Alexander Campbell.

The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

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Jesus Christ. Let us analyze it.

The first promise to fallen man respects a Messiah — in these words:
"I will put enmity between thee," O Serpent, "and the woman, and
between thy seed and her seed. He sii.vll biuise thy iii:ai». ami tiku'
SHALT BuuiSE HIS HEEL." The whole Bible but demonstrates, illus-
trates, and applies this grand promise. Eve's son of blessings is
now to be elicited out of the human race; and just so much of the
history of the human race as is necessary to his identification, devel-
opment and (jlorification is given, and no more. Let the reader take
this lamp in his hand, read all the historical books of both Testa-
ments, note every fact, incident, and document therein found, and
see if they do not arrange themselves in a proper position, either to
identify, develop, or glorify this benefactor of our race. We shall
glance at Genesis for an illustration.


The single book of Genesis contains the only information we have
of the human race for the long period of two thousand three hundred
sixty and eight years. It begins with creation and ends with the
death of the patriarch Joseph. The other books of Moses bring us
down to the year of the world 2553. All this history antedates any
authentic records of the human race now extant in any nation or

But the portions of Genesis assigned to the different epochs of
human history, are most singularly and significantly disproportionate.
Why is it that eight-filtieths, or eight chapters of fifty, are devoted
to the history of creation and of the flood, and to the religious and
political conditions of the human family, for the long period of one
thousand six hundred and fifty-six years; while the single history of
one Abraham occupies thirteen-fiftieths, and that of his descendants
Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, twenty-four fiftieths! — ? Indeed, the for-
tunes of this Joseph occupy a larger space than that assigned to the
first two thousand years of the world. This great disproportion in
the details of things can be satisfactorily explained only in one way.
That apprehended, and the plan and structure of the inspired writings
can be properly understood and appreciated.

"The testimony of Jesus," says a divine oracle, "is the spirit of
prophecy." It is, I presume, as truly the spirit of sacred history.
Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible, because the Bible is
the history of redemption. Everything takes precedence, occupies
space, and engages attention in the direct ratio of its bearings upon
the development and consummation of human redemption. Take, for
example, the antediluvian age: from the moment the gracious intima-
tion that the woman's offspring would one day "bruise the serpent's
head" is given, its development becomes the all-engrossing theme both
of history and of prophecy. Persons, places, and events occupy a
prominence and conspicuity as they happen to be connected with that
grand central idea of the whole Bible. The altar, the victim, and the
priest, appear in the history of Cain and Abel; while blood and faith
triumph in his martyrdom. Cain's history, so far as it is given, is
but the shade in the picture, and a few samples of his descendants
illustrate the whole history of men in the flesh. From Enoch descended
the sons and daughters of men. Polygamy was the consummation of
his principles in the fifth generation. His offspring were brass and
iron manufacturers, and the first that invented portable houses.
Instruments of music, and that handled the harp and the organ. Tu-
balcain, or Vulcan, and his sister Naamah, inventor of the distaff and
the spindle, are amongst his renowned issue. Not one saint is named
in the whole posterity of Cain, the first born of woman and the pro-
totype of religious persecutors.


The history ot Cain and Abel being given, because of its connection
with the altar and the sacrifice, the historian, prompted by the spirit
of revelation, opens the illustrious lineage of the promised seed of
woman; and that becomes, from this moment, the backbone of the
whole Bible — the grand meridian line of all divine history and proph-
ecy. 8eth is born to fill the place of Abel, and his progeny is counted,
one by one, down to Jesus of Bethlehem and of Nazareth. Thus the
patriarchal chain of Messiah's ancestors down to the Flood, are Adam,
Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech,
Noah. From the Fall of Man to the Flood, all that is transmitted
to us of human affairs or of divine providence connects itself with
these ten patriarchs. After the Flood Noah's three sons engross our
attention. Their connection with all the ancient nations of the earth
is briefly but most interestingly sketched. But so soon as reasons
are given in the history of Shem, of Ham, and Japheth, for a special
providence in dispersing them over the whole earth, and in selecting
the younger of these three to stand at the head of the postdiluvian
line of the child of promise, the historian confines himself to the
royal and sacerdotal line of the Messiah. He next counts off ten other
progenitors of our Lord. These are Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, Eber,
Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham. The promise given to
Eve and repeated to Shem, is still farther developed and committed
to Abraham. To the end of Genesis we have five other noble links in
this patriarchal chain. These are Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Phares, and
Ezrom. Genesis then gives us in all five and twenty of our Lord's
ancestors, and just so much of human affairs as is necessary to their
favorable introduction to our notice. Joseph's history, so pre-emi-
nently connected with the whole drama of man's redemption, and ter-
minating in the migration and settlement of the symbolic nation in
Egypt, is more minutely and particularly detailed than any one indi-
vidual history in the five books of Moses. His other books, occu-
pying but forty years' incidents, adds no new names to the illustrious
line. After the books of Joshua and Judges, the book of Ruth
is inserted to connect Judah and the promise made to him with
David through Boaz, Obed, and Jesse — making the line from Ezrom
to succeed thus: Aram, Aminadad, Naashon, Salmon, Boaz, Obod,
Jesse, David.

The beautiful story of Ruth, the Moabitish saint, inserted for the
express purpose of connecting David with Judah, Abraham and Seth,
and of completing through him the illustrious line down to the Vir-
gin's Son, is itself a demonstration of the truth of our assumption,
viz.: that the plan of the Bible is to reveal God to man and man
to himself, by placing one family under a special providence, and in
making all its fortunes first the subject of prophecy, and then of


history, from the beginning to the end of the world.* God meant more
than any man has yet comprehended when he said, "I am the God
of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This is my
name forever and my memorial to all generations." The history of
that family is, then, a documentary revelation of the attributes of
God, and especially of his truthfulness and covenant-keeping char-
acter, while all other histories of all other families serve as night
to day in the contrast, to present his people in all the most favorable
attitudes before us, and to induce all men to place themselves under
the wings of his almighty protection.

Soon as David ascends the throne and his family obtains the
sceptre of the twelve tribes, the royal lineage is in safe keeping. The
books of Samuel, the Kings, and the Chronicles, down to the end of
Old Testament history, not only faithfully preserve the records of the
nation, but afford a thousand developments of human nature and of
divine providence, full of instruction to all mankind in all ages of
the world.

Matthew and Luke open the New Testament history by giving
from the archives of the nation and the rolls of lineage the ancestry
of Jesus up to Adam; the former, by his legal father, Joseph; the
latter, by his natural mother, Mary. By the legal paternal line he is
the sixtieth in descent from Adam; while by the maternal line he is
the seventy-sixth. The apostolic writings give the history of the
Jews down to the crucifixion of their promised Deliverer, the repudia-
tion of them as the nation and people of God, and the adoption of
believing Jews and Gentiles as one in the Lord Jesus in their stead;
while the prophecies of the New Testament indicate the destiny of
Israel according to the flesh, as well as Israel according to the spirit,
till the final consummation. Such is the plan of the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures.

From the plan of the Bible, as well as from its philosophy, its
claims upon the faith and admiration of mankind may be strongly
argued. Its philosophy is, that without piety no man can be happy;
and that with it any man in any outward circumstances may be happy
to the full extent of his capacity for human enjoyment. But human
enjoyment is neither animal nor angelic enjoyment. Animal or sen-
sitive enjoyments are supreme and exclusive in the brutal creation,
but subordinate in man. Intellectual pleasures are necessarily depen-
dent upon the ministry which the intellect performs. If the intellect
is made subordinate to the animal instincts, passions or propensities;
or if the intellect is subordinate to moral and spiritual enjoyments,
its pleasures are essentially different. In the former case they are

* See Ruth, cliaiJtci' iv. 18-


but refined animalism; in the latter case they are spiritual and divine.
In this view all human enjoyments are reduced to two classes: the
one is spiritual, and the other carnal; the one is moral, social, and
refined; the other is selfish, exclusive, and gross; the one rises, the
other sinks to all eternity.

The philosophy of the Bible is, therefore, the philosophy of human
happiness, and the only philosophy which commends itself to the
cultivated understanding of man. No mere rationalist, philosopher,
or sage, ever proposed such a view of happiness to man. It is peculiar
to the Bible. It is an original and divine conception, and proves the
divine authorship of the book. From the object and character of the
book of revelation, its divine authority can be most triumphantly
argued. It is a book equally worthy of God to bestow and of man to
receive. Dictated by infinite benevolence, characterized by supreme
intelligence, and perfectly adapted to the genius of human nature, it
is worthy of universal reception and of the most profound and grate-
ful homage.

Its plan is superhuman and divine. No one class of men of any
one age could have formed such a plan as that of writing the history
of one family for seven thousand years, and of incorporating with
that history a scheme of eternal redemption from sin. And yet it is
as clear as the sun in a cloudless sky, that Moses, Joshua, Samuel.
Ezra, Nehemiah — with all the Jewish historians, prophets and poets,
during a period of fifteen hundred years, were, without concert, con-
ference, or voluntary co-operation, prosecuting just such an object
•without seeming to comprehend it. And not they only, but all the
patriarchs before Moses, all the renowned fathers of mankind from
Adam to Moses, were orally transmitting such information to their
descendants; and all the scribes of the Jews, from :\Ialachi to Mat-
thew, were in their chronicles of Jewish times recording such incidents
and events as make out the entire history of the family of Jesus
Christ from Adam to Joseph, his legal father, and to Mary, his
natural mother. This was done but once in all time, and for a pur-
pose just as peculiar and singular as the Bible itself.

A sceptic or an infidel might as well argue that king Hiram's
thirty thousand woodsmen and builders, and king Solomon's one
hundred and fifty thousand hewers, stone-cutters, and carriers of
burdens, with his three thousand three hundred supervisors and
directors, were severally and individually working each one after a
plan of his own; and that without concert or prearrangement, all
their materials were fitted up into a temple the most splendid and
magnificent that ever stood upon this earth — the wonder of the world
and the glory of the architecture — as that shepherds, husbandmen,
fisliernion, artizans, historians, lawgivers, kings, living in different


countries, in ages very remote, speaking diverse languages, and ot
every peculiarity of character, could have, either by accident or design,
got up such a volume as the Bible, marked in every page by a pecu-
liar originality of character, a most striking unity of design, pervad-
ing an almost infinite variety of circumstantial details, and in a style
the most simple, artless, and sublime. The fortuitous concourse of
atoms into a universe indicative of designs and adaptations as innu-
merable as the stars, as countless as the sands o,f the sea, would be a
rational hypothesis, a plausible and credible theory, compared with
such an assumption.

The divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is, indeed, fully
proved by the divine wisdom and knowledge contained in the record
itself. The author is known in his works. God's book is full of
divinity. It reveals what human wisdom can not fathom, but what
human wisdom must believe and approve. God has not only affixed
his sign manual to the mission of Apostles and Prophets in the mir-
acles which they wrought, and in the prophecies which they uttered;
but he has stamped upon the treasures of wisdom and knowledge
which it contains, and incorporated with all its gracious and sublime
developments, its holy doctrine, its heavenly spirit, and its divine pre-
cepts, the indubitable indications of its superhuman, supernatural,
and divine origin. But we shall, for the present, only attempt to
prove its divine origin by the indirect method of reducing to an
absurdity a contrary hypothesis Paul is my example and my author-
ity for an occasional assault upon the fortress of error by showing
what will result from its admission to be truth, or, which is the same
thing in other words, by assuming the truth to be a lie. He says,
"If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is not Christ raised.
If Christ be not raised, then all men are in their sins — preaching is
useless, faith is vain; we Apostles are all liars, and all that have died
in attestation of it have voluntarily destroyed themselves." So let
us reason In this case as few words as those found in that admirable
argument in proof of the resurrection. We assume that the gospel
is true or not true. If it is true, it ought to be obeyed; if it is not
true, it ought to be disproved and repudiated. All the world so far
agrees with our postulata. Well, now, say it is not true; in other
words, it is a falsehood — a lie. What then?

1st. There is not a credible history in the world; because no hiS'
tory possesses so great a number or variety of the attributes of truth
or reasons of faith as the gospel history. The original witnesses were
plain, common-sense, ordinary, matter-of-fact men. They were eye-
witnesses and ear-witnesses of the facts which they attest. Their
occupations of life were favorable to having good eyes and good ears.
They were chiefly fishermen. The facts which they relate, and which


constitute the gospel, wore scnsibk' facts — subjected not to one sense,
but to several senses. So speaks one of them: — "That which we have
heard, which we have seen tcith our eyes, which we have looked upon,
and our hands have handled of the word of life, declare we unto you."*
They have nothing to gain, but everything temporal and fleshly to
lose by the proclamation of these facts. They made themselves "of
all men the most miserable." Their life, if their doctrine be not true,
is more marvelous than their doctrine: no men ever gave stronger
evidence of truthfulness than they. If they can not be believed, no
historian can. There is, then, no credible history in the world.

2d. in the second place, there is no sincerity in martyrdom. It
is an indisputable fact that the Messiah and most of the Apostles
were martyrs. They died for what they said, and not for what
they did. Mankind in all ages concur in the opinion that the strong-
est proof of any man's honesty or sincerity is his dying voluntarily
in attestation of the truth of what he affirms. We allege that mar-
tyrdom does not prove the truth of a man's opinions, but only that
he sincerely believes them. Sincerity is no test of truth in any matter
of theory or speculation. But in all matters of sensible facts tested
by the senses, seen or heard by many persons and on many occasions,
sincerity in the avowal of them is proof of the certainty of them.
Now as martyrdom proves sincerity, and sincerity on the part of
witnesses of sensible facts proves the facts — the gospel, being founded
on sensible facts, seen often, and seen by many, is true or there is no
sincerity in martyrdom.

3d. If the gospel facts are false, then learning and talent are of
no value. The value of talent and learning consists in the power
they impart to their possessor to acquire and communicate truth.
Now it needs not to be proved that innumerable multitudes of the
most talented and learned men in all the ages of Christianity from
its first promulgation till now, have been enrolled amongst the friends
and advocates of the Bible. Nay, indeed, in all ages the literature
and science of Christendom have been on the side of the Bible, and
mainly employed in its service. If, then, the Bible be not true,
learning and talent neither protect us from error, nor assist us in the
acquisition of truth!

4th. But, again on the admission that the gospel is not true, there
is no connection between goodness and truth — no excellency in truth.
The best men in the world have always been those that believed in
the Bible. The most humane, benevolent, public-spirited, philan-
thropic, and virtuous men that have ever lived, whose virtuous exam-
ples have been an honor to human nature, have been believers in the

•I. .John i. 1.


truth of the Bible. Now if the Bible be a cunningly devised fable,
then there is no necessary connection between truth and moral excel-
lence, any more than between error and virtue. There is, then, no
excellency in truth.

5th. Still farther, if the Bible be not true, falsehood, imj)OSture, and
error are better than truth. The reason is obvious — the Bible is
either true or false. If false, those who believe it believe a lie. But
that lie has done more to civilize, refine, purify and adorn human
nature, than all the atheism, infidelity and philosophy of Egypt, Chal-
dea, Greece and Rome. Surely, then, the Christian lie is better than
all the philosophic truth of all ages and all nations. Hence we infer
that if the Bible be false, error and fraud work better for mankind
than honesty and truth.

6th. But, again — If the Bible be false, as all who reject it affirm,
then there is no reason in the universe; or, what is the same thing,
creation is a maze without a plan, and nature works in vain. We
must judge of the unknown by the known. Now the fortunes of our
planet are our data for the fortunes of all other planets. The fortunes
of its inhabitants are, so far as nature or reason is our guide, the
fortunes of the inhabitants of all other planets. Amongst earth's
inhabitants there is one class of beings for whose creation and com-
fort all others do exist. Man is the name of that class of beings. He
is the end of this terrestrial creation. If he be lost — forever lost, all
is lost. Crops of vegetables annually spring out of the earth, and
return to it again. Races of animals feed upon them, and die. They,
like their food, but enrich the earth. Day and night succeed each
other. Years revolve. The earth turns upon its axis, wheels around
its orbit, feeds and buries all its tenantry. Man himself and his food
alike perish forever.

Now what is gained by the whole operation? If man lives not
again — if the Bible be not true; nature labors in vain: and if there
be a Creator, he works without a plan, and toils for no purpose.
Nature is an abortion, and the whole machinery of the universe a
splendid failure. There is no reason for creation — for nature; and
there is no reason in either. If, then, the Bible be not true — if the
history it gives of man, his creation, his fall, his recovery, be not
true — in one word, if the gospel be a lie and the Bible false, no living
man can give one good reason for the existence of our planet, or that
of any sun or system in that collation of worlds and systems which
compose this mysterious and sublime universe.

But if the Bible be not true, it is not enough to say — 1st. That
there is not a credible history in the world. 2d. That there is no
sincerity in martyrdom. 3d. That human learning and talent are of
no value. 4th. That there is no excellency in truth. 5th. That false-


hood, imposition, and error, are better than truth. And 6th. That
there is no reason in the universe; but we must also add. that TiiEnE
i.s No G<»i)I

Nature ends in ruin — the world is full of sin and misery — there is
no reason for anything — man lives for no purpose — no kind intimar
tion has been given him of any great and good first cause; which is
but equivalent to saying there is no good being above man — no one
of almighty power, who could speak to him, enlighten him, or com-
fort him, touching his origin, his nature, his relations, his obligations,
or his destiny; and that is equivalent to saying that there is no
supremely Good One, no Creator or Proprietor of man. For who can
imagine a supreme intelligence, of almighty power and of infinite
benevolence — who made man and inspired him with such desires
after the knowledge of himself — with such longings after happiness
perfect and complete — and who has himself the faculty of speech, the
power of communicating the knowledge of himself to man; and yet
has never spoken to him, never enlightened him on the only point
vital to all his interests, his eternal destiny; and compared with
which all other enjoyments possible to man as he now is, are not
in the proportion of an atom to a universe, or a moment to a bound-
less eternity! Such an hypothesis is at war with every oracle of
reason, with every decision of common sense, and with all the analo-
gies of the universe. It can not be: it is impossible. There is a God —
there is a Book of God — there is truth in history — there is sincerity
in martyrdom — there is value in talent and learning — there is an
excellency in truth — truth is better than error, falsehood and impos-
ture — and there is reason in the universe, and a glorious destiny
for man.

The Bible has been proved to be a divine revelation as many mil-
lions of times as there are individuals who have believed it to the
salvation of their souls. But it never has been proved to be false to
a single individual of the human race. Nor can it ever be so proved.
No man who understands what he says, can in truth affirm that he
believes it to be false. Who can believe anything to be false without
oral or written testimony? But no living man has either oral or
written testimony contradicting the testimony of the Apostles ani
Prophets: therefore, in the absence of such testimony, he can no more
believe it to be false than a blind man can see the sun. A man may
doubt whether it be true; but to believe it to be false, or to be assured
that it is not true, is altogether impossible.

Some persons object to the Bible — because, as they say, its divine
inspiration is yet a subject of debate. Such thinkers and reasoners
are grossly defective in reason and education. Did ever anyone
hear of anything that has boon proved by all tho world? Is there a


single historic fact that is believed by every human being? If there
be not one, then every historic fact is yet in debate. But shall we
say that no proposition is proved, because it is not proved to the
whole world! The gospel will never be out of debate while there
is one infidel or sceptic in the world. This is, however, no more a
disparagement of its truth, or its claims upon all mankind, than it is
an argument against any proposition, fact, or testimony, that all the