Alexander Campbell.

The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

. (page 18 of 70)
Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 70)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

mony himself. For example. Let the question be, "Am I a child of
God?'' This is to be ascertained for my own satisfaction. I am the
person to xchom it is to be proved. There is something represented
by the pronoun /, which is constituted judge in this case. This then
can not be both witness and judge. A witness in me must be some-
thing distinct from me. Well: what is the witness in me distinct
from myself, unless it be the Spirit of adoption breathing in me all
filial dispositions? Now if Paul and his companions rejoiced in the
testimony of their own conscience, why may I not rejoice in the tes-
timony of this witness? But as this is but one witness, and as
everything of importance requires two witnesses; and especially as
this witness may be suspected of being under the influence of near
relation and not easily cross examined, it requires a concurrent testi-
mony. Now this is that which the Spirit of God has presented in the
written word — sealed by its own demonstrations. An exact corre-
spondence between these two witnesses begets full confidence, or satis-
factorily answers the question, "Am I a child of God?"

But it must be observed, that the testimony of God in the authenti-
cated word, and the testimony within, are both necessary to the full
assurance of our sonship. Hence, John says, "If our heart condemn
us not, then we have confidence." By loving "not in word only, but
in deed and in truth," says the divine Apostle, "we know that we are


of the truth, and shall assure our hearts l)otore him.'* Happy frames
and good feelings are no evidence of our sonship, unless sustained
by the testimony in the Holy Scriptures. And this calls for unre-
served obedience to all the commandments of Jesus.

But while this and much more may be necessary to illustrate the
testimony borne to our spirits by the Spirit of God; the fact that such
a witness exists, and the bare meaning of the phrase, are all that
fairly lie within our present object. The Apostle's design in the con-
nection in which the phrase occurs, clearly ascertains its import.
His proposition is: "As many as are led by the Spirit, these are the
sons of God." "To be led by the Spirit," or to be led by any person,
is simply to be guided by what they say. Those thus led, are chil-
dren of God. That they are the children of God, is proved to them-
selves by two witnesses; — what the Spirit has testified in the written
word, and sustained by miracles, — and by the filial dispositions, called
the Spirit of adoption, which it has inspired into the hearts of all
the believers, whether Jews or Gentiles.

In ascertaining tne import of the phrase, "The Spirit hears tcit-
ness with our spirit," we quoted Dr. JMacknight as asserting that ""by
the Spirit's witness we are to understand;" whereas it ought to have
read, "By the Spirit's witness we are not to understand a particulz^r
revelation to individuals." This typographical mistake was not
noticed till after we sat down to write the present essay. It was
implied, if not distinctly stated in our last, that the phrase "spirit of
adoption" indicates those filial dispositions which are engendered in
the believers by the Spirit of God, and that to be "led by the Spirit,"
is, in our style, to be guided by what he says to us.

The phrase now before us is, "Grieve not the Spirit." In the com-
mon version of the Scriptures, God is said to have been grieved for
forty years with the manners of the Jews in the wilderness. (Ps.
xcv. 10; Heb. iii. 10, 17.) Again, the question is asked (Ps. Ixxviii.
40), "How often did they grieve him in the desert?" Jesus also
is said (Mark iii. 5) to have been "grieved at the hardness of their
hearts." From these Scriptures we may easily perceive the meaning
of grieving the Holy Spirit. As Israel of old grieved God in the desert,
so Christians may grieve the Holy Spirit by suffering corrupt com-
munications to escape their lips, or by disobeying his precepts.

Children grieve their parents by their foolish behavior, and Chris-
tians are figuratively said to grieve the Spirit when they act in a way
unbecoming his presence with them. The Lord was present with the
Jews in the wilderness, therefore they could grieve him. His Spirit
Is in the congregation, and therefore Christians may grieve him. The
Spirit when grieved with Adam, forsook him — when displeased with
the Jews, it forsook thorn. David, when conscious of his faults, prays.


"Take not thy Holy Spirit from me!" and the command, 'Grieve not
the Spirit," implies that Christians may also be forsaken by God.

''Quench not the Spirit." This phrase, like the preceding, is found
but once in the New Testament (I. Thess. v. 19). The gift of the
Holy Spirit having been like a flame of fire, this figure is most
expressive and beautiful. Referring to those gifts extraordinary,
enjoyed by many of the first converts, Jewish and Gentile, the Apostle
could, with all propriety of metaphor, say to them who had any
spiritual gift, "Quench not the Spirit," "Despise not prophesying," etc.
And to Timothy, in the same style, he could say, "Stir up the gift
which is in you." The word used in Timothy is anazopurein, blow
up this fire — quench it not — put not out this sacred fire in yourself
or in others, but rouse it to a flame.

To "walk in the Spirit," and "live after the Spirit," are, in effect,
the same as to be "led by the Spirit." Christians who think, speak,
and act according to the gospel, are walking after, or according to,
the Spirit — living according to the Spirit — led by the Spirit. Thus
the Platonist was led by Plato — walked according to Plato — lived as
Plato directed.

"Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" (Eph.
iii. 16); or, "Mightily strengthened by his Spirit in the inner man."
Paul implores this blessing from God upon the Ephesians. There is
much to be learned from the prayers of the Apostles, both for them-
selves and their brethren, as to their views, their practical views of
the influence and aid of the good Spirit of God. That they expected
some help from God of some sort, is clearly and fully expressed in all
their petitions, both for themselves and for one another. Let the
reader, intent on understanding the Apostles' views and style, care-
fully examine their prayers, as if to learn what they expected to be
yet done for them. The following specimens will be sufficient to our
present purpose: —

"On this account I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and upon earth is
named, praying that, according to the riches of his glory, he would
grant you to be mightily strengthened by his Spirit in the inward
man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that being
rooted and grounded in love, you may be completely able to apprehend,
with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and
height — even to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,
that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. Noiv to him
that is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ask
or think, according to the poioer tchich works effectually in us — to
him be glory in the congregation by Christ Jesus, during all the end-
less succession of ages. Amen."


That the Apostle expected the strengtheuing of the faculties cf the
mind, by the Spirit of God in the hearts of these saints at Ephesus,
can not be doubted; but that this was to be effected by faith — by
Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, is not to be questioned. If such
petitions were necessary in the age of spiritual gifts, they are no less
so in the present time; and that the Spirit of God does in some way
by faith work in men both to will and to do, and that he does and
may do for us above all that we ask or think, is not to be questioned,
if Paul in this passage is to be understood according to what we call
common sense.

The thanksgivings, as well as the petitions of the Apostle Paul,
imply all this and more. When he heard of the faith and love of the
Ephesians, he said, "I cease not to give thanks for you, making men-
tion of you in my prayers — that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Father of glory, would give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation
iti the knowledge of him; that the eyes of your understanding being
enlightened, you may know what is the hope of his calling, and ichat
the riches of the glory of his inheritance among the saints, and tchat
the exceeding greatness of his power in relation to us who believe,
according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in
Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his oicn
right hand in heavenly places, far above all government, and power,
and might, and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in
this world, but also in that which is to come," etc.

The Apostles taught the Christians by precept or example to pray
for the following things: — for eloquence and boldness for those who
labor in the word and teaching; for wisdom for themselves; for favor,
mercy, and peace for the brotherhood; for the healing of the sick;
for an offending brother; for being filled with the knowledge of tne
will of God; for their own strength and that of their brethren; for
the good behavior of the brotherhood; for the protection and salva-
tion of kings, governors, and all sorts of men; for every promised
blessing, and for every necessary thing, either for the present or the
uture; for themselves and for their brethren.*

These apostolic prayers are full of edification: they are, in com-
parison of mere didactic communications, as experiment to theory, or
as example to precept. The views of the Apostles on the subject of
divine influences will be found in their petitions, supplications, arid
thanksgiving. That they expected much in answer to their prayers,
and that they and their converts did not ask in vain, need not be
argued to those who will carefully examine this matter.

•Will tlie ciirioiis and inqiiisitivo attPiitivcly consider llio following portions of tho
apostolic writings ? Jjis. i. 5; v. l(i; I. John v. 22; Col. i. 1>-11 ; Kph. vi. Ill; Phil. i. fl, 10.
II; Koni. i. 10; Col. iv. 12; I. Thcss. v. 2o; I. Tim. ii. 1; Heb. iv. 16; I. Pet. v. 10; I. John
▼. 14, 15, etc.


But the phrase "communion of the Holy Spirit," will still mora
fully illustrate their views. It is koinonia, fellowship, joint participa-
tion. We have this word twenty times from the day of Pentecost to
the close of the Epistles. It is twice applied to the Holy Spirit— II.
Cor. xiii. 13; Phil. ii. 1. It is applied to the Father and to the Son—
I. John i. 3-6; I. Cor. i. 9. We have the communion of the Father,
the communion of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, or
the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; for it is the same
term uniformly in the passages quoted. The communion of saints; of
the blood of Christ; of the body of Christ, denote their joint participa-
tion of the influence, presence, and comforts of the good Spirit of God.

We have communion with one another when we mutually give and
receive consolation, whether in sentiment, in sympathy, in communi-
cation, or in any of the blessings of society. Man was made for com-
munion with God and hig fellows, but he lost it in Adam the first. In
Adam the second he is restored to that communion; but while in his
mortal body his communion with God is only by his Spirit through.
Jesus Christ our Lord.

But we have not yet caught the precise idea expressed in the Apos-
tle's benediction — "The communion of the Holy Spirit be with you
all!" There is suggested in this phrase a participation of the Holy
Spirit common to all the members of the body of Christ. It is not
some gift or special influence of the Spirit, imparted only to a few;
but that fellowship of the Spirit which, under Christ, is common to the
many — to all the family of God — of which the Apostle spoke. The
best definition of the word communion which I can give, is, union
in that which is common. Wherever there is union in common, there
is communion. As the glory of the Lord equally filled all the taber-
nacle and the temple, so the Spirit of God animates, consoles, and
refreshes the whole body of Christ. These consolations, joys, and
refreshments from the presence of the Lord, the Apostle imprecated
upon all the Corinthian converts. He wished them a full fellowship,
an equal participation of those measures of the Holy Spirit which
belonged to the body of Christ as such. The three greatest blessings
which Paul could invoke on the Corinthians, were, "the favor of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy
Spirit." These are not one and the same idea; but three distinct ideas
— as distinct as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He that enjoys the
favor of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the
Holy Spirit, has all the fullness of God, and is as blessed as mortal
man can be.

Into these relations to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy
Spirit we are immersed; for the Lord commanded the believers to be
immersed into the mime of the Holy Spiril as well as into the namo


of the Father and the Son. To be immersed into the name of the Holy
Spirit, prepares for the enjoyment of this communion; as being
Immersed into the Father, introduces into the enjoyment of the love
of God; and as immersion into the name of Jesus Christ, introduces
us into the favor of the Lord Jesus. This love, grace, and communion
are the superlative glory of the Christian institution. They are equally
apprehensible, though in their nature and modes of development
incomprehensible. It is the duty, honor, and privilege of Christians
to enjoy all that into which they are immersed. There is as much
wisdom or folly in disparaging the communion of the Holy Spirit, as
in undervaluing the love of God or the favor of Jesus Christ.

There is also as much reason, and Scripture, and honor in being
immersed into the Holy Spirit, as into the name of the Lord Jesus.
Should any one think that the communion of the Holy Spirit has
ceased, he may as well imagine that the love of God has ceased and
that the favor of Jesus Christ is extinct. If he can not comprehend
the one, he can not comprehend the other. But as we are immersed
into the name of the Holy Spirit, we must look for and constantly
expect the communion of that Spirit, as well as the love of God and
the favor of Jesus Christ our Lord.

There yet remains the phrase "sanctification of the Spirit." This
understood, I presume the whole New Testament phraseology on ihe
subject of the Spirit will be easily understood by every attentive reader.
The original phrase is hagiasmos pneumatos, and is found only in
II. Thess. ii. 13; I. Pet. i. 2. In both places it appears to refer to the
sanctification of the spirit of believers. It is literally rendered 'sane-
tification [or holiness] of spirit." There is no article in the original
and no epithet that suggests the Holy Spirit in either passage. God
has chosen men to salvation through (or by) holiness of spirit; not
through the holiness of his Spirit, but through the holiness of their
spirit When Jesus prayed (John xvii.) for the sanctification or holi-
ness of his disciples, it was through the truth: "Sanctify them through
the truth; thy word is truth." The belief of the truth is, therefore,
by Paul associated with this holiness or sanctification of spirit. The
Spirit of God is frequently denominated in these days, "the Sane-
tificr." Let it be granted that it is the Spirit that sanctifies or sets
apart men to God, still it must be argued from the Record that ne
sanctifies them only through the truth or gospel believed. A sanctified
unbeliever is inconceivable; and, as "without holiness [or sanctifica-
tion of spirit] no man can see the Lord;" so, without faith, there can
be no holiness, and no action acceptable to God.

All persons sanctified to God to any high office or function, were
anointed, and thus consecrated to his special service. So all Chris-
tians, being priests, are anointed or sanctified by the Holy Spirit


through the obedience of the truth, and sprinkling of the blood of
Jesus, cleansing their consciences from dead works to serve the living
God. In this we find the secret of the most usual epithet of the Spirit.
It is the Spirit of holiness, because it is the Spirit of truth. It is the
Holy Spirit, because by its influence it makes us holy; and these influ-
ences which sanctify are always by and through the truth. When
God chose men to salvation, it was through sanctification of spirit;
and as a means to this, it was thi'ough the belief of the truth.

In 1842 and 1843 Robert Richardson presented a series of essays
on "The Spirit of God." For his very full discussion, see the book,
"The Work of the Holy Spirit," by R. Richardson. Editor.






Mr. Campbell's treatment of the Scriptures was most reverent.
The pages of the Harbiriger overflow with the discussions and expo-
sitions of the Scriptures. He delighted in the one Book. We can give
only a small part of what was written.

In 1845, page 433, Mr. Campbell wrote of the Bible:

The Bible is the oldest and best book in the world. It is trans-
lated into more languages and read by more people than any other
volume ever written. Its history and its prophecy comprehend the
entire destiny of the world. It presents to us man in his natural,
preternatural, and supernatural conditions and characteristics. It
records the three great ages of the world by developing three dis-
pensations of religion — the Patriarchal, the Jewish and the Christian.
"Man as he was, man as he is, and man as he shall hereafter be, are
its three grand themes. It reveals God by unfolding the mysterious
relations of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the three
great works of creation, providence and redemption.

The Bible is divided into two great departments, usually, but
improperly called the Old and New Testaments. The former of these
contains the inspired writings of Moses, the first of historians and' the
greatest of lawgivers, together with those of the ancient Prophets;
while the latter contains those of the Apostles and Evangelists of
Jesus Christ. Regarded as the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures,
it comprehends sixty-six distinct and independent treatises. Thirty-
nine of these constitute the Jewish, and twenty-seven the Christian
records. The Christian Scriptures are the work of only eight persons,
six of whom were Apostles, and two of them Evangelists of Jesus
Christ, and companions of the Apostles. The Jewish Scriptures were
written by more than thirty persons, all of whom, save one,* were
Jews. We put down the immediate authors or writers of the Bible
at not less than forty, as th-? lowest number, though we can not with
absolute certainty name them all. From the birth of Moses till the
death of John the Apostle, is a period of full sixteen hundred and
sixty years. These volumes were, therefore, in progress of comple-
tion not less than fifteen hundred years, and grasp in their historic
outlines a period of forty-one centuries. A volume of such Immense
compass, exhibiting details of persons, places and events, so numer-
ous and various, and of such transcendent interest to mankind, seems

'Job, II i.s presumed, was iin Iiluinenii or nil Anibinii snjri


to possess claims upon the attention and consideration of every human
being capable of appreciating its history, its biography, its prophecy,
its doctrine, or even its general literature, above those of any other
volume in the world.

The Jewish Scriptures comprehend history, law, and prophecy.
The Jews were wont to distribute them into "the Law, the Prophets
and the Psalms." The Christian Scriptures pre-eminently consist of
historical and epistolary compositions. Of all the Jewish writers,
Moses, and of all the Christian writers, Paul, is the largest and most
conspicuous. Both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures begin with
history and end with prophecy. Facts or events, past and future, are,
therefore, the main subjects on which inspired writers dwell. The
historical books of the Old Testament are, in all, seventeen. The
prophetic books are also seventeen; while the properly didactic and
devotional are but five. The first five books of the New Testament
are also historical, the last prophetical, and the rest epistolary. These
last are miscellaneous in their character, containing sometimes his-
tory, doctrine, precepts and exhortations. The whole volume, indeed,
in its spirit and tendency, is devotional. Whatever God has said in
the form of declaration, precepts, promise, or threatening, is designed
to make the man of God pure and perfect, and thoroughly accomplished
for every good word and work.

The plan of the Bible, as an instrument or means of salvation, is
admirably adapted to the human constitution and to the circumstances
which surround man. The end to be obtained is happiness, but that
end can not be accomplished without sanctification or personal devo-
tion to God. It is, indeed, as impossible for God to make any man
happy, without making him holy, as it is for him to lie. Now the
Bible is all arranged with a supreme reference to this fact. And as
piety or holiness consists in a course of action correspondent with
the divine will and character, and is not natural to man as he now is,
it must be preceded by a change of heart. But this change of the
affections being the result of faith or a belief of the testimony of
God, that testimony for such a change must necessarily furnish
motives. But these motives presuppose gracious acts of kindness on
the part of God. Sacred history, then, records these facts — whether
in the form of things said or done, commanded or promised by God.
Faith apprehends and receives this testimony concerning these facts.
These facts, when believed, produce corresponding feelings or states
of mind, sometimes called repentance or a new heart; and this new
heart leads to those good actions denominated piety and humanity,
or holiness and righteousness. The links in this divine chain of
moral and spiritual instrumentality are, therefore, five — facts, testi-
mony, faith, feeling, action: — the end of which is salvation. The


whole revelation of God is arranged upon this theory or view of
man's constitution. Thus God acts, the Holy Spirit testifies, man
believes, feels, and then acts according to the divine will. Thus
becomes he a new creature. This view of man's constitution explains
why the Bible is a volume of facts historical and prophetical— why it
begins with history and ends with prophecy — why, in one sentence,
God works, then commands, then promises.

To illustrate this by Uie gospel, it is only necessary to state the
order of things narrated in the apostolic writings:—!. Jesus died for
our sins. 2. The Apostles announced this, and it is proved by the
Holy Spirit in his resurrection from the dead, and subsequent operar
tions. 3. Jews and Gentiles believe these annunciations as reported
to them by the Apostles and Evangelists. 4. They immediately repent
of their sins, and inquire what to do. Their hearts are changed. 5.
They then become obedient to the faith. They are saved.

The plan of the Bible can only be clearly understood when man's
condition and constitution are clearly and fully apprehended. For,
in truth, the Bible is a glorious system of grace — an absolutely com-
plete and perfect adaptation of spiritual means to a great and glorious
end. This, however, is not the only grand comprehensive view of the
volume of God's inspiration which we desire to lay before the reader.
We wish to look into the mechajiism of this sublime instrument of
renovation and salvation.

Jesus Christ is the centre of the whole evangelical system. He is
"the root and the offspring of David" — "the Sun of Righteousness" —
"the bright and the Morning Star" — "the Alpha and the Omega" of
the volume. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit" of all sacred his-
tory and of all divine prophecy. Now the history of the Bible is
very rationally or philosophically arranged both in its prospective
and retrospective character, with a single and sublime reference to

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 70)