it provokes our sympathy, and with me it is as great a desideratum as that of your slaves.
In Virginia and some of the new states, masters are not yet so much in bondage to their slaves; yet even in Old Virginia, masters are not free from the slavery of fear. So much they are in bondage, that their fears gave birth to the following sections of a bill, which, though strangled in the Senate, had one of a majority in the lower house. Yes, in Virginia an effort was made in February last, to make the following bill the law of the land:
"Sect. 2. Be it further enacted, That all meetings of free negroes or mulattoes, at any school-house, church, or meeting-house, or other place, for teaching them reading or writing, either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered as an unlawful assembly; and any justice of the county or corporation wherein such assembly shall be, either from his own knowledge, or on the information of others, of such unlawful assemblage or meeting, shall issue his warrant, directed to any sworn officer or officers, authorizing him or them to enter the house or houses where such unlawful assemblage or meeting may be, for the purpose of apprehending or dispersing such free negroes or mulattoes, and to inflict  corporal punishment on the offender or offenders, at the discretion of any justice of the peace, not exceeding twenty lashes.
"Sect. 3. Be it further enacted, That if any white person or persons assemble with free negroes or mulattoes, at any schoolhouse, church, meeting-house, or other place, for the purpose of instructing such free negroes or mulattoes to read or write, such person or persons shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars, and moreover may be imprisoned at the discretion of a jury, not exceeding six months.
"Sect. 4. Be it further enacted, That if any owner or occupier of any plantation or tenement within this commonwealth, shall establish, or permit to be established, any school or schools on such plantation or tenement, for the purpose of teaching his or her slaves, or those of any other person, to read or write, such owner or occupier shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined in any sum not more than five hundred nor less than fifty dollars, and he punished in the manner now provided by law in the case of other misdemeanors.
"Sect. 5. Be it further enacted, That if the owner, master, or overseer of any slave, shall send or knowingly permit such slave to be sent or to go to any Sunday school, or other school, to be taught to read or write, the person so offending shall be deemed guilty of misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, shall be fined any sum not less than ten or more than fifty dollars, at the discretion of a jury: and every teacher of any Sunday or other school, who shall teach, or attempt to teach, or knowingly permit any slave to be taught in such school to read or write, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction, be punished by fine of not less than ten nor more than fifty dollars, at the discretion of a jury, and for a second offence, every such teacher shall be fined in like manner, and may be imprisoned for a period not more than six months, at the discretion of a jury; and moreover give security for his or her good behavior, at the discretion of the court."
Such is the fear of light, and such is the dread of education in some parts of this good old commonwealth, that eighty-one of the representatives of the citizens of Virginia, voted for these provisions. What a stupendous monument of the slavery of the whites to the blacks. How unequivocal a demonstration of the fears of some portions of this state of their own slaves! What! dare not enlighten their minds! How fearful of the influence of knowledge! This point is conceded without debate, that to the safety and advantage of the whites the ignorance of the blacks is essential. And yet we blame them for being stupid! There are three things on earth which require an ignorant population--or, to change the sentence, there are three things which can thrive only in darkness. What shall we call them? Call them monarchy, hierarchy, and slavery; or kings hierarchy, and slaves. Hence, to keep up the priesthood, it was, necessary to make canons against the laity reading the scriptures; and it is not a century since expounding the scriptures accompanied  with singing and praying by laymen in small societies, was prohibited in some of the English Universities. Kings are afraid of discussing the question of the divine right--the priests are afraid of examining the special call, and 81 of the representatives of Virginia were afraid of the art of reading, or the knowledge of letters being communicated to the blacks in bondage.
But passing by this dastardly provision, pretermitting it as an exhibit of the slavery of masters to the greatest of tyrants, let us take another view of this act from another point of the compass. How does it affect our civil and religious liberty? I do not ask how it affects our character as a civilized or barbarous people; but I ask, is it compatible with the spirit of our civil institutions, and our boasted liberty of conscience? Have we any constitutional guarantee of which this is a violation? Have we any fundamental law of which such provisions are a manifest infraction? If we have not, let us talk no more of civil and religious liberty. If our legislators can pass a law in direct interference with our moral and religious obligations, away with our magna charta, and with our boasted civilization!
One of the fundamental laws and principles of our government, is "that the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments." Now, let me ask, what is the meaning of the freedom of the press! Does it mean the working of a machine upon type? or does it mean printing in an unknown tongue? or does it mean printing for certain casts of society? To prohibit teaching or learning the art of reading is the most effectual destruction of the liberty of the press which I can imagine. No matter what is printed if it cannot be read; if it be in an unknown tongue. No matter what is printed if it be decreed that men shall not be taught, nor permitted to learn to read what issues from the press. The freedom of the press means the free communication of all sorts of information to all sorts of persons in any community. If it does not mean this, it is vox et præterea nihil, sound and nothing else. And if this be its meaning, which no man in the exercise of his five senses can deny, then such provision are despotic, according to our Virginia and American Bill of Rights. But that the legislators have no power to pass such a law, may he shown from various considerations. Let the following hypothesis be duly considered:--
Suppose the General Assembly of Virginia had decreed that all schools for teaching the art of reading should be abolished, and that every man who presumed to teach any literacy school should be fined and imprisoned; is there any provision in our Constitution by which such an act could he declared illegal and unauthorized? Not a single provision in our Bill of Rights nor in our Constitution, from which such an act could be declared despotic and wicked, arbitrary and unjust, immoral and profane, that does not in the same interpretation apply to the case before us. Let him who thinks otherwise point to that provision which applies to the one case and not to the other case and not to the other. 
But let me ask, has conscience, or a regard to religious obligations any thing to do in this matter? Are there no persons in the commonwealth of Virginia, who feel any obligation arising from religion to teach such persons in Sunday schools, or any where to read the scriptures of truth? If pure religion in the sight of God be to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction; if it lead to works of charity and mercy; to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and teaching the ignorant, can we suppose that any christian can be indifferent to the education of his children or servants? Can any man who fears God, who thinks that negroes and mulattoes have souls, and may be happy or miserable forever, have no conscience, feel no religious and moral obligation upon the subject of their education? If there be any such persons in the commonwealth of Virginia who feel such obligation, either to communicate to their own slaves, or to those colored persons not slaves, in their vicinity, in Sunday schools or elsewhere, the knowledge of letters, would not such a law be a direct infringement upon that liberty and rights of conscience which our Bill of Rights and Constitution secure to a persons in the commonwealth?
Again, had a law, prohibiting men preaching the gospel to slaves or free persons of color, been passed by the Assembly, would it be obligatory upon all religious instructers? Had a fine of $500 dollars and six months imprisonment, been imposed upon every christian teacher for every free person of color he converts to Jesus Christ, would it be constitutional? Yes, just as constitutional, just as accordant with reason, justice, religion, and the institutions of free government as the Bill above submitted.
Any law or statute that prevents man from acting morally or religiously upon any fair construction of religious or moral obligation, is not only opposed to the genius of our government and constitution, but is, in its very nature, tyrannical, unjust, and impious. That government which dictates to its subjects how they shall discharge religious and moral duties to their children and servants, differs nothing in principle from the most barbarous and sanguinary, from the most intolerant and persecuting governments of the Pagan and Papal world. It may differ in the degrees to which it extends its jurisdiction over the conscience; but in principle it is the same.
For the honor and prosperity, for the peace and happiness of this unfortunate commonwealth, for the sake of suffering humanity itself; I rejoice that this barbarous bill was negatived in the Senate. But the attempt to enact such a law, is proof positive that something ought to be done to emancipate the whites from the fear of the blacks. To this we shall occasionally turn our attention.
|Washington City, March 23, 1830.|
Dear Sir--IT seems, from your Christian Baptist, that you are about to commence, or have commenced, another and a lager work, to be called the Millennial Harbinger. Well, now, though I differ  radically from your opinions or doctrines, &c. I think I must become a subscriber for this last periodical also. I wish to watch and see what is to be the end of this new gospel; or, if you please, of this ancient order, as you term it.
You seem to allow me (in your last notice of me) to be, at least, not under the influence of prejudice. This, I assure you, is the fact. Indeed, so far as I can judge of myself, l am prepossessed in your favor. Your able defence of baptism against Walker and M'Calla, and recently the complete route of Owen and atheism, have produced favorable impressions upon my mind. But, sir, under all these partialities, I am more and more compelled to say, that, if your view of christianity be correct, I have read and studied my Bible in vain. You say of me, "Although unable to rise above all his early associations, and the long received opinions which a long course of reading and teaching had riveted upon his mind," &c. Now, my dear sir, the fact is exactly the other way. My early opinions, my education was predicated upon a system greatly in accordance with your views. In the very first christian lesson ever taught me, I was directed to answer that my name was Robert, and that I obtained this name in my baptism, "wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheriter of the kingdom of heaven." As my mental powers expanded I was farther taught to read the scriptures, and pray in private and public; to go to preaching, and to practise moral and religious goodness. So far from being taught to seek for experimental religion, or the attainment of the Holy Spirit, I was constantly informed that this was fanaticism inculcated by the enthusiasts of the day. That a mere belief of the Saviour and of the scriptures, and to practise virtue, were all that were necessary to please God. I not only was taught this system, but I imbibed it and acted upon it above many. I could in sincerity repeat the creed, (called the Apostles' Creed,) and thinkingly say I adopted it as my real belief. The preaching which I heard regularly was also distinctly of this kind. Neither you, nor I, nor any other preacher of the present time, could more plainly inculcate the necessity of believing and reading the scriptures, than the preacher whose ministry I first attended.
Well, sir, I was quite satisfied with my religious attainments, and lived satisfied until I was twenty years old. My present views were the effect of subsequent convictions: and as you admit that you and I can discuss matters without any uncourteous feelings, I will now relate to you how the change took place in my thoughts and feelings. As I said above, I was taught to look upon every expression which claimed the influence of the Holy Spirit as being enthusiasm, and I acted upon it; I failed not to make light of any thing of that sort advanced where I was. It is worthy of observation that this was really the very subject on which the conversation turned on the day of my conviction. An old disciple was talking very ardently about his conversion. I said to him, What do you mean by conversion? Do you think that men can feel the influence of the Holy Spirit now as in ancient times? He paused and solemnly answered, "I do, and that there is no saving  faith without the influence of the Holy Spirit." He went on to quote text after text to prove it, until I became astonished. My first thought was (for I said nothing) a determination to read the New Testament again, with a view to ascertain this point. I did so, and made use of the blank leaves at the beginning and end of the book, to note down such texts as seemed to maintain the real operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart, &c. This I did that I might turn to them again and examine them closely. The result was a firm belief that, without the influence of God's Spirit directly on my heart, I could not be saved. Well, Sir, I sought it--I sought it as a sinner, a justly condemned sinner; and I have found it, thanks to sovereign grace! More than forty years have passed off since, during which time I have labored to correct my errors and to search for truth. The effect of this forty years' examination is a conviction, amounting to assurance, that the Holy Spirit begins, and carries on, and finally completes the work of salvation. Indeed, how can I believe otherwise? It is the sheet-anchor of my tempest-toss'd soul. It is the light of my eye, and the strength of my heart. My own spirit groans and grapples in the dark until God's Spirit helpeth my infirmities and beareth witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. This, my friend, is no matter of speculation. It is a foundation truth that must stand sure. If this could be destroyed, I know not what the righteous would do. God has sealed his own people with the Holy Spirit of promise. God's word is the production of God's Holy Spirit. It is equally true that his work is also.
Why should it be thought a thing incredible that the Holy Spirit is active as the efficient agent of man's salvation? He moved upon the face of the waters and formed creation. Shall the greater work of salvation be effected without him? An arm almighty was necessary to make atonement for sin and to bring in an everlasting righteousness for man. Will it not require an almighty arm to apply the atonement, and to make the death of the Son of God effectual, "that of those which his Father had given him, none should be lost?" God's word is a precious treasure, but it is precious because the Spirit opens our understandings that we may understand the scriptures. Without the Spirit the word would be a dead letter, as it really is to thousands who have it in their hands, God honors his word by accompanying it with his Spirit. It is the Spirit that makes it sharp and two-edged. Without it the word neither cuts nor pierces. If the world has been standing not quite 6000 years, as some say, then nearly half that time it was without the written word; yet doubtless many thousands (I hope many millions) went to glory without the word. The Spirit made direct revelations to their souls, and pointed them through a long vista to an expected Saviour. Do I, then, make void the word? God forbid! Yea, I establish the word. It is because the Spirit of God sustains it that it is more stable than heaven and earth. To conclude, my brother, show me thy faith wrought by the word, and I will show thee my faith wrought by the Spirit through the word.
When I began I meant to write a short epistle, somewhat  explanatory of your paragraph respecting me. I've lengthened it out. Be it so. Take it and let it go for what it is worth. Perhaps you may hear from me again, upon other points.
Dear brother, the above contains some hasty effusions on some points in which we differ. I have not even copied them; yet I believe I'll venture to let them go for what they are worth, either into your old or new publication. You have the advantage of most men in point of style; but if any discussion should take place between us, I hope it will be with a sole view to elicit truth, and not for mastery. I hope also it will be accompanied by prayer and a holy temper.
|RO. B. SEMPLE.|
REPLY TO ROBERT B. SEMPLE.
THE arrival of your letter when the copy for this number was nearly completed, prevents me from paying so minute an attention to it as I would have done had it been received at an earlier day. I think I told you when parting in Essex, that if you and I should never approximate nigher to each other in our views, I would nevertheless still love and esteem you as a christian--as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Since parting with you I have found this affection and esteem increase; and your letter before me is a new excitement to the cultivation of all brotherly kindness and charity. It gives me pain to have to differ in a single opinion from one whom I venerate so highly; and glad would I be if I could say a hearty Amen to every sentiment in your letter.
One consolation I have, that you and I believe all the same gospel facts. We believe every fact which Paul called the glad tidings, viz. that "Jesus died for our sins; that he was buried; and that he rose the third day according to the Scriptures." Nay, we are equally assured of all facts in the gospel history, and consequently are of one faith. I do not think there is one historic fact in all the testimonies of the four Evangelists in which our faith is not the same. We are not only of one faith, but we agree in one immersion also. You say that we are buried with Christ in immersion, and raised with him; and that in this act we put him on. We do not differ in the one Lord--in the one God--in the one body--in the one Spirit, which animates that one body; and in the one hope of a glorious resurrection from the dead. In some points of view we differ on some of these unities; or, rather, we view them with more or less distinctness and force. We pray to the same God and Father, through the same Lord and Saviour, and by the same Holy Spirit. In a word, we agree in a thousand things, constituents and connectives of the Patriarchal, Jewish, and Christian Ages of the world. But we differ in the strength or weakness--in the latitude or longitude of our conceptions of some  matters and things connected with, or proceeding from the seven unities.
You are pleased to commence with the good old catechism of the church of my grand father. I was taught the Westminster "Larger and Shorter" But "when I became a man I put away childish things." Well now, brother Semple, there is, as a Vermont Telegraph says, the refraction of some great truth below the horizon of the Episcopalian world in this very answer. And you and I both agree in the proposition that neither the "Church of Rome" nor "the Church of England" has lost all truth; I agree with both of them in many items, and so do you. Had you not been sprinkled, and had you been a believer of the testimony which God gave of his Son before you were baptized, I would not much dissent from the answer which you were taught to give to that question. These circumstances, however, alter the case very much. The sprinkling of a speechless and faithless babe never moved it one inch in the way to heaven, and never did change its heart, character, or relation to God and the kingdom of heaven. But not so a believer, immersed as a volunteer in obedience of the gospel. He has put on Christ; and whatever belongs to the husband belongs to the wife: "You are Christ's property, and therefore all things are yours." You and I agree that we have righteousness, or pardon; that we have all the blessings of salvation through Christ; that his blood cleanses from all sin; and that the reign of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in a holy spirit. The question is, At what instant of time do we enter this kingdom, or come under this reign of God; and by what means? I say, the moment we vow allegiance to the King in the constituted way--the moment we are naturalized--the moment we are born of water and the Spirit--the moment we put on Christ--the instant we are converted, and not before.
It was, you say, upon the face of the waters the Spirit first moved in creating. It is upon the face of the waters the Spirit still moves in recreating. Jesus himself came by water before he came by blood. It was while wet with the waters of the Jordan, the Spirit descended upon him. Thus the Spirit, and the water, and the blood, agreed in one testimony concerning him. You have referred to the Spirit moving upon the waters--I refer to the New Testament allusions. I do not, however, argue from them, save allusively, to this subject. No; it depends upon a plainer, a more literal, a positive testimony. Please examine again my essays upon immersion.3
The question between us is not whether the reign of God is not righteousness, peace, and joy in a holy spirit; but the question is, Do we come under that reign, or enter that kingdom, before or after immersion? This is the single question which embraces all the ground about immersion. After the most minute, patient, devout, and long protracted examination; after hearing all objections, and examining them with care, I am more and more confirmed in the conclusion to which I had come in my debate with Mr. M'Calla in 1823. I will,  however, examine, and regard, with all attention, whatever you may please to offer upon that question which embraces the whole subject.
The next point, and the remaining one in your letter, is what refers to the operation of the Holy Spirit. You favor me with what you suppose to be a correction of a mistake into which I had fallen concerning your early reading and teaching. I am much pleased with the narrative which you give, though it does not relate to what I had in my eye in the remark quoted. I did not mean that period of your life from childhood to twenty; so much as the early part of your public life as a preacher and teacher. This, however, is a small matter. Your narrative is an interesting one, and worthy of attention.
It is strange to the unreflecting and inattentive observers of the human mind in all its developements, what different conclusions men will arrive at from the same premises; and with what tenacity they do adhere to them from the supposed sincerity and honesty by which they have arrived at them.
About the same year in your life and mine, I began to examine most diligently the holy scriptures on the work of the Holy Spirit. I took your course, I noted down the passages, and have to this day upon the blank leaves of a Testament many references still extant, I had received an education different from yours in many respects; more evangelical as you would call it. From the age of sixteen I read devoutly, at intervals, the most "evangelical writers." I bought "Baxter's Call to the Unconverted," and "Allen's Alarm," that I might be converted, hearing them highly commended by the pious. "Boston's Fourfold State,', Newton's, Bunyan's, and Hallyburton's Memoirs, and all the converting books were sought after and read with avidity. The accompanying influences of the Holy Spirit, were prayed for most ardently on these and other works, as well as on the Holy Scriptures. After I had hope that I was converted, and differed much from those mere moralists of whom you speak, who called prayer and devotion, except in a stone house denominated a church, fanaticism; I say, after I hoped that I had passed from death to life, I began to examine this subject, and with the aid of the great and "evangelical Dr. John Owen." He was a great favorite with me; I read most of his works and with especial delight his "Christo Logia," or "the Person and Glory of Christ;" his "Death of Deaths in the Death of Christ," the strongest work against the Arminians I ever read; his treatise on independent church government; and, above all, his work on the Holy Spirit, in two large octavos.--This work I ate up--I wrote it off in miniature on two quires of paper, in order to make my own of it. Not a verse that mentions the Holy Spirit, which he does not take notice of. I was thoroughly imbued with his systematic illustration of it. Other work of his I also read; but this became a text-book. So that I was, at the age to which you allude, perfectly indoctrinated into the right faith, as the evangelical christians called it. I think I informed you once before how laboriously and extensively I had examined the question of faith. For the space of one year I read upon this subject  alone. Fuller, Bellamy, Hervey, Glass, Sandeman, Cudworth, Scott, M'Lean, Erskine, cum multis aliis, were not only read, but studied as I studied geometry. And I solemnly say, that, although I was considered at the age of twenty-four a much more systematic preacher and text expositor than I am now considered, and more accustomed to strew my sermons with scores of texts in proof of every point, I am conscious that I did not understand the New Testament; not a single book of it. Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott were my favorite commentators. I read the whole of Thomas Scott's commentary in family worship, section by section. I began to read the scriptures critically. Works of criticism from Michaelis down to Sharp, on the Greek article, were resorted to. While these threw light on many passages, still the book as a whole, the religion of Jesus Christ as a whole, was hid from me. I took the naked text and followed common sense; I read it, subject to the ordinary rules of interpretation, and thus it was it became to me a new book. Then I was called a natural man; because I took the natural rules of interpretation, 'Till then I was a spiritual man, and a regenerated interpreter. But alas! as I learned my Bible I lost my orthodoxy, and from being one of the most evangelical in the estimation of many, I became the most heretical. I can only say for the spirit which actuated me, that it was a most vehement desire to understand the truth. I did most certainly put the world out of my sight. I cared no more for popularity than I did for the shadow which followed my body when the Sun shone. I valued truth more than the gold of Ophir, and I sought her with my whole heart, as for hidden treasure. My eye was single, as King; James' Translators said. I paid no court to the prejudices of the world, and did sacrifice every worldly object to the Bible. This much of my experience and history I deem due to you for the narrative you have given. I would only add that experience has taught me that to get a victory over the world, over the love of fame, and to hold in perfect contempt human honor, adulation, and popularity, will do more to make the New Testament intelligible, than all the commentators that ever wrote.
But, brother Semple, I do not claim any regard or authority to my conclusions from an argument drawn from these premises. No: I appear before the public with the Bible only in my hand. What I cannot evince and demonstrate to be the mind of the Holy Spirit from that, my experience, or my labors in pursuit of truth, will not be plead as any evidence in favor of its truth; for in discussing the views of others I will not allow an argumentum ad modestiam, an argument addressed to my modesty, to have any weight.
I differ not from you in the conclusion, that the Holy Spirit begins, carries on, and consummates the salvation of men. But the question is, whether independent of, accompanying, or simply by the word of life? Much has been said upon this subject already; and much may yet be said about it, before the speculations of the dark ages shall be banished.
In the mean time, I must close this response for the present, not  fearing to let your letter stand without a full examination till my next. The remarks in this number on the 8th chapter of the Romans, and on the word of God, written before yours was received, embody much matter pertinent to your letter. To these in the mean time I refer you and my readers.
I have long thought that the best way to understand the work of the Holy Spirit, is to take every sentence in which it is named, one by one, and in the light of their respective contexts decide their import. When you attempt this, or have done it, you will find no text supporting the views of Andrew Fuller's previous holy disposition infused anterior to faith. This idea, sometimes called "sovereign grace," is the radix of the system, and of the religious metaphysics of this age.
You speak of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with your spirit. Do you mean in any other way than by the written word? I had a long conversation in Richmond with a Methodist teacher on this subject. He claimed some sort of a witness in the heart from some suggestion of the Spirit attesting his conversion. The Holy Spirit witnessing with our spirits that we are children of God, I understand to be the concurrence of the testimony with our own experience. But of this again.
In the mean time, brother Semple, be assured that my views of the Institution of Jesus are antipodes to that cold, formal, moral, lifeless system, in fashion in Old Virginia, in the tobacco age. The result of the gospel when obeyed, according to my proclamation, is, "righteousness, peace, and joy in a holy spirit." And for you and all the saints, I can pray with Paul, "The favor of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." Amen.
|In hope of immortality, yours,|
|April 2d, 1830.|
Extracts from a letter to the Editor of the Millennial Harbinger, dated
Matthews Court House, Va. March 8, 1830.
------"AND first, what is meant by the remission of sins in the first of Mark, where John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins? From the plain reading of the passage, I should suppose that, by the baptism which succeeded their repentance, they obtained the remission of sins; yet these very persons were again immersed. You would contend for the remission of their sins after the kingdom of the Messiah was established on earth. What sins could they have been conscious of if they had opened their eyes with dawning light, and walked in the paths illumined by the rising Sun of Righteousness. Though I have imperfectly expressed my ideas, you will see the point at which I aim, and if it would not take too much time I wish you would give me your opinions on it."------ 
"I think I have abundant reason to thank the Lord that I ever saw your writings, or had the advantage of your personal acquaintance and instructions. It has given an entirely new turn to my ideas, and I believe divested me of prejudice and bigotry, with which I found myself considerably tainted. I have felt more true happiness since I have viewed the testimony of God as incontrovertible than I did before. Many a gloomy and melancholy hour did I before spend, when my feelings alone were the grounds of my hope. Often it was suggested to my mind, would not the Bible, believed, have the same effect on an individual if all that is there revealed were a fable; and sometimes I have been almost driven to the position I once heard a pious divine taking, that, "if false or true, it was best to be on the safe side of the question." I am already branded a "Campbellite," and from the various reports and downright falsehoods which have been circulated about your immersing me, I think it will take testimony well authenticated before I can ever again believe any thing bad about you; they have driven you completely on the vantage ground. A majority of the members of the Baptist church in this place are favorable to your Christian Baptist, though none can go the whole length with you; some who, when I first came home, were strenuously contending for the old Calvinistic doctrines, have entirely changed, and as strenuously advocate the side of reason and truth; receiving, of course, the appellation of fickle, turncoat, &c. We had for a short time meetings of discussion, which were well attended and very profitable to us, and would probably have continued, had not a neighboring clergyman come to preach for us, by whose advice they were turned into prayer-meetings, which shortly ended them."
"We have lately been visited by an acquaintance of yours of some note, brother James E. Welch, who is employed by the Sunday School Union, to establish Sunday Schools through the state. He established two in this county. Approving of the institution, I lent my aid to its support. As usual, we were all well milked to support this national object, though the people were not very charitable. But the doctrines he preached were such as I never again wish to hear. You probably have heard him on the same subjects--"the new birth," and "what is truth." What little I understand of Calvinism and Fullerism I have derived from hearsay, never having read any thing on the subject. He appeared to give us the doctrines in their purity, while preaching from the last text; making the word of God of no effect whatever, unless God, by his sovereign distinguishing grace, was pleased to convert their souls and enable them to believe the record he has given of his Son. This is what he preached if I understood him, and in private conversation I understood him to say the same thing: that the inducements in the sacred volume were not sufficient to reconcile men to God, and in the present state all, without one exception, would prefer the road to death, were it not for this distinguishing grace of God. Another truth was the perseverance of the saints; this you know is a favorite doctrine of the Baptists, and many of the members seemed to feed on it as the bread of life, I staid two nights with him,  and in the various arguments we had I was more than ever convinced that the ground you have taken with regard to faith is impregnable. How can men, sensible men, who on other subjects exercise their reason, on this so far lay it aside as to preach these doctrines, and in the next breath exhort sinners to repent and believe on God, and say, "Whoever will, let him come to the waters of life, and drink freely." I think there is more need of following brother Clopton's advice here, and by fasting and prayer supplicate the Lord to restore to their right reason his gospel ministers, than there is to prevent this "most deadly influence" of Campbellism from overflowing us.
"With regard to creeds I am not fully satisfied. Could you commune with a Unitarian? and if he is immersed, without a creed or some other discipline than the Bible, how could you exclude him from the Lord's table? These objections were brought to my mind soon after I embraced religion. I came to the conclusion that a creed was necessary for this purpose, nor do I to this day see how we can get over them if it is an essential to believe in a three-one God. Happily we are not troubled with Unitarians in this part of the country; but if one were to present himself at our table, I should feel at a loss what to do. Do be explicit on this point.
"My time has been principally devoted to the study of the New Testament, both in the original and your new version; this last has assisted much in understanding it. I thought it my duty to do all I could to promote the gospel cause; and it was my intention to become what is called at the present day a preacher; but if I were to attempt it I hardly know what to say; the way appears sufficiently plain; and I am satisfied that many by their teaching bewilder the mind and throw objections in the way; and I almost fear to begin lest I should do wrong and add to the number of impediments,"
[Many items have been excluded from this number to make room for Messrs. Clopton, Clack, and Semple, and the replies to them. That to Bishop Semple is only begun. The extracts from the letter from Matthews are published without the knowledge or consent of the author. This is known to be my habit when the public interest may be promoted, and when not strictly enjoined to the contrary. Touching the forgiveness of sins connected with John's immersion, I can only refer him to the last essay on the Jewish Age, C. B. vol. 7, p. 220. The forgiveness subsequent to John's immersion was like the other Mosaic institutions for the forgiveness of sins committed while as yet the first constitution or covenant was standing. It was the forgiveness of the Jewish Age. This institution Paul affirms made no man perfect as respected the conscience. I might as pertinently be asked, Why should those persons who had obtained forgiveness at the altar, have been baptized by John, or by the authority of Jesus? as, Why should those whom John immersed, be immersed into the faith of Jesus?
On the subject of communion with Unitarians, and of the inefficacy of creeds to prevent the evil here feared, I must request this brother to read my essays on Creeds in the previous volumes of the Christian Baptist. But it is in contemplation to submit an essay in the next number, pointing to the means by which we shall have no Unitarians at all. This will be the better way of solving this difficulty. I think I can promise an essay in demonstration of the practicability of such a state of things.]
THE following extract from a correspondent in Richmond, Virginia, affords a fair sample of a considerable part of the pulpit exhibitions in some sections of this country:--
"Our dear old brother K. took as a text in the forenoon, the 16th verse of the 4th chapter of Matthew; he, however, spoke on the first clause of the text, leaving the remainder for the night lecture. The text was, "The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up." A preacher who was a stranger was present in the morning, and heard the discourse, thought, perhaps he could give us a few brief ideas on the latter part of the text, and accordingly walked up into the pulpit; and on being asked by brother K. if he would preach, agreed. He arose immediately; and, to the astonishment of all present, took the part left in the morning. I thought myself perhaps he was "apt to teach," and one subject was just as convenient as another. He commenced without much introduction, and boarded the text, there was, however, a considerable clearing of the throat:--
"My friends," said he, "you had an exposition of the fore part of the text this morning, and it falls to my lot to give the balance tonight. "The people which sat in darkness saw a great light." Now John the Baptist was the first man that ever preached the gospel in all the world; and he wore a curious dress, for it had camel's hair on it; and he had a girdle on his body or waist, for to girdle up his loins, so he might be strong in the Lord; and he lived on locust and honey which was for to eat; and the people all went out of Judea for to see him in Jerusalem, and all the regions all over the world; and he baptized them for the confession of their sins; and Jesus went down to the river for to be baptized, and John would'nt baptize him, for he said he ought to baptize him; but he suffered it to be so, that he might fulfil the righteousness of Christ. And the Pharisees came to John also like vipers for to be baptized, and he told them to go away and bring their fruits, that a new light was sprung up. And Jesus was about this time twelve years old; and he was found in the Temple, and was talking with the lawyers, of common law, and civil law, as well as physical law. And now we will proceed with the text, more particular where the child was for to be born. Perhaps I a'nt got sense enough to explain; but I will tell you what you never heard before; I was called for to preach, and I dont get paid for preaching, so I dont preach for money; but I come a good ways to preach about this gospel, which was for to lighten up the Gentiles; then they which were enlightened as it were, see their Father like a glass darkly. Now this gospel is the wheel upon which salvation turned; and they are all brought out of the regions of death. Now Moses, the great lawgiver, studied philosophy, and sciences, and military, and he was not eloquent, and no more I am not eloquent; but I must go and preach. Now Jonah was asleep you all know when he was in the ship, and there was such a fuss made about him, and he might as well a jump'd out at first, for he know'd he'd have to go at last. But they throwed him over, and he was swallowed up with the wail; and he carried him up to the top of the mountain and vomited him out; and great light sprung up. There was another text in scripture which was a very good lustration of the idea itself, about the prodigal son, when he was all the way from his father's house, this light sprung up to him also; and sow I must close this discourse, as the evening gets later, though I could say a great deal more about it."
SOVEREIGNS OF EUROPE.
GEORGE IV. King of England, is 67 years of age.
Charles X. King of France, is 72, and the oldest reigning sovereign in Europe, except two.
Nicholas Paulowitz, Emperor of Russia, and King of Poland, is 33 years of age. His Queen, Alexandrina Wilhelmine, of Prussia, is of the same age, having been born on the 13th of July, 1796, and her husband the 2d of that month.
Ferdinand VII. of Spain, is 45 years old. His neighbor, the interesting Don Miguel, King of Portugal, is but 27 years old. There is room for him to grow better as he grows older.
Mahmoud II. Sultan of Turkey, is 45 years old.
William Fredric, the King of the Netherlands, who is to decide the Maine boundaries, 57. His Queen's name is Frederica Wilhelmina Louisa, and she is sister to the Empress of Russia.
William Frederic George Louisa, Prince of Orange, is 37. He is married to a sister of the Emperor of Russia, the lady whose jewels have been stolen.
Francis I. Emperor of Austria, is 51 years old.
Louis Charles Augusta, King of Bavaria, is 73.
Frederick VI. of Danmark, is 61.
Frederick William, III. of Prussia, is 59.
Charles Felix, King of Sardina, is 64.
Frederick Augustus, King of Saxony, is 79 years of age, and the oldest reigning sovereign in Europe.
Charles John, King of Sweden, is 65 years of age.
Joseph Francis Oscar, Prince Royal of Sweden, is 30 years old, and is married to Josephine Mamimillience Eugenia, 22 years old.
Francis I. King of the two Sicilies, is 72 years old, and married to a sister of the King of Spain.
William, King of Wurtemburg, is 43; Paulina Theresa Louisa, Queen of Wurtemburg, is 29 years old.
M. De Wise is burgomaster of the city and republic of Zurich, President of the Federal Directory of Switzerland.
THE number of Roman Catholics in the United States is greater than that of any one Protestant sect. It is at this moment considerably more than 600,000. The Methodists are more numerous than any other Protestant sect, whose exact numbers are given, amounting to 421,000. The Calvinistic Baptists have 4,000 churches, but the number of communicants does not appear. We shall estimate them at 350,000. The Presbyterians number 154,297 members. The orthodox Congregationalists, 115,000. Unitarian, 150 congregations. Episcopal churches, 598. German Reformed, 30,000 member, Evangelical Lutheran, 800 congregations. Christian Society, 1000 churches. Friends, the whole number estimated at 750,000--but they are divided into two parties, differing very widely Besides, this  number includes a great many who are only Quakers in their parentage, and perhaps their dress. Universalists, 300 congregations. Free-Will Baptists, 335 churches. A dozen other sects number variously, from a few hundred, to 20,000 each.
|N. H. Observer.|
[Were either the Methodists or Baptists to calculate as the Catholics, either of them I apprehend would greatly excel the Catholics in Number. They would at least amount to 900,000.]--Ed. M. H.
UNIVERSALISM AND ATHEISM.
SOME of the most prominent Universalists in the country have recently avowed their attachment to the doctrines of Frances Wright, R. D. Owen, & Co. In the last number of the Buffalo Patriot, we notice an advertisement of the Free Enquirer, by Mr. O. A. Brownson, in which he says:
"Mr. O. A. Brownson, known to the public as a Universalist preacher and Editor of the Gospel Advocate, has relinquished the charge of that paper, and, as Corresponding Editor of the Free Enquirer, has opened for it an office, at Auburn, Cayuga county, N. Y. Mr. Brownson invites those of his former readers who love truth better than creeds to follow him to the Free Enquirer."
Samuel Cox paid V. J. Gaskill, New Lisbon, Ohio, paid for R. P. Philips $2. G. Williard, J. Alcut, J. Cownover, and D. Gow $1 each. N. Adams, Germano, Ohio, paid $1. F, O. Sutton, White Chimnies, Va. paid for H. Coleman and R. Pare, $2 each. J. Bryant, Hopkinsville, Ky. paid for S. Wilkinson, Cadiz, $2. W, Galliard, Middleburg, Ohio, paid for W. Pangburn $2. Isaac Smith, Columbia x Roads, Pa. $2. P. S. Bush, Falmouth, Ky. paid for himself $2. M. H. Jones, Newton, Va. paid $2. T. Edwards, Lebanon, Tenn. for G. Waters, New London, Missouri $2. T. Bell Lexington, Ky. paid $2. R. M. Batson, Millersburg, Ohio, paid for G. M'Kim, J. Miller, Thos. Throckmorton, Thos. Eads, and himself $1 each. B. A. Hicks, Lexington, Ky. paid $2 for Clifton Thompson, W. B. Sims, Cuckooville, Va. paid for Dr. M. Pendleton and O. C. Smith $2 each. J. Mendal paid for S. Hedge and Thomas Wier, Wellsburg, Va. A. Shallenberger, Mount Pleasant, Pa. paid $6. W. D. Carnes, Pikeville, paid to W. Randal $2. W. Poston, Winchester, K. paid for himself, T. Faulconner, and H, Jacobs $2. each. J. Pearson, Newark, New Jersey, paid by C. Loomis, Petersburg, Va. $2. Mrs. Mary T. Craft. Somerset, Pa. paid for N. M. Bruce; A. Morrison, and C. Forward, esq. $2 each, W. Cole, Wilmington, Ohio, paid for himself and G. M'Maninis. $2 each. John Jeffries, Wellshurg, Va. paid $2 for himself. J. Ficklin, Lexington, Ky. paid for Dr. James. Fishback, S. Taylor, I. H. Randolf, J. Schooly. 
|Buck's Theol. Dict. |
[The Millennial Harbinger, 1 (March, 1830): 97-144.]
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The Millennial Harbinger, Vol. I, No. III (1830)
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