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In this age of improvement in divine institutions, we read and
hear much of "two dispensations of the covenant of grace;" thus
making the Jewish and the Christian institutions dispensations ot one
"covenant of grace." Why not make the patriarchal, (still more vener-
able for its antiquity and which continued a thousand years longer
than the Jewish,) also a dispensation of the covenant of grace, and
then we should have had three dispensations of one covenant! This
is but "a show of wisdom." The Holy Spirit calls them "two cove-
nants," or "two institutions," and not two modifications of one cove-
nant; and it speaks of each as established upon promises. The Jewish
was established upon temporal and earthly promises, contained in the
first promise made to Abraham; but the new, says Paul, "is established
upon ttetter promises,'' growing out of that concerning the blessing of
the nations in the promised seed.*

The Jewish institution commenced and continued about 1,500 years
before the Reign of Heaven began. It was not substituted for the
family worship, but added to it; affecting, however, the patriarchal
institution in some respects, as far as concerned the single family of
Abraham. The individual families of the nation of the Jews, as such,
had still their family Worship — still the worship of God was heard in
the dwellings of the righteous; and, like Joshua, every good Israelite
said, "As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."

In four hundred years the family of Abraham had, in the line of
Isaac and Jacob, in fulfillment of the first promise, grown up into
millions. Not less than two millionsf came up out of Egypt under
the conduct of Moses. The heavenly Father, in progressive develop-
ment of his plan of blessing all nations, leaves all the world under
the family worship institution, and erects the whole progeny of Abra-
ham that came up out of Egypt into one great national institution.
He condescends to appear in the character of King of the Jetvs, and to
make them a kingdom of God, as preparatory to the appearance of
his 8o7i, who is predestined to be the King of the whole earth, and to
have a kingdom which shall ultimately embrace all the nations of
the world.

The twelve tribes were brought into the form of one great worship-
ing family, presenting through one common High Priest their united
worship to God. This gav^e rise to the erection of one public house
consecrated to the Lord, as the place of meeting in their social and
national character. A constitution, political, moral, and religious, was
submitted to the people; and on their adoption of it, they became a

* Jer. xxxi. 31.

■^Men lit for war are never more than the third or fourth of any population.
There were six hundred thousand men of this class when they came to Mount Sinai.


covenanted people of God. This constitutional kingdom was built upon
precepts and promises; and its worship when fully developed was
little more than the extension of the family worship to one great
national family. They had one king, one high priest, one national
altar, one national house of God, one morning and evening sacrifice,
one great national sacrifice, and one great annual atonement. The
nation was a family of families, and whatever pertained to a single
family in its family worship was extended and accommodated to this
great confederate family.

Various mystic and significant institutions distinguished this nation
from all others; for it was one principal object of its institution to
keep its subjects separate and distinct from all other people till Mes-
siah (the promised seed) should come. Another object was, to figure
out in appropriate types the spiritual worship of the kingdom of
heaven, and to exhibit the great doctrine of faith, repentance, remis-
sion, adoption, and inheritance, by picturesque images, ingeniously
devised to figure out the whole doctrine of reconciliation and sanctifi-
cation to God.

The Jewish institution is not to be regarded only in its political,
moral and religious aspect, but especially in its figurative and pros-
pective character. God so wisely and benevolently contrived it from
its origin to its close, that its whole history — the fates and fortunes
of its subjects from their descent into Egypt, their travels thence to
Canaan and settlement in the land of promise — their fortunes in that
land to their final catastrophe, should exactly and impressively shadow
forth the new institution with the fates and fortunes of the subjects of
this new and more glorious order of things. "All these things hap-
pened to them for types," (examples,) says Paul, "and they are written
for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come."
The same great commentator on this institution not only presents the
history of its subjects as instructive to the citizens of the new institu-
tion, but of the tabernacle he says, "It was a figurative representa-
tion for the time then present," the furniture thereof "the pattern
of things in the heavens." "The law," he adds, "contained only a
shadow of the good things to come." A shadow, indeed, proceeding
from a man, a house, a tree, is not, and can not be, an exact image
or representation of them; yet, when explained by a verbal description,
it greatly facilitates an easy and correct conception of them.

So full of the doctrine of the new institution was the old, that we
find all the Apostles and Christian writers unceremoniously applying
everything they quote from the law, the prophets, and the psalms, to
the Messiah, his kingdom, and the fortunes of his people; as if the
Jewish writings had no other object than to unfold the kingdom of
heaven. Jesus begins with Abraham seeing his day on Mount Moriah


in the typical resurrection of Isaac. Paul regards Hagar, Ishmael,
Sarah, Isaac, as the best illustration of the two mstitutions ; and John
ends with the description of the descent of Jerusalem from heaven.

Every one, then, who would accurately understand the Christian
institution must approach it through the Mosaic; and he that would
be a proficient in the Jewish, must make Paul his commentator. While
the mere politician, moralist, or religionist contemplates the one with-
out the other, though he may find much to admire in both, he will
never understand either. A veil, thick as that which concealed the
glory of the face of Moses from the Israelites, will hide the glory of
the Jewish and Christian institution from his view.

Not only did the tabernacle, the temple, their furniture, the service
of both, the priests, the sacrifices, the festivals, the convocations, and
all the ordinances of that Ritual, together with the history of that
people, assume the picturesque and figurative character, but almost
all the illustrious and highly distinguished personages of that institu-
tion were made prophetic or typical of the Messiah, or of the great
incidents of his life, sufferings, and triumphs, and the leading affairs
of his government. Amongst persons in the patriarchal and Jewish
ages, who, in one or more prominent characters or incidents, or in
their general history adumbrated the Messiah, and his reign, the fol-
lowing group occupy a lofty eminence: — Adam, Abel, Noah, Melchise-
deck, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samson, David,
Jonah. Of things of this class, as well as persons highly figurative
and instructive, are the vision of Jacob's ladder — the burning bush —
the pillar of cloud and fire — the manna — the rock Horeb, a fountain of
living water in the wilderness — the veil of Moses — the brazen serpent —
the victory over the nations of Canaan, and the land of Canaan itself.
And of ordinances, the passover, the scape goat, the red heifer, the year
of jubilee, the law of the leper, the kinsman redeemer, the cities of
refuge; together with all the sacrifices, washings, anointings, and con-
secrations of the holy nation.

But a third object of the Jewish institution, of paramount impor-
tance to the world, was the furnishings of a new alphabet and language
(the elements of heavenly science,) without which it would appear to
have been almost, if not altogether, impossible to learn the spiritual
things, or to make any proficiency in the knowledge of those relations
which Christianity unfolds. The language of the new institution is
therefore explained by that of the old. No one can understand the
dialect of the kingdom of heaven who has not studied the dialect of
the antecedent administrations of heaven over the patriarchs and Jews.
The most striking and characteristic attribute of the sacred dialect
is, that the elements of it are composed of the incidents of history, or
what we call remarkable providences.


I can not explain myself better, nor render my readers a more essen-
tial service, than by illustrating by an actual detail of sacred history,
the following proposition, viz.: That sacred history ur the remarkable
incidents of God's providences to the Jews and Patriarchs are the
foundation of the sacred dialect of the new institution. Or, if the
reader will understand it better, it may be thus expressed — All the
leading icords and phrases of the New Testament are to be explained
atid understood by the history of the Jeicish nation and God's govern-
ment of them. Take the following as a mere specimen: —

God called Abram out of Ur, and changed his name into Abraham;
and the name of his wife Sarai into Sarah. He promised Isaac as the
person in whom his seed should be called. God did tempt Abraham,
commanding him to offer Isaac for a burnt-offering — Isaac had two
sons — Esau the elder, and Jacob the younger. Esau despised his birth-
right and sold it to Jacob. Jacob wrestled with God, and prevailed;
he obtained a blessing, and was therefore called Israel. He had twelve
sons: of these Joseph was his favorite. His brethren envied him, and
sold him for twenty pieces of silver. Joseph found grace in the sight
of his master. The Lord was with Joseph. He was cast into prison,
and from thence was elevated to be the governor of Egypt under
Pharaoh. A famine in Canaan compelled Jacob and his sons into
Egypt for bread, and Joseph was made known to his brethren. Joseph
died in Egypt and left his father's house in that land. They multi-
plied exceedingly, and the Egyptians greatly afflicted and oppressed
the Israelites. Moses was born and exposed: Pharaoh's daughter found
him and adopted him for a son. Moses fled into Midian, and
married the daughter of the priest or prince of Midian, and kept his
father-in-law's flock in the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain
of God. The Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush. The
bush burned and was not consumed, Moses drew near, and then first
stood on holy ground. God sent him to Egypt to lead his people out
01 bondage.

God bade him say to the children of Israel, "I am has sent me to
you. Gather the elders of Israel, and say to them. The Lord God of
your fathers, the God of Abraham," etc., "has sent me to you. I will
smite Egypt with my U'ondcrs, and bring you up out of the afflictions
of Egypt. Tell Pharaoh, Israel is my son — my first born. Take Aaron
with thee, and thou shalt put words into his mouth; and I will be
with thy mouth and with his mouth: he shall be to thee instead of
a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. Take thy rod in
thy hand. The Lord sent Aaron to Moses: he met him in the mount
and kissed him. And the Lord visited his people. And the people
believed when they heard that the Lord had looked upon their afflic-
tion. Pharaoh oppressed them still more. The Lord said with a strong


hand shall he let them go. I will redeem them with a stretched out
arm and with great judgments. I will give you Canaan for a heritage:
I will take you to me for a people. I will he your God."

Moses said, I am a man of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pha-
raoh hearken to me? I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron
thy prophet. I will multiply my signs, and bring out my people, and
harden Pharaoh's heart. When he says, "Show me a miracle," cast
your rod before him, and it shall become a serpent. Still Pharaoh
refused, and hardened his heart. The magicians, overcome with the
signs, said. This is the finger of God. The God of the Hebrews said.
Let my people go. I have roused thee up (as a lion) to show in
you my power and to make my name known through all the earth.
The Lord slew all the first born of Egypt after he had plagued them
exceedingly. Pharaoh commanded them to depart; but he pursued
them to the Red Sea. Israel fainted at the sight before and behind
them. Moses said. Stand still, and see the salvation of God.' The sea
was divided. Covered with a cloud, Israel marched through as on dry
ground. The waters stood on either side as a wall. Pharaoh pursued
with his chariots and horsemen, but the waters returned and they
were drowned. Thus the Lord redeemed, saved, delivered, and brought
Israel out of bondage.

After this deliverance Moses and the children of Israel sang, "The
Lord is become my salvation; he is my God. Thou hast overthrown
them that rose up agaitist thee. Thou hast led forth thy people whom
thou hast redeemed. Thou hast guided them in thy strength to thy
holy habitation. The inhabitants of Canaan shall be still as a stone
till thy people pass over, Lord! the people thou hast purchased.
Thou Shalt plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance — in the
sanctuary which thy hands have established.

They came into the wilderness of Sin. They cried for bread, and
God rained bread from heaven upon them, that he might prove them
whether or no they would -walk in his law: and they did eat manna
forty years, till they came to the borders of Canaan.

They complained for water, and tempted God. And Moses smote
the rock in Horeb, and water gushed out. But Moses was wroth, and
smote the rock twice; and he and Aaron thus rebelled against God,
and fell in the wilderness. The Lord made a covenant with the whole
nation at Sinai, and made them a peculiar treasure above all people — •
a kingdom of priests, a holy nation; and God spake all the words of
the law, written on two tables of stone; and spake to Israel from

The Lord by Moses gave them directions for rearing a tabernacle,
and a pattern for all its furniture. And as a ransom for his soul,
every man, rich and poor, was to pay half a shekel as an offering to


the Lord, to make an atonement for his soul; and it was given lor
the service of the tabernacle. When the tabernacle was reared and
finished, the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle and the cloud cov-
ered it. And when the cloud uas taken up they journeyed; but until
it was taken up they journeyed not. The cloud was on the tabernacle
by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all Israel throughout
all their journeys.

And before Moses died he laid his hands upon Joshua, and gave
him a charge as the Lord commanded ; and thus put honor upon him,
that the children of Israel might be obedieiit to him as their savior.
"As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee," saith God; "I will not
fail thee nor forsake thee."

Could we thus proceed with the history of this people, and add to
their history the observances of their religious institutions, we should
find out the true meaning of the sacred style of the New Testament
with more accuracy and certainty, than from all the commentators of
ancient and modern times. This, as a sample, must suffice for our
present purpose.

From the premises now before us, the specifications of the outlines
of the Sinaitic and national institution, and the terms and phrases
found in the history of this people, we may discover in what relation
they stood to God, and what favors he bestowed upon them in that

They were called and chosen, or the elect of God as a nation. As
such, they were delivered, saved, bought, or purchased, and redeemed.
God is said to have created, made, formed, and begotten them. As such
he is called their Father, their Ood, their Redeemer, their King, their
Saviour, their Salvation; and they are called his children, sons, and
daughters, born to him, his house, people, inheritance, family, servants.
As a chartered and congregated people, they are called the city,
the holy city, the city of the Lord. Jerusalem, Zion, Mount Zion, the
city of David. Other nations, in contrast with them, are called, not a
people, aliens, strangers, enemies, far off, unclean.

Various similitudes expressive of the kind relation in which they
stood to God are also found on the pages of the ancient institution —
such as husband and wife, shepherd and flock, vine and vineyard,
mother and children. They are said to be tcritten or enrolled in the
hook of God; to l)e planted, icashed, sanctified, clean, sepa7-ated to
God; they are called the house, building, sanctuary, dwelling place of
God; a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a peculiar people, saints,
etc., etc.

Those who are curious to trace these phrases descriptive of the
relation and privileges of the ancient kingdom of God, had better ( in
addition to the passages quoted in their history from Egypt to the


Jordan) examine the following passages: — Ex. xiv. 30; xv. 16; xix. G:
Deut. iv. 37; vii. 6; x. 15; xiv. 1; i. 31; vii. 5; xxxii. 6, 18, 19; xviii.
7; iii. 18, 20; xii. 9; I. Kings iii. 8; Ps. cv. 6; xxxiii. 12; cv. 43; cvi. 5,
21; Ixxiv. 2; cxlix. 2; Isa. xli. 8, 9; xliii. 1, 3, 5, 7; li. 2, 4; Ixi. 5; Ixiii.
16; i. 2; Ixii. 1, 6, 7; xxviii.; Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and the Psalms of
David throughout, etc., etc.

Unless we should write a full treatise on these antecedent institu-
tions, we can not with propriety descend farther into details. The
outlines, as far as subordinate to the theme of this essay, are now
before the reader; and with this preparation we shall now invite his

And why, an American will say, is it not called the Republic of
Heaven, and the Chief called the President of a Celestial Republic?
Certainly there were the Republics of Greece and Rome before the
doctrine of this Kingdom was first promulged, and the Gentiles as
well as the Jews could have understood the figure of a Republic as
well as that of a Kingdom. It was not, then, because there was not
in society a model or type of this sort; but because such a type would
have been inapposite to the nature of this institution.

History testifies that Republics are better adapted to peace than
war, and that they are forced and unnatural organizations of society,
Aristocracies and Republics owe all their attractions to the excessive
corruptions of the governments under which they have originated.
They are the reaction of force and fraud, of cruelty and oppression,
and are sustained by the remembrance and apprehension of the evils
which occasioned ihem. They have alwaye been extolled and admired
either in contrast with the vices and enormities of degenerate an.!
profligate monarchies, or in the freshness of the recollections of the
wrongs and outrages which occasioned them; and men have generally
tired of them when they became corrupt and forgetful of the oppres-
sions and crimes which forced them into being. So that the corrup-
tions of Monarchies have given birth to Republics, and the corruptions
of these have originated Monarchies again.

In these last days of degeneracy Republics are great blessings to
mankind, as good physicians are blessings in times of pestilence; but
yet it must be confessed that it would be a greater blessing to be
without plagues and doctors. While men are, however, so degenerate,
and while selfishness and injustice are so rampant in society, repub-
lican ofl!icers are better than kings — because we can get rid of them
sooner. They are, indeed, kings under another name, with a short-
leased authority; and our experience fully demonstrates that in these
degenerate days the reigns of our republican kings are nearly long
enough. Till the King of kings comes, we Christians ought to be good
republicans, under the conviction that human governments seldom


grow better, and that the popular doctrine of our country is true — that
political authority generally makes a man worse, and public favors
almost invariably corrupt the heart. Rapid rotation in office is the
practical influence of the republican theory; and the experiment proves
that, brief as republican authority Is, it is sometimes too long for
republican virtue to sustain without deterioration. Now if this be
true of republican virtue, the brightest and the best, what earthly
virtue can long resist the contamination of long protracted authority?
Monarchy is the only form of government, however, which nature
recognizes. It was the first, and it will be the last. A government
with three or thirty heads is a monster; and therefore the beast that
represents it comes out of the sea with a plurality of horns as well
as heads.

The most approved theory of human nature and of human govern-
ment now current wherever the English language is spoken, either in
the Old World or in the New, is, that a monarchy would be always
the best government, because the cheapest, the most efficient, and the
most dignified; provided only, that the crown was always placed on the
wisest head and the sceptre wielded by the purest hands. Could we
always secure this we would all be monarchists; because we can not,
we are all republicans.

But after this apology for the phrase Kingdom of Heaven, we would
recall the attention of the reader to the concession made by republi-
cans themselves, that a kingdom is better adapted to a state of war,
than a republic; and that this beautiful, because most appropriate
figure, which occurs in the New Testament more than one hundred
and fifty times, and very often in the Old, presupposes a state of war
as existing in the universe. But for the reasons assigned in preference
of monarchy, the natufaJ government of the universe, always was, is,
and evermore shall be monarchy. God himself is of necessity absolute
monarch of the universe. Had he not essentially sustained that rela-
tion to all his creatures, there never could have been rebellion nor
sin in his dominions. The systems of nature are all after this model.
Every sun is a king over the system which it controls; and in every
sphere there is one controlling and supreme principle. It will be the
last government; for when the episode in the great drama of rational
existence which sin occasioned, shall have been completed, the govern-
ment of the universe will assume its ancient order, and God be supreme
monarch again. But this will not be till Jesus gives up the kingdom
to God, which a preternatural state of things put into his hands. This
can not be till he has subdued man to his rightful allegiance, or
destroyed forever every opponent to the absolute monarchy of the
Eternal Supreme: "for Jesus must reign till all his enemies be put
under his feet."


The kingdom which Jesus has received from his Father, however
heavenly sublime, and glorious it may be regarded, is only temporal.
It had a beginning, and it will have an end; for he must reign only
till all enemies are put under his feet. But the transition of the
sceptre into the hands of Emanuel has not changed the nature of the
government. He is now the hereditary Monarch of the universe, as
well as the proper King of his own kingdom. He now reigns as abso-
lutely over all principalities, hierarchs, and powers, celestial and ter-
restrial, as did the great God and Father of the universe, before he
was invested with the regal authority.

We have said it was a preternatural state of things which originated
the kingdom of Jesus: therefore the object of this remedial reign is
to destroy that preternatural state of things, or to put down sin. Now
as all human governments presuppose disorder, and as the kingdoms
of this world generally have arisen out of confusion and war, this
kingdom of heaven of which we are to speak owes its origin to the
celestial and terrestrial apostacies — the revolt of Satan and of Adam.
Were there not injustice within, or violence without, civil government
would be wholly unnecessary, and its appendages an excrescence upon

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 29 of 70)