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The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

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praises, and keeping the narrative, the epistle, or the speech, so long
before the minds of all, as is necessary for the youngest disciple in
the congregation to understand it, and to become deeply interested in
it, will do more in one year than is done in many on the plan of the
popular meetings of the day.

Great attention should be paid to all the allusions, in any composi-
tion, to the peculiarities of time, place, and circumstance, to the geo-


graphical, historical, and chronological particulars of all questions of
fact connected with all persons of note in the narrative: for these
are often the best interpreters of style and expositors of the meaning
Oi what is written.

This searching, examining, comparing, and ruminating upon the
Holy Scriptures in private, in the family, in the congregation, can not
fail to make us learned in the knowledge of God, and in the knowledge
of men. The Bible contains more real learning than all the volumes
of men. It instructs us in all our natural, moral, political, and relig-
ious relations. Though it teaches us not astronomy, medicine, chem-
istry, mathematics, architecture, it gives us all that knowledge which
adorns and dignifies our moral nature, and fits us for happiness.
Happy the person who meditates upon it day and night! He grows and
flourishes in moral health and vigor, as the trees upon the water
courses. His leaf never fades — his fruit never fails.

The congregations of the saints want system in furthering their
knowledge of this book. The simple reading of large portions in a
desultory manner, is not without some good effect; for there is light,
and majesty, and life in all the oracles of God; no man can listen to
them without edification. But the profit accruing from such readings
is not a tithe of that which might be obtained in the proper systematic
reading and examination of them. The congregation is the school
of Christ, and every pupil there should feel that he has learned some-
thing every day he waits upon his Master. He must take the Master's
book with him, and, like every other good and orderly pupil, he "must
open it and study it with all the helps which the brotherhood, his
school-fellows, can furnish for his_ more comprehensive knowledge of
all its saluta,ry communications.

A Christian scribe, well instructed in its contents, or a plurality of
such, who can bring out of their intellectual treasury things new and
old, will greatly advance the students in this heavenly science; but
in the absence of such the students must be self-taught; and self-
taught scholars are generally the best taught: for they can not progress
unless they study with diligence and carefully learn the rudiments of
every science.

To give some idea of the diligence and attention to the minutest
matters, which are necessary to proficiency in the knowledge of all
that is written in the New Testament, we shall suppose that the dis-
ciples have for their lesson on some particular day the Nativity of
the Messiah. The second chapter of Matthew is read. After reading
this chapter, or the whole of the first section of Matthew's Testimony,
the elder or president for the day asks some brother, a good reader,
to read what the other evangelists have testified on this subject. Mark
and John being silent on the nativity, he reads Luke, 2d section,


2d chapter, from the 1st to the 41st verse. After the reading of this
chapter, the following points are the subjects of inquiry, and most or
them are proposed to the brethren for solution: —

1. Who was Cesar Augustus, and over what people did he reign?

2. At what period of his reign was the edict for enrolment issued,
or when did the first register take effect?

3. What did Syria include, and what were its boundaries?

4. Who presided over Syria at the time of the first register?

5. Who was king in Judea at this time?

6. How far did Judea extend, or in what part of the Holy Land was
it situate?

7. In what country was Jerusalem, where situated, and by what
Other names was it known?

8. What was the native city of Joseph?

9. Where was Nazareth situated, and in what district?

10. What was the boundary of Galilee, and what were its principal

11. In what canton or district was Bethlehem, and how far from

12. Who were the magians?

13. Why was 'Herod alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him," when
the magians reported the Stal* in the East?

14. What were the scribes and chief priests assembled by Herod,
and why were they called together?

15. By what means did they decide the questions referred to

16. On what Prophet" do they rely, and where shall the quotation
be found?

17. Of what family and lineage were Joseph and Mary?

18. What does "betrothed" mean?

19. By what means did the magians find the house in which the
Messiah was bom?

20. Why did the magians not return to Herod?

21. Whether did the shepherds of Bethlehem or the eastern magians
first pay their respects to the Messiah?

22. In what quarter of the globe does Egypt lie?

23. How far from Bethlehem?

24. How long was the Messiah kept in Egj-pt?

25. Who predicted his return from Egypt, and where shall It be
found ?

26. Who foretold the slaughter of the male infants in Bethlehem,
and what instigated Herod to this cruel massacre?

27. Who succeeded Herod in the throne of Judea?

28. Why did Joseph retire to Nazareth?


29. What Prophet foretold this circumstance, and where shall it
be found?

These matters being all ascertained, to which the maps, geographical
and chronological indexes, and the appendix to the Family Testament
will greatly contribute, some moral reflections will naturally occur;
for in all these incidents are manifest the wisdom, care, and economy
of our heavenly Father, his faithfulness, condescension, and love;
the great variety of his instruments and agents; the ease with which
he frustrates the evil counsels and machinations of his enemies; the
infallible certainty of his foreknowledge; the perfect free agency oi
men, good and evil; the deep humiliation of his only begotten Son in
all the circumstances of his nativity. Irresistible arguments in favor
of his pretensions may be drawn from these ancient prophecies, from
their minuteness of time, place, and circumstance; many eloquent and
powerful lessons on human pride, vanity, and arrogance may be
deduced from the birth-place, cradle, and family connections of the
Heir of the Universe; and many other touching appeals to the heart,
which the birth, circumcision, and dedication of the Messiah, with all
the incidents in Bethlehem, in Jerusalem, and the Temple, connected
with his first appearance on earth furnish, will present themselves with
unfading freshness and beauty to the brotherhood of Christ.

A hint to the wise is sufl5cient. Were this method pursued only
two hours every Lord's day, every disciple giving his heart to the
work; and were the results then compared with the products of the
scrap Doctors, or sermonizers to sleeping and dreaming hearers, no
man, having any regard for his reputation for good sense, could give
his vote for the popular system.

A reformation in the manner of handling the living oracles is much
wanting; and the sooner and more generally it is attempted, the
greater will be the regenerating influence of the brotherhood on tbe
world. Intelligent in the Holy Scriptures, clothed with the armor of
light, every disciple going forth will be a David against the Philistines
— a host against the armies of the aliens. And better still, the words
of heavenly favor dwelling in his heart, he will carry with him into
every society a fragrance like the rose of Sharon — a sweetness of per-
fume like a garden which the Lord has blessed.

There appears to be wanting in some congregations a proper atten-
tion to discipline, and a due regard to decorum, in the management of
such cases as do occur. In every family, and in every congregation,
there is occasional need of discipline. Offenses, delinquencies, and
apostacies did occur in the congregations over which the apostles
either were, or had been, presidents; and they will happen again in
this state of discipline and trial in which we are all placed. They
must be expected; and every congregation ought to be prepared to act


upon the emergency with intelligence and decorum. Much injury
has been done to the progress of churches, by a remissness in atten-
tion to such cases, and in the manner they have been disposed of
when taken up.

Nothing can be more preposterous and revolting to every senti-
ment of good order and decorum, than that every offender and offense
should at the very offset be dragged into the public assembly. Persons
who have the care of a congregation, the seniors whose age and expe-
rience have taught them prudence, ought to be first informed of such
cases; and they ought not to lay a case before the congregation till
they have prepared it for ihe action of the congregation. Every novice
is not to feel himself at liberty to disturb the congregation by present
ing, on his own responsibility and at his own discretion, a complaint
against a brother, whether it be of a public or private nature.

But we are now speaking of the manner of procedure in such cases.
The most tender regard for the feelings of all, the utmost sympathy
for the offender, the most unyielding firmness in applying the correc-
tives which the Head of the church has commanded, and the necessity
of acting promptly in accordance with the law in the case, are matters
of much importance.

No passion, no partiality, no bad feeling — nothing but love and
piety, but faithfulness and truth; nothing but courtesy and gentleness,
should ever appear in the house of God. And when any one is found
guilty and excluded from the society, it should be done with all solem-
nity, and with prayer that the institution of Christ may be a blessing
to the transgressor.

But evil-doers, or those who act not honorably according to the law
of Christ, ought not to be tolerated in the professed family of God.
Such persons are a dead weight on the whole society — spots in every
feast of love, and blemishes upon the whole profession. One sinner
destroys much good: yet separation or abscission, like amputation, is
only to be used in the last stage, when all other remedies, of remon
strance and admonition, expostulation and entreaty, have fafled. To
prevent gangrene, or an injury to the whole body, amputation is a neces-
sary, an indispensable remedy. More strictness, more firmnrss. an 1
more tenderness in such cases, would add greatly to the moral influence
of every society. A few persons walking together in the bonds of Clins
tian affection, and under the discipline of Christ, is better than the
largest assembly in which there are visibly and manifestly many who
fear not God, and keep not his commandments.

In the house of God all should be purity, reverence, meekness,
brotherly kindness and love. Confidence in the honesty and sincerity
of our brethren, is the life of communion. To feel ourselves united
with them who are determined for eternal life, and resolved to seek


first of all, chief of all, above all, the kingdom of heaven and the
righteousness required in it, is most animating, comforting, exhilarat-
ing. But to be doubtful whether we are uniting with a mass of igno-
rance, corruption, and apathy, is as rottenness in the bones; love
waxes cold, and then we have the form, without the power of

That the church may have a regenerating influence upon society at
large, there is wanting a fuller display of Christian philanthropy in
all her public meetings; care for the poor manifested in the liberality
of her contributions; the expression of the most unfeigned sympathy
for the distresses of mankind, not only among the brotherhood, but
among all men; and an ardent zeal for the conversion of sinners pro-
portioned to her professed appreciation of the value of her own salva-
tion, and to her resources and means of enlightening the world on the
things unseen and eternal. The full display of these attributes are
the most efficient means of causing the gospel to sound abroad, and
to achieve new conquests amongst our fellow citizens. The Christian
h(:alth and vigor of every church is to be estimated more by her exer-
tions and success in bringing sinners home to God, than by all her
other attainments. Too long has it been considered the duty, the
almost exclusive duty of the preacher, to convert the world. He must
spend his time and wear out his constitution in journeyings and preach-
ings, while the individual members of the church are to mind their own
business, seek their own wealth and domestic comfort. He must endure
the heat and the cold, forsake his wife and family, and commit the
management of his affairs to others, while they have only to look on
and pray for his success. Strange infatuation! Has he received a
commission from the skies — has he been drafted out of the ranks to
go to war, and they all left at home to take care of their wives and
children! Some may believe this — some may imagine that it is his
duty alone, to spend his time and his talents in this work, and theirs
daily to labor for their own interest and behoof; but surely such ar
not the views and feelings of our brethren!

The work of the Lord will never progress — or, in other words, the
regenerating influence of the church will amount to little or nothing, so
long as it is thought to be not equally the duty of every member,
but the special duty of one or two, denominated preachers, to labor
for the Lord.

There is either a special call, a general call, or no call at all, to
labor for the conversion of the world. If there be a few specially
called, the rest have nothing to do but to mind their own concerns;
"to seek their own things, and not the things of Jesus Christ." If none
be called, then it is the duty of none, and the Lord has nothing for his
people to do — no world to convert; or, at least, nothing for them to


do in that work. None of us are prepared for the consequences of
either of these assumptions. It follows, then, that it is the duty of
all to labor according to their respective abilities in this work. All
are called to labor for the Lord. I hold that every citizen in Christ's
kingdom is bound to take up arms for the King, as much as I am; and
if he can not go to fight the battles of the Lord, he must take care of
the wives and children of those who can, and who will fight for their
King and country. But the expense of the war must be borne by the
subjects of the crown; and as the Lord will not have any tax-gatherers
in his kingdom, but accepts only voluntary contributions, he makes
a mark over against the names of those who do nothing, and he will
settle with them at his return. He calls even the contributions for
the gospel made by those at home, "a fragrant odor, a sacrifice accept-
able, well pleasing to God."

But we are afraid of doing any thing of this sort, lest we should
be like some other people, who we think have acted imprudently.
Strange, indeed, that when any thing has been once abused, it is never
again to be used! But I have inadvertently strayed off from my pur-
pose. The manner in which the brethren labor for the salvation of
the world, is all that comes within our prescribed limits. On this,
enough has been said. Let the brethren solemnly consider the things
that are wanting to give to their meetings that influence which they
ought to exert upon themselves and upon society at large.

We are as susceptible of receiving moral and religious advantages
from our own good order and decorum in the congregation, as those
who attend our meetings as spectatOTS. And in this instance, as well
as in all the variety of doing good, he that waters others is again
watered in return; for he that blessed others, is always blessed in
blessing them. None enjoy the blessings of the gospel more fully than
they who are most active and influential in blessing others. "What
happy seasons are those in which we see many turning to the Lord!
Now if we would have a perpetual feast, we must be perpetually
devoted to the promotion of the happiness of others. We must live for
God, as well as live to God.

In fllling up these outlines, other matters still more minute, but
perhaps equally important, will present themselves to the attention
of the brethren. Now we can not set about these matters too soon
The time has again come, when judgment must begin at the house of
God. The people who have long enjoyed the word of life and the
Christian institutions, must soon come to a reckoning. They must
give an account of their stewardship, for the Lord has promised to
call them to judgment. An era is just at the door, which will be
known as the Regeneration for a thousand years to come. The Lord
Jesus will judge that adulterous brood, and give them over to the


burning flame, who have broken the covenant, and formed alliances
with the governments of the earth. Now the cry is heard in our
land, "Come out of her, my people, that you partake not of her
sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues." The Lord
Jesus will soon rebuild Jerusalem, and raise up the tabernacle of
David which has so long been in ruins. Let the church prepare her-
self for the return of her Lord, and see that she make herself ready
for his appearance,


All the kingdoms of this world shall soon become the kingdoms of
our Lord the King. He will hurl all the present potentates from
their thrones. He will grind to power the despotisms, civil and eccle-
siastic, and with the blast of his mouth give them to the four winds of
heaven. The antichristian power, whether it be called Papistical,
Mahometan, Pagan, or Atheistic, will as certainly be destroyed aa
Jesus reigns in heaven. No trace of them shall remain. The best
government on earth, call it English or American, has within it the
seeds of its own destruction — carries in its constitution a millstone
which will sink It to the bottom of the sea. They acknowledge not
that God has set his Christ upon his throne. They will not kiss the
Son. Society under their economy is not blessed. The land mourns
through the wickedness of those who sit in high places. Ignorance,
poverty, and crime abound, because of the injustice and iniquities of
those who guide the destinies of nations. Men that fear not God,
that love not his Son, and that regard not the maxims of his govern-
ment, yet wear the sword, and sway the sceptre in all lands.

This is wholly adverse to the peace and happiness of the world.
Therefore, he will break them to pieces like a potter's vessel, and set
up an order of society in which justice, inflexible justice shall have
uncontrolled dominion. Jesus will be universally acknowledged by
all the race of living men, and all nations shall do him homage. This
state of society will be the consummation of the Christian religion
in all its moral influences and tendencies upon mankind.

How far this change is to be effected by moral, and how far by
physical means, is not the subject of our present inquiry. But the
preparation of a people for the coming of the Lord must be the result
of the restoration of the ancient gospel and order of things. And
come when it may, the day of the regeneration of the world will be
a day as wonderful and terrible as was the day of the deluge, of
Sodom's judgment, or of Jerusalem's catastrophe. Who shall stand
when the Lord does this? But all the regenerations, physical and
moral, individual, congregational, or national, are but types and shad-
ows, or means of preparation for the



The Bible begins with the generations of the heavens and the earth;
but the Christian revelation ends with the regeneration or new crea-
tion of the heavens and the earth. This is the ancient promise of
God, confirmed to us by the Christian Apostles. The present elements
are to be changed by fire. The old or antediluvian earth was purified
by water; but the present earth is reserved for fire, with all the works
of man that are upon it. It shall be converted into a lake of liquid
fire. But the dead in Christ will have been regenerated in body before
the old earth is regenerated by fire. The bodies of the saints will be
as homogeneous with the new earth and heavens as their present
bodies are with the present heavens and earth. God re-creates, regen-
erates, but annihilates nothing; and therefore the present earth is
not to be annihilated. The best description which we can give of
this regeneration, is in the words of one who had a vision of it on the
island of Patmos. He describes it as far as is connected with the
New Jerusalem, which is to stand upon the new earth, under the
canopy of the new heaven. As the natural close of our essay on regen-
eration, we shall transcribe the picture of this new earth and the New
Jerusalem, drawn by the direction of that Spirit to whom the future
in as intelligible as the past: —

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven
and the former earth were passed away; and the sea was no more.
And I, John, saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, descending from
God out of heaven, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying. Behold the tabernacle
of God is with men, and he shall pitch his tent among them, and they
shall be his people, and God himself shall be among them — their God.
And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall
be no more, nor grief, nor crying; nor shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away." . . .

"And he brought me in the Spirit to a great and high mountain;
and he showed me the city, the holy Jerusalem, coming down out of
heaven from God, having the glory of God; (its lustre was like to
that of a precious gem, even as a jasper stone, clear as crystal;)
having a great and high wall; having also twelve gates, and over
the gates twelve angels, and names written upon them, which are tho
names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel: on the east, three
gates; on the north, three gates; on the south, three gates; and on
the west, three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve founda-
tions; and on them the names of the Twelve Apostl-es of the Lamb. And
he that spoke with nie had a golden reed that he might measure the
city, and its gates, and wall. And the city is square, and its length
is equal to its breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve
thousand furlongs; and its length, and its breadth, and its height are
equal. And he measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits,
according to the measure of a man. that is. of an angel. And the
tvall was built of jasper, and the city was pure gold, like refined


glass. And the foundations of the walls of the city were adorned with
every precious stone. The first foundation is jasper; the second, sap-
phire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx;
the sixth, sardius; the seventh, crysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth,
topaz; the tenth, chrysoprasus; the eleventh, hyacinth; and the
twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: each of
the gates was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold,
like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God
Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no
need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of
the Lord enlightened it, and the Lamb is the light of it. And the
nations of the saved shall walk in its light; and the kings of the
earth do bring their glory and their honor into it. And the gates of
it shall not be shut by day, (for there shall be no night there.) And
they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. And
nothing unclean shall enter into it, nor any thing which practices
abomination and falsehood; but only those who are written in the
Lamb's book of life." . . .

"And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, issuing
out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb. In the midst of the broad
street, and on each side of the river, was the tree of life, producing

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 57 of 70)