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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)



      To him who, through the telescope of faith, surveys your camp, there appears not on the whole map of creation such a motley group, such a heterogeneous and wretched amalgamation of distracted spirits, as are found in actual insurrection and rebellion, in a mad and accursed alliance against the reigning Monarch of creation. In your lines are found every unclean and hateful spirit on this side the fathomless gulf, the dark and rayless receptacle of fallen and ruined intelligences, who, in endless and fruitless wailings, lament their own follies, and through an incessant night of despair anathematize themselves [275] and their coadjutors in the perpetration of their eternal suicide. Yes, in your ranks are found all who wilfully reject the Son of God, and will not have him to reign over them; whether they are styled the decent moralist, the honest deist, skeptic, atheist, infidel, the speculating Sadducee, the boasting Pharisee, the supercilious Jew, the resentful Samaritan, or the idolatrous Gentile. All ranks and degrees of men in political society--the king and the beggar--the sage philosopher and the uneducated clown--the rich and the poor, who disdain the precepts of the Messiah, unite with you in this unholy alliance against the kingdom of heaven. You may boast of many a decent fellow soldier in the crusade against Immanuel; many who, when weighed in the balances of the political sanctuary, are not found wanting in all the decencies of this present life; but only look at the innumerable crowds of every sort of wretches, down to the filthiest, vilest matricide, who in your communion are fighting under your banners--stout-hearted rebels!--leagued with you in your attempts to dethrone the Lord's Anointed. If you boast of one Marcus Aurelius, you must fraternize with many a Nero, Domitian, Caligula, and Heliogabulus. If you rejoice in the virtues of one Seneca, you must own the vices of ten thousand murderers, robbers, adulterers, drunkards, profane swearers, and lecherous debauchees, who have rejected the counsels of heaven, because the precepts of righteousness and life forbade their crimes.

      If, then, my friends, (for I now address the most honorable of your community,) you boast that you belong to a very large and respectable synagogue, remember, I pray you, that to this same synagogue in which you have your brotherhood, belongs everything mean, and vile, and wretched, in every land where the name of Jesus has been announced. What a group! Have you so much of the reflex light of the gospel falling upon your vision as to flush your cheek with the glow of shame when you look along the line of your alliance, and survey the horrible faces, the ragged, and tattered, and squalid, and filthy wretches, your companions in arms--members with you in the synagogue of Satan--and confederates against the Prince of Peace! If you can not blush at such a spectacle, you are not among them to whom I would tender the pearls of Jesus Christ.

      What do you then say? "I am ashamed of such an alliance--of such a brotherhood; and therefore I have joined the Temperance Society--I belong to the Literary Club--and I carry my family regularly to church on every Sunday." And do you think, O simpleton! that these human inventions, which only divide the kingdom of Satan into castes, and form within it various private communions, honorable and dishonorable associations, learned and unlearned fraternities, moral and immoral conventicles, change the state of a single son of [276] Adam as respects the Son of God!! Then may Whig and Tory, Masonic and Antimasonic clubs and conclaves--then may every political cabal, for the sake of elevating some demagogue, change the political relations in the state, and make and unmake American citizens according to fancy, in despite of constitution, law, and established precedents. No, sir; should there be as many parties in the state as there are days in a month, membership in any one of these affects not in the least the standing of any man as a citizen in relation to the United States, or to any foreign power. And by parity of reason, as well as by all that is written in the New Testament, should you join all the benevolent societies on the chequered map of Christendom, and fraternize with every brotherhood born after the will of man, this would neither change nor destroy your citizenship in the kingdom of Satan--still you would be an alien from the kingdom of the Messiah--a foreigner as respects all its covenanted blessings--and, in the unbiased judgment of the universe, you would stand enrolled amongst its enemies.

      In character there are many degrees as respects any and every attribute which enters into its formation; but as respects state there are no degrees. In the nature of things it is impossible. Every man is either married or single, a brother, a master, a citizen, or he is not. Every man is either Christ's or Belial's; there is no middle power, and therefore no neutral state. Hence the King himself, when on the present theatre of war, told his companions to regard every man as his enemy who was not on his side. Amongst his professed friends they, who in works deny him, are even counted as enemies.

      What a hopeless struggle is that in which you are engaged! Discomfiture, soon or late, awaits you. Have you counsel and strength to oppose the Sovereign of the Universe? Do you think you can frustrate the counsels of Infinite Wisdom and overcome Omnipotence? Your master is already a prisoner--your chief is in chains. The fire of eternal vengeance is already kindled for Satan and all his subjects. Mad in his disappointed ambition, and implacable in his hatred of him against whom he rebelled, he only seeks to gratify his own malice by involving with himself in irremediable ruin the unhappy victims of his seduction. He only seeks to desolate the dominions of God, and to ruin forever his fellow creatures. Will you, then, serve your worst enemy and war against your best friend?

      But your rebellion can effect nothing against God. His arm is too strong for the whole creation. You can not defeat his counsels nor stay his almighty hand. The earth on which you stand trembles at his rebuke; the foundations of the hills and mountains are moved and shaken at his presence. You fight against yourselves. God's detestation of your course arises not from any apprehension that you can injure him; but because you destroy yourselves. Every triumph which [277] your inordinate desires and passions gain over the remonstrances of reason and conscience, only precipitates you into deeper and deeper misery, matures you for perdition, and makes it essential to the good order and happiness of the universe that you should suffer an "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power."

      What, then, infatuates you, that you should choose death rather than life, and prefer destruction to salvation? "I am not sure that the gospel is true; I love my companions, and I can not see any criminality in gratifying those passions and appetites which my Creator has planted in my constitution."

      You admit there is a God your Creator, but you doubt whether the gospel is true! What an abuse of reason and evidence! Can you infer from any premises in your possession, that HE, whose creation man is, who has exhibited to the eye and ear of man so much wisdom, power, and goodness in all his grand designs already accomplished, and daily accomplishing, in the heavens and in the earth, teaching man to sustain the present life, to anticipate the future, and to provide for it, has never intelligibly addressed him on a subject of incomparably more importance--his own ultimate destiny! That God should have been at so much pains to elevate man in nature--to furnish him with such an organization--to bestow on him reason and speech, admirably qualifying him to acquire and communicate instruction on all things necessary to his present animal enjoyments; and at the same time to have never communicated to him any thing relative to his intellectual nature--never to have addressed him on the themes which, as a rational creature, he must necessarily most of all desire to know; to have done everything for his body and for the present, and nothing for his mind, nor for the future, is, to say the least of it, the most improbable conceit that the most romantic fancy can entertain.

      That the Creator could not enlighten him on these topics is wholly inadmissable. That he could, and would not, is directly contrary to every analogy in creation--contradictory to every proof we have of his benevolence, an inexplicable exception to the whole order of his government: for he has provided objects for every sense--objects for every intellectual power--objects for every affection, honorable passion, appetite, and propensity in our constitution; but on your hypothesis he has only failed in that which is infinitely more dear to us, more consonant to our whole rational nature, and most essential to our happiness!! 'Tis most contrary to reason.

      But the folly of your skepticism is still more glaring when we open the book of the gospel of salvation. In the history of Jesus you have the fulfillment of a thousand predictions, expressed by numerous [278] prophets, for 1,500 years before he was born. These recorded prophecies were in the possession of his and our most bitter enemies when he appeared, and are still extant in their hands. How can you dispose of these? All antiquity confirms the existence of Jesus of Nazareth in the times of Augustus and Tiberius Cesar. No contemporary opponent denied his miracles: they explained them away, but questioned not the wonderful works which he wrought. His character was the only perfect and unexceptionable one the world ever saw, either in, print or in real life; and yet you imagine him to have been the greatest liar and most infamous impostor that ever lived. You must admit him to have been the teacher of everything moral, and pure, and godlike--to have lived the most exemplary life--to have employed his whole life in doing good--while, to countenance your skepticism, you must imagine him to have been the greatest deceiver and most blasphemous pretender the world ever saw! Truly, you are fond of paradox!

      His Apostles, too, for the sake of being accounted the offscourings of the world and the filth of all society--for the sake of poverty, contumely, stripes, imprisonment, and martyrdom, you imagine traveled over the earth teaching virtue and holiness--discountenancing every species of vice and immorality, while telling the most impudent lies, and that, too, about matters of palpable fact, about which no man having eyes and ears could be mistaken! How great your credulity! How weak your faith!

      And to consummate the whole, you admit that in the most enlightened age, and amongst the most disputatious and discriminating population, both Jewish, Roman, and Grecian, in Jerusalem itself, the very theatre of the crucifixion of the Chief, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and in all the great towns and cities of the whole ancient Roman Empire, Eastern and Western, these rude and uncultivated Galileans did actually succeed in persuading hundreds of thousands of persons, of all ranks, sexes, ages, and intellects, to renounce their former opinions and practices--to encounter proscription, confiscation of goods, banishment, and even death itself in numerous instances, through faith in their testimony, while everything was fresh, and when the detection of any fiction or fraud was most easy!

      Now if it were possible to place your folly in an attitude still more inexcusable, I would ask you to show what there is in the gospel that is not infinitely worthy of God to bestow, and of man to receive? And where under the canopy of the skies, in any country, language, or age of time, is there anything that confers greater honor on man, or proposes to him anything more worthy of his acceptance than the gospel?

      Could there have been a more acceptable model proposed, after which to fashion man, than that after which he was originally created? [279] When he was beguiled and apostatized from God, could there have been deputed a more honorable personage to effect his reconciliation to God, than his only begotten and well beloved Son? And could there even be imagined a more delectable destiny allotted to man than an immortality of bliss in the palace of this vast universe, in the presence of his Father and his God forever and forever? Now with all these premises, will you object to this religion that it requires a man to be pure and holy, in order to his enjoyment of this eternal salvation? Then lay your hand upon your face, and blush, and be ashamed forever!

      But you say you love your companions! And who are they? Your fellow rebels, foolish and infatuated as yourselves. The drunkard, the thief, the murderer, love their companions, the partners of their crimes. Conspirators and partisans in any undertaking, kindred spirits in guilty and daring enterprise, confirm each other in their evil machinations, and either from mutual interest or from some hateful affinity in evil dispositions, coalesce and league together in bands of malicious depredation. A Cataline, a Jugurtha, Robespierre, had their confederates. The rakes, the libertines, the freebooters of every color, form their own fraternities and have a liking of some sort for their companions. But wherein does your attachment to your companions differ from theirs? A congeniality of disposition, a similarity of likings and dislikings, all springing from your love of the world and your dislike of the authority of the Messiah. And will not a change of circumstances convert your affection into hatred? Soon or late, if you do not repent and turn to God, you that are leagued in the friendships of the world, those friendships arising from the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, will not only become enemies, but mutual tormentors of one another. Your warmest friends in your opposition to the Son of God will become King's evidence against you, and exasperate the flame that will consume you forever and ever. Break off, then, every friendship, alliance, and covenant which you have formed with there that disdain the grace of God and contemn the Saviour of the world, and form an everlasting covenant with the people of God, which shall never be forgotten. Then, indeed, you may love your companions with all the affection of your hearts, and indulge to the utmost every sympathy and social feeling of your nature. Then may you embrace, in all the ardor of fraternal love, those kindred spirits that with you have vowed eternal allegiance to the gracious and rightful Sovereign of all the nations of the redeemed in heaven and on earth. Such companions are worth possessing, and their friendship worth cultivating and preserving through all the journey of life; for it will be renewed beyond the Jordan, and flourish with increasing delight through the countless ages of eternity. [280]

      But you have said that the gratification of all the impulses and propensities of your nature must be innocent, because they are the creation of God, and were sown in the embryo of your physical constitution. If under the control of that light and reason under which God commanded your affections and appetites to move, your reasoning would be sound and safe; but if they have usurped a tyranny over your judgment and captivated your reason, they are not to be gratified. They are like successful rebels that have dethroned their sovereign; and, because by violence and fraud in possession of the throne, they plead a divine right to wield the sceptre over their dethroned Prince. Such is the meaning of the plea which you urge in favor of your rebellious affections. When man rebelled against his Creator, the beasts of the field, till then under his dominion, rebelled against him; and all his passions, affections, and propensities partook of the general disorder--of that wild and licentious anarchy which ensued upon man's disobedience. And have you not in your daily observation--nay, have you not in your own experience, irrefragable evidence that the uncontrolled indulgence of even the instinctive appetites, as well as the gratification of inordinate passions and affections, necessarily issue in the destruction of the physical constitution of man. Is not the control of reason, is not the exercise of discretion in the license of every animal indulgence essential to the health and life of man? Then why crave an exemption from the universal law of human existence, in favor of that demoralizing course of indulgence which you fain call innocent in morals, though in physics evidently destructive to animal organization?

      When reconciled to God through the gospel, the peace of God which passes understanding reigning in the heart, all is order and harmony within. Then, under the control of enlightened and sanctified reason, all the passions, appetites, and instincts of our nature, like the planets round the sun, move in their respective orbits in the most perfect good order, preserving a perfect balance in all the principles and powers of human action. Pleasures without alloy are then felt and enjoyed from a thousand sources, from which, in the tumult and disorder of rebellion every transgressor is debarred. It is then found that there is not a supernumerary passion, affection, nor appetite in man--not one that adds not something to his enjoyment--not one that may not be made an instrument of righteousness, a means of doing good to others, as well as of enjoying good yourselves. Why not, then, lay down the weapons of your rebellion, and be at peace with God, with your fellow creatures, and with yourselves?

      "Admitting, then, that the gospel is true--that in my present state and standing I am an alien from the kingdom of heaven, and that I wished to become a citizen, where shall I find this kingdom of heaven, [281] and how shall I be constituted a citizen thereof?" Well, indeed, may you admit the gospel to be true, both on account of what it is in itself, and the evidence which sustains it. Only suppose it to be false--extinguish all the light which it sheds on the human race--make void all its promises--annul all its hopes--eradicate from the human breast all the motives which it imparts; and what remains to explain the universe, to develop the moral character of God, to dissipate the gloom which envelops in eternal night the destiny of man, to solace and cheer him during the incessant struggle of life, to soothe the bed of affliction and death, and to countervail that inward dread and horror of falling into nothing--of being forever lost in the promiscuous wreck of nature--of sinking down into the grave, the food of worms, the prey of an eternal death?

      It is like annihilating the sun in the heavens. An eternal night ensues. There is no beauty, form, nor comeliness in creation. The universe is in ruins. The world without the Bible is a universe without a sun. The Atheist is but an atom of matter in motion, belonging to no system, amenable to none, without a destiny, without an object to live or to die. He boasts there is none to punish him: but then there is none to help him--none to reward him. He has no Father, proprietor, or ruler--no filial affection, no sense of obligation, no gratitude, no comfort in reflection, no joy in anticipation. If he can not be blamed, he can not be praised--if he can not be praised, he can not be honored--and man without honor is more wretched than the beasts that perish. Unenviable mortal!

      What an abortion is the system of nature, if man lives not again! 'Tis a creation for the sake of destruction. 'Tis an infinite series of designs, ending in nothing. 'Tis a universe of blanks, without a single prize. It can not be. The Bible is necessary to the interpretation of nature. It is the only comment on nature--on providence--on man. Man without it, and without the hope of immortality, has nothing to rouse him into action. He is a savage, a Hottentot, a cannibal, a worm. You are compelled, then, to admit that the gospel is true; unless you put out the eye of Reason, and refuse to hear the voice of Nature.

      But is it not a happy necessity which compels your belief in God, and in his Son the renovator of the Universe? It opens to you all the mysteries of creation, the arcana of the temple of nature, and inducts you to the fountain of being and of bliss. It inspires you with motives of high and lofty enterprise, stimulates you to manly action, and points out a prize worthy of the best efforts of body, soul, and spirit. Is it not, then, "a credible saying, and worthy of universal acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief"? [282]

      But you ask, "Where shall the kingdom of heaven be found, and how may you be constituted a citizen of it?" The Prophets and the Apostles must be your guide in deciding these great questions. Moses in the law, all the Prophets, and all the Apostles point you to the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world--the Apostle of the Father Almighty--the divinely constituted Chief of the kingdom of heaven. He has submitted his claims to your examination--he has invited you to test all his pretensions--and to the humble and docile he has tendered all necessary assistance in deciding upon his person and mission.

      His character is so familiar, so condescending, so full of all grace and goodness, that all may approach him. The halt, the maimed, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, find in him a friend and physician indeed. None importunes his aid in vain. His ears are always open to the tale of woe. His eye streams with sympathy on every object of distress. He invites all the wretched, and repulses none who implore relief. He chides only the proud, and kindly receives and blesses the humble. He invites and beseeches the weary, the heavy laden, the broken hearted, the oppressed, and all the sons of want and misfortune to come to him, and tenders relief to all.

      In his official dignity he presides over the universe. He is the High Priest of God and the Prophet and Messenger of Peace. He has the key of David; he opens and shuts the Paradise of God. He is the only Potentate, and has the power of granting remission of all sins to all who obey him.

      To receive him in his personal glory and official dignity and supremacy, as the Messiah of God, the only begotten of the Father--to know him in his true and proper character, is the only prerequisite to the obedience of faith. He that thus accredits him is not far from the kingdom of heaven.

      To assume him as your Prophet, your High Priest, and your King; to submit to him in these relations, being immersed into his death, will translate you into the kingdom of heaven. Why not, then, gladly and immediately yield him the admiration of your understanding and the homage of your heart? Why not now enter into the possession of all the riches, and fullness, and excellence of the kingdom? He commands all men to repent--he beseeches every sinner whom he addresses in his word, to receive pardon and eternal life as a gracious gift.

      Can you doubt his power to save, to instruct, and to sanctify you for heaven? Can you doubt his condescending mercy and compassion? Will not he that pitied the blind Bartimeus, that condoled with the widow of Nain, that wept with Mary and Martha, at the grave of Lazarus, that heard the plea of the Syrophenician woman, that [283] cleansed the supplicating leper, that compassionated the famishing multitudes, and looked with pity (even in the agonies of the cross) upon an importuning thief, have pity upon you and every returning prodigal who sues for mercy at the gate of his kingdom?

      Is there in the universe one whom you can believe with more assurance than the Faithful and True Witness, who, in the presence of Pontius Pilate, witnessed a good confession at the hazard of his life? Is there any person in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, more worthy of your confidence than the sinner's friend--than he who always, and in all circumstances, bore testimony to the truth? When did he ever violate his word, or suffer his promise to fail? Who ever repented of his confidence in Jesus, or of relying implicitly upon his word? Who ever was put to shame because of confidence in him?

      Who can offer such inducements to obedience to his authority as the Saviour of the world? Who has such power to bless? He has all authority in heaven and on earth. He has power to forgive sins, to raise the dead, to bestow immortality and eternal life, and to judge the living and the dead. And has he not tendered all his official authority to every one who submits to his government, and who by him is reconciled to God? If he have wisdom and power divine, has he not pledged these to the relief, guidance, and benefit of his people? Who can injure them under his protection--condemn whom he justifies--criminate whom he pardons--or snatch out of his hands those who betake themselves to his mercy?

      Was there ever love like his love--compassion like his compassion--or condescension like his condescension? Who ever could--who ever did humble himself like the Son of God? On whose cheek ever flowed tears of purer sympathy for human woe, than those he shed? Whose bowels ever moved with such compassion as that which dissolved his heart in tender mercies for the afflicted sons and daughters of men? Who ever for his friends endured such contradiction of sinners against himself; submitted to such indignities; sustained such accumulated sorrows and griefs; suffered such agonies of mind and body, as those which he endured in giving his life an offering for his enemies? Forsaken by his God, abandoned by all his friends, deserted of every stay, surrounded by the fiercest enemies, the most implacable foes, whose hearts were harder than adamant, insulting the very pangs which they inflicted, he expired upon the accursed tree! The heavens blushed at the sight--the sun covered his face--the earth trembled--the rocks split--the veil of the temple was rent from tap to bottom--and graves opened. All nature stood horror-stricken when Roman soldiers, instigated by blood-thirsty priests, nailed him to the cross--when the chief priests, scribes, and elders in derision said, "He saved others; can [284] not he save himself?" The person who perceives not, who feels not the eloquence of his love consummated in his death--the tenderness of his entreaties and expostulations, is not to be reasoned with--is not to be moved by human power. Will you not, then, honor your reason by honoring the Son of God--by giving up your understanding, your wills, your affections to the teachings of the Good Spirit--to the guidance of his love? Then, and only then, can you, will you feel yourselves safe, secure, and happy.

      Need you to be reminded how much you are indebted to his longsuffering patience already--to his benevolence in all the gifts and bounties of his providence vouchsafed to you? How many days and nights has he guarded, sustained and succored you? Has he not saved you from ten thousand dangers--from the pestilence that walketh in darkness secretly, and from destruction that wasteth at noon day? Who can tell but he has lengthened out your unprofitable existence to this very hour that you might now repent of all your sins, turn to God with your whole heart, be baptized for the remission of your past transgressions, be adopted into the family of God, and yet receive an inheritance among all the sanctified? Arise, then, in the strength of Israel's God--accept salvation at his hands--enter into his kingdom, and be forever blessed. You will not, you can not repent of such a step, of such a noble surrender of yourself while life endures, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment, nor during the endless succession of ages in eternity. To-day, then, hear his voice: to-morrow may be forever too late! All things are ready--Come!--Saints on earth, and angels in heaven--apostles, prophets, and martyrs will rejoice over you--and you will rejoice with them forever and forever. Amen!

[A. C.]      

      Alexander Campbell. "Address to the Belligerent Aliens." The Millennial Harbinger Extra 5 (August 1834):


[MHA1 275-285]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)