Alexander Campbell.

The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

. (page 58 of 70)
Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 58 of 70)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

twelve kinds of fruit — producing its fruit every month: and the leaves
of the tree are for the healing of the nations. And every curse shall
cease. And the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and
his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face; and his
name shall be borne upon their foreheads. And there shall be no
more night; and they have no need of a lamp, nor of the light of the
sun; because the Lord God shall enlighten them; and they shall reign
for ever and ever."


God, our heavenly Father, works by means, as we all confess. His
means are wisely adapted to the ends he has in view. His agents
are the best agents for the work he has to accomplish. He employs
not physical means nor agents for moral ends and purposes. Nor
does he produce physical effects by moral means and agents. He ha.s
been pleased to employ not angels, but men in the work of regener-
ating the world. Men have written, printed, and published the gospel
for nearly two thousand years. They have perpetuated it from gen-
eration to generation. They have translated it from language to lan-
guage, and carried it from country to country. They have preached
it in word and in deed, and thus has it come down to our days.

During the present administration of the Reign of Heaven no
change is to be expected; no new mission is to be originated, no new
order of preachers is to be instituted. The King has gone to a far
country, and before his departure he called together his servants, and
committed to them the management of his estate till he return. He
has not yet come to reckon with them. They were commanded first to
proclaim the doctrine of hia reign; then to write it in a book, and


to commit it to faithlul men who should be able to teach it corre<.tly
to others. By these faithful men the records have been kept; and
through their vigilance and industry they have been guarded from
corruption, interpolation, and change. One generation handed them
over to the next; and if ignorant and unfaithful copyists neglected
their duty, others more faithful have corrected them; and now we are
able to hear the words which Jesus spoke, and to read the very periods
penne<l by the Apostles.

Thus whatever the Prophets and the Apostles have achieved since
their death, has been accomplished by human agents like ourselves.
Where men have not carried this intelligence in speech or writing,
not one of our race knows God or his anointed Saviour. No angel
nor Holy Spirit has been sent to the Pagan nations: and God has
exerted no power out of his word to enlighten or reclaim savage
nations. These indisputable facts and truths have much moral mean-
ing, and ought to give a strong impulse to our efforts to regenerate
the world.

The best means of doing this is the object now before us; and this
is one, the importance of which can not be easily exaggerated. Thero
are three ways of proceeding in this case, which now seem to occupy
a considerable share of public attention. These are properly called
theorizing, declaiming, and preaching; on each of which we may offer
a remark or two in passing.

The theorizers are those who are always speculating upon correct
notions, or the true theory of conversion. They are great masters of
method, and with some of them it is a ruinous error to place faith
before regeneration, or repentance after faith. Heresy, with these, is
the derangement of the method which they have proposed for God to
work by in converting the sinner. And the true faith which is con-
nected with salvation is apprehension of this theory and acquiescence
in it. These are all theorists, heady, or speculative Christians; and
with them the whole scheme of redemption is a splendid theory. These
are all cold-hearted and light-headed Christians. "Take off their
heads," as a Methodist declaimer once said, "and you have got all
their religion!"

Our maxim is. Theory for the Doctors, and medicine for the sick.
Doctors fatten on theories, but the patients die who depend on theory
for cure. A few grains of practice is worth a pound of theory. The
mason and the carpenter buihl the house by rule; but he that inhabits
it lives by eating and drinking. No man ever was cured physically,
politically, morally, or religiously by learning a correct theory of hi.s
physical, political, moral, or religious malady. As soon might we
expect to heal an ulcer on the liver by a discourse upon that organ,
its functions, its diseases, and their cure, as to restore a sinner by


means of the theory of faith, repentance, regeneration, or effectual
calling. But on this enough has already been said, and more than
is necessary to convince those who can think, and who dare to reason
on such themes.

The declaimers are not those only who eulogize virtue and repro-
bate vice; but that large and respectable class who address themselves
to the passions, to the hopes and fears of men. They are those who
are so rhetorical upon the joys of heaven and the terrors of hell: who
horrify, terrify, and allure by the strength of their descriptions, the
flexions of their voices, the violence of their gestures, and their touch-
ing anecdotes. Their hearers are either dissolved in tears or frantic
with terror. These talk much about the heart; and on their theory
if a man's heart was extracted, all his religion would be extracted
with it. The religion of their converts flows in their blood, and has
its foundation in their passions.

The preachers, properly so called, first address themselves to the
understanding by a declaration or narrative of the wonderful works
of God. They state, illustrate, and prove the great facts of the gospel:
they lay the whole record before their hearers; and when they have
testified what God has done, what he has promised, and threatened,
they exhort their hearers on these premises, and persuade them to
obey the gospel, to surrender themselves to the guidance and direction
of the Son of God. They address themselves to the whole man, his
understanding, his will and his affections, and approach the heart by
taking the citadel of the understanding.

The accomplished and wise proclaimer of the word will find it
always expedient to address his audience in their proper character;
to approach them through their prejudices, and never to find fault
with those prepossessions which are not directly opposed to the import
and design of the ministry of reconciliation. He will set before
them the models found in the sacred history, which show that
the same discourse is not to be preached in every place and to
every assembly, even when it is necessary to proclaim the same gos-
pel. Paul's addresses to the Athenians, Lycaonians, Antiochans, to
Felix, the Jailor, and king Agrippa, are full of instruction on this

Augustine has written a treatise on preaching, which Luther pro-
posed to himself as a model; but it is said that Augustine fell as far
short of his own precepts as did any of his contemporaries. We all
can with more facility give precepts to others, than conform to them
ourselves. In Augustine's treatise, which in some respects influenced
and formed the style and plan of Luther, and through him all the
Protestants, there is much said on the best rhetorical mode of exhibit-
ing the truth to others; but it savors more of the art of the schoolmen,


than of the wisdom of the Apostles. He labors more ou the best styl3
and mode of expressing oneself, than on the things to be said.

Our best precepts in this matter are derived rather from the books
of Deuteronomy and Nehemiah, than from any other source out of
the New Testament. The book of Deuteronomy may be regarded aa
a series of sermons or discourses, delivered to the Jews by their great
teacher, Moses, rather than as a part of the Jewish history. Two
things in this book deserve great attention. The first is the sim-
plicity, fullness, and particularity of his narratives of the incidents on
the journey through the wilderness; — God's doings and theirs, for the
last forty years, are faithfully and intelligibly laid before them. Tho
next is the use made of these facts; the conclusions deduced, the argu-
ments drawn, and the exhortations tendered from these facts. For a
fair and beautiful specimen of this, let the curious reader take up and
carefully read the first four chapters of the book of Deuteronomy.
The fact and the application, the argument and the exhortation, after
the manner of Moses, can not fail to instruct him.

The writings of the scribes during the captivity, teach us how to
address a people that have lost the true meaning of the oracles of God.
The readings, expositions, exhortations and prayers of Ezra and Nehe-
miah, are full of instruction to Christians in these days of our Baby-
lonish captivity. To address a people long accustomed to hearing the
Scriptures, yet ignorant of them, and consequently disobedient, is a
matter that requires all the wisdom and prudence which can be
acquired from Jewish and Christian records.

The manner of address, next to the matter of it, is most important.
The weightiest arguments, the most solemn appeals, the most pathetic
expostulations, if not sustained by the gravity, sincerity, and piety
of the speaker, will be like water spilled upon the ground. A little
levity, a few witticisms, a sarcastic air, a conceited attitude, or a harsh
expression, will often neutralize all the excellencies of the most Scrip-
tural and edifying discourse. The great work of regenerating men is
too solemn, too awfully grave and divine, to allow anything of the
sort. Humility, sincerity, devotion, and all benevolence in aspect, as
well as in language, are essential to a successful proclamation of the
great facts of the Living Oracles. He that can smile in his discourse
at the follies, need not weep over the misfortunes of the ignorant and
superstitious. He that can, while preaching the gospel, deride and
ridicule the errors of his fellow-professors, is, for the time being, dis-
qualified to persuade them to accept the truth, or gladly to receive the
message of salvation.

Those preachers have been sadly mistaken who have sought popu-
larity by their eccentricities, and courted smiles rather than souls; —
who, by their anecdotes and foolish jests, told with the Bible before


them, have thought to make themselves useful by making themselves
ridiculous — and to regenerate men by teaching them how to violate
the precepts of the gospel, and to disdain the examples of the Great
Teacher and his Apostles.

It will not do. These are the weapons of this world, and no part
of the armor of light. Jesus and his Apostles never sanctioned, by
precept or example, such a course, and it is condemned by all sensible
men, whether Jews or Gentiles, professors or profane.

In attempting to regenerate men, we must place before them the
new man, not the old man, in the preacher as well as in the discourse;
and while we seek out arguments to convince and allure them, we
must show them in our speech and behaviour that we believe
what we preach. So did all the Apostles and Evangelists. They
commended themselves to every man's conscience, in the sight of Jesus

Error must be attacked. It must be opposed by the truth. But it
may be asked, whether the darkness may not be more easily dissipated
by the introduction of light, than by elaborate discourses upon its
nature and attributes? So with moral darknesis, or error. To dis-
sipate it most effectually, the easiest and readiest way is to introduce
the light of truth. No preacher is obliged to learn all the errors of
all ages, that he may be able to oppose them; nor is a congregation
enlightened in the knowledge of God by such expositions of error.
Present opposing errors may require attention; but, to attack
these most successfully it is only necessary to enforce the opposing

This is a very grave subject, and requires very grave attention.
Much depends upon a rational and Scriptural decision of the question,
Which is the most effectual way to oppose and destroy error? To aid
us in such an inquiry, it is necessary to examine how the Prophets and
Apostles opposed the errors of their times. The world was as full of
error in those days as it has ever been since. The idolatries of the
Pagan world, and the various doctrines of the sects of philosophers,
in, and out, of the land of Israel, threw as much labor into their handn
as the various heresies of apostate Christendom have thrown into ours.
Their general rule was to turn the artillery of light, and to gather
into a focus the arrows of day, upon the dark shades of any particular
error. Their philosophy was — The splendors of light most clearly
display the blackness of darkness, and scatter it from its presence.
Thus they opposed idolatry, superstition, and error of every name.
Going forth in the armor of light, as the sun in the morning, the
shades of the night retired from their presence, and the cheering
beams of day so gladdened the eyes of their converts that they loved
darkness no more. Let us go and do likewise.


An intimate acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures is the best fur-
niture for tlie worlt of regenerating men. The best piece 1 have found
In the celebrated treatise of Augustine on preaching is the following-
He then, who handles and teaches the word of God, should be
a defender of the true faith, and a vanquisher of error; should both
teach what is good, and unteach what is bad; and in accomplishing
this, the object of preaching, he should conciliate the adverse, excite
the remiss, and pour out to the ignorant their duty and future pros^
pects. When, however, he finds his audience favorably disposed, atten-
tive, and docile, or succeeds in rendering them so, then other things
are to be done, as the case may require. If they are to be instructea.
then, to make them acquainted with the subject in question, narraUon
must be employed; and to establish what is doubtful, resort must be
had to reasoning and evidence. If they are to be removed rather tha-i
I:;structed, then, to arouse them from stupor in putting thoir knowl-
edge into practice, and bring them to yield full assent to those things
which they confess to be true, there will be need of the higher powers
of eloquence; it will be necessary to entreat, reprove, excite, restrain,
and do whatsoever else may prove effectual in moving the heart.

All this, indeed, is what most men constantly do. with respect to
those things which they undertake to accomplish by speaking. Some,
however, in their way of doing it, are blunt, frigid, inelegant; others,
ingenious, ornate, vehement. Now he who engages in the business
of which I am treating, must be able to speak and dispute with wis-
dom, even if he can not do so with eloquence, in order that he may
profit his audience, although he will profit them less in this case,
than if he could combine wisdom and eloquence together. He wh.T
abounds in eloquence without wisdom, is certainly so much the more
to be avoided, from the very fact that the hearer is delighted with
what it is useless to hear, and thinks what is said, to be true, because
it is spoken with elegance. Nor did this sentiment escape the notice
of those among the ancients, who yet regarded it as important to teach
the art of rhetoric; they confessed, that wisdom without eloquence
profited states but very little, but that eloquence without wisdom
profited them not at all, and generally proved highly injurious. If.
therefore, those who taught the precepts of eloquence, even though
Ignorant of the true, that is, the celestial wisdom "which cometh down
from the Father of lights," were compelled by the instigations of truth
to make such a confession, and that, too. in the very books in which
their principles were developed; are we not under far higher obliga-
tions to acknowledge the same thing, who are the sons and daughters
of this heavenly wisdom? Now a man speaks with greater or less
wisdom, according to the proficiency he has made in the sacr3d Scrip-
tures. I do not mean in reading them and committing them to mem-
ory, but in rightly understanding them, and diligently searching into
their meaning. There are those who read them and yet neglect them
— who read them to remember the words, but neglect to understand
them. To these, without any doubt, those persons are to be preferred,
who, retaining less of the words of the Scriptures, search after their
genuine signification with the inmost feelings of the heart. But better
than both is he, who can repeat them when he pleases, and at the same
time understand them as they ought to be understood. — Fr07n the
Biblical Repository, p. 574.


Luther's favorite maxim was, ''Bonus Textuarius, Bonus Theo-
logus;" or, one well acquainted with the Scriptures makes a good

There is one thing, above all others, which must never be lost sight
of by him who devotes himself to the work of regeneration. This
all-important consideration is, that the end and object of all his labors
is to impress the moral image of God upon the moral nature of man.
To draw this image upon the heart, to transform the mind of man into
the likeness of God in all moral feeling, is the end proposed in the
remedial system. The mould into which the mind of man is to be
cast is the Apostles' doctrine; or the seal by which this impression
b: to be made is the testimony of God. The gospel facts are like so
many types, which, when scientifically arranged by an accomplished
compositor, make a complete form, upon which, when the mind of man
is placed by the power which God has given to the preacher, every
type makes its full impression upon the heart. There is written upon
the understanding, and engraved upon the heart, the will, or law, or
character of our Father who is in heaven.

The Apostles were these accomplished compositors, who gave us a
perfect "form of sound words." Our instrvimentality consists iu
bringing the minds of men to this form, or impressing it upon their
hearts. To do this most effectually, the preacher or evangelist must
have the word of Christ dwelling in him richly, in all wisdom; and
he must "study to show himself an approved workman, irreproachable,
rightly dividing the word of truth." He that is most eloquent and
wise in the Holy Scriptures, he who has them most at command, will
have the most power with men; because being furnished with the
words of the Holy Spirit, he has the very arguments which the Spirit
of God chooses to employ in quickening the dead, in converting sin-
ners. For to the efficiency of the living word not only Paul d'^poses,
but James and Peter also bear ample testimony. "Of his own will
he has begot us, by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of
first fruits of his creatures" (Jas. i. 18). "Having been regenerated,
not by corruptible seed, but by incorruptible, through the toord of the
living God, which remains" (I. Pet. i. 23). To the fruits of his labors,
such a preacher with Paul may say, "To Jesus Christ, through the
gospel, I have regenerated, or begotten you."

Thus, in the midst of numerous interruptions, we have attempted
to lay before the minds of our readers the whole doctrine of Regener-
ation, in all its length and breadth, in the hope that after a more par-
ticular attention to its meaning and value, by the blessing of God, they
may devote themselves more successfully to this great work; and not
only enjoy more of the Holy Spirit themselves, but be more useful in
forwarding the moral regeneration of the world.


To God our Father, through the great Author of the Christian
faith, who has preserved us in health in this day of affliction and
great distress, be everlasting thanks for the renewing of our minds
by the Holy Spirit, and for the hope of the regeneration of our bodies,
of the heavens and of the earth, at the appearance of the Almighty
Regenerator, who comes to make all things newl Amen. Editou.

In 1856, page 70, Mr. Campbell says of the means of regeneration:

Into Christ's kingdom, we cheerfully depose, that no man can enter
who is not born again — "born of water and of the Holy Spirit."
It is not born of water, even of the Holy Spirit; but of both. No man
nor animal was ever born from one parent alone. And, in all the
proprieties of analogy, everything born has had two parents. Our
Lord's metaphors, parables and allegories were natural, and in no easy
outrage the proprieties of nature or of society. But the same figure
may be used and accommodated in both numerous and also various
positions and relations. Hence we have the washing of the new birth,
as well as the new birth. But we must not confound the imagery of
Paul with that of the Lord Jesus himself, and subject them to one and
the same import. Jesus has in his eye, or premises, the fact then recog-
nized, that water and air were the parents of all vegetable, and, con-
sequently, of all animal life. In ancient Eastern Philosophy — "The
earth was nature's womb, and air and water the parents of all animal
and of all vegetable life." But on such premises we build nothing —
analogies are not facts. The great Teacher loved imagery; and, there-
fore, often spake in parables. We, therefore, interpret parables analogi-
cally, but do not transubstantiate them into literal facts. Still, wat'^r
is not spirit, nor spirit water. And what the Lord has joined together,
let no man separate.

In 1857, page 555, \V. K. Pendleton wrote:


It is a little remarkable that much of the controversy that now
agitates the Christian world, is about God's part of the work in human
redemption, and especially as to the mode by which he does it. Some
persons, it is true, do not admit of any co-operation in this matter.
They can not consent that man and God are, in any sense, co-workers
together, though there is express Scriptural authority for the fact.*
Of this class there are two parties — :the one ascribing everything to
God; the other devolving everything upon man. The one makes man
a simple machine, moving only under the divine influence, without
freedom of self-determining energy of any kind, and yet responsible
for his actions. The absolute sovereignty of God Is regarded as a sat-

•We tlion. a.s workors together xcith him. bcsoi-oh you also that yo rrcoivo not the
grace of God in vain.


isfactory justification against every knotty and restless question of
the reason, and, in worse than idiot impotency, we are asked to sit
down and wait till our time shall come, if, perchance, we may be
found among the elect at all! In perfect harmony with this mechanical
theory, the Spirit of God is introduced as a sort of mechanical force,
an etherealized steam power to overcome the moral inertness of our
souls, and by impulse of impact set them a whirling in the predestinal
and changeless orbits of a sovereign grace. Man has no part to per-
form in this wonderful transformation, but sits as the passive clay in
the hands of the potter. The work is all of God, unconditional and
without justification, save upon the ground of the absolute and sover-
eign power of the worker. This is not the philosophic Calvinism of
Geneva, but the stupid dogmatism of modern fatalists. It nullifies the
law of God, it stultifies the wisdom of God: — It mocks the reason of
man and paralyzes the springs of human hope. It lays its icy finger
upon the aspiring powers of the soul, and chills the glowing warmth
with which it burns under the hopeful words of Christ. It presses
back with a heavy hand the anxious heart, who, when listening to the
call to come, rises to go, and binds as with a new chain the convicted
sinner struggling to be free. 0, we thank thee, blessed Saviour, that
it is not thus thou hast declared liberty to the captive! In breaking
the fetters in which sin had bound us, and calling upon us to come
forth from our slavery, thou didst not paralyze our powers to obey
the glad summons, nor mock us with a promised joy beyond our
reach. The fruit of the tree of life is not handed down to tantalize
us, but that we may stretch forth our hands, pluck, eat and live

An equally impious extreme denies all divine agency in man's sal-
vation, save what is chronologically past. God is not noiv — at the

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 58 of 70)