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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)



      In an Extra in 1832, Mr. Campbell teaches as follows:

      QUESTION. How many creeds are there?

      ANSWER. One for every day in the year.

      Q. How many sects are there?

      A. As many sects as there are authoritative creeds.

      Q. Who has made these creeds?

      A. Philosophers, conferences, synods, or some individual leader.

      Q. What evidences are there that they have produced corruptions?

      A. They are known to have produced hypocrisy, false swearing and prevarication, for the sake of livings--strife, envy, hatred, and indeed every evil work. Witness the anathemas, excommunications, and slanders, hurled from all ecclesiastical bodies meeting under their sanction, against all who oppose their pretensions. The old side Methodists, for example, will not now permit even the preachers of reform to enter into a pulpit or meeting-house belonging to them in the capacity of preachers; while, before the formation of a new creed, they used to kneel at the same altar. This is also true of Baptists, and even Quakers, boasting of their love of peace and brotherly kindness.

      Q. But will not a creed keep one Lord's table pure?

      A. No; not one.

      Q. What do they resemble?

      A. They are like sieves which will suffer the small grains of wheat to pass through, and retain the large grains of darnel.

      Q. But can we call any table "the Lord's" which excludes from it the Lord's people?

      A. No; unless the Lord's people put on the livery of the mean of sin.

      Q. Did not the Apostles receive to the Lord's table all who believed and acknowledged Jesus by an immersion into his death, provided they kept his moral precepts, irrespective of their opinions?

      A. Paul commanded the Roman Christians to receive one another without regard to differences of opinion. No man was excluded by Paul for a difference of opinion.

      Q. Ought a man to read any human creed for the sake of assenting to it? [385]

      A. No, unless he read them all; for how can he decide without a comparison?

      Q. But ought he not to compare every one he reads with the Bible?

      A. Yes; but this supposes him to understand the Bible as well as the creed: and surely, if he can decide what is truth from the Bible, he need not trouble himself with the creed. Why impose upon himself the task of reading the creed, since he cannot receive it unless he understand the Bible before he read it?

      Q. Of what use, then, is a creed?

      A. Of much use to build and keep up a party; to cause professors to revile, slander, and hate one another; to hold formalists, hypocrites, and prevaricators together; and to exclude weak Christians and honest disciples from popular establishments. They, like strainers, retain all the feculent matter, and suffer the pure liquor to escape.

      Q. Do not all human platforms of church establishments reproach the Bible?

      A. Yes; they all say that the New Testament is incomplete, and that men are either wiser or more benevolent than God.

      Q. How do they say that men are wiser than the Lord?

      A. By arrogating to themselves the skill to keep the church pure by another form of words than the form of sound words delivered by the Apostles. Every new creed says, This is better adapted than the Apostolic writings to preserve the unity and purity of the church: for every new improvement says this is wiser than that for which it proposes itself as a substitute.

      Q. How do they arraign the benevolence of the Author of Christian faith?

      A. By insinuating that he was wise enough to foresee that the Apostle's word could not keep the Christian community one and undivided, and yet not causing an abstract view, or a summary of essential articles to be appended to the Book, to prevent the necessity of fallible human interposition.

      Q. Can the Christian world ever be united or reformed on the principles of any creed?

      A. It is impossible, both from experience and Scripture testimony. Other foundation of hope and union can no, man lay, which will stand the teat of time, but that once laid by Jesus and his Apostles.

      Q. Ought not a Christian then to oppose, in all meekness and in all firmness, every authoritative creed as opposed to the wisdom and benevolence of Jesus Christ?

      A. Most assuredly he ought, if he have vowed allegiance to Jesus as the only Prophet, Lawgiver, Priest, and King, in his kingdom.

[A. C.]      

      In 1847 [sic], page 565, he writes:

      Our views of creeds have long been before the public. [386]

      One generation has passed away and another has come since we first entered our solemn protest against creeds, and a very decisive victory has been gained.

      In Scotland and in England this was begun more than a century ago, and has, with more or less success, been prosecuted ever since. The Glassites, or Sandemanians, the Haldanians, or Independents, the Arians and the Unitarians, with more or less zeal, have taken a part in the controversy. Some of these opposed creeds, not because they were creeds, but because they were opposed to the doctrines contained in them. We, on the contrary, have opposed creeds because they were creeds, irrespective of the doctrine contained in them; riot, indeed, because they exhibited a system of faith or of sound doctrine, but because they were made indispensable and authoritative terms of communion, or justifiable and valid grounds of exclusion;--because the terms and phrases, or the mental abstractions and opinions in them, propounded as the essential doctrines of Christ, expressed in human terms, were placed upon the same footing with the Oracles of God, and sometimes above them, insomuch that it became a greater sin to oppose or controvert the words of the creed than the words of the Bible.

      We never opposed a declaration of our faith in word or writing. On the contrary, we have often published in word and writing our views of Bible truth--not, indeed, as of equal authority with the inspired words of Apostles and Prophets. Some there were in former times, and some there yet are, such very simpletons, or such shrewd cavillers, as to represent us as having changed our views on this subject, and as now building the things which formerly we destroyed. I do not say whether their mere stupidity or their more reprehensible pravity of mind, has betrayed them into this sin of misrepresentation. But most certainly a gross and culpable misrepresentation it is, and they must answer for it again. I care not to publish my whole faith every year; but I will not immutably impose that faith upon myself, or any one else, as essential to the communion of saints.

      The Baptists, while few in number and feeble in power, opposed creeds in their ecclesiastic sense, but, so far as known to me, they never opposed a man's declaring in word or writing his faith.

      The age is, indeed, growing too fast for these dwarfish schemes. Hence the attempt to roll off the shame of these remains of ages of superstition and error. We hail as auxiliary to our efforts in this cause the growing liberality and enlargedness of mind developed in the true liberty of the gospel. [387]

[A. C.]      

      1. Alexander Campbell. Extracts from "Creeds." The Millennial Harbinger Extra 3 (August 1832): 344-347.
      2. ----------. Extracts from "Creeds versus the Bible." The Millennial Harbinger 17 (October 1846): 565-567.


[MHA2 385-387]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)