Alexander Campbell.

The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

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ransomed race. We find all things whatsoever the law could not do
are accomplished in him, and by him — that in him all Christians might
be perfect and complete — "for the law was given by Moses, but grate
and truth came by Jesus Christ."

It now remains, in the last place, to deduce such conclusions from
the above premises, as must obviously and necessarily present them-
selves to every candid and reflecting mind.

1st. From what has been said, it follows that there is an essential
difference between law and gospel — the Old Testament and the New.*
No two words are more distinct in their signification than law and
gospel. They are contradistinguished under various names in the New
Testament. The law is denominated "the letter;" "the ministration of
condemnation;" "the ministration of death;" "the Old Testament or
Covenant, and Moses." The gospel is denominated "the Spirit," "the

•There arc not a few professors of Christianity who themselves under
equal obligations to obey Mo.<cs or any other Prophet, as Christ and his Apostles. Tlu-y
can not uiulerstand why any part of divine revelation should not be obligatory on a
Christian to observe; nor can they see any reason wliy the New Testament shoulil bo
preferred to the Old; or wliy they should not be regulated equally by each. They say,
" Is it not all the word of God. and are not all mankind addressed in it! " True, all the
h(p|y Prophets spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and men were the objects
<if their address. It is, however, equally evident that God at sundry times and in
ilivers manners spake to men, according to a variety of circumstances, which diversi-
lled their condition, capacity, and opportunities. Thus he a(ldi'ess<'d individuals, and
classes of individiuils, in a way peculiar to themselves. Witness liis addi-css to Noah,
Abraham, Daniel, Jonah, Paul, and Peter. Witness his addresses to the Patriarchs, the
Jews, and the Christians. Again, men are addressed as magistrates, fathers, masters,
husbands, teachers, with their correlates. Now to apply to one individual what is said
to all individuals and classes of individuals, would, methinks, appear egregious folly.
And Would it not be as absurd to say, that every man is obliged to practice every diUy
and religious precept enjoined in the Bible. Might we not as reasonably say, that every
man must be at once a Patriarcli, a Jew, and a Christian; a nuigistrate, a subject, a
father, a child, a nuister, a servant, etc., etc. And, certainly, it is as inconsistent to say,
that Christians should equally regard and obey the Old and New Testanu'iit. All
Scripture given by divine inspiration, is prolltable for various purposes in the perfection
of saints, when rightly divided, and not handled deceitfully. But when the above con-
siderations are disregarded, the word of God must inevitably be perverted. Hence it is
that many preachers deceive themselves and their hearers by selecting an<l api)lying to
themselves and their hearers such portions of sacred truth as belong not to tliem nor
their hearers. Even the .\i)ostles could not apply the words of Christ to themselves or
their hearers until they were able to answer a pri'vious ((uestion— " Lord, sayest thou
this unto t(« or unto ullf" Nor could the Kiinuch understand tlie Prophet until he knew
whether he spoke of himself or some otlier num. Yet many preachers and hearers
trouble not theniselv<'s about such inciniries. If their text is in the Bible, it is no matter
where; and if their hearers be men and women, it is no matter whether Jews or chris-
tians, believers or unbelievers. Often have I seen a preacher and his hearers undergo
three or four nietamorphoses in an hour. First, he is a moral philosopher, inculcating
heathen morality; next a Jewish Rabbi, expounding the law; then, a teacher of sonic
Christian i)recept; and lastly, an ambassador of Christ, negotiating between God and
man. Tlu' congregation undergo the correlate revolutions; flr.-t. they are heathens;
next. Jews; next. ( lirislians; and lastly, treating with the anlba^-adors for salvation, on
what is called the terms of the gospel. Thus, Proteu-i-Iike. they are all things in an


ministration of the Spirit," "the ministration of righteousness," "the
New Testament, or Covenant," "the law of liberty and Christ." In
respect of existence or duration, the former is denominated "that which
is done away" — the latter, "that which remaineth" — the former was
faulty, the latter faultless — the former demanded, this bestows right-
eousness — that gendered bondage, this liberty — that begat bond-slaves,
this freemen — the former spake on this wise, "This do and thou shalt
live" — this says, "Say not what ye shall do; the word is nigh thee,
[that gives life,] the word of faith which we preach: if thou believe in
thine heart the gospel, thou shalt be saved." The former waxed old,
is abolished, and vanished away — the latter remains, lives and is ever-

2d. In the second place, we learn from what has been said, that
"there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." The
premises from which the Apostle drew this conclusion are the same
with those stated to you in the discourse. "Sin," says the Apostle,
"shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but
under grace." In the sixth and seventh chapters to the Romans, the
Apostle taught them that "they were not under the law"— that "they
were freed from it" — "dead to it" — "delivered from it." In the eighth
chapter, first verse, he draws the above conclusion. What a pity that
modern teachers should have added to and clogged the words of inspi-
ration by such unauthorized sentences as the following: "Ye are not
under the law" as a covenant of works, but as a rule of life. Who
ever read one word of the "covenant of works" in the Bible, or of the
Jewish law being a rule of life to the disciples of Christ? Of these
you hear no more from the Bible than of the "Solemn League" or
"St. Giles' Day." Yet how conspicuous are these and kindred phrases
in the theological discussions of these last three hundred years! But
leaving such phrases to those who are better skilled in the use of
them, and have more leisure to expound them, we shall briefly notice
the reason commonly assigned for proposing the law as a rule of life
to Christians. "If Christians are taught," say they, "that they are
delivered from the law, under it in no sense; that they are dead to it,
will they not be led to live rather a licentious life, live as they list;
and will not the non-professing world, hearing that they are not under
the law of Moses, become more wicked, more immoral and profane!"
Such is the chief of all the objections made against the doctrine incul-
cated respecting the abolition of the Jewish law, in respect of Chris-
tians, and also as this doctrine respects the Gentile or Heathen world.
We shrink not from a fair and full investigation of this subject. Truth
being the object of all our inquiries, we should patiently hear all
objections — coolly and dispassionately hear, examine, and weigh all
arguments pro and con.


That the first part of this objection is very natural, has been very
often made, and strongly urged against the doctrine we advocate, we
cheerfully acknowledge. As this objection was made against the
Apostle's doctrine concerning the law, it affords a strong probability
at least, that our views on this subject correspond with his. We shall
then hear how he stated and refuted it. Rom. vi. 15, "What then?
Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace!"
Here he admits the objection, and in his answer incontestibly shows
that Christians are not under the law in any sense. If they were In
any sense, now was the time to say, "We are not under the law in
some sense, or under a certain part of it; but in one sense we are
under it, as a rule of life." We say the Apostle was here called upon,
and in a certain sense bound, to say something like what our modern
teachers say, if it had been warrantable. But he admits the doctrine
and states the objection, leaving the doctrine unequivocally established.
He guards the doctrine against a licentious tendency thus — "God
forbid!" "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? '
and in the subsequent verses' shows the utter impossibility of any
servant of God, or true Christian, so abusing the doctrine we hSLV?.
stated. Now whether the ancient way of guarding the New Testament,
or Gospel, against the charges of Antinomianism or a licentious ten-
dency, or the modern way is best, methinks is easily decided amongst
true disciples. Not so easy, however, amongst learned Rabbis and
Doctors of the Law.

But, query. — "Is the law of Moses a rule of life to Christians?" An
advocate of the popular doctrine replies. "Not all of it." Query again —
What part of it? "The ten commandments." Are these a rule of life
to Christians? "Yes." Should not, then. Christians sanctify the sev
enth day? "No." Why so? "Because Christ has not enjoined it."
Oh! then, the law or ten commandments is not a rule of life to Chris-
tians any further than it is enjoined by Christ; so that reading the
precepts in Moses' words, or hearing him utter them, does not oblige
us to observe them: it is only what Christ says we must observe. So
that an advocate for the popular doctrine, when closely pressed, can
not maintain his ground. Let no man say we have proposed and
answered the above queries as we pleased. If any other answers can
be given by the advocates themselves than we have given, let them
do it. But it is highly problematical whether telling Christians that
they are under the law will repress a licentious spirit. True Christians
do not need it. as we have seen: "How shall they that are dead to sin.
live any longer therein?" And dare we tell professing Christians, as
such, that the law, as a rule of life, is a condemning law? If not. then
what tendency will the mere affirmation that they are under a law as
a rule of life which can not condemn them, have to deter them from


living as they list? Upon the whole, the old way of guarding against
immorality and licentiousness amongst Christians will, we apprehend,
be found the most consistent and etficacious. And he that has tried
the old way and the new, will doubtless say, as was said of old, "No
man also having drunk old wine, straightway desireth new; for ho
saith the old is better." And, indeed, every attempt to guard the New
Testament, or the Gospel, by extrinsic means, against an immoral or
licentious tendency, bears too strong a resemblance to the policy of a
certain preacher in Norway or Lapland, who told his hearers that "hell
was a place of infinite and incessant cold." "When asked by an acquaint-
ance from the south of Europe why he perverted the Scriptures, he
replied, "if he told his hearers in that cold climate that hell was a
place of excessive heat, he verily thought they would take no pains
to avoid going there."

But as to the licentious tendency this doctrine we inculcate is sup-
posed to have upon the non-professing or unbelieving world, it appears
rather imaginary than real. It must, however, in the first instance,
be ascertained whether the Gentiles, not professing Christianity, were
ever supposed or addressed by the Apostle sent to the Gentiles, as
being under the law of Moses. We have under the second head of our
discourse particularly demonstrated that the Gentiles were never under
the law, either before or after their conversion. To what has been said
on this subject we would add a sentence or two. It was prophesied of
the Gentiles that they should be without law till Christ came. Isa. xlii.
4, "And the isles shall tvait for his law." The chief glory which
exalted the Jews above the Gentiles, which the Jews boasted of to the
Gentiles, was, that to them "pertained the adoption, the covenants,
and the giving of the laio."' They exclusively claimed the law as their
own. And why will not we let them have' it, seeing him whose law the
Gentiles waited for, is come, and has given us a more glorious law.
Whatever was excellent in their law our Legislator has re-promulgated.
But shall we say that we are under the law as a rule of our Christian
life, because some of its sublimest moral and religious precepts havo
been re-promulgated by him, who would not suffer one tittle of it to
pass till he fulfilled it? As well might we affirm that the British law
which governed these states when colonies, is the rule of our political
life; because some of the most excellent laws of that code have been
re-enacted by our legislators. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, plainly
acknowledged in his addresses to them, that they were without law,
aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, having no hope, etc. And of
them he said that "when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by
nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are
a law unto themselves." But, in so saying, does he or do we excuse
their sins or lead them to suppose that they are thereby less obnoxious


to the wrath to come? By no means. For we testify that even natural
conscience accuses them of sin or wrong in their thoughts, words, and
actions, according to its knowledge. And consequently "as many as
have sinned without law, shall also perish without law." In so testi-
fying, do we cherish a licentious spirit? By no means. For there
stand a thousand monuments in this present world, independent of
Jewish law, on whiih is inscril>ed these words, "For the wrath of God
is revealed from heaven agaiu&t all ungodliness and unrighteousness
of men." But one thing demands our observation, that the Apostle
sent by Heaven to preach to the Gentiles, in accusing them of sins of
the deepest dye, and of the most malignant nature, dishonorable to
God and destructive to themselves; never accuses them of any sia
which the light of nature itself would not point out, or natural con-
science testify to be wrong. Hence it is that in the long, black catalogue
of sins preferred against the Gentiles, is never to be found the crime
of Sabbath-breaking, or of transgressing any of the peculiarities of
Judaism. And now what is the difference between an ancient Greek
and a modern American or European who disbelieves the gospel?
Under what law is the latter, under which the former was not? Was
the former a sinner and chargeable in the sight of God, as well as
the latter? Yes. Would not natural conscience according to its means
of knowing right and wrong, or the work of the law written In the
heart, condemn the unbelieving Roman as well as the unbelieving
American? Most assuredly. And what is the difference? Not that
the latter is under any law that the former was not under; but the
means of discerning right and wrong in the latter are far superior to
the former, and consequently their overthrow or ruin will be the more
severe. In point of law or obligation there is no difference between
the unbelieving American and the rudest barbarian; though the former
is polished with science, morals, etc., like the ancient Greeks and
Romans, and the latter remains an uncultivated savage. They will bo
judged and condemned by the same law which condemned the Roman
who died nineteen hundred years agx). And the condemnation of the
latter shall be more tolerable than the former, not by a milder law,
but because his knowledge of right and wrong was much inferior to
the former; and having heard the gospel of salvation and disbelieved
it, he adds to his natural corruption and accumulated guilt the sin of
making God a liar, and preferring darkness to light, because he believed
not the testimony of God. This is the sole difference In respect of
condemnation between the Indian and the most accomplished citizen.
From these few remarks it will appear, we trust, obvious to every
person who has an ear to distinguish truth from falsehood, that there
is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus — that they are
under no law that can condemn them — that he who was made under


the law is become the end of the law for righteousness to them — that
being dead to sin, they should live no longer therein — that there is no
necessity, but a glaring impropriety in teaching the law as a rule of
life to Christians — that all arguments in favor of it are founded on
human opinion, and a mistaken view of the tendency of the gospel and
Christian dispensation — that all objections against the doctrine we
have stated, as licentious in its tendency, are totally groundless. "For
the grace of God that bringeth salvation teacheth us that denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and
godly in this present world. Looking for that blessed hope, the glo-
rious appearing of the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ, who
gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and
purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

3d. In the third place, we conclude from the above premises, that
there is no necessity for preaching the law in order to prepare men for
receiving the gospel.

This conclusion perfectly corresponds with the commission given
by our Lord to the Apostles, and with their practice under that com-
mission. "Go," saith he, "into all the world, and preach the gospel
unto every creature." "Teach the disciples to observe all things what-
soever I command you." Thus they were authorized to preach the
gospel, not the law, to every creature. Thus they were constituted
ministers of the New Testament, not of the Old. Now the sacred his
tory, called the Acts of the Apostles, affords us the most satisfactory
information on the method the Apostles preached under this commis-
sion, which, with the epistolary part of the New Testament, affords us
the only successful, warrantable, and acceptable method of preaching
and teaching. In the Acts of the Apostles, we see the Apostles and
first preachers paid the most scrupulous regard to the instructions they
received from the great Prophet. They go forth into all nations pro-
claiming the gospel to every creature; but not one word of law-preach-
ing in the whole of it. We have the substance of eight or ten sermons
delivered by Paul and Peter to Jews and Gentiles, in the Acts of the
Apostles, and not one precedent of preaching the law to prepare their
hearers, whether Jews or Gentiles, for the reception of the gospel.

This conclusion corresponds, in the next place, with the nature of
the kingdom of heaven or Christian Church, and with the means by
which it is to be built and preserved in the world. The Christian
dispensation is called "the ministration of the Spirit," and accordingly
everything in the salvation of the church is accomplished by the imme-
diate energy of the Spirit. Jesus Christ taught his disciples that the
testimony concerning himself was that only which the Spirit would
use in converting such of the human family as should be saved. He
was not to speak of himself, but what he knew of Christ. Now he was


to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; not by
applying the law of Moses, but the facts concerning Christ, to the
consciences of the people. The Spirit accompanying the words which
the Apostles preached, would convince the world of sin, not by the
ten precepts, but because they believed not on him — of righteousness,
because he went to the Father — and of judgment, because the prince
of this world was judged by him. So that ChrLst, and not law. was
the Alpha and Omega of their sermons; and this the Spirit made
effectual to the salvation of thousands. Three thousand were convinced
of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, in this precise way of hear-
ing of Christ, on the day of Pentecost; and we read of many afterwards.
Indeed, we repeat it again, in the whole history of primitive preaching,
we have not one example of preaching the law as preparatory to tho
preaching or reception of the gospel.

This conclusion corresponds, in the third place, with the fitness of
things.* That men must be convinced of sin by some means, prior to
a welcome reception of saving truth, is generally acknowledged. Now
as the gospel dispensation is the most perfect revelation of salvation,
it must be supposed that it possesses the best means of accomplishing
everything connected with the salvation of its subjects. It must, of
course, possess the best means of convincing of sin. This truth, how-

* Indeed we have yet to learn what advantapo can accrue from preachinp the po-
called " moral law," to prepare sinners for the gospel. In the nature ami fltnc-s of
things it can not prepare or dispose the mind to a belief of the gospel. The Aposile
teaches U.9 that " tho law worketh wrath." This is inevitahir its effect on every mind
which does not believe the gospel. It irritates and excites tlie natural. enniily of tho
mind against Gotl. A. clear exhibition of the divine character in the law apart fmm
the gospel, tends more to alienate than to reconcile the mind to God When a prcaclier
of the law has laboreil to show his hearers the immaculate holiness, the inllexible jus-
tice the inviolate truth, and consuming jealousy of Jehovah manifested in tlie fiery
faw, supposing the gospel kept out of view, he nas rather incapacitated and disqualified
their minds from crediting the gospel or testimony of the condescension, love mercy,
and grace of the eternal Father to mankind. How opposite is the divine wisdom to the
wisdom of many modern scribes and teachers of the lawl They preach first the law
to natural fallen man then the gosi)eI. But He, who seeth not as man seeth, preached
first the gospel to fallen man, and afterwards added the law, because of transgressions,
till the seed should come. Eternal life was promised through tho seed, and the law
added till the seed come.

Nothing can be more inconsistent than the conduct of tho law preachers. When
they have echoed the thunders of Mt. Sinai in the ears of their hearers almost to drive
them to despair, and to produce what they call '• legal repentance,'- then they begin to
pulldown the work of their own hands by demonstrating the inenicacy, unprofitable-
ness, and danger of legal repentance, flight they not as well at once imitate the apos-
tles and primitive preachers — preach the gospel, which, when receive<l, produces re-
pentance not to be repented of? >Iiglit they not preach Christ crucified in whom is
manifested the wrath and judgment of (Jod again>t sin; and his condescending Jove,
mercy, and grace to the sinner? Might they not, knowing the terror of the Lord per-
Biiaile men b)' the persuasives of the doctrine of reconciliation, rather than t<i increa.«e
their enmity, awaken their suspicions, and work wrath in their minds, bv an unlawful
use of the law? But in order to this, their minds must be revolutionized; they must
taki-upa cross which they at present refuse; and what is difllcult indeed, they must
unlearn what they have themselves taught others.


ever, does not depend on mere supposition. The fact that the Holy
Spirit makes an exclusive use of it in convincing of sin, is a striking
demonstration of its superior excellence for that purpose. But inde-
pendent of these considerations, it must be confessed that the gospel
or testimony concerning Christ affords the fullest proof of divine
justice and indignation against sin — it presents the clearest view of
the demerit of sin, and of all divine perfections terrible to sinners —
it exhibits the most alarming picture of human guilt and wretchedness
that ever was given, and on these accounts is of all means the most
suitable to convince of sin. It was already observed that the eternal
Father condemned sin in the person of his Son, more fully than it
ever was, or could be, condemned in any other way. Suppose, for illus-
tration, a king put to death his only son, in the most painful and
ignominious way, for a crime against the government; would not this
fact be the best means of convincing his subjects of the evil of crime,
and of the king's detestation of it? Would not this fact be better than
a thousand lectures upon the excellency of the law and the sanctions
of it? But every similitude of this kind falls infinitely short of afford-