[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)
"It is said, that if the English language be divided into one hundred parts, sixty parts would be Saxon; thirty would be Latin, including  French; five would be Greek, and the remaining five from the other languages of the world."
We presume to think and to say, that if the ecclesiastico-heretical terminology, or nomenclature, of modern Christendom, were evangelically analyzed, or repudiated in wholesale, and the apostolic diction, suggested by the Holy Spirit and consecrated by the prime ministers, or apostles of Jesus Christ, were substituted for it, more would be achieved to the cause of Christianity; to the union, harmony and co-operation of Christians, and to the progress of the Reign of the Lord Messiah throughout the earth, than has been effected since the Lutheran Reformation, by all the schisms and schismatical leaders that have figured on the pages of ecclesiastical history during the last three centuries.
In our feeble attempts to achieve something in this direction, we have been harassed on every side, by all the inflated partizans of every school in modern Christendom. Still, we have not labored in vain. Much has been achieved, despite of all opposition, and despite of the failures and frailties of those who have espoused and advocated the principles underlying such an enterprise. The influence of our views and pleadings has not been confined to our own brotherhood that have come out of existing sects, but is more or less felt, manifested, and practically approbated, in some of the Protestant denominations around us, as has been acknowledged by not a few of those occupying public and responsible positions on the walls of their respective Zions. Indeed, the prayers of myriads daily arise to heaven in behalf of union, harmony, and co-operation amongst all the citizens of Christ's kingdom, and they are being, and will be, fully answered. Despite of partizan pride and self-ycleped orthodoxy, the very terminology of the cause we plead is occasionally heard and approved, even amongst those who are too vain, or too proud, acknowledge any progress.
We are, on all the premises, greatly encouraged to hold on our way, assured that a good harvest will be gathered in at last, as the firstfruits fully warrant. We would say nothing boastfully on these premises, but humbly and gratefully acknowledge the Divine favor and mercy displayed to us; for of ourselves we have nothing to boast--our sufficiency and our success are alike from God, to whom be all the glory?
We conclude, on all our premises, that much good might accrue, and much controversy and ill-feeling be suppressed or prevented, by a few definitions of terms and phrases, that have occasioned much debate and aberration in the greenest fields of modern partyism. We shall, therefore, attempt something in this way, not in the best order, but with the best intentions. We hope, in this effort, to correct and  neutralize much slander and defamation, and to afford to candid and inquiring minds the means of appreciating and understanding our views, our aims, and our terminology. We shall follow up this subject in a series of papers, on all the great elements, facts and documents in the true Christology, and under the true Christocracy of the Messianic dispensation.
The doctrine of the "Trinity," as it is called, though really of Grecian or Roman origin, is regarded as number one of the true orthodoxy of polemic theology. On this account alone we give it precedence. It is neither historically nor philosophically, neither philologically nor Christologically, the first in order. But polemically and ecclesiastically it is of primordial conspicuity, and has been so for ages.
The Hebrew Cabalists, or Traditionists of the Jews, with their cabala, or traditions, of which they were veritable doctors or teachers, laid the foundation for the most ancient heresies. The Essenes allegorized the Mosaic law and institutions into a species of spiritualism, resembling not a little the Shaking Quakers of modern date. They were still more harmless than the more orthodox Pharisees, or the more latitudinarian Sadducees.
By reprobating this speculative theology, we save the labor of many volumes, and, in the meantime, the careful reading of the Holy and Divine Oracles furnishes us with a full and satisfactory statement of JEHOVAH--a compound, according to Rabbinical literature, of JAH, the essence, and HAVAH, existing--"THE ALWAYS EXISTING." This name is older than all human literature. Josephus calls it the Tetragrammaton--the four-lettered name. Sanchoniathon, the oldest Pagan writer known to the literary world, names it, or writes it, JEBO, or JEVO.
Diodorus, of Sicily, Jerome, Origen, of the 2d century, and Clemens Alexandrinus, exhibit it in three letters, JAO. Hence the Juspater of the Greeks, in the genitive, is Jovis, JOVE, an abbreviation of JEHOVAH. It antedates all written language. It is the one only incommunicable name in all the dialects of earth. Hence, Joshua, the hero man, son of Nun, is Hosea, or Oshea, and with the prefix JE, indicates a Divine Saviour. Joshua preceded his antitype, Jesus, the son of David, 1,451 years. Salvation temporal, spiritual and eternal, is all of God, or of Jehovah.
We have five adjuncts or epithets added to Jehovah in the Law and the Prophets. Each of these enhance his glory. Jehovah Jiveh--the Lord will appear, or the Lord will provide. (Gen. xxii. 8.) Jehovah Nissi--Jehovah my banner. (Exod. xvii. 15.) Jehovah Shallow, or Jehovah of Peace. (Judg. vi. 4.) Jehovah Shammah--"Jehohovah is there," he resides there. (Ezek. xlviii. 35.) Jehovah  Tzidekenu--Jehovah our righteousness. (Jer. xxiii. 16, and xxxiii. 16.) These are approbated and recognized by Calmet.
Now, in the Christian development of the long promised, foretold, and typified salvation, Jehovah is manifested in three distinct personalities in reference to human redemption. In creation, providence, or moral government, there was no need for any other development of God than those given in these declarations or manifestations.
But in the emergency of man's redemption, there was a necessity for a new revelation of Jehovah, Elohim, as our Jehovah in distinct personalities. Of these there are three now named--The Father, the Word, the Spirit. The Word became flesh, and dwelt in our humanity. The Spirit became the Holy Guest, or Ghost, and ever dwells in the true church--the mystical body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"God so loved the world as to send his Son," possessing the Holy Spirit without measure or limit. He became incarnate, and dwelt on earth. He formed and educated a school of apostles. On the eve of his ascension, he promised, on his return to his native heaven, to send to them his Holy Spirit, to be their GUEST, their teacher, and their help, in erecting his kingdom or church.
During his personal ministry he occasionally gave them the Spirit in some of his gifts. But he reserved his full dispensation till after he had vanquished death and the grave, and ascended to his native heaven. He went to receive a kingdom, and to be constituted, in our humanity, both Lord and Sovereign of the entire realms of the universe. He was formally inaugurated as Lord of all, in the capacity of the Son of man and the Son of God. He received the empire or creation. He then sent, as his ambassador, the Holy Spirit, and commenced his kingdom in the city in which he, fifty days before, had been crucified.
These were the facts to be announced by the apostles; and that all who died to sin, on confession of their guilt, were to be "born of water and of the Spirit," and thus become citizens of his kingdom, as now dispensed.
Such was the Divine and Christian economy, or dispensation of Divine grace, under the immediate influence and direction of his Holy Spirit. The church then became "the temple of God," with Jesus Christ for its head and the Holy Spirit for its heart.
The commission given to the apostles, directed them first to the city in which he had been crucified, and there they were to commence a spiritual temple, to be animated and adorned with the graces, the beauty, and the grandeur of the Hold Spirit--to be "the light of the world," and "for salvation to the ends of the earth."
What, then, was their mission? They were to announce or proclaim Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world,  the Sovereign Lord of heaven and of earth. This was the sum and the substance of their Divine commission.
They proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah; and faith, repentance and baptism, "for the remission," or "the washing away of their sins." These were never to be separated. Their commission was not to preach faith alone, nor repentance alone, nor baptism alone; but each of them in its own proper place, or significance. To as many as received their testimony, they commanded submission to Jesus the Messiah in all things, as the Sovereign Lord of all. So it came to pass, that when any one believed their testimony, confessed his sins, and was immersed in the name, or by the authority of the Lord, into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in this act there was, to him, a Divine declaration of the remission of all his antecedent sins, and the possession, in his heart, of that Holy Spirit as his guest; by whose testimony, or demonstrations of the claims of the Lord Jesus, he had already submitted to the new dispensation, or the reign in him of that same Spirit that had already attested Jesus; and had clothed his apostles with plenary power to give testimony and proof of his Divine personality and official fullness.
For this paragraph we, as a people, have been doomed to some thirty years' persecution or defamation. We thank the Lord for it; but we can not remit the sin of those who have perverted and misrepresented it and those who proclaim it.
Contextual interpretation, claimed by all denominations, was denied to us. Hence, by every form of ingenious verbal torture, we have been published, from Dan to Beersheba, as teaching "water salvation," "baptismal regeneration," denying "Spiritual influence," "the person and work of the Holy Spirit," and I know not what other forms of "neology" and of "heresy."
But still more to be reprobated: Those guilty of these most false and fabulous tales, are self-convicted of this disingenuous and unchristian attitude and course. This we learn from every point of the compass, and, not infrequently, even in our person and experience. Men are heard in every quarter of our country, where the cause we plead has obtained a footing, and sometimes even when railing against a fictitious "Campbellism," (as they are pleased to term it) they give full evidence, to every discriminating ear, of their own proficiency in that which they so fabulously and impiously call "Campbellism."
They preach it in part, and disclaim it in toto. We thank God and take courage, that many, while hypocritically denouncing "Campbellism," preach it in very prominent item. The true clergy of this generation have nothing to learn. They are warranted and endorsed orthodox "divines." And they can preach any theology or  Christology, without suspicion and without shame. But, before many moons, they will have to become still more tinctured with this horrific heresy. They will have to immerse men into Christ, and not in Christ; or in other words, they will have to immerse men into the name, and not in the name, of Jesus the Christ; or "into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Instead of the Papal Roman formula--"In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." And they will have to immerse men into, or for remission of sins. And everybody knows that for thirty years' past we have been doomed--I was about to say damned--for this unholy innovation.
"Remission of sins," or "the washing away of sins," as some way connected with baptism, will have to be assented to by the persons, or their sons, who have been honoring us, for years, with their reprobation, for quoting or using the words of Peter and of Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when preaching or teaching the Christian institutions.
They will yet have courage to say to a believing querist, when asking what he should do, as a poor, self-condemned sinner, to have a full remission of his sins, what Peter said to the Jews on the first Pentecost "Repent," or "Reform," and be immersed every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the comforts of the Holy Guest in your hearts: or as Christ's messenger, Ananias, said to Saul, they will say to a self-condemned sinner, awakened to know his condition--"Arise and be immersed, and wash away your sins, invoking the name of the Lord." This will some of them do, that have accused us of error and heresy of the first degree. They can not prevent the fulfillment of this--prediction, shall I call it? Nor will they then see any difficulty in defending this practice from the charge of heterodoxy or heresy. They will argue the questions raised against this practice, as we have been doing for many years, demonstrating that there is no incompatibility in such a practice with the grace of God, and the merits of Christ's blood, and faith, antecedent to baptism. Thousands, tens of thousands, that once withstood these views as incompatible with their former theories of faith, repentance, and the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, in type and prophecy, will see no incongruity, no contradiction, no difficulty whatever, in reconciling and in justifying this apostolic practice, than did Luther in maintaining his doctrine of justification by faith, against all the assumptions and presumptions of his orthodox opponents.
They will then see no irreconcilable difficulty between being born both of the Spirit and of water simultaneously. They will then see that a man may be begotten and born when he is old--that he may be first quickened by the Spirit, or begotten through the belief of the  truth, and then washed; or that "the washing of regeneration" does not necessarily precede, in the Divine economy, regeneration itself, or the renewal of the Holy Spirit in its full acceptation.
They will then discover that the Holy Spirit works in faith, in repentance, and in baptism, in renewing, cleansing, and sanctifying the awakened sinner. This will be read and weighed when I shall have passed the bourne of time, and when my contemporaries, too, shall have crossed the Jordan and entered into the realities of the spirit world. Assured that we stand on the foundation of prophets and apostles, we have nothing to fear, but every good thing to hope. "The word of the Lord endureth forever." And this is the word of the Lord on which we build, and not on the doctrines and traditions of men. "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believes not," though immersed a thousand, times, is now, and shall hereafter be, condemned.
We can fully sympathize with Luther in maintaining the doctrine of faith as the grand element of justification. And as he fully reconciled Paul and James on the question of justification by faith, without the deeds of the law, and justification by works, too, in the examples given by James, so can we, and do we, reconcile the grace of God with faith, repentance, baptism and justification by faith.
Every Christian institution of which we participate is but a mean and not an end.
A. C., 1856, page 123 [sic].
Alexander Campbell. Extracts from "Bible Terminology.--No. I."
The Millennial Harbinger 27 (March 1856): |
[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)