[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)
In 1845, Mr. Campbell issued one of his famous tracts for the people, as follows: 
TRACTS FOR THE PEOPLE.--NO. II.
That the Bible contains a revelation from God, is susceptible of every variety and degree of evidence which guides man in the affairs of this life. We have no species of moral evidence that affords to mankind a higher degree of assurance than that on which Prophets and Apostles demand our unwavering confidence. If we admit that there is truth in history, sincerity in martyrdom, value in learning, advantage in talent, excellency in truth, reason in the universe, or a Creator in the heavens; then must we admit that the Bible is inspired by infinite wisdom, and presented to man by his Almighty Father and Benefactor. But as we have given a specimen of the indirect evidence in proof of its divine authorship in our "Tract No. I," we shall now exhibit a sample or two of the divine proof which it offers in support of its claims upon the assent of our understanding and the consent of our hearts.
The grand climax of moral evidence consists in the possibility, the probability, the absolute certainty of any fact, event, or proposition. When we can show that the fact presented in any proposition is possible, that it is probable, that it is absolutely certain, we have gone through all the forms of argument upon which the truth of any proposition is admitted. Beyond these reason asks no more, because she can give no more. True, the last implies the former two; yet there is an advantage to most minds in ascending, step by step, to any commanding eminence.
Now, the grand proposition is, that God has spoken to man in the Bible. That it is possible is evident from the fact, that God thunders in the clouds, murmurs in the tempests, whispers in the breeze. Still more evident from the fact, that he has taught the lion to roar for his prey, the beasts of the forest to commune with their companions, and the birds of the air to soothe the human ear with their melodies. But most evident from the fact, that he has given to man a tongue to speak and an ear to listen to the voice of his brother. The inference, then, is, that God possesses the power which he has imparted to man; that he who taught man to reveal his mind and will to his companions, and even to some domestic animals that wait upon his word, has power to reveal his own mind and will to his creature man.
But we advance a step further, and assume that it is probable that God has spoken to man. This we argue from the fact that God can speak, that man desires to hear him speak, and that he has created no rational desire in man for which he has not made a proper provision, either in himself or in his works. I need not ask the question, as if any one doubted it, whether there is any desire in man comparable to his desire of life? Nor need I attempt to prove to any one, that of  all knowledge imaginable there is none so desirable to man as the knowledge of his own origin and of his ultimate destiny. Now, as God has created these desires, and as he is supremely kind and bountiful in all his original creations, and in his constant providence for all the reasonable and lawful wants of man, is it not probable that at some time or other he has made a verbal or oral revelation of himself in some way intelligible to man?
But in the second place, I argue the probability that God has spoken to man from the indisputable fact, that man himself speaks. Some, I know, assume that language is natural to man, because he has organs of pronunciation; but in good sense, and in good logic, one might as reasonably argue that Greek or Hebrew is natural to man, because he has the power of understanding or of pronouncing those languages. But who ever spoke a language that he did not first learn from another? We all have our vernacular--our mother tongue. We could as easily conceive of one born without a mother, as of one speaking Greek that did not first hear it. But as there certainly was one man who never had a mother or a father, that man could have no mother tongue--no vernacular. God, then, must have taught man to speak, viva voce; inasmuch as language is only an imitation of distinct intelligible sounds; and as all language comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of another (for the deaf have no words, though they have organs of pronunciation,) we must, in all reason, conclude that the first human speaker had heard God himself speak.
So Moses, in accordance with our reasoning, teaches that God talked with Adam, and first gave names to things. Moses also informs us that he left one class of objects for Adam to name, and that "whatever Adam called every living creature, that became the name of it."
No class of linguists, rhetoricians, or philosophers, has ever been able to explain the origin of language on the principles of human nature. They agree in one point; viz.: that it was not originally a conventional thing; that no company of men could assemble to discuss or decide upon it; which is, if properly comprehended, an unanswerable proof of a superhuman origin. So, with the immortal Newton, we conclude, that "God gave to man reason and religion by giving him the use of words."
That all mankind had at first one language, and one and the same religious faith, is very clearly and logically inferrible from the most ancient traditions, and from the structure of three great dialects of speech from which the modern gibberish of nations has descended.--This, however, is a task not to be imposed upon us, nor undertaken by us, in order to the consummation of our present argument. The strong probability that God has spoken to man is, we presume, already established from the simple fact that man himself speaks, and that no  man can give himself intelligible language, but must receive it from another.
But we shall ascend from the possible and probable to the absolutely certain evidence which the Bible itself furnishes, that God has, in that volume, spoken to man. The evidences which that mysterious and sublime book tenders to those who approach its sacred pages with a candid temper and a becoming reverence, are its doctrines, its precepts, its promises, its miracles, and its prophecies. To these are added the testimonies of unbelieving Jews and Pagans, living contemporaneously with the periods of its development and establishment in the world.
Now, as the miracles and prophecies are matters of record in the book itself, as much as its doctrine, its precepts, or its promises, they are equally matters of faith, because alike matters of sacred history. Still, portions of the prophecies, not fulfilled when the last of the Prophets and Apostles died, being yet in progress of fulfillment, afford good authority for classifying the evidence of the divine origin of the Bible under three distinct heads--the intrinsic, the extrinsic, and the mixed.
The intrinsic evidences consist in the doctrine, the precepts, the promises, the miracles, and the prophecies, published and fulfilled in the records of the book itself. The extrinsic are the testimonies of unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, given to the facts reported in the Old and New Testament records. The mixed are, its prophecies fulfilled since the book was completed, those now fulfilling, and those hereafter to be fulfilled, together with those monumental institutions appointed in the Holy Book and observed ever since its publication, down to the present day.
Now of all these classes of argument and evidence, we shall select but one, or a part of one of them, in demonstration of what we mean by the absolute certainty which the enlightened Christian enjoys, that God has, in very deed, spoken to man. That shall be a portion of the class of mixed evidences.
Nothing, it is alleged by some, produces absolute certainty but the evidence of sense. But even our senses sometimes deceive us.--The doctrine and the miracle combined, or the thing seen by the outward eye corresponding with the promise of it, is better than either apart. They are, indeed, two witnesses instead of one. The doctrine speaks for God, and so does the miracle. A prophecy written in a book a thousand years ago, fulfilled before our eyes, is the highest demonstration that can be given to man of the authenticity and inspiration of the book in which it is written. The proposition and the miracle must agree. They must be equally worthy of having God for their author. 
But under the name miracle we include more than is sometimes designated by that very indefinite term. The raising of a dead man to life by a word, and the foretelling of a complex event, not depending on the laws of nature, a hundred or a thousand years before it happens, are equally demonstrations of the divine presence and power in the person professing to be sent by the Creator of the universe.
With us a miracle is a display of supernatural power in attestation of some proposition presented by God to man for his acceptance. Miracles are, therefore, signs manual attached to commissions to authentic messengers from God. They were always vouchsafed to special messengers to gain special credit to their messages.
By a supernatural power we understand a power that holds in obedience to laws of nature, according to the will of him that possesses it. It is a power that suspends, governs, or directs the laws of nature according to the pleasure of its possessor, but with reference to public advantage. Such was the power vouchsafed to Moses, to Jesus, to many of the Prophets, to all the Apostles, and to some of the Evangelists of Jesus Christ.
Of this supernatural power there are two sorts--one that extends beyond the physical laws of nature; and one that extends beyond the intellectual power of man. The foretelling of some complex future event, not depending upon any human knowledge of the operations of matter or of mind, is as clear a proof of supernatural intellectual power, as the removal of a mountain, by a word, would be of a supernatural physical power. A man that could now predict the fortunes of a city, a family, or a nation, for one, or five hundred years to come, would give as clear indications that he possessed the Spirit of God and was divinely commissioned, as if he raised the dead.
But they are not always proofs to the same persons. Sensible and outward displays of physical power--such as the miracles of our Lord and his Apostles, were addressed to the senses of living men, in support of their pretensions to a divine call and mission. But the foretelling of an event, long distant, is not a proof to any contemporary auditor of the divine mission of the Prophet. The miracle is developed in the accomplishment, and not in the uttering, of the prediction.
When Jesus foretold that within that generation the temple would be so razed to its foundation, that "not one stone would be left upon another," not the prediction, but the accomplishment of it, was a miracle to those who witnessed that awful catastrophe. But who will not admit that those who had heard him utter the prediction, or those who had often heard it or read it, before the siege of Jerusalem, and who afterwards saw the city and the temple in ruins, according to the prediction, had just as ample proof and as full assurance that  he spoke the truth, and was sent by God, as they had who heard him call Lazarus of Bethany out of his grave, and who witnessed his resurrection in obedience to the call? The fulfillment of prophecies long since uttered, written, and published, is, therefore, we argue, a perfect assurance of the divine mission and inspiration of the Prophet to all who live contemporary with the accomplishment, or even after the accomplishment, provided only that the document containing the prophecy was certainly extant before the consummation.
The way is now open to a full development of the assumption, viz.: that we who now live have just as perfect an assurance of the truth of the sayings and doings of Prophets and Apostles as they had who lived in their times; or, in other words, that it is not only possible and probable, but absolutely certain that God has spoken to man.
An induction of fulfilled prophecies, equal to a volume, might be exhibited from the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. The Bible is the only book in the world, now or at any former period, whose prophecies are almost as numerous as its pages. No other volume presumes to give the whole history of time and of man but the Bible. The book, as before shown, contains the history of one family for seventy generations, and foretells its future fortunes to the end of time. The Ishmaelites, the Idumeans, the Israelites, (descended from Ishmael, Esau, and Jacob,) and their countries, together with Egypt, Syria, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Babylon, Tyre, Sidon, Nineveh, as well as the Chaldean, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman Empires, with all the fortunes of the Christian church, are written out on the living pages of the sacred books of Prophets and Apostles. Persons, places, and events, ages before their appearance, are foretold with the accuracy of history, by Him who speaketh of "the things that are not" yet in existence "as though they were." I shall, however, only illustrate and exemplify in two or three particulars.
Had we room for a display of singular items occurring in the fulfillment of ancient prophecy, as a specimen of the unerring precision between the prediction and its accomplishment, we would quote and comment upon Deuteronomy, Chap. xxviii., from the 48th to the 58th verse inclusive. In this passage Moses predicts the final catastrophe and ruin of his own nation by the Romans, fifteen hundred and twenty years before it happened.
He specifies various particular characteristics of that calamity. We shall notice but ten of them:--1. The people or nation by whom they should be destroyed, were to come from a remote country. 2. Their armies were to come as an eagle to its prey. 3. They were to speak a language unknown to the Jews. 4. They are described to be a fierce and savage people, not respecting age, sex, or condition. 5. They were first to station themselves among them, and then to devour their  provisions. 6. They should besiege them in all their high walled towns and fortresses throughout their whole country. 7. They were to be reduced to such distress and famine as to eat their own offspring. 8. The most affectionate brothers would become evil disposed and cruel to one another; as also husbands and wives, parents and children. 9. The most delicate and tender-hearted ladies would devour their own offspring. 10. They should perpetrate these awful deeds secretly through fear of being robbed of their repast.
Let any one now read the account which Josephus gives of the fall of Jerusalem and the final calamities of that devoted nation, and sea whether these ten items were not accomplished to the letter! Let him read to the close of his narrative of the delicate and elegant lady, who, in every circumstance, verified the prediction, in killing, roasting, and devouring secretly her own innocent and beloved infant, and say whether Moses did nor, speak by the inspiration of God.1
To those who witnessed these events, and who had in their hands the book of Deuteronomy then extant, in Hebrew and Greek, may we not say, that a miracle was exhibited, as indisputable as any miracle performed by Moses or Jesus in the presence of living thousands of spectators? But to us, both the prophecy and the accomplishment are matters of record, and therefore matters of faith and not of sight.
We shall, therefore, advance one step farther, and show a miracle--a display of supernatural intellectual power--by presenting a Jew at the proper angle of vision. Had any man now living the power of raising the dead, unless we accompanied him to the grave and looked on at the proper distance, we could not witness a miracle. So, unless we open the eyes of our understanding, and look with attention and discrimination in this case, we can not see a miracle. Behold this Jew! Whose son is he?
His father Abraham was born three thousand eight hundred and forty-one years ago! His father circumcised himself and his long-promised son Isaac some three thousand seven hundred and forty years ago. From Isaac sprang Jacob, Judah,--the Jews. That nation, counting from the birth of its founder, was contemporary with the Assyrian Empire almost fourteen centuries. It was also contemporary with the Medes and the Persians, with the Greeks and the Romans, during their entire continuance, and now survives the last of them some thirteen centuries! But in all this so strange, so unprecedented an occurrence, where is the miracle? The Romans, under their General Titus, saw no miracle in the destruction of the nation, the city, and the temple, because they had not the prediction in their eye. Nor can any one see a miracle in this Jew unless he have the  prediction in his eye. We shall now read the prediction while this circumcised Jew stands before us.
Jeremiah was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar and flourished from the 629th to the 588th year before Christ. About the 600th year before Christ, or 2,445 years ago, he writes the following prediction, chapter xxx. 10-24, "I am with thee, O Israel! saith the Lord, to save thee; though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, YET WILL I NOT MAKE A FULL END OF THEE; but I will correct thee in measure and will not leave thee altogether unpunished." "ALL THEY THAT DEVOUR THEE SHALL BE DEVOURED, AND ALL THINE ADVERSARIES, EVERY ONE OF THEM, shall go into captivity. They that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and ALL THEY THAT PREY UPON THEE will I give for a prey." Where now are the nations that preyed upon the sons of Abraham! Where are their adversaries--the Assyrian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman people! There lives not the man, in the four quarters of the globe, who can say that in his veins flows one drop of the blood of an Assyrian, a Medo-Persian, a Greek, or a Roman: while millions of the house of Israel, of the seed of Abraham, of the Jewish people, can severally say that in their veins flows the blood of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!! Is not, then, every circumcised Jew a miracle, a proof supernatural, that God spake by Jeremiah and the Prophets!
Two predictions are here fulfilled and verified to the letter. All these great masses are lost, being mingled with, and "DEVOURED" by, their conquerors. But that they have conquered, disinherited, and dispersed the Jews, could not devour them; for the Lord said, "I will never make a full end of thee." The destruction of the one and the preservation of the other constitute two witnesses for the Bible, and literally fulfil a promise made to Abraham when leaving Ur of Chaldea, three thousand seven hundred and sixty-six years ago. Abraham, said God, "I will curse him that curseth thee, and I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee."
But not once, but often the same promises and prophecies are written by the same Prophets in a language somewhat different, and on that account the more certain of a fair construction. We shall take another example from Jeremiah, chapter xxxi. 35, 36, 37, "Thus saith the Lord who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord." Here, then, we  have a solemn promise from God, that while time endures, while the world lasts, the Jews shall continue as a distinct and peculiar people--a standing miracle, indeed, of the truth of the Bible.
Many other peculiarities of the destiny of this awful and venerable nation are clearly pronounced by Moses and their other Prophets; such as the whole details of Deuteronomy, 28th chapter, of which I have room but for a single example, verse 37. "And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word amongst all the nations whither the Lord shall lead thee." Is this true of any other nation! Do we not hear it almost as often as we hear of the Jews? Yet Moses foretold it three thousand three hundred years ago! With these predictions in our hands, and a Jew before our eyes, do we not see a miracle--a demonstration of a power supernatural and divine?
As to the authenticity and the antiquity of the writings of Moses, we happen to have three copies of them, kept by different nations centuries before Jesus Christ!--the Samaritan, the Hebrew, and the Septuagint. He that overthrows these, discredits, or repudiates them, may, by the same ingenuity and learning, discredit and repudiate all antiquity, all history, sacred, civil, and ecclesiastical. This prophecy and the law of Moses are in the keeping of the most ancient people and languages known to any living man. The case we shall, therefore, consider as fairly and fully made out, viz.: that it is possible and probable--nay, absolutely certain that God has spoken to man in the Law and in the Prophets.
But some one may ask for some miracle now extant in proof of the inspiration of the Christian Apostles. We might hand such a one the Apocalypse; but being a book of symbols, and not like the prophecies we have quoted, written in a plain unfigurative historic style, we shall give one example from the plain unadorned epistles of Paul. We quote from II Thess. chap. ii.--"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth, will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the  brightness of his coming. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
The case, or the occasion of this prophecy, is this:--In his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul had written of "the day of the Lord coming as a thief in the night;" and also of the change to be affected upon those who should be alive at his coming: "For we" said he, "which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not anticipate them that are asleep." From which sayings some then taught, that the day of the Lord's triumph over his enemies' destruction was soon to arrive, just as some now teach that souls sleep, because Paul thus spake of the dead. To correct these errors, Paul, in his second epistle, by the spirit of revelation, informs them that the day of the Lord's triumph and the fall of his enemies was then at a great distance. This leads him to expatiate on some great intervening events. That day shall not come till a great apostacy from Christ to another personage shall have occurred; till that MAN OF SIN, or "the man of sin"--the lawless one, described by Daniel (vii. 25,) shall have been revealed.
The Apostle introduces this mysterious personage as one frequently spoken of among the Thessalonians. He calls him "that lawless one," or "the man of sin." He was described by Daniel in these words:--"He shall speak [impious] words against the MOST HIGH, and shall wear out [or consume] the saints of the Most High, and shall think [or determine] to change times and laws; and they [the saints] shall be given into his hand until a time, times, and the dividing of time; but the judgment [upon him] shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion to consume and destroy it unto the end." This mystic man of sin, the POPE OF ROME undoubtedly, is described in the following particular points:--
1. He was to be the son or creature of an apostacy from the primitive faith and manners taught by the Apostles. As Napoleon the Great grew out of the French Revolution, so did the Pope grow out of the metropolitan hierarchies and councils that sprung from the defection of the ancient church.
2. This man without law opposed, in his pretensions, all that were called magistrates, or that were held in reverence by the people.
3. He placed himself upon a throne.
4. This throne was not erected in a Pagan temple, but in the church or temple of God. He is neither a Jewish nor a Pagan, but a Christian High Priest, Father, or Pope.
5. He shows himself to be, or sets himself up as a Vicegerent of the Almighty, and calls himself "HIS HOLINESS LORD GOD THE POPE." 
6. He was not to appear for some time after the Apostle wrote this letter--not, indeed, while the Roman Cesars called themselves severally Pontifex Maximus, or the Great High Priest of the Gods.
7. But the letting or opposing Pagan chiefs are to be taken out of the way.
8. And when that is done, this mysterious son of perdition and of iniquity, called by Paul "the lawless one," should be fully developed.
9. He was to appear, after the modus operandi of the Devil, by good words, fair speeches, pretended sanctity--"by all the deceivableness of unrighteousness"--transforming himself into an angel of light, while at heart as black as Erebus.
10. God, it is affirmed, shall permit all those who loved not the truth in their hearts, to be deluded by this "WICKED ONE," that they all might be condemned as reprobate silver, as spurious coin, and removed from the faithful.
Such is the apostolic profile of the 1st of the Gregories--of him that plucked the golden mitre from the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem--who assumed to himself the government of the realms of Purgatory, the disposal of all the crowns of the heirs of Pagan Rome, and who by miracle of deceit gained the confidence of an apostate church and consolidated it into a politico-ecclesiastic empire--"BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS"--a monster once the wonder of the world and the terror of all the excellent of the earth.
Could any one, we may now inquire, not gifted by a plenary inspiration from the sempiternal source of light, to whose eye the past, the present, and the future are all alike, have thus so clearly, so comprehensively, and yet so minutely sketched the portrait of the most unnatural mysterious monster of iniquity the world ever saw?
And what event more unlikely to happen, than that one pretending to be the VICAR of Christ, who, 20 years before this portrait was sketched, had been crucified between two malefactors without the gates of Jerusalem--than that one assuming to be the SUCCESSOR of that Galilean Peter, the fisherman, who had neither silver nor gold, and who had forsaken all that he had to partake in the toils, the trials, and the honors of his Master, would have ever thought of aspiring to such a giddy and ambitious eminence, much less of attaining it and transmitting it to hundreds of successors through more than twelve full centuries of years!!
No one can make himself thoroughly acquainted with the origin, progress, and consummation of the Popedom--as developed in the lives of the Popes--or spend one year in Rome, holding in his hand Daniel's portrait of this Man of Sin in his seventh chapter, and that of Paul  in this letter to the Thessalonians, and not see a stupendous miracle in the literal and exact accomplishment of predictions so copious and yet so minute, held by the church of all ages and of all nations, and now read in all the languages of the civilized world, all literally verified in one individual person succeeding another, of the same grand characteristics, for so many centuries. He that does not, in these ample and precise specifications, recognize the finger of God in a clearly developed miracle of the most stupendous dimensions, has certainly sipped no little of the inebriating cup of delusions by which this great sorcerer has enchanted and deceived the nations of paganized Christendom.
Our faith in the gospel, we now conclude from these mere specimens of evidence, rests upon the clearest and most solid basis. It rests upon miracles well attested by others, and on miracles seen by ourselves. It rests upon the purity of its doctrine, the majesty and the excellency of its precepts, the riches, the fulness, and the glory of its promises. It rests upon the perfect originality, the unity, the grandeur, and the divine sublimity of its adorable Author. It was promulged by the purest, the noblest, and the most disinterested heralds that ever announced a new doctrine to men. It was sustained by their godly sincerity, their toils, their privations, their endurance of evil, and their glorious martyrdom for its sake. It enrols amongst its believers and defenders the greatest, the wisest, the best, and the most gifted of mankind. All that we love, admire, and venerate in human character, appears in the boldest relief in the piety, humanity, and universal excellence of its friends and admirers. It confers upon all its fully initiated disciples the whole circle of graces that adorn human nature, and fills their lives with the largest and richest clusters of the delicious fruits of benevolence and mercy. It is just such a message from the throne of heaven as, had we been duly enlightened, we might have expected; such a glorious display of divinity and humanity as fully and eternally glorifies God, and bestows infinite honor and happiness on man.
We hope to suggest a profitable manner of reading the volume which contains this divine philanthropy, in our next Tract.
Alexander Campbell. "Tracts for the People.--No. II."
The Millennial Harbinger 16 (November 1845): |
[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)