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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)



      "Faith" and "the faith" are not identical. They are never used as synonyms; consequently they represent two distinct ideas. This is equally true of belief and the belief. Much depends on the perception and realization of this distinction and difference in order to a perfect and complete conception of the gospel and its institutions. Christians have faith in the faith originally delivered to the saints. Skeptics or infidels have not.

      "In popular use," Noah Webster, our most popular lexicographer, says, "To believe," often expresses an opinion in a vague manner, without a very exact estimate of evidence, noting a mere preponderance of opinion, and is nearly equivalent to think, or to suppose." Such is not its evangelical currency in the Christian or Jewish Scriptures. In the latter it is found some 250 times, and is represented by the word confidence, assurance, fidelity. Paul to the Hebrews, chapter 11th, says: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." By the modern translators, more generally, and more literally, it is translated--"Faith is the confidence of things hoped for--the conviction of things not seen." So Boothroyd, D. D., [32] London, A. D. 1836, translates Heb. xi. 1, noting in his margin--"The term denotes a strict proof, conclusive argument, a demonstration; and hence, by a metonomy of the effect for the cause, a persuasion, a conviction." In this rendition or translation, there is a very general concurrence amongst the critics.

      Faith, therefore, has nothing to do with opinions, theories, or speculative reasonings, of any sort whatever. Its field is facts reported well authenticated, and nothing else.

      If we have elaborated any one point in the orthodoxies of the living world it is, that we assent to opinions and doctrines; that, we believe testimony; that we entertain, or hope for, promises; that we obey or disobey precepts or commandments.

      The style of the living pulpit and of the living press is more or less a portion of the legacies of the dark age of Papaldom and Pagandom, and is as doubtful coin, to be tried and weighed in the balances of the sanctuary by every student of the inspired oracles of the Holy Spirit.

      If we could, by any means, restore a pure speech to the present church militant, we might have some hope of an evangelical union, communion, and co-operation in Prostestantdom--that would give an impetus to the Apostolic Gospel, adequate to the wants of distracted Christendom; and to the prevention of the daily accumulating influence of infidelity and practical atheism, within the territory which we rather, as now existing, ironically call Christendom.

      We have in the comparatively enlightened portions of modern Christendom within our horizon many faiths, falsely so called. And yet, most evident it is, in the esteem and declaration of our Apostle to the Gentiles, that there is but one evangelical faith--as there is but one God and Father of all, one Lord and Saviour of all, and one Holy Spirit--the Holy Guest of all who receive Jesus as the Christ of God.

      But it must be emphatically stated that the power of faith is not in the strength or power of believing any thing or every thing submitted to our reception or appreciation, but in the nature, meaning, and power inherent in the testimony--or in the persons, facts, and events declared to us by veritable and competent witnesses.

      This view or conception of faith has been presented to our readers from various stand-points in diverse forms and manners in our periodical issues from the press during a period of thirty-seven years; and more or less developed in our other publications growing out of the times and seasons, so that some forty-five volumes have issued from our pen and press during a period of forty years.

      There is much importance--indeed, transcendent importance, in possessing in our conceptions and in our affections a full-orbed view [33] of "the mystery of godliness," as developed in the six items in which the great Apostle to the Gentiles sums it up and presents it to his beloved Timothy; "God manifest in the flesh, justified by the Spirit, seen to or attended upon by Angels, announced or preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and was taken up in glory" (I. Tim. iii. 16). These are the Divine materials of the Christian's faith.

      The mystery, or secret, hid from ages and generations past and gone, is now no longer a mystery. It is indeed a mystery revealed in the above specifications. And is it not a most glorious climax, ascending and culminating in the zenith of all appreciable glory, honor, and blessedness?

      This is the most splendid summary of the faith; not of faith alone; but of the transcendent facts of the peerless majesty, the more than regal glory, honor, and official grandeur of Jesus the Christ, culminating in his absolute lordship, constituting him the anointed High Priest, the glorified King, and Oracle of the Absolute Jehovah.

      He is now, indeed, constituted "LORD OF ALL"--of all what? Angels, principalities, powers, dominions, lordships, not of earth, nor of time, nor of place only; but of the entire area of creation's limits. All potentates, with the exception of his Father, are placed under his lordship and absolute dominion.

      At the annunciation of the triumph of the Lord Jesus over Death, Hades and Gehenna--it was said to him by his Father:

                  -------- "Sit at my right hand
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
From Zion, Jehovah shall extend thy powerful scepter,
And thou shalt rule amidst thine enemies.
Most willing shall be thy people,
In the day when thy power is displayed
On these hallowed mountains.
Thy progeny shall be as dew from the womb of the morning.
Jehovah had sworn, nor will he repent;
'Thou' (said he) 'art a priest forever,
According to the order of Melchizedek.'
The Lord at thy right hand, Jehovah,
Shall, in the day of his wrath, smite kings,
Shall execute judgment among the nations,
And fill the field with carcasses,
And smite the chiefs of many countries.
He shall drink of the stream by the way;
And shall, therefore, be exalted as chief."1

This is the faith, the hope, the rejoicing of the regenerate.

      But as faith depends on testimony, so does hope depend on promises. No command, no obedience; no testimony, no faith; no promise, no hope; no beauty, no love. These are decreed correlates in the Book of God, and are essentially necessary to the development of the children of God; and, as such, they must have first the sincere or pure [34] milk of the word, that they may grow thereby, unto the measure of the full stature of Christ--that we may be no more children, tossed like waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and their subtlety in every method of deceit;--but, speaking the truth in love, "may grow up to him in all things who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, fitly compacted together, and connected by every assisting joint, according to the operation of every part maketh its increase to the edification of itself in love" (Eph. iv. 14-16, Boothroyd's Ver.).

      But in this degenerate age, when opinions, speculations and doctrines are canonized and invested with the character and authority of facts, of precepts, and of promises, it behooves all who desire to stand approved and accepted in the Lord, to examine themselves whether they are in "the faith" originally delivered to the saints, and committed to the churches, planted and watered by the holy apostles and evangelists of the Author and founder of the faith, properly so called.

      To aid all such, we will propound and respond to the question,--What is, or what was, the Faith originally delivered to the Saints?

      While we have "the faith" only forty-three times in the Christian Scriptures, we have "faith" indefinite, one hundred and eighty-five times. We have the faith objectively and faith subjectively contemplated in the Holy Oracles. For example, Paul believed the gospel which he preached. He, then, was the subject of faith, of gospel faith. The gospel which he believed was the object of his faith.

      Now the question, the great question, with many of our contemporaries, is, what was the gospel which Paul preached--or, in other words, what was the faith, the gospel faith, which Paul preached to the Gentiles?

      We shall summon him into this court of enquiry, and propound to him the question, the all-engrossing question;--Paul, what was the faith, or the gospel, which you preached? Paul responds--Have you not read what I wrote to the Corinthians, in my first Epistle, chapter 15?--'! Did I not declare to them that faith--that gospel, which I preached to them on my first visit to their city? See my first letter, chapter 15th. Mark these words in its commencement:--"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you," on my first visit. Did I not present it in three facts--yes, in these words? "I delivered to you first of all that Jesus Christ died for our sins." In the second place, I preached unto you that he was positively buried in a sepulcher, and in the third place, I affirmed that he actually rose from the dead on the third day.

      These, then, are the saving, soul-redeeming elements, or the principles--the life-giving principles, of THE FAITH then delivered to the [35] saints in Corinth, Anno Domini 57--one thousand eight hundred and three years ago.

      No man of any intellectual culture, (with the New Testament in his hand,) to say nothing of spiritual culture, can for a moment doubt that this is the kernel of the tree of life eternal.

      That Christ died as a sin offering for our sins; that he was buried in the earth some seven and thirty hours; that he rose very early in the morning of the third day from his interment; that he, after giving many demonstrations of his personal identity, did visibly ascend to the heaven of heavens, and sat down on the right hand of his God and Father; and was on the first Pentecost following, publicly proclaimed in the city of Jerusalem, in the presence of thousands assembled from every nation under heaven, in honor of God's descent to Mount Sinai, in Arabia; and so publicly proclaimed that he, the lately crucified Jesus of Nazareth was the then Divinely constituted Lord of the Universe--the King of kings, the Lord of lords--the ultimate Judge of the living and of the dead;--in one word, the ONLY POTENTATE of creation's area.

      We have in this narrative the Divine summary of the faith, once for all delivered to the saints, terminating and culminating in the coronation of the Son of Mary, the Son of God, as head over all things--celestial, terrestrial and infernal. He alone, of all that ever wore humanity, was and is constituted the absolute King of king, and Lord of lords--Supreme Lawgiver, law interpreter and law executor. Thus has he all forms of authority in the universe vested in him; so that he is, in fact, King of kings and Lord of lords, and the ultimate Judge of men and angels. To him, therefore, shall every knee bow, and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father.

      His second coming consummates the gospel, or the faith and the hope of the gospel. To all that love the kingdom and the coming of the Lord Jesus, the day of judgment and final rewards will be the most glorious day that ever was or ever can be imagined. It will be the culmination of the gospel--a scene of glory, a triumph of joy unspeakable, unconceivable, unprecedented in the drama of creation, of legislation, of redemption. It will be terribly glorious and gloriously terrible. An assembled universe--not one intelligent agent--angel, man, spirit or demon absent. Day of wonders, day of terrors, day of joys, day of glories, beyond the ken, the apprehension, the appreciation, the conception, the imagination of any finite mind--whether of man, angel, spirit or demon! It will be a long day, because the last day, of our solar system, of our sin-polluted, sin-cursed earth. It is the only day that will have, that can have, that must have no to-morrow. [36]

      Would to God that we now could have a just, an adequate conception of it, and ever live in harmony with the partially revealed and imperfectly anticipated developments of that great "white throne" and "him that shall sit upon it;" while around him and before him the entire universe of the intelligentials shall stand, enrobed in their characteristic peculiarities, and hear their irreversible and eternal destiny pronounced by the Divine Alpha and Omega, enrobed in all the peerless majesty of the truly supreme court of ubiquity and eternity. Such are our incipient conceptions of the Alpha and the Omega of the universe; and especially of humanity as developed in The Faith originally delivered to the saints.

A. C.      

      1 Boothroyd's Version.

      Alexander Campbell. "Faith and the Faith." The Millennial Harbinger 31 (October 1860): 541-546.


[MHA2 32-37]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)