[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)
Of the necessity for the union of Christians, Mr. Campbell wrote in 1830, page 55:
We assume it for a principle, and when we are called to prove it, the proof is ready, Scriptural and rational; I say, we assume it for a principle, that the union of Christians, and the destruction of sects, are indispensable prerequisites to the subjection of the world to the government of Jesus, and to the triumphant appearance of Christ's religion in the world. While the Army of the Faith is enlisted under so many different generals, and fighting under so many different ensigns, they may make havoc upon one another, but it is impossible they can convert the world.
General Calvin, with his ensigns, and his standard-bearers, carrying and waving in the air his five stars over the heads of his troops, has been three hundred years in the field. And what has he achieved? General Arminius marched from Leyden about thirty years after him, with an ensign of a different color, marked with five moons. And what has he achieved? The two armies met for a pitched battle on the plains of Dort, A. D. 1618, and after skirmishing for a few days without coming to a general engagement, they drew their tents and marched. The captains and generals, the whole staff of General Arminius, had been valiant, courageous and daring as that of General Calvin, and they have been more successful in war. Various detachments from each grand army have mutinied against the commander-in-chief, and whole brigades have filed off under various brigadiers. And now, after fighting for almost three centuries, there is no more appearance of a general pacification than there was when they first displayed the flag. The Christian armies are constantly fighting against each other; and while old Satan has managed to keep them fighting about grace and works--about rites, forms and ceremonies--he has made vast levies, built fortresses, accumulated his munitions of war, until he is more invulnerable now than when General Luther began his march from Wittemberg, and raised his ensign against King Leo X.
Our King, when on the theater of war, taught us a lesson which  ought never to be forgotten. He said, "By intestine broils any kingdom may be desolated, one family falling after another. . . . Now if there be intestine broils in the kingdom of Satan, how can that kingdom subsist?" And, surely, none will refuse to add, upon principle and analogy, "If there be intestine broils in the kingdom of Jesus, how can that kingdom subsist? It can not subsist. The kingdom of the clergy, or antichristian kingdom, has almost laid it desolate and in ruins.
The sword of the Spirit has been changed into the Spirit of the sword; a new weapon indeed! The troops fighting with the Spirit of the sword have become obstinate and inflated, until they cannot fight, except against their own commanders. They have thrown the sword of the Spirit away as imbecile and useless, and issued millions of Spirits of the sword, in the forms of missiles, designated creeds and tracts. Thrown into broils, and embittered against each other, their success is only in defeating one another. The kingdom of Jesus cannot subsist under this economy, and certainly cannot prove an efficient foe to the enemy of saints.
To drop the figurative, and to appear in the most literal garb. The platforms of the sects are too narrow. Few can unite upon them. A religion or a faith upon inferences, is an intellectual thing. It is an intellectual operation. It requires men to be well trained by logic and philosophy to make out a creed; and it requires just as much logic and philosophy to understand it, and to perceive that the inferences are well drawn. Few, therefore, can unite upon any one creed of opinions and inferences. The union that subsists in any one sect, built upon such inferences, is a union resolvable into ignorance and authority. I know so much of human nature as to authorize me to affirm that if, any one sect, (say the Presbyterian for example,) were to invite their own people to examine their own creed, and to decide whether the inferences were fairly drawn, and then to insist upon an agreement in opinion, they would fall into a hundred sects in a short time. Almost every man who presumes to examine them, and assumes a little independence, becomes, in the estimation of his brethren, a heretic. They have, for the sake of peace, to keep their creed as much out of sight as possible, and to teach it without seeming to teach it.
Writing upon the same subject, at another time, Mr. Campbell says:
Union, love, and social bliss are only three ways of expressing the same idea. The glory that Christ gave his disciples is union with him, as sons of God, and joint heirs with himself: "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one as we are, (I in them and thou in me,) that they may be made perfect in one."  Who that thinks of heaven, of eternal peace and love, can refrain from pleading the union, concert, and co-operation of all the sincere followers of the Lamb of God? Oh that all the sons and daughters of our Father in heaven were as children of one family, cordially, firmly, and visibly united in one profession, all striving to honor and magnify the common Saviour, and seeking to convert the world to Christ! We see some signs in the sky: may the Lord brighten our prospects more and more?
Union in truth amongst all the baptized followers of the PRINCE OF PEACE, has been inscribed on our banner from the day of our Christian nativity till now. We not only pray for it, but we speak, write, and labor for it as a consummation devoutly to be sought. There is but one body of Christ, one Spirit, and one hope, as there is but one God and Father of all; and one Lord, one faith, and one baptism are the basis of this sacred incorporation. "We are all baptized into one body by one Spirit; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or freemen, we are all made to drink into one Spirit." Christians, then, are radically, essentially, spiritually one; and ought no, their union to be visible and manifest to all?
For this are to be given up three things--pride of party, or pride of understanding; the traditions of the Fathers; and our own opinions so far as they are bonds of union or communion. In all these there is neither faith, nor piety, nor morality; for all faith, piety, and morality are anterior to, distinct from, and independent of opinionism, whether in the form of our own inferences and speculations, or in that of human traditions or ecclesiastic canons. No truth of the Bible is necessarily to be sacrificed for union: errors, opinions, and traditions are indeed to be abandoned, and a becoming humility and deference to the opinions of others must be cultivated and displayed.
But what shall be done with Christian baptism? The advocates of union in all parties ask this question with profound interest and feeling. The Unionists of the present day are very sensitive and full of speculation on this point. Baptism in its relative aspects will become as important to Christendom as in its intrinsic value and significance. There are three schemes before the public. One class of Unionists are Spiritualists, (Quakers in fact on this point.) The other class are the indifferent Methodists and Cumberlanders. They say, "Sprinkle, pour, or dip." The third are for one baptism, and only one.
Now which of these three systems is best adapted to the union of all men who believe the gospel, is a question of much practical importance. On that I shall offer but two arguments at present:--
1st. The Quakers and Methodists have tried their schemes of spiritualism and indifferentism for a considerable time, and the experiment  shows that the Christian party in all parties cannot unite, never will unite on the one or the other of these two bases. They both, in fact, annihilate the ordinance as a divine institution, and convert it into a human expedient of little or no value.
2d. The conscientious and God-fearing, in all parties, never can give up a believing immersion into Christ's gospel. In proof of it see the thousands and tens of thousands annually taken from the best portions of Paidobaptism--I mean the most conscientious and intelligent of them. They who lay a Scriptural emphasis on baptism outstrip all parties in their permanent and vigorous growth, and therefore the most logical conclusion is, that of the three--the Spiritualists, the Literalists, and the Compromisers--the literal believers and practisers of believing immersion will, as a union party, be more successful than either of the others. For example, let three missionaries of equal qualifications be sent out for one or more years into the same field to form a union party by actual proselytism of those who fear God, (and we want none else as members of a union party)--let one of them preach the compromise system of Methodists and Cumberlanders; another of them, the spiritual no-water system of the Quakers; and the other, the believing immersion of this reformation; and all experiments hitherto made authorize the conclusion that the latter will obtain more favor with the whole community than either or both the others. The reason is obvious to persons of reflection. So long as it is written there is but one baptism, the intelligent and conscientious will not accept a substitute for it, nor will they allow that a divine precept can be a matter of indifference to any man who expects to give an account of himself to God.
The Paidobaptist union party may be appealed to in proof of the justness of our reasonings and inferences on this momentous question. They can never succeed in effecting a union of any extent or permanence amongst believers--amongst those who "tremble at the word" of the Lord of hosts. As, then, an expedient to effect the union of all good men in the bonds of one universal co-operation, to build up the walls of Zion, and to restore peace and prosperity to all her habitations, I argue it is the duty of all the true and loyal friends of Jesus to preach and teach one Lord, one faith, and one immersion into Christ for the remission of sins. For twelve hundred years after Christ, immersion for the remission of sins was the practice of the whole Christian world--Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. Remember I have said it, and can prove it from the most authentic records on earth.
Alexander Campbell. Extracts from "Millennium.--No. I."
The Millennial Harbinger 1 (February 1830): |
|2. ----------. "Union." The Millennial Harbinger 11 (November 1840): 481, 484-486.|
[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)