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ing a resemblance of the eternal Father not sparing his Sole Delight
when sin was but imputed to him. Having seen that this conclusion
corresponds with the commission given by the Redeemer to his Apostles
— with their practice under that commission — with the nature of his
kingdom, and with the fitness of things, one would suppose that no
objection could be preferred against it. But what doctrine of divine
truth is it, against which objections numerous indeed, and strongly
urged, and by men who profess to be zealous for the truth, have not
been made? Is it the doctrine of sovereign, free, and abundant grace?
No. Is it the doctrine of the natural sinfulness and corruption of all
men? No, no. Against these, many objections, yea, very many, are
urged. We must not suppose, then, that this doctrine we now main-
tain shall be free from objections. We shall, then, attend to some
of those objections which have been made, or which we anticipate may
be made against this conclusion.

It may, perhaps, be objected that there are some expressions in
the apostolic epistles, which imply that the law was necessary to
convince of sin, as pre-requisite to a welcome reception of the gospel,
such as "by the law is the knowledge of sin" — "for without the law
sin was dead." There is no authority from the original for varying
the supplements in these two clauses. If it corresponds with the con-
text or with the analogy of faith, to supply teas in the last clause, it
doubtless corresponds as well in the first clause. But we lay no stress
on the one or the other; for before Christ came all knowledge of sin
loas by the law; and "the law entered that the offense might abound."
For the law was added to the promise of life, because of transgression,


till the seed should come to whom the promise was made. Now we
would suppose that when the Heed is come, and the time expired for
which the law was added, it is superfluous to annex it to the gospel,
for the same reason it was annexed to the promise made to Abraham.
And although it should be allowed that Christians derive knowledge
of sin from the law, it does not follow that it is the best means of
communicating this knowledge — that Christians are dependent on it
for this purpose— nor that it should be preached to unbelievers to pre-
pare them for receiving the gospel.

The seventh chapter to the Romans contains the fullest illustration
of the once excellence and utility of the law, that is to be found in
all the New Testament; and as this chapter will doubtless be the
strong hold of our opponents, we shall make a remark or two on the
contents of it.

In the first place, then, let it be remembered that In the fourteenth
verse of the preceding chapter, the Apostle boldly aflRrms that Chris-
tians are not under the law. To the conclusion of the sixth chapter
he refutes an objection made to his assertion in the fourteenth verse.
In the first six verses of the seventh chapter he repeats his assertion,
and uses an apt similitude to illustrate it. Having, then, demonstrated
that Christians are not under the law, in the seventh verse of the
seventh chapter he states an objection which had been made, or he
anticipated would be made, against his doctrine— ^'If Christians are
not under the law, if they are dead to it, if they are delivered from it,
is it not a sinful thing?" "Is the law sin, then?" This objection
against the nature of the law, the Apostle removes in the next six
verses by showing the utility of the law in himself as a Jew, under
that law; and concludes that the law is holy, just, and good. To the
end of the chapter the Apostle gives an account of his experience as
a Christian freed from the law, and thus manifests the excellency of
his new mind or nature by its correspondence to the holiness of the
law; so that he most effectually removes the objection made against
the law as being sin, and at the same time establishes the fact that
Christians are delivered from it. Such evidently is the scope of th.?
latter part of the sixth and all of the seventh chapter. We can not
dismiss this chapter without observing first, that the law, or that
part of the law which the Apostle here speaks of, is what modern
teachers call "the moral law." If so, then Christians are not under
it: for the law which the Apostle affirms Christians are delivered from
in the sixth verse, in the seventh verse he shows it is not sin; and the
law which he shows is not sin, he demonstrates to be holy, just, and
good. So that here, as well as in the third chapter of his second epistle
to the Corinthians, Christians are expressly said to be delivered from
the so-called moral law; and that it is abolished or done away in


respect of them. We must remark again, that before anything said
in this chapter respecting the utility or excellence of the law can be
urged as a precedent for what we condemn — namely, preaching the
law as preparatory to the gospel, or a law work as preparatory to genu-
ine conversion, it must be shown that the Apostle gave this account
of his experience under the law as preparative to his conversion. Oth-
erwise no objection can be made from anything in this chapter to the
conclusion before stated. But this can not be, for the account we have
of his conversion flatly contradicts such a supposition. Previous to
his conversion he was a very devout man in his own way — "touching
the righteousness which was in the law he was blameless." See the
account he gives of himself, Phil. iii. 4, 5, compared with Rom. vii,
7, 12; Acts xxii. 1; xxiii. 1; from which we learn that he was taught
according to the most perfect manner of the law, and was a Pharisee
of the strictest kind; had clear ideas of sin and righteousness; and,
externally considered, was blameless and lived in all good conscience
until the day of his conversion. But it was not the law, it was not a
new discovery of its spirituality, but a discovery of Christ exalted, that
convinced him of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and instanta-
neously converted him. So that nothing in his previous life or attain-
ments, nothing of his experience as a Jew, nothing of his knowledge
of sin or of righteousness by the law previous to his conversion, can
be urged in support of preaching the law or a law work to unbelievers,
to prepare their mind for a welcome reception of the truth.

When we shall have mentioned a favorite text of the law preachers,
and considered it, we shall have done with objections of this sort. It
is Gal. iii. 24. We shall cite from the 23d verse. "Before faith [Christ]
came we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should
afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to
bring lis to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that
faith [Christ] is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.'
Methinks it looks rather like an insult to the understanding of any
person skilled in the use of words, to offer a refutation of the use that
is frequently made of the 24th verse. But let the censure rest upon
them who render it needful. Every smatterer in Greek knows that
the 24th verse might read thus: — "The law was our schoolmaster until
Christ" came; and this reading unquestionably corresponds with the
context. Now is it not most obvious that instead of countenancing law-
preaching, this text and context condemn it? The scope of it is to
show that whatever use the law served as a schoolmaster previous to
Christ, it no longer serves that use. And now that Christ is come,
we are no longer under it. We see, then, that this conclusion not only
corresponds with the commission to the Apostles; with the nature of
Christ's kingdom; with the apostolic preaching; and with the fitness


of things: but that no valid objection can be presented against it, from
anything in the apostolic epistles.

Some, notwithstanding the Scriptural plainness of this doctrine,
may urge their own experience as contrary to it. It would, however,
be as safe for Christians to make divine truth a test of their
experience, and not their experience a test of divine truth. Some
individuals have been awakened by the appearance of the Aurora Bore-
alis, by an earthquake, by a thunderstorm, by a dream, by sickness,
etc. How inconsistent for one of these to affirm from his own expe-
rience, that others must be awakened in the same way! How incom-
patible \\ith truth for others to preach such occurrences as preliminary
to saving conversion!

But the difference between ancient and modern conversions is so
striking as to merit an observation or two. Now that the law is com-
monly preached to prepare men for Christ, it must be expected that
modern conversions will be very systematic, and lingering in all.
While preachers will not condescend to proclaim the glad tidings until
they have driven their hearers almost to despair by the thunders of
Mount Sinai — while they keep them in anxious suspense for a time,
whether the wounds of conviction are deep enough; whether their
sense of guilt is sufficiently acute; whether their desires are sufficiently
keen; whether their fears are sufficiently strong; in short, whether
the law has had its full effect upon them: 1 say, when this is the
case, conversion work must go on slow; and so it is not rare to find
some in a way of being converted for years; and, ir.deed, it 5s gen-
erally a work of many months. It would be well, however, if, after
all, it were commonly genuine. Contrast these conversions with those
of which we read in the Acts of the Apostles, and what a contrast!
There we read of many converted in a day, who yesterday were as
ignorant of law and gospel as the modern Hindoos or Birmans. To
account for this we have only to consider and compare the different
sorts of preaching and means, by which those were, and these are,

But some may yet inquire, Are unbelievers under no law or obliga-
tion by which conviction may be communicated to their minds? Or
they may ask, in other words. How does the testimony of Christ take
hold of them? And why do they welcome the gospel? We have already
shown that there is a law written on every human heart, which is th3
foundation of both law and prophets, under which both angels and
men exist; whose obligation is universal and eternal. It is inscribed
more or less distinctly on every heathen's heart. It is sometimes called
the law of nature, but more correctly called by the Apostle, conscience.
This natural conscience, or sense of right and wrong, which all men
possess in different degrees, according to a variety of circumstances,


but all in some degree, is that in them which God addresses. This
natural conscience is fitted to hear the voice of God, as exactly as the
ear is fitted to hear sounds. This renders the savage inexcusable. For
the invisible things of God, even his eternal power and godhead, are
manifested to his conscience in the natural world. Now God addresses
conscience in those whom he brings to himself in a variety of ways.
Sometimes even where his word is come, he speaks by awful events
to the consciences of men. In this way he awakens inquiries that
lead to the saving truth. Witness the jailor and his house, of whom
we read in the Acts of the Apostles. God spake to his conscience by
an earthquake, and put an inquiry in his mouth, that was answered to
his salvation and that of his house. That which fits the savage to
hear God's voice in the natural world, fits him, or the man of civili-
zation, to hear his voice in the gospel, when it is sent to them in power.

Are we to preach this law of nature, then, some will inquire; or, Are
we to show men that they possess this natural conscience, previous to
a proclamation of the glad tidings? I would answer this question by
proposing another. Am I to tell a man he has an ear, and explain
to him the use of it, before I condescend to speak to him? One answer
suits both inquiries. We should consider the circumstances of any
people before we addrss them. Do we address Jews? Let us address
them as the Apostles did. Persuade them out of their own law that
Jesus is the Messiah. Do we address professed Christians? Let us
imitate the apostolic addresses in the epistles. Do we preach to Bar-
barians? Let us address them as Paul preached to the Lycaonians,
Speak to their consciences. Do we preach to polished infidels or idola
tors? Let us speak to them as Paul spake to the Athenians. Speak
to their consciences.

4th. A fourth conclusion which is deducible from the above prem-
ises is, that all arguments and motives, drawn from the law or Old
Testament, to urge the disciples of Christ to baptize their infants; to
pay tithes to their teachers; to observe holy days or religious fasts,
as preparatory to the observance of the Lord's supper; to sanctify the
seventh day; to enter into national covenants; to establish any form
of religion by civil law: — and all reasons and motives borrowed from
the Jewish law, to excite the disciples of Christ to a compliance with
or an imitation of Jewish customs, are inconclusive, repugnant to Chris-
tianity, and fall ineffectual , to the ground; not being enjoined or coun-
tenanced by the authority of Jesus Christ.

5th. In the last place we are taught from all that has been said,
to venerate in the highest degree the Lord Jesus Christ; to receive Him,
as the Great Prophet, of whom Moses in the law. and all the prophets
did write. To receive him as the Lord our righteousness, and to pav
the most punctilious regard to all his precepts and ordinances. "If


we continue in his word, then are we his disciples Indeed, and we
shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free — if the Son
shall make us free, we shall be free indeed."

It is remarkable how strong our attachments are to Moses as a
teacher; though Moses taught us to look for a greater prophet than
he, and to hearken to him! It is strange that three surprising inci-
dents in the history of Moses would not arrest our attention and direct
us to Christ. With all his moral excellence, unfeigned piety, and legis-
lative dignity, he fell short of Canaan. So all who cleave to him will
come short of the heavenly rest! His mortal remains, and his only,
the Almighty buried in secret; and yet we will not suffer his ashes to
rest in peace! He came down from heaven to give place to the Messiah,
to lay down his commission at his feet; and we will not accept it!
Strange infatuation!

If Moses was faithful in Christ's house as a servant, shall not Christ
be faithful as a son over his own house! Let us as his disciples believe
all he teaches, and practice all he enjoins in religion and morality: let
us walk in all his commandments and ordinances; and inquire indi-
vidually. What lack I yet? If we are then deficient, let us say, with
the Jews who disowned him, "We are Moses' disciples, but as for this
fellow, we know not whence he is." But let all remember that if he
that despised Moses' law, died without mercy, of how much sorer pun-
ishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who despised Christ
as a teacher! His commandments are not grievous to his disciples —
his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from all
iniquity. Let us walk worthy of him. Let us take heed lest by our
conduct we should represent Christ as the minister of sin. Let us
not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit; and then we shall show
that the rigliteousness of the law is fulfilled in us. Then shall no
occasion be given to the adversary to speak reproachfully. And if any
should still urge the stale charge of Antinomianism, or affirm that we
lived in sin that grace might abound; did evil that good might come;
or made void the law through faith; let us put to silence the ignorance
of foolish men, by adorning the doctrine we profess with a blameless
conduct. Let us not merely rebut such insinuations with a — God forbid!
but evince, how shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein.
May he that hath the key of David, who openeth and no man shut-
teth, and .shutteth and none can open, open your hearts to receive the
truth in the love of it. and incline you to walk in the light of it, and
then ye shall know that the ways thereof are pleasantness, and all the
paths thereof are peace! Amen.






In 1833 Mr. Campl>ell issued an extra number of the Harbinger
devoted to the subject of Regeneration, as follows;


f"I create new heavens and a new earth."— I.^ii. Ixv. 18. "Behold, I make all things
uew."— Rev. xxi. &.]

We intend an essay full of "the seeds of things." The topic is
a common one, a familiar one, and yet it is an interesting one. Much
has been said, much has been written uijon it; and yet it is no better
understood than it ought to be. Few give themselves the trouble of
thinking much on the things which they think they understand; and
many would rather follow the thoughts of others, than think for them-
selves. Suspense is painful, much study is a weariness of the flesh;
and therefore, the majority are content with the views and opinions
handed to them from those who have gone before.

We wish to treat this subject as if it were a new one; and to
examine it now, as if we had never examined it before. It is worthy
of it. Generation is full of wonders, for it is full of God's physical
grandeur; yet regeneration is still more admirable, for in it the moral
attributes of Jehovah are displayed. But we aim not at a develop-
ment of its wonders, but at a plain, common-sense. Scriptural exposi-
tion of its import.

We have not learned our theology from Athanasius, nor our morality
from Seneca; and therefore we shall not call upon them for illustra-
tion, argument, or proof. To the Sacred Records, in which alone Chris-
tianity yet remains in all its freshness, we look for light; and thither
would we direct the eyes of our readers. It is not the regeneration
of the schools, in which Christianity has been lowered, misappre-
hended, obscured, and adulterated, of which we are to write; but
that regeneration of which Jesus spoke, and the Apostles wrote.

A few things must be premised — a few general views expressed,
before we, or our readers, are prepared for the more minute details;
and to approach the subject with all unceremonious despatch, we
observe, that —

Man unregenerate is ruined in body, soul, and spirit; a frail and
mortal creature. From Adam his father he inherits a shattered con-
stitution. He is the child of a fallen progenitor; a siion from a degen-
erate stock.



Superior to Adam, the exile from Eden, in physical, intellectual,
and moral nature, none of his descendants can rise. It is not in nature
to improve itself; for above its fountain the stream can not rise. Cain,
the firstborn of Eve, v^^as in nature the image and likeness of him
that begat him. Education failed to improve him, while Abel, his
j^ouuger brother, obtained the excellency which faith in God's promise
alone bestows. The first born, it will be conceded, was at least equal
to his younger brother: and who can plead that in nature he excels
Eve's eldest son!

Man in hia ruins is, however, a proper subject of a remedial
system. He is susceptible of renovation. Therefore God has placed
him under a regenerating economy. This economy contemplates the
regeneration of the whole human constitution, and proposes as its
consummation the transformation of spirit, soul, and body. The
destiny of the regenerate is deccribed by Paul in one sentence: "As
we now bear the image of the earthy Adam, we shall then bear the
image of the heavenly Adam."

God's own Son is proposed as the model. Conformity to him in
glory, honor and immortality, as the perfection of the regenerate, is
the predestination of him who speaks of things that be not, as though
they were.

Regeneration is, therefore, moral and physical: or, in other words,
there is now a renovation of the mind — of the understanding, will,
and affections; — and there will hereafter be a renovation of the body:
"For this corruptible body shall put on incorruption, and this mortal
body shall put on immortality."

The renovation of the mind and character is, therefore, that moral
regeneration which is to be effected in this life; for which the reme-
dial system, or kingdom of heaven, was set up on earth: and this,
therefore, first of all, demands our attention.

Before we attempt an answer in detail to the question, How is this
moral regeneration effected? we shall attend to the principle on which
the whole remedial system proceeds. The grand principle, or means
which God has adopted for the accomplishment of this moral regen-
eration, is the full demonstration and proof of a single proposition
addressed to the reason of man. This sublime proposition is, that
God is love.

The reason and wisdom of this procedure will suggest itself to
every one who can understand the views and feelings of all unregen-
erated man. Man, in a state of alienation and rebellion, naturally
suspects, that if he be a sinner, and if God hate sin, he must hate
him. As love begets love, so hatred begets hatred; and if a sinner
suspects that God hates him, he can not love God. He must know
that God loves him, before he can begin to love God. "We [says an


Apostle] love God because he first loved us." While alienated in
heart, through the native darkness of his understanding, the sinner
misinterprets every restraint which God has placed in his way to pre-
vent his total ruin, as indications of the wrath of heaven. His trans-
gression of these restraints, and his consciousness of having defied
the veracity and power of God, only increase his enmity, and urge him
onward in his apostacy and wanderings from his creator. The good-
ness of God, l>eing misunderstood, furnishes to him no incentive to
repentance and reformation. Guilt and fear, and shame, the fruits of
his apostacy, becloud his understanding, and veil from his eye all the
demonstrations of benevolence and goodness with which the creation
abounds. Adam under a tree, hiding from God, trembling with fear,
suspicious of the movements of every leaf, and covered with shame as
with a garment, is both an illustration and proof of these views of the
state of mind which obtains in the unregenerate.

Neither the volume of creation, nor that of God's providence, is
sufl!icient to remove from the natural man these misconceptions, and
the consequent alienation of heart The best proof that these two
volumes can not do this, is, that they never have, in any one instance,
yet done it. From the nature oi things it is indeed evident that they
can not do it. The elements are too often at war with the happiness
of man. The ever-changing attitude of the natural world in reference
to health, and life, and comfort, render it at best doubtful, whether
the laws of nature, which ultimately bring man down to the grave, are
the effect of benevolence, or of malevolence towards mankind. A
third volume, explanatory of both, and replete also with supernatural
developments, is wanting, to furnish the most diligent student ot
nature and providence, with the means of learning the true and full
character of him against whom we have rebelled.

That volume is the Bible, Holy Prophets and Apostles spake as
they were moved by the Spirit of Knowledge and Revelation. Its
records, its history, its prophecy, its precepts, its laws, its orditiances,
and its examples, all develop and reveal God to man, and man to

But it is in the person and mission of the Incarnate Word that
we learn that God is love. That God gave his Son for us, and yet
gives his Spirit to us — and thus gives us himself — are the mysteries
and transcendent proofs of the most august proposition in the uni-
verse. The gospel. Heaven's wisdom and power combined, God's own
expedient for the renovation of human nature, is no more nor less than
the illustration and proof of this regenerating proposition.

Thus we hasten to our subject. Having glanced at the great land-
marks of the plantations of nature and grace, now that we may, in
the light of truth, ascertain the true and hoaven-taught doctrine of


Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 52 of 70)