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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)



      At Wilmington, O., Nov. 4, 1830, a considerable audience, on a few hours' notice, convened from the town and country, about half of which were disciples. We addressed them from Peter's discourse in Solomon's Portico. Among other positions illustrated and confirmed by the apostolic testimony, the following were conspicuous:--

      1. That as mankind, however diversified in other respects, were all, as respects the gospel, distributed into two classes--the obedient and the disobedient--there could, in the nature of things, be but two modes of address, called in the New Testament preaching and teaching.

      2. That in preaching there must be one topic in every address, as the all-engrossing topic; and that this topic is reformation. In attestation of which the commission of John the Immerser, of the Saviour as a Prophet, of the Twelve, and the Seventy, were adduced.

      3. That as reformation was a very general and comprehensive theme, and had reference to more objects than one, various motives and arguments were appended to every proclamation of reformation in accordance with the specific character of the reformation preached. Thus in the reformation proclaimed by John, by Jesus, by the Seventy, and by the Twelve, in their first commission, the great argument was, for the reign of heaven was soon to commence. In the second commission, given after the resurrection of Jesus, the arguments were three:--

      1st. That your sins may be blotted out.

      2d. That seasons of refreshment from the presence of the Lord may come upon you.

      3d. That he may send Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation.

      4. That it is the immediate duty of those addressed in this proclamation to obey the gospel, or to reform, and turn to God.

      At the close of the discourse one young man of respectable attainments came forward and obeyed the gospel. He was immersed for the remission of his sins by brother Samuel Rogers.

[A. C.]      
Vol. 1831, page 21.      

      Discourse delivered at Leesburg, Ky., Nov. 12, 1830. The burthen of this discourse was:-- [426]

      1. That in the gospel there must be a command, else it could not be obeyed; for where there is no command, there can be no obedience.

      2. The obedience of law and the obedience of faith contrasted.

      3. The command in the gospel, obedience to which is styled obeying the gospel.

      4. The destiny of those who do not obey the gospel.

[A. C.]      
Vol. 1831, page 24.      

      At Bryant's Station addressed a large congregation on the calling of the Gentiles (Acts x. and xi.). The burthen of this discourse was:--

      1. The character of Cornelius previous to his hearing the words by which he and his family were to be saved.

      2. The vision of Peter and the speech of the angel concerning the importance of the words to be spoken by Peter.

      3. The words spoken by Peter before the Holy Spirit fell upon them, and the first thing spoken by Peter after the interruption ceased.

      4. The nature and use of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

      5. Emphasized on the fact that though Cornelius was a pious man, one that feared God with all his house, prayed continually, and gave much alms to the people; yet it was necessary for him, under the government of Jesus, to hear words and to be immersed that he might be saved with the Christian salvation.

[A. C.]      
Vol. 1831, page 27.      

      Lord's day morning, addressed a very large and intelligent assembly at Lexington, Ky.

      After attempting to show why John, and none of the other evangelists, narrated the interview with Nicodemus, we proceeded to speak of the kingdom of nature, grace, and glory, as usually defined. The constituents of a literal kingdom were first detailed. The propriety of the application of the term kingdom to nature, grace, and glory, was next vindicated. Then the analogies between these three kingdoms were traced in the prominent characteristics of a kingdom.

      1. The creation of each by a word of God.

      2. The design of each to produce beings correspondent with its constitution--natural beings--gracious beings--glorious beings.

      3. The adaptation of the means employed in each to the ends proposed--natural life, spiritual life, eternal life.

      4. The three births, or the mode of introduction into each kingdom: The first birth, natural; the second birth, gracious; the third birth, glorious. The first birth, of and from the flesh; the second, of and from the water and the Spirit; the third, of and from the grave. [427]

      5. The three salvations: 1st. From natural dangers; God is thus "the Saviour of all men" in the kingdom of nature. 2d. The salvation of the soul from the guilt, pollution, and the power of sin, in the kingdom of grace. 3d. The salvation of the body from the grave, or the glorification of soul and body at the resurrection of the just, and in the kingdom of glory.

      6. The impossibility of being a subject or citizen of any one of these kingdoms without being born into it.

      7. An illustration of the whole subject, drawn from the use and meaning of the outer court, holy place, and most holy place in the tabernacle.

      In the conclusion we emphasized on the kingdom of heaven, or of grace; the import of being born of water and the Spirit, or the necessity of regeneration, in order to admission into the kingdom of grace. These were items in the series of illustrations presented on this occasion. After the discourse, Squire Hickman, once a deist, cured by our writings, presented himself for immersion.

      In the evening of that day addressed the medical class on the following questions:--

      1. Has God ever spoken to man?

      2. In what language has he spoken to man?

      3. If in human language, how is it to be interpreted?

      4. What has he said to us in his last message by his Son? Concluded with some remarks on the necessity, happiness, and honor of obeying the Lord Jesus.

[A. C.]      
Vol. 1831, page 28.      

      On the Lord's day we lectured at Danville, Ky., on the constitution of the kingdom of heaven, from the eighth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. The topics were:--

      1. The nature and use of constitutions in general.

      2. That God had, in every age of the world, placed men under some constitutional arrangement.

      3. That these economies, or arrangements, were a guarantee to those under them of the extent and continuance of all stipulated privileges.

      4. The constitutional or fundamental provisions of the Christian economy.

      5. An exhortation to surrender to the constitution and government of the King of Saints.

      Great attention was paid, not only by those in the house, but by many who stood out of doors, although it rained during the whole discourse.

      Many individuals appeared much affected. [428]

      The disciples met in the evening to break bread; and, after singing several spiritual songs, we separated, much refreshed and comforted in the Lord.

[A. C.]      
Vol. 1831, page 61.      

      At Harrodsburg, Ky., we gave a lecture on "The Seven Baptisms." Adding to the baptisms found in the Book of God, those invented by men and practised in this country, we can count at least seven. We allude not to the obsolete discussions about the "subject and mode," or about the action and subject; but to the meaning or doctrine of immersion. The act of immersion is the same act, whether man, woman, or child--cup, table, or couch, be the subject of the act. It is not the meaning of sprinkling, pouring, or dipping; but the meaning of those institutions, human and divine, called baptisms, to which we solicit attention. And that we may keep the one immersion supremely and distinctly in view, we shall commence with those baptisms of human invention; and first with infant baptism. For the sake of brevity we call it "infant baptism," whether it be infant sprinkling or infant immersion. That we may understand the meaning and design of infant baptism, we shall read the definition of baptism given in the Presbyterian Confession which prescribes it:--

      Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized in the visible church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his engrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world.

      Infants are said, by the authors of this definition, to be chargeable only with "original sin," which is always spoken of in the singular number. If, then, according to the creed, infants have only "original sin," how can infant baptism be a sign and seal of remission of sins, in the plural number! It is impossible, unless they are considered as guilty of actual transgressions. The creed, then, must be in an error. Either infants are chargeable with more than original sin, or baptism is not to them a sign and seal of remission of sins. This difficulty we hope the Paidobaptists will explain. Some may, perhaps, think that baptism, as defined in the creed, respects adults only. If so, baptism is, with them, of two sorts--one for infants and one for adults. They, then, teach two baptisms--one for sinners, and one for them who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.

      If baptism be to infants a "sign and seal of regeneration, of engrafting into Christ, and of giving themselves up to him;" then, indeed, all the children of the flesh, all the baptized youths of the [429] Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Methodist sects, are regenerated, engrafted into Christ, and in the New Covenant. But this they do not themselves believe; and therefore, their own creed is, themselves being judges, incredible. Infant baptism, then, is a baptism without meaning, and without a blessing. It is a mere ceremony, the sign and seal of nothing to the child, save that its father or its godfather had too much faith in water.

      Quaker baptism is a spiritual baptism which can not be explained; but is said to import that light which is communicated to every Quaker by some spirit which they are pleased to call the Holy Spirit. It is a mystic baptism, unreasonably and unscripturally called "the baptism of the Holy Spirit." Of this in its own place.

      John's baptism was an institution from Heaven. It was expressly for reformation and forgiveness of sins. Such remission of sins as was enjoyed under the economy of Moses was granted to the reforming Jews; who confessed their sins and were immersed into the faith that the Messiah was soon to appear, or that the reign of God was approaching. John immersed men that they might reform. He immersed not by the authority of the Lord Jesus, but by the authority of the Heavenly Father. He required no person to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. He immersed into no name. He only prepared a people for the Lord.

      Malachi promised the baptism in fire to the impenitent and unbelieving. When he promised Elijah or John the Baptist and the coming of Jesus, he declared and foretold the baptism in fire. "Behold," said he, "the day comes that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, and all who do wickedly shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, and it shall leave them neither root nor branch." "Behold," says Jehovah, "I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of that great and terrible day of the Lord." This terrible day of the Lord is called by the Elijah that was to come "the impending vengeance," or "the wrath to come." The history of Jesus opens with the annunciation of this terrible baptism. All Judea and Jerusalem were affrighted. Sadducees and Pharisees united in their regard for John, and in solicitude to obtain the benefits of his immersion in water. John accosted them as Malachi foretold. To these applicants he proclaimed reformation, and informed them that he, whose approaching reign he announced, would immerse them in the Holy Spirit and in fire; indicating, as the explanation appended showed, that some of them would be immersed in the Holy Spirit, and some of them in fire: for Jesus was able to make a discrimination which John presumed not to do. "His winnowing shovel is in his hand; and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor." He will collect his [430] wheat into his granary when the chaff is separated; but the chaff he will immerse or consume in unquenchable fire. The day of discrimination is at hand. The axe lies at the root of the tree. Every tree which brings not forth good fruit shall be felled and converted into fuel. The dry and dead trees, and the chaff, or, as Malachi said, "the stubble," shall be turned up in this tremendous immersion.

      Some of the scribes and teachers of this day are praying to be immersed in fire. They suppose that because tongues, resembling fire, were the accompaniments of the baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, that the baptism in fire must be a blessing. Singular perversion of reason and the words of John! How could tongues resembling fire be a real baptism in fire! How could a blessing be proclaimed as a threat! Can the subjects of an immersion in the Spirit, be compared to stubble, to dry and rotten wood, or to chaff? Persons resembling stubble, dry trees, and chaff, are the only proper subjects of an immersion in fire. And how can any one, not deluded by mysticism, imagine that anything in the form of a blessing could be compared to fire operating on a human body! Is not fire operating on the bodies of men always the symbol of punishment? To be immersed in a lake of fire is the strongest figure of the severity of that vengeance which will be the lot of the impenitent and unbelieving. Fire as an emblem of purification is only applied to metals. He will be as the refiner's fire to consume the dross among the sons of Levi--as the fuller's soap to wash away the filth. Persecutions may be compared to a fire. And those who are tried severely may be said to have sustained a "fiery trial;" but how any one can suppose that the righteous can be compared to chaff and stubble, and as such be immersed in fire as a blessing to them, requires a genius thrice baptized into the gnostic faith to comprehend.

      John was the only preacher who preached the baptism in fire: he proclaimed the fates of those who would submit to the new government, and the fates of those who would not kiss the Son. He intimated to all his hearers the power, mental, moral, judicial, the divine power of him whose coming reign he announced. The Apostles of Jesus taught not merely the wrath to come on the unbelieving Jews in the year of vengeance, but also the everlasting destruction of those who know not God and obey not the gospel of his Son. The vengeance of an eternal fire they proclaim to those who reject the great salvation; and still it is true, that those who submit not to the authority of the Lord, who wilfully reject the one immersion, must be immersed in fire, in the figurative import of these words. So that the preachers of righteousness may yet say water or fire, pardon or [431] punishment, life or death: for he that believes and is immersed shall be saved, and he that believes not shall be condemned.

      Baptism in the Holy Spirit was promised by John and by Jesus. John affirmed that Jesus would immerse his disciples in the Holy Spirit. This was also, like the immersion in fire, promised by the Jewish Prophets. Joel foretold these days. A stupendous display of heavenly influences, like which there had not been one vouchsafed to mortal man since time was born, distinguished this immersion. The time fixed for it was the birthday of the Christian age--the commencement of the reign of Messiah in heaven. Jesus informed his disciples that this baptism of which John spoke would be vouchsafed to them not many days after he left them. Soon he was exalted "a Prince and a Saviour to bestow reformation and forgiveness of sins upon Israel;" upon all who would submit to his government, he shed forth those supernal influences, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, under the direction of which the Apostles were placed. Their hearts burned within them in all holy raptures; their understandings were light shining from the Sun of Righteousness; their tongues, moved by the impulses of the Eternal Spirit, uttered the wonders of heaven; their faces glowed with the beauty of holiness; and their whole persons were adorned by the bright shining emblems of the power and presence of the Spirit of wisdom and of utterance. They spake in every tongue the wonderful works of God. Such was the immersion in the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus. From him it came; and to assert his new glories in heaven, as well as to convince the world of sin, and righteousness, and judgment, it was bestowed. No men were ever more fully immersed, or buried in water, than were these men hid and immersed in the Holy Spirit. It was not Peter the fisherman, but Peter the Apostle of Jesus, covered and filled with the Spirit of God, who was seen and heard. Overwhelmed they were with these powers of the world to come. Their understandings, wills, affections--their bodies, souls and spirits, were submitted to, and submerged in, the energies of him who proceeded from the Father and the Son.

      In the admission of the Gentiles into the kingdom; in the conversion of Cornelius, his family, and friends, this immersion was repeated. Peter, in the eleventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, applies the same promise of the immersion in the Holy Spirit to what had happened in this house. Thus Jews and Gentiles were all immersed in the same Holy Spirit; and God received them both into his family with the same marks of its affection, and with the same demonstrations of benignity, irrespective of any former national distinctions. Indeed, like the father of the prodigal son, he went out to meet the returning Gentiles, and fell upon them and embraced them before [432] they came into his house. Thus the Gentiles received the gifts of the Holy Spirit before they were immersed into the name of the Holy Spirit. Such is the Scriptural import of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

      That the Quaker notion of an internal influence, or of an invisible communication of some spiritual light to the mind, is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit, will appear apparent, if not from what has been already said, from a fact so palpable that we see not how it can be evaded. It is this: The persons to whom Jesus promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts i.) were possessed, for years before that time, of more gifts and communications of the Spirit, than any persons now living, or who have since lived. If, then, persons who had received the Spirit, as had the Apostles at the time of their first mission, who had spoken by it, healed diseases, cleansed lepers, raised the dead, cast out demons, and whose tempers were influenced by it, had not till Pentecost been immersed in the Holy Spirit; shall we say that any Quaker, with all the gifts he supposes Himself possessed, has been immersed in the Holy Spirit?

      Almost every prominent word in language has a metaphorical as well as a literal import. Hence we have a metaphorical immersion. I have, says Jesus, referring to his anticipated sufferings, an immersion to undergo, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Can you, said he, to the sons of Zebedee, submit to the immersion which I have to suffer? What, says Paul, shall they do who are immersed for the dead? Why jeopardize our lives--why subject ourselves to many sufferings, if the dead rise not? To be overwhelmed in sorrow; to pass through the deep waters of affection; to be encompassed with tribulation, is to be immersed in this acceptation of the term.

      The one immersion, or Christian baptism, is the immersion for the remission of sins, proclaimed by the Apostles, on, and from, Pentecost, to the close of the volume. Concerning this immersion so much has already been said, we enlarge not here. The confessions of the Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodistic and Baptist sects were read on this article; and it was shown that with more or less clearness this baptism is asserted in the creeds, though not practised by the people.

      A nondescript baptism is likely to arise out of the present controversy. The sects are likely to renounce their creed baptism, and in their opposition to the Christian, or the one immersion, they will be constrained to explain baptism into a mere form or ceremony of induction into a sect; having no blessing or promise associated with it. Some of them are almost mute already on the meaning of immersion; [433] and ere long baptism will likely be taught as a duty to be performed as we pay our taxes for the sake of the government.

[A. C.]      

      1. Alexander Campbell. Sermon on Peter's Discourse in Solomon's Portico, an Extract from "Incidents on a
Tour to Nashville, Tennessee.--No. II." The Millennial Harbinger 2 (January 1831): 21.
      2. ----------. Sermon on the Gospel, an Extract from "Incidents on a Tour to Nashville, Tennessee.--No. III."
The Millennial Harbinger 2 (January 1831): 24.
      3. ----------. Sermon on the Calling of the Gentiles, an Extract from "Incidents on a Tour to Nashville,
Tennessee.--No. III." The Millennial Harbinger 2 (January 1831): 27.
      4. ----------. Sermon on the Three Kingdoms, an Extract from "Incidents on a Tour to Nashville, Tennessee.--
No. III." The Millennial Harbinger 2 (January 1831): 28.
      5. ----------. Sermon on the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven, an Extract from "Incidents on a Tour to
Nashville, Tennessee.--No. V." The Millennial Harbinger 2 (February 1831): 61.
      6. ----------. Sermon on the Seven Baptisms, an Extract from "Incidents on a Tour to Nashville, Tennessee.--
No. IV." The Millennial Harbinger 2 (February 1831): 56-60.


[MHA2 426-434]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)