[Table of Contents]
Alexander Campbell, ed.
The Millennial Harbinger, Vol. III, Extra No. 5 (1832)


{ Vol. III.  
      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.


      SINCE the preceding Extra was written and printed, and after I had written and prepared the August number of the Harbinger, on the day before yesterday, (July 12th,) fell into my hands, for the first time, Mr. Jennings' book, of 252 pages, 12mo. I have devoted six hours to the perusal of it, and have thought it expedient, before issuing Extra, No. 4, to append to it a short extra on the CHARACTER of the aforesaid Debate on Campbellism. This Extra is paged to be bound after number 8, M. H. while the preceding is to be bound after number 7.


      I have risen from the perusal of this work with a worse opinion of human nature, and of what Doctor Owen called the "indwelling sin of christians," than I have been conscious of, on the reading of any book of controversy which has ever fallen into my hands. I can say, in all sincerity, before God and man, if such be the fruits, the proper fruits, of the metaphysical regeneration of the holy spirit of Doctors of Divinity and of the schools, from such may the good Spirit deliver me! If the spirit of slander, detraction, and false accusation, be the spirit of truth, then is this book written under the direction, and infused with large measures of the spirit of truth. If the "evangelical sect" of its author is to be sustained by attempts to blast the reputation, to blot the character, and to abuse the persons, of those who question its reasonableness or its divinity, then is the author entitled to the gratitude and admiration of the order to which he belonged. He has indeed, rendered it an essential service, and if he is now beyond the reach of its rewards, his nephew, the editor and annotator, and his own family, will surely never be forgotten by it. But it is one thing to defend a political religion politically, and to please its partizans--and another to be a christian, to defend the christian cause, and to speak, and write, and act, in accordance with the Holy Spirit of Christianity. [421]


      "Debate on Campbellism." Where is this debate found? Not in this book. It is a sly stroke at deception. It is the title of a catch penny. Debate on Campbellism! The purchaser fancies he has got a debate; but when he reads it to the last page, he will find what he has got for his money. Seventy-five cents worth of slander against Alexander Campbell--That is the true and proper name. There is no debate in it. Not a speech of mine. Not in 252 pages is to be found one page of all that I spoke in two days. "Campbellism" is the subject, but who are the debaters, and where are the debates, the speeches, the arguments? It is a false flag to protect contraband goods--a false label to sell a spurious specific.

      Nor is it a narrative of a debate--the report of a debate--nor even remarks upon a debate. The author alludes to something called a Debate; but the reader will be puzzled to find out what it was, unless he regard the author as both the debate and the debaters! What he now gives us in these pages, is as truly the discussion which I held with him in Nashville, in December 1830, as was the English reports of the battle of New Orleans, the battle itself.

      If I forget not, in his prospectus he proposed to give a true account of said debate, alleging that in my narrative there was a false account of it. A true account means, with him, no account at all; or else that mere allusions to certain sayings and incidents are a true account. All the world would laugh at the historian or reporter who would propose to give a true account of the war of the American Revolution, whose true account would be a few allusions to the battle of Bunker Hill, and the surrender of Cornwallis. Such exactly is the Doctor's "true account" of the said discussion, with this small difference, that he who would propose to give a true account of a litigated matter, would rely upon something more than his own testimony; but the Doctor thinks his account must be regarded as true because it is his account. Now I will call it neither a true nor a false account, but no account at all of said discussion; and will, moreover, add that the representations given of some incidents, or certain allusions to some parts of that discussion in this book, are exceedingly false: and for this I offer my testimony--as all that Mr. Jennings had to offer is his own testimony. Where we are both known and unknown this will pass as it ought to do, just for as much as it is worth. If it be, replied that both are promissory notes, and not a legal tender, I rejoin that although neither can be by law forced upon our creditors, still the paper will be as current amongst our friends and acquaintance, as the responsibility and integrity of the endorsers are known to them.

      The Doctor has the advantage over me in appearance--His nephew endorses for him, and vouches that it is a true account. But there are two objections against his signature: the first is, that he is rather a drawer than an endorser, depending upon the quid pro quo for the editorship, &c. and also that if even he could prove that he bestows his labor, press, and type, &c. and derives nothing from the sale [422] of the "Debate on Campbellism," yet we can prove an alibi in this case--that is, that he was not within hearing of the discussion; being, at that time, more than five hundred miles distant, and this, it will be conceded, is rather an inconvenient distance to hear distinctly. So that notwithstanding the endorsement of Nephew S. C. Jennings, Editor, Pittsburg, still the credibility of the true account rests upon the defendant's own testimony, without a solitary witness. Strange, too, that, having had my narrative of said debate in his hands for nearly a year, and living in Nashville, he could not find two disinterested witnesses to prove my narrative false, and his account true!

      In looking back I perceive he proposed a "History of Campbellism," as well as a true account of said debate. But he changed his plan, and resolved to call his book a "Debate on Campbellism," thinking, no doubt, that title would sell it better, and the purchaser would not find the cheat till he had got through the book, and then he might laugh at his simplicity. After all, this may, perchance, be a trick of the editor rather than of the author: for, indeed, the book makes its appearance under such suspicious circumstances, and so long after date, that we know not whether the living or the dead is most to be blamed for these pious frauds.


      As the reputed author of this book (and we shall regard it, in the aggregate, as the work of its reputed author,) has passed "that bourne from which no traveller returns," I find myself obliged to say as little as possible, nothing, indeed, touching either his motives or character. They have both undergone the scrutiny of that Judge who never errs, and from whose decision there is no appeal. His work, posthumous as it is, however, lives; and whether its life be short or long, potent or impotent, it has in it a design, and that design is to impede, and, if possible, to withstand the cause of which I am but one humble pleader. But unfortunately for the author's design, he seems to have identified myself and the cause to which I have devoted the prime and vigor of my life, and which, in my youth, I vowed to God, at all hazards, to maintain. Having, then, identified myself and the cause, he imagined that whatever wounds and reproaches he could fasten on me, would cleave, like a leprosy, to the whole cause. Egregious mistake! The alleged sacrifice of Servetus, did not destroy Calvinism. Were I as great a reprobate as he would seem to have wished me to be; (for he that seeks to asperse any character, always desires documents,) still the cause would prevail athwart and in defiance of all that any one friend or foe can do. But he seems to have fallen into this mistake, and, therefore, the book is but a tissue of abuse, interspersed with an elaborate defence of his own theory, and an attack upon what he either imagined or wished my views to be.

      He however, overacts his part, and discredits himself. According to his representation the spread of this obnoxious heresy is not owing to the talent, learning, moral character of its pleaders; nor to the [423] scriptural evidence of its truth and reasonableness. The philosopher will ask how can this be? He can imagine how a cause exceedingly plain, intelligible, and scriptural, may seize the public mind without either learning or talent on the part of its advocates; or, perchance, he may be able to comprehend how a cause not very plain, intelligible, or scriptural, may spread by the learning and talent of those who plead it; but how it can succeed alike destitute of character, talent, learning in its pleaders; simplicity, evidence, authority in itself, will be to him wholly incomprehensible.

      But we have said the prominent and most apparent design of this book is to lessen and impair my reputation, in the hopes of saving the "evangelical sects" and impeding the cause of reform. This, rather than argument, is relied on by this champion of orthodoxy. Over the pages of this volume I find myself accused of certain high crimes and misdemeanors, which are comprehended in the following characteristics:--I come from the pencil of Mr. Jennings depicted as one ungrateful to Presbyterians, sinister in my designs, a false accuser, a disguised infidel, a false teacher, a mere natural man, unregenerate, unitarian, and deceitful.

      Surpassing strange, that a decent book cannot be written by one of these defenders of the "evangelical sects," and that we cannot be met according to the ordinary rules of common courtesy, on the arena of fair and manly (to say nothing of gentlemanly) discussion. Is it so that sectarian religion can be sustained in no other way? that the man, the citizen, the gentleman, the christian, must always be interred in the partizan polemic. To hear or see persons professing spirituality, heavenly mindedness, illumination and inhabitation of the Holy Spirit, seizing the carnal and worldly weapons of slander, detraction, evil surmising, and evil speaking, to defend what they are pleased to call the "spirituality of religion," is not only nauseating to a christian taste, but in battle array against all pretensions to the Holy Spirit of him, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again.

      How to treat such charges coming from such a quarter at this time of the day--whether to smile at the folly, pity the imbecility, or bewail the frailty of the author--whether to reason in serious mood, or in irony against such impertinence, or to pass by in dignified silence such gratuitous detractions, is a question which Solon, perhaps, would have answered one way and Solomon another.

      For our own part we have sustained the continued cannonading of all the big and little batteries in the "evangelical sects" for so long a time without loss of limb or of blood, that we cannot be frightened with such musketry and noise as now comes from the fort of Presbyterianism, manned and governed as it is. But as a matter of courtesy to our readers, we shall give them a very brief view of the specifications by which these accusations are sought to be sustained. And we shall set them before them in the order which has already been sketched:--

      1. Ingratitude to the Presbyterians.--This I choose to place first on the list, because the nephew and the uncle have both reiterated [424] the charge. It has been, I am told, a constant theme in the paper edited by S. C. Jennings, so often as my name is introduced. Ingratitude! This is a crime of no ordinary magnitude. An ungrateful man, with me, is a man that is devoid of all that is manly, good, and fair--of every noble, and generous, and magnanimous feeling and sensibility. But before there can be ingratitude on the one part there must be favor conferred on the other. And what claims have Presbyterians on me? I never received from them any Presbyterian favor. I have received from them no favor more than from Methodists, Quakers, Baptists, or any other sect in christendom with which I am acquainted. But this Mr. Jennings says, is susceptible of proof that certain favors were bestowed upon my father by different branches of the Presbyterian church. And on inquiry I have found what the favors alluded to were. That the foundation of this charge may appear in all its logical and rhetorical force, beauty, and magnanimity, I will state the case as I have learned it.

      My father labored as a minister of Presbyterianism among "different branches of the Presbyterian church" for some two or three years before his family arrived in the United States. He came to see the country before he would conclude to adopt it for himself and family. The embargo, and finally the non-intercourse measures of Jefferson's administration occurring, prevented for a time the possibility of their migration. They finally seized an opportunity, by no means eligible, of embarking, and were at a very inclement season of the year shipwrecked on an island on the coast of Scotland, with the almost entire loss of every thing save life. On hearing this, the congregations where he was accustomed to labor, not only statedly, but occasionally, did, of their own accord, make a specific contribution with a reference to this calamity--to what extent, whether considered as an equivalent for his labors, or transcending them, I have never ascertained. But so it is, that these same high-minded and generous Presbyterians have not, forgotten it, and, as it would appear, yet regard it in the light of a retaining fee, binding on father and son and their descendants forever to the interest of the Presbyterian church, and do now hold me in the second generation, and, for ought I know, will hold my children and grand children bound by an everlasting covenant to preach Presbyterianism! For my part, I have some few feeble reasons to offer why I should not regard it in this light. I do know that my father, whom I have not seen for eight months, did, while in the Presbyterian connexion, sacrifice always his temporal interests to the interests of that church; and though never very rich, yet always having it in his power to have much more than a competence, did so much set the spiritual interests of men above his own temporal interests, that I hold the Presbyterian church in some of its branches greatly indebted to him, both in Ireland, Scotland, and these United States; and as these spirits value every thing in gold, silver, or brass, I doubt not, should they come to settle their accounts with him, they will find themselves much in his debt, a large balance on the other side. [425]

      But yet it seems Mr. Jennings the editor, and his uncle, regard me as ungrateful to the aforesaid amount, according to the meaning and design of their covenanted blessings by virtue of the Abrahamic charter. Well, now, to meet them on their own premises, if the said S. C. Jennings will ascertain the amount due from me, or how much was fixed upon my services, that I may cut off the entail and be honest in Presbyterian arithmetic, I will engage at proper intervals to "preach as many sermons" to the aforesaid congregations as there are units in the quotient of said sum divided by six. If any one ask the mystery of the figure 6, I will explain it. It is not that there are six working days in every week; but because some twenty-five or thirty years ago six dollars was considered a reasonable allowance for one sermon two hours long. For every sixty dollars in said sum I will deliver ten discourses, two hours each, as soon as the Presbytery furnishes me with a list of appointments. The interest due may be added to the principal; and that I may be honest and grateful in their arithmetical views of honesty and gratitude, I will pay the uttermost farthing in the true intent and spirit of their demands against me. In this way we repel this most puissant argument in favor of the soundness of the doctrine of "the evangelical sects," this most illustrious monument of the noble and high-minded policy of the Presbyterian church.

      2. Sinister in my Designs.--Mr. Campbell, as the reward of his labors, is now richer than some ten Presbyterian ministers, and with a reference to this he commenced his operations, refused a salary amongst the Presbyterians because it was not large enough, and chose his present course because more likely to enhance his fortune. This is the substance of the specifications under this imputation. All my sins are venal except one. For more than twelve years before I became an editor, I labored in the word and teaching, travelled a good deal, and spent much time and money in the labors of what is usually called a minister of the gospel, for which I received no earthly remuneration. So soon as I commenced the editorship of the Christian Baptist I also wrote several essays against the hireling system. These two--my practice for so many years, and these essays, constituted a mortal sin against such men as Mr. Jennings, who, within my own recollection, had the charge of three Presbyterian congregations, always migrating in obedience to a louder call. On one occasion, some seven years ago, in reference to some things written on the clergy, he is reported to have said that I was as bad as the Devil. This sin has no forgiveness. It is infidelity, unregeneracy, unitarianism, and universal heterodoxy. I never did say that those who labored in the word and teaching ought not to be sustained by the brethren for whom they labored, or by whose appointment they labored for the benefit of others. But some cannot, or are unwilling to discriminate between him who prepares himself for the office, learns the trade, and him who comes forward at the call and solicitation of the brethren--between supplying the necessary wants of him who labors all his time in obedience to the call and appointment of the brethren, and him who [426] hires himself out for the Sabbath and the pastoral office at a certain per annum, in obedience to which he shapes his course through life. But this sin cannot be expiated. My motives are assailed, the most unjust suspicions uttered, and it is told that I am now richer than some ten Presbyterian preachers, and of course become so since I became an editor. This is the impression sought to be made; and yet he who knows so much of my circumstances as to declare to the world how rich I am, certainly knows that if I am now as rich as some ten Presbyterian preachers, I was ten years ago before I ever issued a prospectus?

      Were any of our friends as ingenious in finding arguments to commend, as our opponents are to censure our course, perhaps they might find cause to show that we had as good a chance of receiving during the last twenty years as much as Dr. Brown or Dr. Jennings did receive per annum; and this twenty thousand dollars, the wealth of some twenty Presbyterian preachers, might have been superadded to the wealth of the ten: for had we been disposed to write and publish, we would have had better facilities in connexion with the honorable, wealthy, and popular Presbyterians, of obtaining both wealth and honor, than in our present or past ungrateful course. Could we not, if we had loved orthodoxy, been now as rich as Dr. Brown or Dr. Eli, or some of those Doctors who possess the wealth of some fifty Presbyterian preachers. I wonder if any of our opponents ever thought of this. Now if a bad cause can be made so plausible, might we not have made the good cause of Presbyterianism most attracting?

      I never, indeed, wished for wealth, I never desired riches so much for any purpose as for that which has obtained this enmity--the means of exposing extensively the errors, faults, and rottenness of those systems which have been sustained by wealth and worldly policy. If our opponents could strip us of this means, they are aware they could do more for themselves than by all their logic and rhetoric; and this appears to us the real cause of this invidious, mean-spirited, and pusillanimous attack. Be assured, gentlemen, that we desire to be still richer, and to have it in our power to distribute, among other means of doing good, many ten thousand tracts like this, without charge, in reply to such speculations as this 75 cents worth of slander, sold upon your avowal, so high for the benefit of Presbyterianism, or, what is the same thing, for the benefit of the family of a preacher of Presbyterianism! So we dispose of the second argument in proof of Presbyterian orthodoxy.

      3. A False Accuser.--My recklessness of truth, the false assertions with which my narrative of said debate abounds. This is often reiterated, and may be, from the consequence he has attached to it, placed No. 3. of the specifications against me. Serious charge against any man, even as a citizen; more serious against a professor of religion; most serious against one who publicly preaches Christ.--Ought it not, candid reader, to be well sustained? And is it? NOT IN ONE SINGLE INSTANCE. Even when he formally makes the charge, he falters on page 79. Was there ever from a lawyer, except Mr. Jennings, such a come-off as the following?-- [427]

      "I am aware it has been alleged that I have, in my proposals for this publication, evinced not only a want of christian charity, but of a due regard to decorum, by the allegation that the narrative of Mr. Campbell abounds with false assertions. And if such be not the fact, it is distinctly admitted that in making such a charge, I am justly reprehensible, and that in no slight degree, but my only apology or defence is that the allegation is TRUE. And for the truth of it, so far as it regards not only the assertion of Mr. Campbell, just noticed, but others which I shall, in the sequel, have occasion to notice, I can confidently appeal to the whole of the congregations who attended the discussion. Notwithstanding in his assertions, which are alleged to be false, Mr. Campbell holds the affirmative, and consequently the burden of the proof lies upon him, yet positive proof of the incorrectness of some of them at least, can, if required, be adduced."

      I must, then, prove my assertions true in order to aid Mr. Jennings to prove them false. But if he is hard pressed he will hereafter prove it. So, then, himself being judge, the charge is not sustained in this book; but he says if positive proof of the incorrectness (a new modification of the word false) of some of them, at least, "can, if required, be adduced." Thus the "true account" and the "false assertions" are both yet to be made out--and proved if REQUIRED!!

      "Incorrectness" only! Well I would not make oath to every comma, semicolon, nor note of interrogation in my narrative; for Mr. Jennings says he took notes only on one evening preceding the debate, and I may have been mistaken about the Sabbath evening when he was observed in attendance the second time. I then thought I saw him use his pencil once or twice; but he says he did not take notes till Friday the 24th. Now admit this, (and yet I have my doubts about it,) on what ground is the charge of abounding in false assertions to be sustained. "If required" it can be sustained. It is now required! for I repeat that my narrative is just, exactly; and truly what it purports to be. I add, that no man can prove that I have given one false representation in the sense in which he charges me! and I now say that I conscientiously think that my report does as much justice to Mr. Jennings as it does to my side of the question. Moreover, my narrative seems to have been the only guide to Mr. Jennings in making out his book as any judicious reader of both may perceive.

      I will not now contradict Mr. Jennings' assertions about how we came to have this discussion; but were he here to answer for himself I would treat this part of his true account quite differently. On my return to Nashville on the 22d December, it was ringing through the city that Mr. Jennings wished to have a debate, and it was wondered whether I would give him an opportunity after the abruptness of his first attack and retreat. That he had been preparing for a debate, and his friends expecting it, were matters distinctly told me on the evening of my return.

      From my previous knowledge of Mr. Jennings' didactic and preaching talents, I thought him not eminently qualified for such a discussion; and therefore could not flatter myself that it would be useful: but as it was so emphatically told me that if he did not get an opportunity, or if I would not give an invitation, offence and reproach would follow, I concluded to devote Christmas day to himself or any other who had [428] aught to say on these matters. This is the true history of the origin of this discussion.

      Mr. Jennings was a respectable lawyer, and Dr. Brown in his memoirs informs us that he would have been a pretty good preacher if he had had courage to speak and not to read his sermons. But what no little astonishes me, is, that he could have had the temerity to publish to the world that he carried any one point in that discussion, unless it was that he got matters generally arranged just to his own liking. But certainly his book shows all the strength put forth on that occasion. Yes, he admits himself that it is more forcible than the debate. If, then, in this book he has not sustained one proposition, all will agree that he did not in the long talk; and that he has not sustained one position in the book we may yet show in its proper place.

      I hope I shall be pardoned for passing by his other insinuations, as they are unsupported by any specifications. They are the mere overflowings of an alienated mind, disappointed and chagrined at its own imbecility to refute by reason and argument positions hostile to a favorite system. If my work, and labors, and the reproaches which I have the honor to sustain in my feeble efforts to restore the ancient institution of him who was insulted by the priesthood of his own time, with a very few exceptions; of him who was accused of leagues and treaties with the Devil and his emissaries; I say, if my feeble and improfitable efforts with the calumny and reproach I have to bear, will not sustain me against the imputation of infidelity, unregeneracy, unitarianism, &c. I consider my saying that I am not a mere natural man, an infidel in disguise, an opponent of the true and proper divinity of the Son of God, will be wholly inadequate and unavailing. I may, indeed, deplore that such foul, ungenerous, unmanly, and unchristian imputations may keep some of God's bewildered children from hearing, or reading, or judging any thing which emanates from us; but I bless Emanuel the Lord Messiah, that they only enhance our standing among the saints of God, and cannot injure the cause we plead in the minds of any who either hear us speak, or read what we have to write on the christian institutions.

      I am now chargeable with egotism for having spoken so much in my own defence; for the policy of our opponents is to place us in a certain attitude, or to compel us into it, and then to censure us for appearing in that attitude. When my reputation is sought to be identified with the cause of reform, I should, in my judgment, be not only recreant to myself, but to the cause of truth and righteousness, were I not to defend myself from the tongue and pen of the slanderer.

      Did I avail myself of the documents furnished by the authors of this book to show how hazardous they appear of the responsibility of making round and unqualified assertions, I would be represented as pursuing retaliatory measures. Did they not expose themselves to the detection of a child in this apparent recklessness of truth, it might be more necessary to dwell upon this theme. But I will only give an, instance or two to put the reader on his guard. [429]

      Brother Jacob Creath whispered something into my ear, or I whispered something into his, previous to the introduction of one of our night meetings in Nashville; and Mr. Jennings, without presuming to have heard what it was, fearlessly asserts that I was suggesting to him what to say, and choosing my own subject for discussion. If he had said he suspected it, we might have ascribed it to a suspicious mind; but no, he boldly asserts it, p. 32. "Whilst he (Mr. Campbell) selected his own subject, he evidently wished that it might appear otherwise," &c. I simply say it is not a fact.

      Again, on page 72, he roundly asserts that Mr. C. "never has offered, and never can with propriety offer the prayer of David, Psalm cxix. 18." How did he know what petitions Mr. C. had offered, and what he had not?

      On page 82 he avows, "The great object of Mr. C's reformation is not to suppress vice, reprove wickedness, correct abuses of that which is evil, or warn sinners to repent and flee from the wrath to come; but to extirpate the most important doctrines and institutions of the gospel!" The book abounds in assertions and avowals as repugnant to truth, to fact, and to religion as these.


      The remnant of the book contains Mr. Jennings' views of faith, mysteries, divine influence, the natural man, defence of the sects evangelical, and of evangelical sectarianism; disquisitions upon the terms schism and heresy; call to the ministry; dissertations upon the new version, on the words ekklesia and baptismos; the Godhead; regeneration; the uncharitableness of our views--his views of John iii. 5. and of Titus iii, 5--his explanations of sundry texts of scripture--and baptism not essential to salvation. These are the prominent topics, in which he differs not materially from the great majority of the popular sects, whose views, reasonings, and arguments, have repeatedly been reviewed and examined in our pages.

      We have coveted objections to the new version, and are much pleased to see that Mr. Jennings has tried his hand as a critic upon it. Mr. M'Calla of Kentucky also tried his hand upon it some time since. We only have to regret that illiberality rather than genius, learning, or taste, characterizes these efforts. But such as they are, we shall make the best use of them in the work now under review. That these gentlemen were most incompetent to a work of this sort, will not require much proof. Mr. Jennings, in the work now before me, has, to every impartial linguist, proved his utter incapacity to decide upon even the syntax of a Greek sentence. See his efforts to make touto, Eph. ii. 8. refer to pistis. His remarks on Gal. iv. 19. show that he never was initiated into a Grecian temple, or passed the vestibule of an Athenian forum. But these developements we reserve to our regular numbers of the Harbinger.

      His very ingenious and unjust effort to censure the version as leaning to Unitarianism, shall be placed in full light, with all his complaints against the association of Doctor Doddridge with Presbyterian doctors. It is the translation of baptisma which provoked his ire. This is what is most obnoxious to Paidobaptists. This is concealed as much as possible, but it is at the root of the whole matter. But the exposition of this management will appear in our future disquisitions upon this part of his book.

      The perplexity of the Doctor on John iii. 5. is as apparent in this book as it was in the debate. At one time he says, "If the phrase "born of water" have any allusion to baptism (which it may or may not, for any thing we know,) p. 182; and in page 183, baptism--"an attendance upon this ordinance it is not denied produces an outward change upon the condition of its subject, inasmuch [430] as it is the only method of gaining admittance into the visible church or kingdom of God in this world." Reader, remember this. Yet in page 225 he says, alluding to John iii. 5. and to Titus iii. 5. "I think the opinion of others (Westminster Divines, &c.) to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no allusion to baptism in either of these passages." This change in his views 40 pages of his own reasonings was sufficient to effect.

      He seems, however, to settle down upon this position, that "born of water" and "born of the Spirit" mean one and the same thing. Hence he that is born of the Spirit is born of water, and he that is born of water is born of the Spirit. The first clause of the same sentence is to be understood figuratively, and the second clause literally!! and to be baptized in fire, in water, and in the Spirit, are all synonimous in the New Testament!!!

      But I shall close the present outline of the character of the debate, with a review of that part of his book which treats of faith. Saving faith with him differs in its properties, and not in its quality or strength, from any other faith, page 40. It is the belief of testimony, and not the belief of history. A man can believe in one sense, and he cannot believe without help in an other sense. It is a mystery, and it is not a mystery. It is not historical faith, and yet it includes the belief of history; and what more than history it receives, he has not informed us.

      The Doctor represents us as contending for a faith called historic faith, in preference to any other. This is not the fact. But we contend that nothing can be called faith that is not the belief of history, and this ground is assumed to show that they who discredit the belief of God's testimony, whether oral or written, and contend for a faith wrought in the heart diverse from the belief of testimony, are deluded in that one thing, if in no other. If any doctor can tell me any thing which he believes that has not been reported to him in some way, I will concede that faith comes not by hearing, although Paul says it does--but by the Spirit working mysteriously in the heart. This faith he calls natural.

      The scriptures on which he chiefly relies to prove his mystic faith, are John xii. 42; James on dead faith; the phrases which speak of "believing with the heart;" faith is the gift of God; and Eph. 1. 19. He has denied the quoting of 1 Cor. xii. 9!! but yet contends for Matth. xvi. 17, and adds to it Gal. i. 15, 16, and v. 19-25; 1 Cor. ii. 14; Phil. i. 29; Ps. cxix. 18.

      He now says that I prudently took no notice of his having quoted and commented on Eph. i. 19. Of this he triumphs no little. Well, I confess I took no notice of it, because I forgot it: but sure I am, he ought rather to have blushed than to have triumphed here; and to thank, rather than to upbraid me for my silence on this passage. I shall now give the reasons for these remarks, and first let me quote the whole passage--"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power to usward, who believe according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Jesus when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." Mr. Jennings viewed this great power towards believers as the power of enabling them to believe: that it requires the same power to work faith in the heart, which was necessary to raise Jesus from the dead. This is his argument--against which I give my vote most unhesitatingly. The connexion shows that the power here spoken of is indeed the power of raising dead bodies to life, of reanimating and glorifying them, and that God will display the same almighty power towards them who believe, as he did in raising and glorifying his son. This is in reference to the glory of his inheritance in the saints--this is the hope of his calling, as Paul assures the Ephesians in the words foregoing. A greater perversion of scripture to a sectarian purpose, I recollect not to have met with, than the Doctor's gloss upon this passage. It is a power towards or to behalf of believers--not a power put forth upon unregenerate men, working faith in their hearts. [431]

      The other passages have been so repeatedly shown not to teach that faith is as great a miracle as the raising of Lazarus, that I cannot think of now running the same round in pursuit of this phantom of man's utter inability to believe God, while it is confessed he is able to believe man. "If we receive the testimony of man, surely the testimony of God is greater." Mr. Jennings has not met in the written argument, (to which he acknowledges he has added so much,) the arguments submitted, more fully, or pertinently, or convincingly, than in his viva voce efforts--indeed he has not attempted it.

      The faith by which we are justified, we contend, is a belief of the testimony of God, wrought in the heart by the confirmations of that testimony which God has given to all men who hear his Son in the attestations of the Holy Spirit. It is a faith which works by love; purifies the heart; overcomes the world; comes by hearing, and is both supernatural and divine--because the evidence is supernatural and divine. And yet, because we will not say that it is mysteriously wrought in the heart, like no other faith--and that no man can believe, unless the subject of a miraculous power; we are represented as contending for a dead faith, no better than that of demons. Indeed we reformers plead for a living faith, as do not many others: for unless a man's faith is so living and impulsive as so bring him to the water, we affirm it to be no better than a dead faith, or so sickly as little to avail the subject.

      We blame the religion, however, more than the man. The father of Presbyterianism was intolerant, and what wonder if his children, although disciplined in a more liberal school, should still inherit a portion of his spirit. Dr. Jennings was of this creation. "A Presbyterian by descent," and I doubt not a sincere one. But his own experience and the testimony of Dr. Brown concur in showing how impotent Presbyterianism is to renovate the man. Mr. Jennings says after he had first eaten the Lord's supper, he regarded himself "as a devil incarnate." "I gave up all for lost, and concluded myself to be a devil incarnate," p. 26. At another time he says, "How delicious, how sweet, how comforting the penitential tear!" This is the genius of the kingdom of which he was a citizen. If any one had then told him that it was the system of his fathers which gave him so much pain and so little enjoyment--that rendered his life little else than an alternation of hope and fear, of confidence and despair, a conflict between the glimmerings of light and the darkness of error, he would no doubt have accused himself and justified the system.

      He was at first terrified into the pulpit, and no doubt it was not without reason he had to complain of the fruitlessness of his labors. (p. 11.) If I had an enemy, and could wish for him an affliction, it would not be more grievous than to have the last months of his life doomed to making such a book as that before me. "O that mine enemy had written such a book!" But how strange the modes of reasoning and influence of party spirit! Had I been summoned into the presence of my Lord, in the midst of such an undertaking to blast the reputation of the leaders of this "evangelical sect," it would have, no doubt, been regarded and published as a judgment upon me and a signal proof of the divine interposition in behalf of that ism; but as Mr. Jennings was snatched off in the midst of an effort to oppose reformation, it is a consummation devoutly to be wished, to die in the harness, fighting the battles of the Lord; or, at least, only a "mysterious providence."

      It is to be wished that Mr. Jennings may, in his last moments, with a reference to this his last work, have been able to say, "How delicious, how sweet, how comforting the penitential tear!"

      ----> For a more particular examination of other parts of this book, the reader is referred to the September Number of the Harbinger--in which he will find a defence of the New Version, from the imputations of this author.
EDITOR. [432]      


[The Millennial Harbinger, 3, Extra No. 5 (August, 1832): 421-432.]

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The Millennial Harbinger, Vol. III, Extra No. 5 (1832)

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