Alexander Campbell.

The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

. (page 54 of 70)
Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 54 of 70)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing
which he has found, or all that about which he has sworn falsely: he
shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part
more thereto, and give it to him to whom it appertaineth, in the day
of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering to
the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estima-
tion, for a trespass offering to the priest. And the priest shall make
an atonement for him before the Lord; and it shall be forgiven him,
for any thing of all that he has done, in trespassing therein."

Thus spoke the Lord to Moses. From which we learn that, under
the former economy, a trespass offering to the Lord without restitution
to man. or restitution to man without a trespass offering to the Lord,
availed not to forgiveness. Thus was repentance preached by Moses.
But the law went into details still more minute than these; for pro-
vision is made for the case in which the sinner could not find the


person against whom he had sinned. In such a case, the penitent
sinner was to seek out the kindred of the injured party, and If he
could find any kinsman, he was to recompense this kinsman- but if
he could not find a kinsman, he must recompense it to the Lord,
besides offering his trespass offering. It was to go into the Lord's
treasury. (See Num. v. 7, 8.) The principle uniformly, in all cases
of sin against man, was, that the sinner "shall make amends for
the harm he hath done, . . . and shall add the fifth part thereto"
(Lev. V. 16).

If any one suppose that repentance is to be less sincere or unequiv-
ocal under the gospel, let him remember that Zaccheus proposed more
than adding a fifth, he would restore fourfold, and that Jesus appro-
bated him for so doing. Indeed, John the Immerser demanded fruits
worthy of repentance or of reformation, and Paul proclaimed that
those who turn to God should do works meet or worthy of repentance.
(Acts xxvi. 20.)

"Works worthy of repentance" is a phrase which can be understood
in no other sense than those works which make amends for the harm
done to men, and the dishonor done to God, as far as both are pos-
sible. Can any man think that he is sorry for that sin or wrong which
he has done, when he makes no effort to make amends to him who
was injured in person, character, or property, by it? Works worthy
of hia professed repentance are wanting, so long as any being whom
he has injured in person, property, or reputation, is unredressed to the
utmost extent of his ability.

One of our most popular commentators says — and with much truth
—"No man should expect mercy at the hand of God, who having
wronged his neighbor, refuses, when he has it in his power to make
restitution. Were he to weep tears of blood, both the justice and
mercy of God would shut out his prayer, if he make not his neigh-
bor amends for the injury he has done him. He is a dishonest man,
who illegally holds the property of another in his hands."— Ar/aw
Clarke on Gen. xl. 2.

Every preacher of repentance should insist upon these evidences of
sincerity, both for the satisfaction of the penitent himself, and for
the good of the community. Acts xix. 18-20 is quite to the point:
"Many that believed came and confessed, and showed their deeds-
many of them also who used curious arts, bringing their books together,
burnt them before all: and they computed the value of them, and
found it fifty thousand pieces of silver." This was making restitution,
in their case, as far as possible; and the principle here evinced is
applicable in every other case.

But in pursuing this subject so far, we have passed over the Iwund-
aries of repentance, and sometimes confounded it with reformation.


This is owing to the licentious use of language to which modern
theology has so richly contributed. We shall, however, redress this
wrong as far as practicable, by a few remarks on


The word metanoia, used by the sacred writers and heaven-taught
preachers of the New Economy as indicative of the first effect of faith,
as has been often showed, is different from that which our word
repentance fitly represents. It literally imports a change of mind;
but, as Parkhurst, Campbell, and many others say, such a change of
mind "as influences one's subsequent behaviour for the better." Dr.
Campbell (Diss, vi., p. 3) says: "It has been observed by some, and
I think with reason, that the former Imetanoeo] denotes, properly, a
change to the better; the latter [metamelomai'] barely a change,
whether to the better or to the worse; that the former marks a change
of mind that is durable, and produces consequences; the latter
expresses only a present uneasy feeling of regret, without regard to
duration or effects: in fine, that the first may be translated into Eng-
lish, 7 reform, the second, I repent, in the familiar acceptation of the
words." Now as every one who reforms repents, but as every one who
repents does not reform, this distinction is necessary and proper; and
there is nothing hazarded, nothing lost by translating the former I
reform, and the latter I repent. There is something gained, especially
in all places where we have the word in the imperative mood, because
then it is of importance to know precisely what is intended. If we are
commanded only to change our mind, or to be sorry for the past, we
have obeyed when we feel regret; but if more than mere change of
mind or regret is intended, we have not obeyed the commandment
until we change for the better. Now it is, we think, very evident from
various passages of the sacred writings of the Apostles, and from their
speeches, that they commanded more than a simple change of mind as
respected past conduct, or mere sorrow for the past. Peter commanded
the thousands assembled on the day of Pentecost, who had changed
their minds, and who were sorry for the past, to do something which
they had not yet done; and that something is in the common version
rendered repent, and in the new version reform, and in the old Eng-
lish Bible "amend your lives." The word here used is the imperative
of metanoeo. Judas repented, and many like him, who never re-
formed; and, therefore, it is of importance that this distinction should
be kept in view. But for a more full illustration and proof of this we
must refer our readers to Note 39, page 74, Family Testament.

Repentance is not reformation, but is necessary to it; for whoever
reforms, must first repent. Reformation is, indeed, the carrying out
of the purpose into our conduct. But as reformation belongs rather to


another part of our essay than the present, we shall, on the premises
already before us, pause and offer a few reflections.

lu the preceding definitions of words and ideas, it would appear
that we have a literal and unfigurative representation of the whole
process of what is figuratively called regeneration. For, as we shall
soon see, the term rtytneration is a figure of speech which very appro-
priately, though analogically, represents the reformation or renovation
of life of which we have now spoken.

That the preceding arrangement is not arbitrary, but natural and
necessary, the reader will perceive when he reflects, that the thing
done, or the fact, must precede the report or testimony concerning it;
that the testimony concerning it must precede the belief of it; that
belief of the testimony must precede any feeling in correspondence
with the fact testified; and that feeling must precede action in con-
formity to it. Fact, testimony, faith, feeling, action, are therefore
bound together by a natural and gracious necessity, which no inge-
nuity can separate. And will not every Christian say, that when a
person feels and acts according to the faith, or the testimony of God,
he is a new creature — regenerate — truly converted to God? He that
believes the facts testified in the record of God, understands them,
feels according to their nature and meaning, and acts in correspon-
dence with them — has undergone a change of heart and of life which
makes him a new man.

This is that moral change of heart and life which is figuratively
called regeneration. We are not to suppose that regeneration is some-
thing which must be added to the faith, the feeling, and the action or
behavior, which are the effects of the testimony of God understood
and embraced; or which are the impress of the divine facts attested
b> Prophets and Apostles. It is only another name for the same proc-
ess in all its parts.

It may also be observed that numerous figures and analogies are
used by the inspired writers to set forth this change, as well as other
leading truths and lessons in the Bible. In their collective capacity
Christians are called a kingdom, a nation, a generation, a family, a
house, a flock, a city, a temple, a priesthood, etc. In their individual
capacity they are called kings, priests, soldiers, citizens, children,
sheep, branches, stones, etc. They are said to be begotten, born, regen-
erated, builded, engrafted, converted, created, planted. Now, under
whatever figure they are considered or introduced, reason argues that
every thing said of them should be expressed in conformity with the
figure under which they are presented. Are they called sheep f Then
he that presides over them is called a f^hephcrd ; their enemies are
icolves and dogs: their sustenance is the green pasture: their place of
safety and repose, the sheepfoUl ; their errors are wanderings and


sprayings; their conversion, a return; and their good behavior a hear-
ing of the voice, or a following ol the Shepherd. Are they called chil-
dren? Then collectively they are a family; they are begotten and
born again; God is their Father ; their separation is an adoption; Jesus
is their elder brother ; they are heirs of God; they live and walk with
God. Are they priests? Jesus is their High Priest; the church is
their temple; the Saviour is their altar; their songs, their praises are
incense ascending to heaven; and their oblations to the poor, their
•works of love, are sacrifices most acceptable to God. Are they called
citizens? The church is then the kingdom of heaven; Jerusalem is
the mother of them all; formerly they were aliens, and their naturali-
zation is regeneration. Are they called branches? Then Jesus is the
true vine; his Father, the vine-dresser ; their union with Christ, an
engrafting; the disciple of the gospel, a pruning ; and their good works
are fruits of righteousness.

Thus there is no confusion of metaphors in the Scriptures of truth,
in the dialect of heaven. It is the language of Ashdod, it belongs to
the confusion of Babel, to mingle and confound all figures and anal-
ogies. Hence we so often hear of being born again, without any allu-
sion to a family or a kingdom! and of regeneration as antecedent to
faith or repentance! Had a modern assembly of Divines been
employed to accommodate the Scripture style to their orthodox senti-
ments, we should not have had to read all the Old Testament and all
the historic books of the New, to find the subject of regeneration but
once proposed to an alien, as the fact is; but then we should have
found it in the history of Abel, of Enoch, of Noah, and of Abraham,
if not in every section of the law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the
Psalms. John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Holy Twelve would have had
it in every sermon; and true faith would have been always defined as
the fruit of regeneration.

But Jesus had a kingdom in his eye and in his discourse before he
ever mentioned being "born again" to Nicodemus: for unless there
was a family, a state, or a kingdom to be born into, it is impossible
for any one to be born into it. And if the kingdom of heaven only
began to be after Jesus entered into heaven; or, if it was only ap-
proaching from the ministry of John to the day of Pentecost, then
it would have been preposterous indeed — an incongruity of which no
inspired man was ever guilty — to call any change of heart or life
a regeneration or a new birth. It is true that good men in all ages
were made such by facts, testimony, faith, and feeling, by a change
of heart, by the Spirit of God; but the analogy or figure of being
born, or of being regenerated, only began to be used wh'en the
kingdom of heaven began to be preached, and when men began to
press into it.


Wo are now, perhaps, better prepared to consider the proper Import
and meajiing of "regeneration" in general, and of "the hath of regen-
eration" in particular.


This word is found but twice in all the oracles of God — once in
Matt. xix. 28, and once in Tit iii. 5. In the former it is almost
universally understood to mean a new state of tilings, not of persons —
a peculiar era, in which all things are to be made new: — such as the
formation of a new church on the day of Pentecost, or the commence-
ment of the Millennium, or the general resurrection. The Biblical
critics oif eminence have assigned it to one or other of these great
changes in the state of things. So we use the word revolution, and
the phrase the Rcvohition, to express a change in the political state of
things. The most approved punctuation and version of this passage
renders it altogether evident that a new era is alluded to: "Jesus
answered, Indeed, I say to you, that at the renovation [regeneration]
when the Son of Man shall be seated on his glorious throne, you, my
followers, sitting also upon twelve thrones, shall judge the twelve
tribes of Israel." This being so evident, and so often alluded to in.
our former writings, we shall proceed to the remaining occurrence.
Tit. iii. 5.

All the new light which we propose to throw on this passage will
be gathered from an examination of the acceptation of the word
generation in the sacred writings. One reason for this is, that we
object to a peremptory decision of the meaning of a word which
occurs only in the passage under discussion, from our reasonings upon
the isolated passage in which it is found. In such a case, if we can
not find the whole word in any parallel passages, the proper substi-
tute is the root or branches of that word, so far as they are employed
by the same writers. Moreover, we think it will be granted, that what-
ever may be the Scriptural acceptation of the word generation, regen-
eration is only the repetition of that act or process.

After a close examination of all the passages in which generation
occurs in the writings of the Hebrew Prophets and Apostles, we find
it used only in two acceptations — as descriptive of the whole process
of creation and of the thing created. A race of men, or a particular
class of men, is called a generation ; but this is its figurative, rather
than its literal meaning. Its literal meaning is the formation or
creation of any thing. Thus it is first used in the Holy Scriptures.
Moses (Gen. ii. 4) calls the creation, or whole process of formation
of the heavens and the earth, "the generations of the heavens and
the earth." The account of the formation of Adam and Eve, and also
the account of the creations of Adam and Eve, are, by the same


writer, called "the book or record of the generations of Adam" (Gen.
V 1). This is the literal import of the word; consequently, regen-
eration literally indicates the whole process of renovating or new-
creating man.

This process may consist of numerous distinct acts; but it is in
accordance with general usage to give to the beginning, or consumma:-
ing act, the name of the whole process. For the most part, however,
the name of the whole process is given to the consummating act,
because the process is always supposed incomplete until that act is per-
formed. For example: in the process of tanning, fulling, forging,, etc.,
the subject of these operations is not supposed to be tanned, fulled,
forged, until the last act is performed. So in all the processes of
nature — in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms — the last
act consummates the process. To all acquainted with the proces.s
of animalization, germination, crystalization, etc., no further ar-
gument is needed. But, in the style of our American husbandmen,
no crop or animal is made, until it come to maturity. We often
hear them say of a good shower, or of a few clear days, "This is
the making of the wheat, or com." In the same sense it is thai
most Christians call regeneration, the new birth; though being
born is only the last act in natural generation, and the last act in

In this way the new birth and regeneration are used indiscrimi-
nately by commentators and writers on theology; and, by a figure tf
speech, it is justified on well-established principles of rhetor'c. This
leads us to speak particularly of


By "the bath of regeneration" is not meant the first, second, or third
act; but the last act of regeneration which completes the whole, and
is, therefore, used to denote the new birth. This is the reason why our
Lord and his Apostles unite this act with water. Being born of water,
in the Saviour's style, and the bath of regeneration, in the Apostles'
style, in the judgment of all writers and critics of eminence, refer to
one and the same act — viz.: Christian baptism. Hence it came to pass
that all the ancients (as fully proved in our first Extra on Remission)
used the word regeneration as synonymous in signification with immer-
sion. In addition to the numerous quotations made in our Essay on
Remission, from the creeds and liturgies of Protestant churches, we
shall add another from the Common Prayer of the Church of England,
showing unequivocally that the learned Doctors of that church used
the words regeneration and baptism as synonymous. In the address
and prayer of the minister after the baptism of the child, he is com-
manded to say:


"Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is r?generate,
and grafted into the body of Christ's church; let us give thanks unto
Almighty (lod for these benefits, and with one accord make our prayer
unto him, that this child may load the rest of his life according to
this beginning."

Then shall be said, all kneeling:

"We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath
pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive
him for thine own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy
holy church. And humbly we beseech thee to grant that he, being
dead unto sin, and living unto righteousness, and being buried with
Christ in his death, may crucify the old man, and utterly abolish the
whole body of sin; and that as he is made partaker of the death of
thy Son, he may also be partaker of his resurrection; so that finally,
with the residue of thy holy church, he may be an inheritor of thine
everlasting kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine, p. 628, shows that St. Cyprian,
St. Athanasius, and, indeed, all the Greek Fathers, did regard baptism
as the consummating act; and therefore they called it teliosis, the con-
summation. These authorities weigh nothing with us; but as they
weigh with our opponents, we think it expedient to remind them on
which side the Fathers depose in the case before us. By these quota-
tions we would prove no more than that the ancients understood the
washing of regeneration; and, indeed, used the term regeneration as
synonymous with baptism.

But were we asked for the precise import of the phrase, "washing
or bath of regeneration," either on philological principles, or as
explained by the Apostles, we would give it as our judgment that the
phrase is a circumlocution or periphrasis for water. It is loutron, a
vord which more properly signifies the vessel that contains the water
than the water itself; and is, therefore, by the most learned critics
and translators, rendered bath, as indicative either of the vessel con-
taining the fluid, or of the use made of the fluid in the vessel. It is
therefore by a metonymy the water of baptism, or the water in which
we are regenerated. Paul was a Hebrew, and spoke in the Hebrew style.
We must learn that style before we fully understand the Apostle's
style. In other words, we must studiously read the Old Testaments
before we can accurately understand the New. What more natural
for a Jew accustomed to speak of "the water of purification," of "the
water of separation."* to speak of "the bath of regeneration"? If
the phrase "water of purification" meant water used for the purpose
of purifying a person — if "the water of separation" meant water used
for separating a person, what more natural than "the bath of regen-
eration" should mean water used for regenerating a person?

•See Num. viii. 7; xix. 9. i:!. '20, 21; xxxi. 2.T


But the New Testament itself confirms this exposition of the phrase.
We find the word loutron once more used by the same Apostle, in the
same connection of thought. In his letter to the Ephesians, chap. v.
26, he affirms that Jesus has sanctified (sieparated, purified with the
water of purification) the church by a louiron of water — "a bath
of water, with the word" — "having cleansed it by a bath of water,
with the word." This is still more decisive. The common version, sd
fully aware that the sense of this passage agrees with Tit. iii. 5.
has in both places used the word ivashing, and Macknight the
term Mth, as the import of loutron. What is called the washing,
or iath of regeneration, in the one passage, is, in the other, called
"the washing," or "bath of water." What is called "saved" in one,
is called "cleansed" in the other; and what is called "the renewal of the
Holy Spirit" in the one, is called "the word" in the other; because
the Holy Spirit consecrates or cleanses through the word. For thus
prayed the Messiah, "Consecrate them through the truth: thy word
is the truth." And again, "You are clean through the word that I
have spoken to you."

To the same effect, Paul, to the Hebrew Christians, says, "Having
your hearts sprinkled from a guilty conscience, and your bodies
washed with pure water" — the water of purification, the water of re-
generation. For the phrase "pure water" must be understood, not of
the quality of the water, but metonymically, of the effect, the cleans-
ing, the washing, or the purifying of the person — "having your bodies
or persons tcashed with pure water," or water that purifiss or cleanses.

None, acquainted with Peter's style, will think it that Paul
represents persons as saved, cleansed, or sanctified by water; seeing
Peter unequivocally asserts that "we are saved" through water, or
through baptism, as was Noah and his family through water and faith
in God's promise. "The antitype" (like figure) "immersion, does also
now save us."

Finally, our great Prophet, the Messiah, gives to water the same
iplace and power in this work of regeneration. For when speaking
of being horn again — when explaining to Nicodemus the neic birth, he
says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not
enter the kingdom of God." May we not, then, supported by such
high authorities, call that water of which a person is born again, the
water or bath of regeneration?


We have already seen that the consummation of the process of gen-
eration or creation is in the birth of the creature formed. So it \°i
in the moral generation, or in the great process of regeneration. Thery
is a state of existence from which he that is born passes; and there


is a state of existence into which he enters after birth. This is true
of the whole animal creation, whether oviparous or viviparous. Now
the manner of existence, or the mode of life, is wholly changed; and
he is, in reference to the former state, dead, and to the new state alive.
So in moral regeneration. The subject of this great change before his
new birth existed in one state; but after it he exists in another. He
stands in a new relation to God, angels, and men. He is now born
Oi God, and has the privilege of being a son of God, and is conse-
quently pardoned, justified, sanctified, adopted, saved. The state which
he left was a state of condemnation, what some call "the state of
nature." The state into which he enters is a state of favor, in which

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 54 of 70)