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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)


      In 1844, page 481, the Harbinger said:


      The following synopsis of the grand outline, elements, and design of Christianity, was written by THOMAS CAMPBELL, in the 82d year of his age. He desires its publication as the result of all his thoughts on the great subject--as a very summary view of its cardinal features, sustained by a very liberal collation of Scripture quotations. Its chief [317] object is to demonstrate that Christianity is a development of the infinite, eternal, and immutable love of God to man--of that love partially exhibited in the creation of man and in the providence for his wants; but perfectly and completely displayed in his eternal redemption from sin and death.

      The apparent redundancy of quotations and proofs in all his essays is the effect of a seventy years' devout study of THE BOOK, until it has become part and parcel of the mind of the writer. Himself an old man, he is fond of the old style of expressing himself, as well as the ancient and commendable custom of dealing out liberal portions of the sacred documents in explanation as well as in confirmation of his views.

A. C.      


      Christianity is emphatically, supereminently--yea, transcendently, the religion of love: that is, of affectionate attachment, benevolence, and beneficence; for its Divine Author, subject matter, and effects, are all love in the highest possible degree. For, first, God its author, is love. (I. John iv. 8.) So are all its grand fundamental facts, the effects of divine love. Namely, 1st. The divine assumption of our humanity in its present debased, degraded condition. 2. The personal gift of the Holy Spirit to inhabit our nature, thus assumed. 3. The deep humiliation, cruel maltreatment, tremendous sufferings, and ignominious death of this glorious personage, our Divine Emanuel. 4. His glorious resurrection and infinite exaltation above all heavens. 5. The mission and descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, to dwell in them, and to be with them for ever; and likewise in and with all them that should believe through their word.

      Now, as those five fundamental gospel facts are all transcendent effects of divine love, so are all its gracious declarations, invitations, and promises, effects of the same divine principle; for they are not only completely adapted to our wretched, guilty, polluted, perishing condition--presenting us with seasonable redress for all our grievances, and healing for our diseases; but also--with an everlasting portion of glory, honor, and immortality, in the possession of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for them, who, through the belief and obedience of the gospel and law of Christi, are kept by the power of God, to the enjoyment of the promised salvation, which is yet to be revealed in the last time. And lastly, the law of Christ, which, together with the gospel, constitutes the subject matter of Christianity, is also pure and perfect love.

      Now, if it be Scripturally evident to demonstration, from the above mentioned facts and documents, (as we humbly presume it is,) that our holy religion, in its Divine Author, subject matter, and effects, is [318] pure and perfect love; what remains, then, but that we so avail ourselves of it, as to get into the actual possession of this blissful attainment? We say blissful attainment--for perfect love is perfect happiness; provided, the beloved object be perfectly adapted to the lover's capacity for enjoyment; and such is really and perfectly the case in the subject before us.

      We shall, therefore, proceed to a Scriptural investigation of this all-important subject; taking every item in the order of the above synopsis. We have assumed that our holy religion is emphatically, supereminently--yea, transcendently, the religion of love. Our first argument is taken from the revealed character of its Divine Author; all whose works are naturally and originally works of love: "For God is love." (I. John iv. 8.) Now, the history of the divine proceedings, from the very beginning, evinces this blissful truth: the first chapter of which is the work of creation, of which we have a particular record in the first chapter of Genesis. In this chapter the divine intention is emphatically marked by a seven-fold repetition of the word--GOOD--applied successively to the various productions of almighty power, wisdom, and goodness, and expressive of the divine intention; namely, the happiness of all his sensitive and intelligent creatures. For the term--GOOD--embraces the whole circle of enjoyment; as we call every thing good, that gives us pleasure. And here it is very remarkable, that God, upon a review of the whole creation, pronounces it supereminently GOOD. See verse 31st. "And God saw everything that he had made; and, behold, it was very good." That is, perfectly adapted to the gratification and happiness of every creature capable of enjoyment. And, last of all, in the chapter of creation, the divine benevolence is most eminently manifested in man. For, "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion," etc. "So God created man after his own image, in the image of God created he him: a male and a female created he them. And God blessed them," etc. Now is it possible for the Creator, in his creative process, to confer a greater privilege upon a creature, than to create it in his own image, after his own likeness, that it might not only thus be qualified for the enjoyment of personal intercourse with its Almighty Creator, but also with a conjoint participation with him in the possession and enjoyment of his terrestrial creations? Yea--of everything of which its nature was thus made capable? But the creative benevolence does not yet stop here, For, "the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." It was well watered--and "abounded in gold and pearls;" [319] for "there was bdellium and the onyx stone." This collection and concentration of beauties and delicacies, both vegetable and mineral, might well be called "The Garden of Eden;" that is, of pleasure and delight. But to consummate the divine benevolence in those original gifts of the divine love, God was graciously pleased to favor and to furnish our first parent, in this garden of delights, with the blissful means of not only enjoying the unspeakable gratification of manifesting, by his obedience, his love and gratitude to his most gracious and benevolent Creator; but also of securing to himself and his heirs the perpetual enjoyment of his present happy condition, secured to him and them by their unrestricted access to the tree of life.

      Now, had man continued obedient, would not uninterrupted enjoyment have been his continual employment? But he was unnaturally excited to transgress; and thus justly forfeited all his enjoyment. And how did the Lord God proceed towards his guilty creature? He proceeded in mercy and love. For he respited our guilty progenitors from the immediate full execution of the sentence, dismissed them from his presence and the blessed garden, under the sentence of death: but not without the hope of deliverance from the power of the deadly enemy, that had maliciously seduced them. Thus were they put, typically, (being covered with the spoils of death,) under the protection of a remedial dispensation, through sacrifice; to which they were to have continual recourse, as the divinely appointed means of access to God, and of acceptance with him. Hence we find animal sacrifice practiced in the family of Adam, of Noah, of Abraham, etc., etc., and so on till the death of Christ, the great antitypical sacrifice, which taketh away the sin of the world.

      Now this brings us up to the great gospel facts specified in our synopsis: the first of which is, the divine assumption of our humanity, in its present degenerate, degraded condition. And, surely, if, in the first instance, it was a transcendent display of the love of God to man, to create him in his own image, after his own likeness; it was transcendently greater to assume our nature, degraded into a guilty, depraved, perishing condition, and thus to assimilate himself to us--that he might so identify himself with us, that our iniquity might be laid upon him--that by his stripes we might be healed. (Isa. liii. 5.) And thus put away our sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb. ix. 26.) If this does not demonstrate the blissful truth that "God is love"--what could do it?

      The second great gospel fact is, the personal gift of the Holy Spirit to inhabit cur nature, thus assumed. (Matt. iii. 16, 17.) "Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were open to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and, lo, a voice from heaven, [320] saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am pleased." "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." "For the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." (John iii. 34, 35.) "And of his fullness have all we received, even grace for grace." (John i. 16.) "For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily," (Col. i. 19; ii. 9, 10.) "And ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power." Glory to God! What has the Lord done for the salvation and exaltation of poor, debased, guilty, perishing humanity, in the person of our glorious Emanuel, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the divinity substantially, both by the personal union of the Logos, and the inhabitation of the Holy Spirit!

      The third gospel fact in our synopsis, is the deep humiliation, cruel maltreatment, tremendous sufferings, and ignominious death of this glorious personage. It appears that his mother was a poor, dowerless virgin; his legal father, an humble, laborious mechanic. His birthplace was a stable, his cradle a manger. Shortly after his birth, his parents had to flee from their country to save his life. Upon their return, they located in the infamous Nazareth (John 1. 46), from whence our Saviour took his local name--"Jesus of Nazareth;" where it is probable he wrought with his father; for he is called the carpenter (Mark vi. 2). And during his ministerial labors he tells us, that "the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests; but that he, the Son of Man, had not where to lay his head." But not only was he thus the subject of infantile persecution, local infamy, and humble laborious poverty; but also of blasphemous reproach; as being in league with Satan--a glutton, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners (Matt. xi. 19). Accordingly, when at last they were permitted to apprehend him, they most insultingly abused him: for having led him away to the high priest's house, who condemned because he confessed, that he was the Son of God. For, upon answering the high priest, when first interrogated, one of the officers struck him: and when condemned by the high priest for his confession, "the men that held Jesus mocked him and smote him, and spit in his face; and when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, saying, Prophesy who it is that smote thee. And many other things blasphemously spake they against him." (Luke xxii. 63-65.) And when they brought him to Pilate, they accused him with treasonable practices, claiming to be their king: who, upon hearing that he was a Galilean, sent him to Herod: who, with his men of war, set him at naught, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate (Luke xxiii. 6-11.) But when Pilate, upon finding nothing proved against him, proposed to release him; availing himself, for this purpose, of an established custom; which was to release to [321] them, at the feast of the Passover, a prisoner at the request of the people; they reject Jesus, and choose Barabbas, a seditious murderer. Jesus being thus rejected, and the murderer preferred, at the instigation of the priests and rulers, Pilate orders Jesus to be scourged, and delivers him up to be crucified. (Matt. xxvii. 26-50.) "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: avid they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, this is to say, A Place of a Skull, they gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall; and when he tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down, they watched him there: and set up over his head, his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him; one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he can not save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabbacthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost." What insulting cruel maltreatment!! What tremendous suffering!! Is it any cause of wonder, that the realizing anticipation of such a horrid [322] catastrophe should have produced that soul-rending agony and bloody sweat, which our gracious Lord experienced in the garden of Gethsemane, just before its commencement? O! for a true realizing apprehension of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that so we might be filled with all the fullness of God! (Eph. iii. 19.)

      But we now proceed to the fourth item in our synopsis, namely, his triumphant resurrection from under the dominion of death and the grave; and glorious exaltation far above all heavens: "For he that descended first into the lower parts of the earth, is the same who also ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." (Eph. iv. 9, 10.) For, as we have just before quoted, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Now, this most gracious intention was, doubtless, intended for the ultimate perfection of his people; for God does nothing in vain.

      This all-important event, however, took place very early in the morning of the first day of the week, being the third day after his death and burial. We learn, from the sacred record, that some of his female disciples, who were present at their Lord's death and burial, had agreed to meet very early at the sepulchre, on the first day of the week, for the purpose of anointing his body, came accordingly, while it was yet dark, and found the sepulchre empty;--that about the time of their arrival there was a great earthquake; and that an angel had descended from heaven, and rolled back the stone and sat upon it--that his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow;--and, that for fear of him, the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. Thus were heaven and earth actuated and affected at the resurrection of our glorious Emanuel:--a most eminent display this, of the approbation and love of his heavenly Father, which was afterwards consummated in his transcendent exaltation. (Ps. cx. 1, 2.) And which will yet be made most graciously apparent when he shall sit upon the throne of his glory, accompanied with all his holy angels, and all nations assembled before him, to receive their final destiny from his all decisive judgment. "For the Father judgeth no one, but hath committed all judgment to the Son; that all should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." (John v. 22, 23; Matt. xxv. 31, 32.) Now can any possible manifestation of the divine love equal this, much less exceed it? And does it not terminate upon our humanity in the person of our glorious Emanuel, without which, he could not be, in the personal sense of that divine epithet, "God with us." How great is the love of God to man!!!--At first he made him but a little lower than the angels, crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of his hands in this lower world. But in his redeeming process, he has exalted our humanity above the whole creation, by a most gracious act of his own sovereign mercy and [323] benevolence; for we deserved nothing but the very contrary, as appears most evident in the condition of those, that receive the due reward of their iniquity. (See Rev. xx. 15.) Yet, however, in the meantime, the person of our glorious Emanuel, "God manifested in the flesh," "is exalted far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." (Eph. iv. 10.) "Angels, authorities, principalities, and powers being made subject to him." (I. Pet. iii. 22.) So that at his official name--JESUS--every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. ii. 10, 11.) Thus has God graciously exalted our nature in the person of his Son. Well, therefore, may believers exclaim: "Behold, what manner of love, the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God! For when Christ, our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory. For we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him--that we shall see him as he is." (Col. iii. 4; I. John iii. 2.) How astonishing the love of God to man, first and last!!! It will neither admit of comprehension nor comparison.

      But after all this vast, transcendent display of the divine love to our apostate, guilty, perishing nature, without the special agency and gift of the Holy Spirit to quicken, enlighten, convert, and sanctify us, we must, after all, ultimately perish: for all to whom the gospel comes, are really and evidently dead in trespasses and sins; being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, by reason of the blindness of their hearts. (Eph. iv. 18.) "For the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." So that they who are under its influence, can not please God. And this is the case with all that have not the Spirit of Christ. For if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his--And it is only those that are led by the Spirit of God, that are the sons of God. (Rom. viii. 7-14.) And no man can (truly and sincerely) say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. (I. Cor. xii. 3.) Therefore, our Lord, when about to leave his disciples whom he had chosen to evangelize the world, promised them the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to render their labors successful. (John xvi. 7-11.) Wherefore, all true believers are said to be "born of the Spirit"--born from above--John iii. 4-6--to be begotten by an act of the divine will with the word of truth, that they might be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. (Jas. i. 18.) "Created anew in Christ Jesus to good works, which God before ordained, that they should walk in them" (Eph. ii. 10). Consequently, all Christian graces and virtues are ascribed to the Holy Spirit: For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [324] temperance. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit--(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth;) proving what is acceptable to the Lord. (Gal. v. 22, 23, 25; Eph. v. 9, 10.) These things being so, Christ would not suffer his commissioned disciples to commence their official labors, till they received the promise of the Holy Spirit--on the day of Pentecost--on which ever-memorable day, commenced the Gospel Dispensation; and the Holy Spirit took possession of the Christian church, never to leave it while sun and moon endure--never--till the whole redeemed family be ultimately presented in the divine presence, in the perfection of glory. Thus we have the transcendent love of the Father fully manifested in the gift of his beloved Son and Holy Spirit, to justify and sanctify depraved, guilty, perishing sinners, that they might be prepared for the eternal enjoyment of the supreme felicity above described. All these things being really so, as the Scriptures most evidently declare; is it not demonstrably evident--that God is love? But, whilst heaven and earth rejoice in this blissful and glorious truth, it is equally evident to both, that God is as just as he is benevolent and gracious; for "he will by no means acquit" (Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7, with Nah. i. 3). He never has permitted, nor ever will, one single transgression to pass with impunity. All the divine attributes are equally infinite. God is as good as he is great--as just as he is merciful. Wherefore, that he might justify the ungodly, he laid on his beloved Son the punishment due to their iniquities. (See Isa. liii. 5, with Rom. iii. 25, 26, etc.) So that although the only begotten of the Father is the supreme object of his love, and although he takes infinite delight in the salvation of sinners; yet, rather than suffer sin to pass with impunity, he laid on him the punishment due to the iniquities of all that shall be saved. How hateful, then, in the divine judgment, must be that abominable thing called SIN!!! (Jer. xliv. 4.) Nevertheless, it is true of all believers, that "for the great love wherewith God loved them dead in sins, he quickened them together with Christ." "For you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness [325] toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. ii. 1-10). Having thus briefly considered the transcendent display of the divine love--first, in creation; next, in the grand gospel facts divinely intended for our salvation; we proceed in the last place to consider the gracious declarations, invitations, and promises of the blessed gospel, in connection with the law of Christ; the belief and obedience of which, connected with the belief of the aforesaid facts, constitute Christian character.

      We commence this all-important part of our deeply interesting subject with a quotation from the third chapter of Genesis, verse 15:--"I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." This divine declaration takes the lead, it is the root of the whole matter now before us; and has been triumphantly accomplished. Glory to God! Upon the import of this promise, has the Lord founded the remedial dispensation; and made the congenial declaration of his great name to Moses. (Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7.) "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin; and that will by no means acquit," (that is, suffer to pass with impunity), "for the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. liii. 6); "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation--(of them that hate me.") (See chapter xx. 5.) These two quotations introduced, seem to obviate an apparently insuperable difficulty. For if God by no means will acquit the guilty, then no sinner can be pardoned. And if he continues to visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation, then must all generations be continually suffering for their parents' sins. But, obviating this difficulty, we have here a most gracious and blissful display of the remedial character of God, most graciously adapted to our guilty, perishing condition. We could not possibly imagine a divine character, better suited to our relief and deliverance. It goes to obviate all our fears and discouragements, if we are at all desirous to be saved from the guilt, the love, the practice, and the punishment of sin. But, if otherwise, we must be content to die in our sins, and be damned.

      But let us hear him again. Isa. xlv. 21, 22, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else; a just God and a Saviour: there is none beside me." Hearest [326] thou this, O my soul! Thou hast nothing to fear: the Lord invites thee to enjoy his salvation. But again, Isa. lv. 1-3, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Here every one that is desirous of happiness is divinely invited to the true source of enjoyment, and all mistakes and discouragements obviated. And again, Rev. xxi. 5, and xxii. 17, the blissful invitation is not only repeated, but importunately urged. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." By the "water of life," we understand the fruits and effects of the life-giving Spirit, as expressed in the gracious declarations, invitations, and promises of the Blessed Book, which, realized by faith, works by love, purifies the heart, and so fills the soul with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But, it may be asked, How are we to attain to this? The answer is obvious; it is by making a due use of the word of God and prayer. For, saith the Great Teacher, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me" (John v. 39). And again--"Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh, receiveth. For your heavenly Father giveth his Holy Spirit to them that ask him" (Luke xi. 9-13). These things being so, there remains neither difficulty nor discouragement; for whosoever is willing, is welcome. And the way to the Bible and to the throne of grace stands open night and day. Moreover, the Great Teacher has given us special directions, how to proceed with success. (Matt. xi. 28-30.) "Come to me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest: take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burthen is light." By yoke, here, we understand his precept and example--the law of Christ--the law of love. (See Matt. xxii. 37-40.) Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." The third and last is Christ's own new and special command, peculiarly given to his disciples, by which they are to be distinguished from all other people. [327] (John xiii. 34, 35.) "A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another, as I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this shall all men know, that you are my disciples." Hence it is evident, that the yoke of Christ is a yoke of love; than which nothing can be more pleasant, profitable, or honorable. For who could be more happy in himself, or conduce more to the happiness of others, or be more highly and justly esteemed, than the possessor of this universal love? For this divine love is the natural law of the universe, and had never been interrupted, had not sin taken place. Therefore, he that dwells under the influence of this love, must be one of the happiest persons in the universe; for he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him; "for God is love."

      Now the first of these three all-comprehensive commands is unlimited. For we are commanded to "love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength" (Mark xii. 30). And all this most justly; for to him do we owe all that we are and have. The second, namely, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," the Lord explains (Matt. vii. 12), saying, "All things whatsoever ye would, that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." The third and last he explains (John xv. 13), "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." He also tells us by the same Apostle, that because he laid down his life for us, we ought to lay down our life for the brethren. (I. John iii. 16.) Thus, this comprehensive compend of the divine law is so well defined, that no well meaning person can possibly misunderstand it. These things being so, if we desire to be holy, honorable, and happy, let us walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor; looking for that blessed hope of eternal life, at the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and so purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Eph. v. 2 and Tit. ii. 13, 14.) Who has also graciously promised to all such, that they shall sit with him on his throne, even as he also overcame, and sat down with the Father on his throne. (Rev. iii. 21.) Again--"Blessed are all they, that do his commandments; that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the [celestial] city' (Rev. xxii. 14). And, lastly, to complete the destiny of the believing and obedient, who overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil; he that sits upon the throne of the universe, who makes all things new, has most graciously promised, saying, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev. xxii. 14). Now what can he do more than this? Can the great God, the [328] proprietor of the universe, give more than himself, and all that he has, to any portion of his adopted creatures!!!

      This brief Scriptural view of Christianity duly considered, who would not be a Christian? Compared with this incomprehensible, all-comprehending reward, all the enjoyments, sorrows, and sufferings of a present life, are not worthy to be named. But, do we speak of sufferings? Why, if we attain not to the enjoyment of those promised blessings of Christianity, we must endure all the sufferings denounced in the sacred volume, summed up in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation of John--the black and dismal reverse of all the promised glory. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."

      It is the earnest desire and hope of the writer, that the reader of the above essay upon the infinite excellency and importance of the Christian religion, will not be content with a mere superficial perusal of it, but that, as it presents the "pearl of greatest price," he will therefore give the greatest diligence to avail himself of it--without the possession of it, it were better for him had be never been born.


      1. Alexander Campbell. "A Synopsis of Christianity." The Millennial Harbinger 15 (November 1844): 481.
      2. Thomas Campbell. "Christianity." The Millennial Harbinger 15 (November 1844): 481-491.


[MHA1 317-329]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)