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that by the constant attrition or wearing of the truth upon our moral
nature, our minds may be exactly conformed to the image of Him
who breathes into us the Spirit of our God. It is impossible to keep
any company long and constantly without catching its spirit and
becoming assimilated. Equally impossible is it to be frequently in
company with Moses and David, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Jesus and his
Apostles, without catching their spirit. This is what God designs
and desires in giving us the Bible to read. He would that we catch
the spirit, rather than learn the doctrine, of this Holy Book. Now
this is the philosophy of the fact, that there is no substitute for con-
stant reading: for although all the precepts and promises, or the
whole doctrine of the Bible could be learned or committed to memory,
and faithfully retained, it could not serve that special and supreme
intention of the Author of this Book, in giving it to us as the means
of sanctification and of our being imbued and inspired with the Spirit
of our God.

Fortunes, it is now well established, are generally the ruin of their
inheritors. The exceptions are just enough to make it a general rule
that riches are laid up for children to their hurt. It is cruel in fathers
to make fortunes for children: for, in so doing, they deprive them of
the pleasure of employing their talents as they have done, and thus
throw them, in great measure, idle upon society. They also prevent
them of the pleasure of doing, and ultimately enjoying good; for we
are so constituted that our powers of acquiring pleasure must ever be
proportioned to our efforts in communicating it to others. And this
i? a work for which they are pre-eminently disqualified who are taught
to live on energies not their own.

Hereditary orthodoxy, or fortunes of sound doctrine, made and
bequeathed by our fathers, are still more fatal to their heirs than
large inheritances of earthly goods and chattels. If sons are generally
ruined in this world by large inheritances from their parents, they are,
perhaps, as often ruined in the next world by large inheritances of
orthodox sentiments and opinions, of which they are possessed by the
wills of their ancestors, without the trouble of reading and thinking
for themselves. There are not more helpless cases on earth than the
heirs of orthodoxy; for they are infallibly right without evidence,
without examination, without any concern of their own. These per-
sons are wholly unapproachable. They are right by necessity,
by prescription, by inheritance, because they are right; and
you are wrong because you are wrong, or because you dis-
sent from them.


It is not intended by Him that rules in heaven, that we should
possess either faith, knowledge, or grace by inheritance from our
earthly or ecclesiastic progenitors. He intends that every man should
dig in the mines of faith and knowledge for his own fortune — that every
man should live and be rich by his own efforts. He thus calls forth
and enu)loys all our faculties, and affords us the pleasure of profiting
by our own exertions. "If," says Solomon, "thou criest after knowl-
edge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her
as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then thou shalt
understand the fear of the Lord [true religion], and find the knowl-
edge of God," which is eternal ife.

Bible reading is, therefore, as much an essential part of Heaven s
scheme of human sanctification, as the giving of the Bible is essential
tp the communication of the light which it contains. There is no sub-
stitute for it. Sermons, prayers, conversations, catechisms, tracts, and
each and every religious exercise superadded, can never compensate
the neglect of Bible reading. It has a place, a power, and an influ-
ence peculiar to itself. There is a communion with the Father, and
■with his Son, our Saviour, attainable by means of this sacred read-
ing, which is not vouchsafed to mortals in any other way.

But there is a critical reading of the Bible — a polemic reading— a
sectarian reading — and a penance reading — which, however frequent
and sincere, reach not within the circles of grace and spiritual enjoy-
ment. The Bible is a sort of world in itself; and as mankind pursuo
and find many different objects in this wide world of nature and
society, so Bible readers of all classes will find in it the respective
objects of their pursuit. The politician, the jurisconsult, the orator,
the rhetorical florist, the chronologist, the antiquary, the poet, tho
historian, the philosopher, the man of science, the artist, etc., etc.,
may all read the Bible with advantage to themselves and their pro-
fessions; and, indeed, every class will find that in it congenial wit'x
its aims and designs in reading.

But a devotional and sanctifying reading of that sacred Book, is
essentially different from the readings of the theologian, the moralist,
the sectary, and the virtuoso of every caste and school. The man of
God reads the Book of God to commune with God, "to feel after him.
and find him," to feel his power and his divinity stirring within him;
tc have his soul fired, quickened, animated by the spirit of grace and
truth. He reads the Bible to enjoy the God of the Bible; that the
majesty, purity, excellency, and glory of its Author may overshadow
him, inspire him, transform him, and new-create him in the image of
God. Such a reader finds what he seeks in the Bible as every other
person finds in it what he searches for. The words of Jesus to such
a one are Kpirlt and life; they are light and joy; they are truth and


peace. Such a one converses with God as one who speaks by signs.
His readings are lieavenly musings. God speaks: he listens. Occa-
sionally, and almost unconsciously, at intervals he forgets that he
reads, he speaks to Cod, and his reading thus often terminates in a
devotional conversation with God. The Lord says, "Seek you my
face;" he responds, "Thy lace will I seek." The Spirit saith, "The
law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;" the Christian reader
replies, "Open thou my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out
of thy law." Thy Spirit saith, "Blessed are they that keep his tes-
timonies, and that seek him with the whole heart;" and the devout
reader answers, "With my whole heart have I sought thee. let me
not wander from thy commandments." The Bible reading of all
enlightened Christians generally terminates in a sacred dialogue
between the Author and the reader.

There is a peculiarity attendant on this reading which I beg leavo
to remark with emphasis. The Author of the Bible is always present
with his Book. This is not true of any other book in the world. Most
authors are dead; and we sometimes regret that we can not speak to
them. But this author for ever lives, and is for ever present; and,
therefore, while we read his written word, it is as natural as life
sometimes to speak to him on certain subjects as they occur. "Truly,
then, our communion is with the Father, and with his Son, Jes'js
Christ, our Lord."

Christians, do you read the Bible in your families every day? Do
you read it in your closet every day? And do you read it not to quiet
your conscience as a work of penance; but do you read it as a pleasure
anxiously to be sought after? If you do, I need not tell you what
utility, pleasure, and happiness is in the blessed enjoyment. But if
you do not, you may rest assured there is something greatly wrong,
which, if it is not abandoned, subdued, or vanquished soon, will cause
you sorrows, if not agonies, when you will be less able to conflict with
them than at present. Resolve this moment, I pray you, that you will
begin to-day to read the Bible, to enjoy God and Christ and the hope of
immortality. "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee, bind them about
thy neck, write them upon the table of thine heart; so shalt thou find
favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man." Then
will you say with Solomon, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom
and the man that getteth understanding: for the merchandize of it is
better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine
gold. She is more precious fhan rubies, and all the things thou canst
desire are not^ to be compared with her. Length of days is in her
right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor: her ways are A/ays
of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." "Begin to-day: 'ti3
madness to defer." The religious world — I mean the great majority


ot all professors — are Bible ueglectors. Their ignorance, prejudice, ai:J
error show it. I beseech you, daily, habitually, constantly, prayer-
fully read the Bible in its proper connections, and you will grow m
grace as you grow in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our
Lord. The Lord will bless you, as he has said, in this deed. Reai
Jas. i. 22-25, and may you prove it true! a. c, 1839, p, 35.


During that fearful gloom, justly called "The Reign of Terror,"
which was, in truth, the reigii of Atheism, when in France — that
broad street of the Apostate City — the Bible, like a condemned crimi-
nal, was dragged through the mire of its public highways by the min-
ister of death — the cause of Protestant Christianity, the cause of trua
religion, the cause of humanity, was at its lowest ebb. The bodies of
the Two Witnesses — the Prophets and the Apostles — the Law and the
Gospel — the Old Covenant and the New, lay dead and unburied for
three symbolic days and one half — from the midst of A. D. 1794 to
the end of A. D. 1797. Then the Spirit of Life reanimated them.
They stood upon their feet. They began to rise, and in A. D. 1800
they were taken up into heaven, when, in the English metropolis, the
friends of God and man agreed to enter into a public covenant not
merely to stand up for the Bible, but, through bad report as well as
through good report, to honor it, and to send it on the wings of every
wind to every nation under heaven. This covenant was called the
British Foreign Bible Society. This covenant was not entered into
between ecclesiastic parties for any secular or partizan purpose. Gool
men, of all parties, who felt their indebtedness to the Bible — who
realized its untold treasures of wisdom and salvation — who were made
partakers of its spirit of benevolence — bound themselves to make one
grand effort — one strong co-operative and persevering effort, to send
the message of mercy and hope to all the world.

The Bible, "witiioit note ou coxl.ment," from that moment began
to be plead as the sovereign remedy for Paganism, Infidelity, and
Sectarianism. The cause was of God. The best men in the world
not only prayed for its success, but took hold of it. They gave il
Loth their heart and their hand. The spirit of the enterprise went
abroad in the Protestant world. It crossed the English Channel. It
crossed many a river and many a mountain in Europe. It crossed
the Atlantic. It visited the New World. It entered into the Protest-
ant brotherhoods. An Americax Bible Society was conceived. It
soon came to maturity, and was developed. It began to send the Bib!^
over the New World. It thought of Asia, and of Africa, too. as did
the and Foreign Bible Society. It desired to send back to
Palestine, to Jerusalem, and to the lands beyond these, the "light of


life," which once had irradiated them and radiated from them. But
this called for translation, and for co-operation in translating. Dif-
ferences arose in translating the apostolic commission. It was a
serious matter. Conscience lifted up its voice, asserting its own
rights and the rights of the Messiah. An "American and Foreign
Bible Society" was the result. But it was not the field of labor so
much as the true version of untranslated words, that possessed th(?
hearts and constrained the efforts of the authors and founders of this
new institution.

It just meets our views and uses the arguments which we have
always used for a new version. It has selected nearly all the impor-
tant words we have selected, and given to them the same preference
that we have given to them, and for the same reasons. They have
done much abroad, and are now doing much at home, in this great
work. They have raised up men, some eminent men — men of eminent
attainments, of eminent sacrifices, of eminent piety, of eminent labors,
of eminent success. Why not, then, add more contributions to their
capital, and reap a share of their harvest at home and abroad? Why
spend thousands in getting up new foundations, new agencies, and
new ofRcers?

But we are told that these Baptist brethren have not dealt kindly
by us; nay, that they have been cruel to us and proscriptive in tlie
highest degree. For this reason, say some of our impulsive and uncal-
culating brethren, we ought not to pay them for abusing us!

But are we paying them? and if we are to repay them, ought we,
as Christians, to repay them with blessings or with curses, or with
silent disdain? My New Testament says, "Overcome evil with good."
I believe it is the one only way of overcoming it.

The Baptists have greatly improved in many respects, while in
some others they have retrograded to pedorantistic ceremonies. Their
public worship is, in many places, fast degenerating into a few fash-
ionable stale ceremonies. Still they have in their system recuperative
and regenerating elefnents. They and we are one in all the grand
distinctive principles ot the Christian Institution. They teach the
great truths — that "Christ's kingdom is not of this world;" that every
man must be enlightened, convinced, and converted for himself. They
repudiate god-fathers, spiritual fathers, and all proxies in religion.
They believe and teach that the Christian religion Ts a personal thing,
both subject and object. And, consequently, their and our views of
a church, with its officers, duties, and obligations, are the same, etc.

Let us, then, not be such partizans as to differ for the sake of
differing from them. Let us cultivate friendship, brotherly kindness
and forgiveness. Thus will we fraternize with all that is good, and
triumph over all that is evil, among them. Surely if there can be


an cntipapistical Evangelical Alliance, for the same reasons, and for
one more, there may be an Evangelical Baptist Alliarice, without an
amalgamation of all church relations and usages. We do not opposi
such of our brethren in the interior as choose to form a Christ iun
Society for themselves, for one state or for several states. We wouM
much rather aid than injure them in any way. Do they conscien-
tiously feel it a duty to set up for themselves? Then let them please
themselves. We will not only offer them no violence, but we will do
them good. We only prefer a wider field, brighter prospects of use-
fulness, and larger hopes of a great reward, in giving our principal
aid to that Society to which we have, for some years, contributed
our mite. I do not pay them for either good or evil done to me. They
have done me no favor, and they can do me no harm. But it is not
to them we give. We do not repay them for good or for evil. We
give to the Lord and to the human race. We scatter our bread upon
larger waters, and we spread our net in broader streams than they
who confine themselves to home distribution and to one version in
the cities of the West.

Indeed, I am tired of rival establishments in everything called
Christianity. There is too much flesh and too little spirit in thes*?
antagonistic establishments. I wonder that we have not Baptist and
Tedobaptist stores and shops, ploughs and penknives, as well as news-
papers, Bible Societies, Schools and Colleges.

Now, as a Bible is a Bible, no matter who prints it, sells it, buya
It, or bestows it, there is nothing connected with the manufacture of
the book, or with the flesh, blood, or bones of the colporteur who bears
it away openly or incog., that would authorize the erection of a new
Bible Society for every community in the land. Bibles are not party
creeds, nor sectarian shibboleths, cast in a new or in an antique
mould, deeply embossed with the ecclesiastic armorial of a party.

We have something called a catholic faith and a catholic Bible.
Let us, then, have a catholic spirit, and co-operate with those who
are doing all they can.

In 1847, page 511, Mr. Campbell wrote:


How comes it that this little volume, composed by men in a rude
age, when art and science were but in their childhood, has exerted
more influence on the human mind and on the social system, than
all other books put together? Whence comes it that this book
has achieved such marvelous changes in the opinions and habits of
mankind — has banished idol worship — has abolished infanticide — has
put down polygamy and divorce — exalted the condition of woman -
raised the standard of public morality — created for families that


blessed thing, a Christian home — and crowned its other triumphs, by
causing benevolent institutions to spring up as with the wand of
enchantment! What sort of book is this, that even the winds and
waves of human prejudice and passion obey it? What other engine
of social improvement has operated so long, and yet lost none of its
virtue? Since it appeared, many boasted plans of human ameliora-
tion have been tried, and failed; many codes of jurisprudence have
arisen, and run their course and expired. Empire after empire has
been launched on the tide of time, and gone down, leaving no traco
on the waters. But this book is still going about doing good — leaven-
ing society with its holy principles — cheering the sorrowful with its
consolations — strengthening the tempted — encouraging the penitent —
calming the troubled spirit, and soothing the pillow of death. Can
such a book be the offspring of human genius? Does not the vastness
of its effects demonstrate the excellency of the power to be of God?

How wonderful that volume, which is at once the oldest and th«
newest in the world — reaching to the remotest antiquity, yet forever
widening in its revelations and influences, in the circle of human
civilization and intelligence! "Simple as the language of a child,''
says an esteemed writer, "it charms the most fastidious taste; mourn-
ful as the voice of grief, it reaches the highest pitch of exultation.
Intelligible to the unlearned peasant, it supplies the critic and the
sage with food for earnest thought. Silent and secret as the reproofs
of conscience, it echoes beneath the vaulted dome of tiie cathedral
and shakes the trembling multitudes. The last companion of the dying
and destitute, it seals the bridal vow, and crowns the majesty of kings.
Closed in the heedless grasp of the luxurious and the slothful, it
unfolds its awful record over the yawning grave. Sweet and gentle
and consoling to the pure in heart, it thunders and threatens against
the unawakened mind. Bright and joyous as the morning star to
the benighted traveler, it rolls like the waters of the deluge over the
path of him who wilfully mistakes his way. And, finally, adapting
itself to every shade of human character, and to every grade of moral
feeling, it instructs the ignorant, woos the gentle, consoles the
afflicted, encourages the desponding, rouses the negligent, threatens
the rebellious, strikes home the reprobate, and condemns the guilty."'


In 1832 Mr. Campbell issued an extra, of which the following on
the Bible is a part:

The following questions and answers are tendered to our readers
on a variety of subjects which have been discussed in our periodicals.
The answers here given are the only answers which, in accordance
with reason, common sense, and the Holy Scriptures, can be given.


The prool' is not, however, adduced, nor even are the answers fully
illustrated; because we presume this has already been done in exftriso,
in our previous pages. The object here is to give a condensed view
of much that has been said and written on these subjects, and in the
more striking form of questions and answers. It will also, we hope,
be the means of not only reviving the recollections of our constant
readers, on all these topics; but will, we anticipate, be the means of
giving a proper direction to the minus of those who have not exam-
ined these matters with much attention.

If any person can answer any question in this collection in anv
terms not in accordance with the meaning of the answers given, we
shall thank him for his reasons. But as at present advised, we rather
think it to be out ef the pale of any communion with experience,
observation, and the inspired writings, to furnish other answers than
those given. For proof, where it is required, we refer to all our
former writings on these subjects.

Question 1. Is there any natural and co7nmon desire discovered
in the human constitution, for the gratification of which there is
nothing in existence?

A7isw€r, There can not be; unless we become atheists and say
there is no God, or deists, and say there is no divine revelation.

Q. 2. But are there any common or natural desires in the human

A. The animal appetites and propensities are all natural and uni-
versal; so is the desire of happiness, or the full gratification of all
our capacities.

Q. 3. Is the knowledge of our origin and destiny necessary to our

A. Yes; and, therefore, it is the most common and natural of all
rational desires.

Q. 4. How would you prove that the desire to know our origin and
destiny is a natural and universal desire?

A. There never was found a nation without some traditionary or
fabulous account of its origin; without some prophecy, omen, augury,
or sign, by which the future was to be known; and to which the indi-
viduals of that nation have had recourse. There can not now be founl
an individual who desires not the knowledge of his origin and destiny.
It is, therefore, a natural, a universal, and, we may add. a rational
desire. The jirodnction of only one individual in the enjoyment of
reason, who can say that he does not now. and nev-^r did, desire to
know his origin and his destiny, would suffice to prove that the desire
is neither natural nor universal. But in the absence of such an indi-
vidual, we affirm it to be universal.

Q. 5. Is man the author of this desire?


A. No more than he is the author of himself.

Q. 6. Can man satisfy tliis desire?

A. No: for he must have been before man, who can show him his
origin; and he must know the whole future of existence, who can
intimate to him his destiny. The Creator or Author of man alone
can satisfy this desire.

Q. 7. Has such a communication ever been made to man?

A. Yes; else we must affirm that the most natural, universal, and
rational desire in our constitution is the only one for which the
Creator has made no provision whatever!

Q. 8. How could God communicate to man this knowledge?

A. By a revelation in words.

Q. 9. Why not by his works?

A. Whatever may be said about the works of creation attesting the
existence and perfections of God, nothing plausible can be said in
behalf of a discovery of man's origin and destiny from the works of
creation: for by words alone can the knowledge of the past and the
future be communicated to man.

Q. 10. But can God speak?

A. Most certainly, if any of his creatures can speak. To say that
God could not speak to man, or that he never did speak to him, is,
of all propositions, the most irreconcilable to all the principles from
which we reason in reference to our rank and standing in the uni-
verse, and the character of the moral Governor of the world.

Q. 11. Has God spoken to man?

A. That he has, not only do our reasonings from his perfections,
from man's rank in creation, from all analogies, from tradition, from
miracles, abundantly attest; but the book, the record itself, the thing
communicated, the revelation, irrefragably asserts and vindicates its

Q. 12. In what language has God spoken?

A. In the language of man — not in the language of angels.

Q. 13. Was it his design to be understood in our language?

A. Most assuredly it was his design to communicate ideas to man:
and as there is no way of teaching things unknown but by things

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 70)