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among the saved." Every thing to be accomplished among the Gen-
tiles was to be effected by the faith or truth in Christ. The Saviour
connected that with opening their eyes; their conversion from the
ignorance and tyranny of sin and Satan; their forgiveness of sins;
and finally, an inheritance among the saved or sanctified. First, faith
or illumination; then, conversion; then, remission of sins; then, the
inheritance. All these testimonies concur with each other in pre-
senting the act of faith — Christian immersion, frequently called con-
version; as that act, inseparably connected with the remission cf
sins; or that change of state, of which we have already spoken.


One reason wliy we would arrest the attention of the reaxler to th-»
substitution of tlie terms convert and conversion, for immerse and
immersion, in the apostolic discourses and in the sacred writings, Is
not so much for the purpose of proving that the forgiveness of
sins, or a change of state, is necessarily connected with that act ol
faith called "Christian immersion;" as it is to fix the minds of the
Biblical students upon a very important fact, viz.: that immersion is
the converting act; or, that no person is discipled to Christ until he
is immersed. It is true, that this view of the matter bears strongly
upon the question; but it bears upon other great matters pertaining
to the present and ancient order of things.

Discovering that much depended upon having correct views ou
this point, we have minutely examined all those passages where "con-
version," either in the common version, or in the new version, or ii
the original, occurs, and have found an uniformity in the use of thi.^
term, and its compounds and derivatives, which warrant the conclu
sion, that the converting act is immersion; or that the assumption
of the Lord's name is in this Institution. That such was the apostolic
import of the term, we have no doubt. No person was said to be con-
verted until he was immersed; and all persons, who were immersed,
were said to be converted. If any apostatized, and were again con
verted, it was in that sense in which our Lord applied the word to
Peter, "When you are converted, strengthen your brethren;" or, as
James used it in his letter when he said, "If any of you err from
the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he who converts a
transgressor from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death,
and hide a multitude of sins."

In a number of the Christian Baptist, nigh the close of seventh
volume, we noticed, that in the commission to convert the nations,
the act by which this work was to be completed, was the act of
immersion. This was argued from the charge, as given by the Sav-
iour, from the manner in which the order was ordained- "Going
forth," says he, "disciple all nations, or convert all the nations -
immersing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Ho'y
Spirit, teaching the disciples to observe all the things I have com-
manded you," etc. On this a question was proposed, viz.: "Does not
the active participle always, when connected with the imperative
mood, express the manner in which the thing commanded is to be per-
formed? Cleanse the room, u-ashing it; clean the floor, siceepitig it:
cultivate the field, ploughing it; sustain the hungry, feeding them;
furnish the soldiers, arming them; convert the nations, immersing
them — are exactly the same forms of speech. No person will, we
presume, controvert this." This has, however, been warmly attacked
by several writers. A writer in a New York paper, and Christianon,


and "No Theorisf in the Religious Herald, have warmly opposed this
rule. They have only denied that it is universal. That is as a gen-
eral rule, and that the examples given are all fairly under it, no one
has, as yet, presumed to controvert. Its universality alone has been
called in question. It was felt that its generality could not bi?i
impugned. To escape from its force, it is necessary to prove it noc
universal. If, however, it were proved not universal, still its gener-
ality might prevent the possibility of escape from its applicability in
this case. And what surprises me not a little is, that brother Andrew
Broaddus, the most acute, and discriminating of those who hav3
impugned its universality, does not observe that here it must apply
were it only a general and not a universal rule. There is but one
position he can take to elude its applicability in this case; and this
I am persuaded he will not take. He will not say, that a di?ciple is
finished, and made, or co-mpleted, without immersion. That the work
of discipling is finished before immersion and without immersion.
Neither Catholics, nor Protestants, will, as such, contend that a Pagan
or a Jew was ever discipled or converted to the Christian faith with-
out immersion. Indeed, I presume, that brother Broaddus has been
so much engrossed in discussing the mere universality of the rule,
and has been so much engaged in attempting to find exceptions to it,
that he has not looked to the bearing, nor to the cui hono, the utility,
of his examples. That the nations could be converted to Jesus Christ
without immersion, he must affirm, if he allege the rule is inappli-
cable in this place. Will be take this ground? If he does not take
this ground, he is only beating the air; or, what is still less profitable,
he is sapping and mining that which he has been building up all his
life — that immersion is a discipling institution. I care not whether
he object to those words: it is a fact, a sober fact, that he has, as a
Baptist, made immersion a discipling institution. I would not say
of him what I have to say of many of my opponents, that he
would rather go back to Judaism, or Presbyter ianism, than that I
should convince him of the import of Christian immersion. Indeed,
they are, in principle, going back to Pedobaptism; and before this
controversy is ended they will be driven there, or into the ancient

"No Theorist," whom we suspect to have written much in favor
of immersion against Dr. Rice of pamphleteering memory, is well
skilled in managing Paidobaptist arguments; yet I will engage to
show him, that he must "give up the ship," if he will try me on the
affirmative of this position — "a person may &e converted according to
the covimission without immersion.'''' I say, let him take the affirma-
tive of this position, (which he obliges himself to do in attempting
to show that my rule is not applicable here,) and I will attempt to


prove that his argument against Paido-tsni is, vox et prcterea 7iihil.
sound and nothing else.

The question is, Who is to l)e immersed — a Christian, a disciple,
a convert to Christ; or a believing candidate for discipleship? One
who has put on Christ; or one who wishes to put him on? One who
is under Christ; or one who wishes to be under him? One in the
Ivingdom of Jesus Christ; or one who wishes to become a citizen?
This, brethren, is the question. And, although you may not have seen
it, in opposing my rule in its application here, you take the Paido-
baptist side, and I am the Baptist now.

But, perhaps, he does not oppose the application of the rule in
this case; but only wishes to try his strength in critical disquisi-
tions: and thinking that he has got an advantage over me in this
case, he and brother Keeling are determined to push me to the wall
and to carry this point by dint of critical investigation. Be it so. 1
ought not to envy them this pleasure. But I wish them to bear in
mind, that in succeeding in this case, their success will l>e a serious
loss to themselves.

But as the question of conversion, as well as the act of converting,
is implicated in this controversy upon the participle, I will, though.
it may appear tedious, introduce brother Broaddus at his own request,
and let him speak to my readers, in reply to my former criticism
upon his criticism.

IFrom the Religious Herald.]

" Disciple or convert the nations, immersing them," etc.

The poittt at issue between Mr. Campbell and myself, in this case,
is not whether baptism appertains to the character of a disciple of
Christ: this I not only admit, but maintain. And so of the observ-
ance of the Lord's supper, and, indeed, of "all those things ' which
our King left in charge with his Apostles. Nor is the question
between us, whether baptism is the act by which persons are formally
recognized as disciples: for here again we agree. But the question is
this: — Does it follow from the grammatical construction of the com-
mission, when translated, "convert all the nations, immersing them."
etc., that baptism is to be considered as really and properly the con-
verting act: is that by which the command to convert was to be
obeyed, and the nations converted? Mr. Campbell affirms, and I have
undertaken to deny: and here we are at issue.

In support of his position, Mr. Campbell argues, that "the active
participle does always, when connected with the imperative mood,
express the manner in which the thing commanded is to be per
formed;" and thus, that the commission given by our Lord, "convert


all the nations, immersing them," etc., must be interpreted, convert
them by immersing them: "That was the act [he says] by which the
command to convert the nations was to be obeyed." (C. B., vol. 7,
p. 164.)

Strongly persuaded that Mr. Campbell was too sanguine in his ooii-
elusion, I ventured to call in question the validity of his criticism;
and undertook to show, that the universality of his position could not
be maintained. That the active participle does not always express
the manner of performing the preceding command; but that some-
times it expresses another thing, distinct from the first; or, in other
words, that it has the force of another imperative mood. This point
being established, the argument founded on Mr. Campbell's criticism
would fall to the ground; and we must then resort to other data to
decide the question, "Is baptism really the converting act?" Here,
still I differed from Mr. Campbell, and endeavored briefly to show
that conversion does not consist in baptism. This, I believe, is a
fair statement of the case.

From the manner in which my friend of the Harbinger has replied
to my strictures, (waving his palm triumphantly over me,) it would
seem that he is quite confident my "Criticism" is blown all to atoms;
and possibly some others may think so too. Mr. Campbell can argue
not only powerfully, when on the right side, but plausibly, when he
happens to be on the wrong side. What will be thought when I now
say, with confidence, (though I trust, with becoming modesty, and
certainly with perfect friendship,) that / feel myself prepared to sms-
tain my criticism, as well as to defend my theology! g^^ The
point we have been on has not yet received a proper attention. It
is desirable I should not be tedious, and I will enter immcr'.iately
into the matter.

My position is this: that the active participle, connected with the
imperative mood, does not always express the manner in which the
preceding command is to be performed: — that sometimes (and more
frequently indeec than I had supposed) it expresses a distinct action
— having the force of another imperative, and being convertible inlo
that mood, with the conjunction, and, before it, expressed or under-
stood. Be it observed, that the construction I contend for, takes place
in condensed sentences, condensed as to matter and form; there being
a close connection between the parts of the sentence, and an affinity
in the object.

I was just about to illustrate my position, by casting another
bullet in the same mould; thinking it might be smoother than my
other two; I was just about to invent another example. But I for-
bear; there is no need; and I might not only give my friend some
trouble in "converting it into good common English," or in exposing


its good-for-nothingness; but bring on myself also some chastisement,
for the violence 1 might happen to commit on the principles of lat-
guage. Well then; let me exemplify from better authority.

I am called on to bring one example to my purpose, "only one
example, from any standard writer, Grecian, Roman, or English;'
and I will do more than that: I will perform, for once, a work of

Col. iii. 16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all
wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, an J
hymns, and spiritual songs." Now permit me to say, that these two
active principles, teaching and admonishing, do not, strictly and
properly speaking, express the manner in which the foregoing injunc-
tion or exhortation is to be complied with; but that they express
kindred exercises, requisite to be added to the first mentioncnl quail
fication; that, therefore, they are virtually distinct imperatives, and
capable of being converted into imperative moods; the language. In
both cases, being pure and classical. If I am correct, it can not b.)
denied that I have here brought an example in point And that I
am correct, 1 call to witness the common version and Greek Testa
ment, in both of which the active participles are used; and Dr. Mar-
knight — yes. Dr. Macknight, the learned critic and translator, who
has actually translated these participles by the imperative mood — ren-
dering them clearly distinct from the first imperative, by introducing
the copulative and. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; and
with all wisdom teach and admonish each other," etc. Now Mr.
Campbell says, "To convert participles into imperative moods is only
necessary when there is some unreasonable point to carry." But Mac-
knight has actually done this: (see Mr. Campbell's New Translation,'
and I do not suppose Mr. Campbell will accuse 7iim of having dono
this to carry some unreasonable point. Has not my good friend been
rather rash and hasty? Most of us are liable to this: may we learn
to improve! Here comes another example.

I. Pet. V. 6, 7, "Huvtblc yourselves therefore under the mighty
hand of God that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your caro
upon him; for he careth for you." It is unnecessary to repeat th.«
above remarks which are apposite and applicable here. Macknight
considers the participle as enjoining an additional exercise, and ac-
cordingly renders it by the imperative mood. "Cast all your anxiou-i
care on him," etc. (See New Translation again.)

Other similar examples might be adduced from the Epistles: othe'-
"bullets made in the same moulds," namely, in the Greek Testament,
in the common version, and in Macknight's translation. But let uj
now once more try the commission. And here I might, by way of
example, take this passage, as it stands in the common version.


"Teach all nations, baptizing them:" for scarcely any person, I pre-
sume, would insist on a construction of this sort; "teach them by bap-
tizing them." I might take this example, if it were necessary, to keep
me in countenance at least. However, I will not here insist on it.
Let us try Dr. Campbell's translation.

"Go, therefore, convert all the nations, baptizing (or immersing,*
them," etc. Here it is that we are told, without any hesitation or
shadow of doubt, the meaning is, "convert the nations by immersing
them:" and that it must be so for this reason, if for no other, namely,
that the active participle, connected with the imperative mood, does
always express the manner of performing that command. Already,
however, the force of this criticism appears to be greatly spent. Mac-
knight has withered its strength. Let us see how it will be treated by
the illustrious Dr. George Campbell.

In his critical note (mark that! a critical note) on this passage,
(Matt, xxviii. 19, 20,) he says, "There are manifestly three things
which our Lord here distinctly enjoins his Apostles to execute with
regard to the nations, to wit, matheteuein, haptizein, didaskein; th-it
is, to convert them to the faith — to initiate the converts into the
church by baptism — and to instruct the baptized in all the duties of
the Christian life." Mr. Campbell says expressly, "If distinct com-
mands, they ought to be distinct imperatives. So will decree all the
colleges in Christendom." But his namesake the Doctor as positively
maintains, that here "there are three things distinctly enjoined;"
that? is, virtually, three imperatives, though two expressed in the
participial form. So decrees George Campbell, D. D., F. R. S., Prin-
cipal of MariscJial College, Aberdeen. Behind his ample Telamoniaa
shield I take shelter.

It is now left to the candid and judicious — or I may say, to the
learned, (for I too am willing to appeal, in this case, to the learned,)
to all competent persons it is left to judge, whether I have not pro-
duced authority — good standard authority to justify my criticism.
And I think I might ask my friend of the Harbinger himself
whether it still appears that I was so glaringly wrong in supposing
that the phraseology of the commission might well be construed
according to that criticism? and whether I ought not to be considered,
as in some measure redeemed from the charge of an outrage upon the
peace and dignity of the commonwealth of letters?

In the discussion of this point, I have not been led on to oppose
the views of my friend Mr. Campbell by an ambitious desire to pluck
one laurel bud from the chaplet which decks his brow, though, indeed,
if this were done, he might well afford it. He will have enough left
to satisfy any reasonable man. We take pleasure in owning him
the conqueror of Walker and M'Calla on Baptism; and the Christian


Ijulilic must hail, with gratulation, the complete discomfiture of tha
atheistic Owen; who, like the Moloch of Milton,

•• l)(jwn cloven to th« waist, with shutten-il anus,
Aiul uncouth paiu, fled bellowing."

Many admirable things, I own, Mr. Campbell has written; but we
know he is not infallible. If my position is now established (as I
think it is) "that the active participle, connected with the imperative
mood, does sometimes carry the force of an additional injunction,"
then Mr. Campbell's argument, founded on the grammatical construc-
tion of the sentence, must fall of course, and his views must depend
on other data for support.

Let me now take occasion to say, that on the point in question,
there would probably be no material difference between us, were 't
not that Mr. Campbell in his zeal for external conversion, seems to
lose sight of internal conversion, or to make it only a thing by the
by; or, in other words, that he appears almost to disregard the line
of distinction between the visible kingdom of Christ, and the power
of that kingdom (or reign) within us. Mark well! I do not wish to
separate, but to (Ustinguish between them. "Convert the nations; '
turn their hearts to the Ix>rd: "immersing them;" thus preparing
them to enter and enjoy the visible kingdom: "teaching them to
observe all things," etc., thus accomplishing them as subjects prepai-
ing for the approbation of their King. "We come to Christ by bap-
tism." Yes; but this is not the only way. We first come to him
spiritually by a living faith; and then externally and visibly by
being "baptized into his death." While I am writing, from my heart
I am wishing, that I and all of us, could see satisfactory ground for
harmonizing more cordially with one, for whom personally 1 feel a
real friendship; for whose talents and learning I have the highest
respect; and to whose labors I own we are indebted for a noble vindi-
cation of the truth in some of its branches. Would that there were
not some dangerous blows dealt out, against which I think we ought
to be guarded.

The remarks in the above paragraph go, in some measure, towards
a defense of my theology. There will not be space for me now to say
much in that way. But I can not forbear expressing my surprise ani
regret, that Mr. Campbell should so vehemently reprobate my account
of conversion. In the sincerity of my heart I thought it a good and
valid account, and still I think it so. But this, I know, is not
enough. la it Scriptural? Clearly so, I think. "Conversion (I said)
is a turning of the heart to holiness:" here Mr. Campbell stops me
short, without quoting out the sentence, impatient, it would seem, to
cast my definition (as an idol) "to the moles and bats." He stops
me here, and talks about "mental converts," and "philosophical coo-


verts," and how "Christian converts are persons whose lives aro
changed." Well! but hear me out (it is but fair) and see whether
this essential requisite is not included. "Conversion is a turning of
the heart to holiness, by repentance towards God, and faith towards
our Lord Jesus Christ; this repentance bringeth forth "fruits meet,"
and this faith "working by love." Now I ask. Is not the necessary
change of life embraced here? And what possible fault can be found
with this account of conversion, by any person who consixlers a
turning of the heart as well as a change of life to be necessary? An J
is not a turning of the heart to holiness necessary? Or will God, who
requires the heart to be given to him, accept of mere external refor-
mation? Or are our hearts naturally turned already to him? I go
for conversion from centre to circumference — from the heart to the
life. Ah, my good sir, I am aware indeed that the notions of many
people about conversion, need correction; but let us take care, that
while we are cutting away the unsound flesh, we cut not the heart.

Caroline, Virginia. Christianos.

P. S. — Mr. Campbell, it is hoped, will be so obliging as to give this
reply a place in the next Harhinger. c.

I am pleased to see that Christianos does not defend the examples
which he before alleged. This is candid. And had not Dr. Macknight
turned the Greek participles into English imperatives, in the two
examples here adduced; I am so charitable as to think they would
not have been here adduced on this occasion. This is another ques-
tion involving other canons of criticism. How far a translator may,
from the diversity of idioms in any two languages, change the moods
and flexions of verbs, to give greater clearness and force of expres-
sion, is to be decided before another tribunal, and to be tried in
another court, than before that in which we are to try the rights of
an English writer to convert imperatives into participles, or participles
into imperatives. The remark quoted from my former criticism, and
applied with so much zest to this question of translation, is mis-
placed: "To convert participles into imperative moods is only neces-
sary when there is some unreasonable point to carry!" If I had said
to translate participles into imperative moods from one language into
another, it would have been apposite; but, surely, the right an Eng
lish writer has to convert participles into imperatives, is another
question! I can not, then, so much admire the candor of my friend
Christianos in this instance as in the former; especially as he knew
that the Greeks have three voices, five moods, eight tenses, and in
each voice they have eigJit participles, and six imperatives. If all
these are translated into a language with fewer moods, tenses, ana
participles; changes of moods, tenses, and participles must take place
Supposing these remarks to have no bearing whatever on this ques-


tion, still they go to show the impropriety of converting a canon of
writing English into a canon of translating. This remark applies to
"No Theorist," as fully as to "Christianos." His whole criticism js,
however, a mistake of the question; and as it seems he wrote his
criticism at the request of somebody, not having read my remarks.
a.6 he says; it would be preposterous for me to pay any more atten-
tion to them than, to inform him, that he must read first, and write
afterwards. Then will an apology for attacking, ho knows not what,
bo unnecessary.

Christianos will yet see, I trust, that I have neither been as rash,
nor as hasty as "No Theorist;" nor so rash and hasty as he supposes
me to have been, in alleging the universality of this rule in its legit-
imate interpretation and application. Dr. Macknight translating the
participles by imperatives, and supplying an and may, or may not

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 63 of 70)