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The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

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remission of their sins in immersion. And, again, we would remind
the reader, that when he talks of being saved by faith, he should bear
in mind, that grace is not lost sight of, nor blood, nor water, nor
reformation, discarded.

We enter the kingdom of nature by being born of the flesh. We
enter the kingdom of heaven, or come under the reign of Jesus Christ


in this life, by being born of water, and the Spirit. We erter th9
kingdom of eternal glory by b3ing born again from the earth, and
neither by faith, nor the first regeneration. Neither by faith, nor
baptism; but by being counted worthy of the resurrection of tjfp just.
"I was hungry, and you fed me." Not because you believed, or were
born of water; but, because "I was hungry, and you fed me," etc.

There are three births, three kingdoms, and three salvations. One
from the womb of our first mother, one from the water, and one
from the grave. We enter a new world on, and not before, each
birth. The present animal life, after the first birth; the spiritual,
or the life of God in our souls, after the second birth, and the life
eternal in the presence of God, after the third birth. And he, who
dreams of entering the second kingdom, or coming under the dominion
of Jesus, without the second birth — may, to complete his error, dream
of entering the kingdom of glory without a resurrection from the

Grace precedes all these births — shines in all the kingdoms, but will
be glorified in the third. Sense is the principle of action in the first
kingdom; faith, in the second; and sight spiritual, in the third. The
first salvation is that of the body from the dangers and ills of life, and
God is thus "the Saviour of all men." The second salvation is that of
the soul from sin. The third is that of both soul and body united,
delivered from moral and natural corruption, and introduced into the
presence of God, when God shall be all in all.

Objection 3. — "It is so uncharitable to the Paidobaptists!" And how
uncharitable are the Paidobaptists to Jews, Turks, and Pagans! ! Will
they promise present salvation from the guilt, pollution, and the
dominion of sin, with the well-grounded hope of heaven, to Jews,
Turks, Pagans, or even Roman Catholics? Or will the Roman Catholics
to them!! How uncharitable are they who cry "uncharitable" to Us!
Infants, idiots, deaf, and dumb persons, innocent Pagans wherever
they can be found, with all the pious Paidobaptists, we commend to
the mercy of God. But such of them as wilfully neglect this salvation,
and who, having the opportunity to be immersed for the remission of
their sins, wilfully neglect or refuse, we have as little hope for them
as they have for all who refuse salvation on their own terms of the
gospel. While they inveigh against us for laying a Scriptural and
rational stress upon immersion, do we not see that they lay as great,
though an unscriptural and irrational, stress upon their baptism or
sprinkling; so much so, as to give it without faith, even to infants, so
soon as they are born of the flesh?

Objection 4. — "But do not many of them enjoy the present salvation
of God?" How far they may be happy in the peace of God, and the hope
of heaven, I presume not to say. And we know so much of human


nature as to say, that he, that imagines himself pardoned, will feel
happy as he that is really so. But one thing wo do know, that none
can rationally, and with certuinty, enjoy the peace of God. and the
hope of heaven, but they who intelligently, and In full faith are bora
of water, or immersed for the remission of their sins. And as the
testimony of God, and not conceit, imagination, nor our reasoning
upon what passes in our minds, is the ground of our certainty, we se.?
and feel, that we have an assurance which they can not have. And
we have this advantage over them, we once stood upon their ground,
had their hopes, felt their assurance; but they have not stood upon
our ground, nor felt our assurance. Moreover, the experience of the
first converts shows the difference between their immersion, and the
immersions, or sprinklings, of modern gospels.

Objection 5. — "This has been so long concealed from the people, and
so lately brought to our view, that we can not acquiesce in it."

This objection would have made unavailing every attempt at refor-
mation, or illumination of the mind, or change in the condition and
enjoyments of society, ever attempted. Besides, do not the experience
of all the religious — the observation of the intelligent — the practical
result of all creeds, reformations, and improvements — and the expecta-
tions, and longings of society, warrant the conclusion that either some
new relation, or some new development of the revelation of God, must
be made, before the hopes and expectations of all true Christians can
be realized, or Christianity save and reform the nations of this world?
We want the old gospel back, and sustained by the ancient order of
things: and this alone, by the blessing of the Divine Spirit, is ali
that we do w^ant, or can expect, to reform and save the world. And if
this gospel, as proclaimed and enforced on Pentecost, can not do
this, vain are the hopes, and disappointed must be the expectations of
the so-called Christian world.


As Christian faith rests upon, and Christian practice proceeds from,
the testimony of Goil, and not from the reasonings of men, in thi.s
recapitulation I will only call up the evidences on one single proposi
tion, assumed, sustained, and illustrated in the preceding pages — and
that is the ninth proposition, as sustained by the apostolic testimony
We wish to leave before the mind of the diligent reader the grpat im-
portance attached to Christian immersion, as presented in the Evangel-
ists, the Acts, and the Epistles.

1. In the Evangelists. — It is called the forgiveness of sins. Matthew
and Mark introduce the Messiah in his own person in giving the com-
mission. Luke does not. Matthew presents Jesus, saying. "Go. con-
vert the nations, immersing them into the name of the Father, the Son,


and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things which I havp
commanded you." This, of course, in order to salvation. Mark pre-
sents him, saying, "Go into all the world, proclaim the glad tidings to
the whole creation: he who believes, and is immersed, shall be saved,
and he who believes not, shall be condemned." Luke, however, does
not introduce the Lord in his own person in giving the charge; but
records it, in his own conception of it, in the following words' — That
"reformation and forgiveness of sins should be announced in his nama
to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." No person, we presume, will
question but that Luke thus records the commission; and, if so, then
it is indisputable that, as Luke neither mentions faith nor immersion,
he substitutes for them the received import of both, when and where
he wrote. Metonymically he places repentance, or rather reformation,
for faith; and remission of sins for immersion. In Luke's acceptation
and time forgiveness of sins stood for immersion, and reformation for
faith — the effect for the means or cause. In the commission salvation
is attached by the Lord Jesus to faith and immersion into his name.
He that believes, and is immersed, shall be saved. Thus immersion is
taught in the testimonies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

2. In the Acts of the Apostles. — Sermon 1, Peter says, "Reform and
be immersed, every one of you, into the name of the Lord Jesus, for
the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit." Sermon 2, he says, "Reform and be converted, that your sins
may be blotted out; that seasons of refreshment from the presence of
the Lord may come, and that he may send Jesus," etc. In the same
discourse, he says, "God having raised up his Son Jesus, has sent
him to bless you, every one of you, turning from his iniquities." In
his 3d Sermon, recorded Acts x., he says, "To him all the prophets
bear witness, that every one who believes in him shall receive remis-
sion of sins by his name." Paul at Antioch, in Pisidia, declares, that
through Jesus was proclaimed the remission of sins; and by him
all that believe are justified from all things. Ananias commanded Paul
to arise and be immersed, and to wash away his sins, calling upon
the name of the Lord. Thus it is spoken of in the Acts of the

3. In the Epistles. — The Romans are said to have been immersed
into Christ Jesus — into his death; to have been buried with him, and
consequently to have risen with him, and to walk in a new life. The
Corinthians are said to have been washed, justified, and sanctified by
the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. The
Galatians "were immersed into Christ, and had put him on." The
Ephesians were, married to Christ by immersion, as brides were wont
to be washed in order to their nuptials. The assembly of the disci-
ples, called the congregation of the Lord, making the bride of Christ,


were said to be cleansed by (he hath of xoatrr and thr word. The
Colossians were buried uith Christ, raised tcith him, and are raid to
have been forgiven all tresijusses when they were raised with him,
(chapter ii, 11, 13, 14, where their resurrection with Jesus am? their
having all sins forgiven are connected). All the saints are said to
bo saved by immersion, or "the washing of regeneration and the
renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Tit. iii. 5). The believing Jews had
their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their Iwdies v/ashed
with clean water, or water which made clean. Peter taught all the
saints in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, that the water
of baptism saved them, as the water of the Deluge saved Noah in ths
Ark; and that in immersion a person was purged from all his former
sins. And John the Apostle represents the saved as having "washed
their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," and all
the baptized little children as "having their sins forgiven." Such are
the evidences found in the Epistles. How numerous I how clear I and
how unequivocal! Are we not, then, warranted to say, Except a maa
be regenerated of water, and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the
kingdom of God? and that all who, believing, are immersed for the
remission of their sins, have the remission of their sins in and tb rough


A word to the regenerated. — You have experienced the truth of the
promise, and being induced by that promise, you have become, like
Isaac, the children of promise. You heard the testimony of God con-
cerning Jesus of Nazareth, and you believed it. You were, in conse-
quence of your faith, so disposed towards the person of Jesus, as to
be willing to put yourselves under his guidance. This faith and this
will brought you to the water. You were not ashamed, nor afraid to
confess him before men. You solemnly declared you regarded him as
God's only Son, and the only Saviour of men. You vowed allegiance
to him. Down into the water you were led. Then the name of the
Holy One upon your faith, and upon your person, was pronounced.
You were then buried in the water under that name. It closed itself
upon you. In Its womb you were concealed. Into the Lord, as in the
water, you were Immersed. But In the water you continued not. Of
It you were born, and from it you came forth, raised with Jesus, and
rising in his strength. There your consciences were released; for
there your old sins were purged away. And although you received
not the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which confirmed the testimony to
the first disciples, you felt the powers of the world to come, were
enlightened, and tasted the bounty of God: for seasons of refreshment
from the presence of God came upon you. Your hearts were sprinkled
from evil consciences, when your bodies were washed In the cleansing


water. Then into the kingdom of Jesus, you entered. The King ol!
righteousness, of peace, and joy, extended his sceptre over you, and
sanctified in state, and in the Spirit, you rejoiced in the Lord with joy
unspeakable and full of glory. Being washed, you were sanctified, as
well as acquitted. And now you find yourselves under the great Ad-
vocate, so that sin can not lord it over you; for you always look to
the great Advocate to intercede for you, and thus if sin should over-
take you, you confess and forsake it, and always find mercy. Adopted
thus into the family of God, you have not only received the name,
the rank, and the dignity; but also the Spirit of a son of God, and find,
as such, that you are kings, priests, and heirs of God. You now feel
that all things are yours, because you are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
The hope of the coming regeneration of the heavens and the earth, at
the resurrection of the just, animates you. You look for the redemp-
tion, the adoption of your bodies, and their transfiguration. For this
reason, you purify yourselves even as he is pure. Be zealous, then,
children of God; publish the excellencies of him who has called you
into this marvellous light and bliss. Be diligent, that you may receive
the crown that never fades, and that you may eat of the tree of life
which grows in the midst of the Paradise of God. If you suffer with
Jesus, you will reign with him. If you should deny him, he will
deny you. Add, then, to your faith, courage, knowledge, temperance,
patience, brotherly kindness, and universal benevolence; for if you
continue in these things and abound, you shall not be barren nor un-
fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But
should you be deficient in 'these things, your light will be obscured,
and a forgetfulness that you have been purified from your old sins
will come upon you. Do, then, brethren, labor to make your calling
and election sure; for thus practicing, you shall never fall; but shall
have an easy and abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

A word to the unregenerate. — Amongst you are sundry classes of
character. Some of you who believe the gospel, and are changed in
heart, quickened by the Spirit, are not generally ranked amongst fho
unregenerate. In the popular sense of this term, you are regenerate
But we use it in its Scriptural acceptation. Like Nicodemus, and liTie
Joseph of Arimathea, you believe in Jesus, and are willing to take
lessons from him in the chambers. You have confidence in his mis-
sion, respect and venerate, and even love his person; and would desira
tc be under his government. Marvel not that I say to you, You must
be born again. Pious as you are supposed to be, and as you may think
yourselves to be, unless you are born again, you can not enter into
the kingdom of God. Cornelius and his family were as devout and as
pious as any of you. "He feared God, gave much alms to the people,


und prayed to God continually." Yet, mark it well, I beseech you, it
was necessary "to tell hitn uxirds by which himself and his house might
be saved." These words were told him: he believed them, and received
the Holy Spirit; yet still he must be born again. For a person can
not be said to be born again of any thing uhich he receives; and still
less of miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. He was immersed, and
Into the kingdom of God he came. Do as Cornelius did, and then
you will think of it in another light — then you would not for a world
be unregcnerate. To have the pledge, the promise, and seal of God of
the remission of all your sins, to be adopted into his family, and to
receive the Spirit of a son of God, be assured, my pious friends, are
matters of no every day occurrence; and when you feel yourselves con-
stitutionally invested with all thes^e blessings, in God's own way, you
will say, that "his ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our
thoughts; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways
higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts." It is
hard to make a slave feel and act as a freeman. As difficult, we
often find it, to make the unregenerate feel and know the value and
importance of regeneration. But the regenerate would not be unregen-
rate for the universe.

God has one way of bestowing every thing. We can not gather
grapes off thorns, nor figs off thistles. The reason is, there they do
r.ot grow. We can tell no other reason why they can not grow there,
but that they do not grow there. We can not have any blessing, but
in God's own way of giving it. We can not find wool save on the
back of the sheep, nor silk save from the worm which spins it from
itself. Corn and wheat can not be obtained, but from those plants
which yield them. Without the plant, we can not have the fruit
This is the economy of the whole material system. And in the world
of spirits, and spiritual influences, is it not the same? Moral law is
as unchangeable as the laws of nature. Moral means and ends are as
Inseparable as natural means and ends. God can not bestow grace
upon the proud, and can not withhold it from the humble. He does
not do it, and that is enough. He could shower down wheat and
corn, and give us rivers of milk and wine, were it a question of mere
power. But taking all together, his wisdom, power, and goodness, he
can not do it. So neither can he give us faith without testimony,
hope without a promise, love without an amiable object, peace without
purity, nor heaven without holiness. He can not give to the unborn
infant the light of the sun, the vivacity which the air imparts, nor
the agility and activity which liberty bestows. He does not do it,
and. therefore, we say, he can not do It. Neither can he bestow the
blessings of the Reign of Heaven upon those who are children of


I know how reluctant men are to submit to God's government; and
yet they must all bow to it at last, "To Jesus every knee shall
bow, and to him every tongue must confess." But they will object
to bowing now, and torture invention for excuses. They will tell me
all that I have said is true of natural and moral means and ends; but
immersion is not a moral means, because God forgave sins and saved
men before immersion, was appointed. "It is a positive, and not a
moral institution." And is there no moral influence connected with
positive institutions? A written law is a positive institution: for moral
law existed before written law. But because it has become a positive
institution, has its moral power ceased? The moral influence, of all
positive institutions is God's will expressed in them. And it matters
not whether it be the eating or not eating of an apple, the building
of an altar, or the building it with, or without the aid of iron tools;
the offering of a kid, a lamb, a bullock or a pigeon, it is just as
morally binding, and has the same moral influence, as, "You shall
honor your father and mother;" or, "You shall not kill." It is the wiLr,
OF God in any institution, which gives it all its moral and physical
power. No man could now be pardoned as Abel was — as Enoch was —
as David was — as the thief upon the cross was. These all lived before
the second will of God was declared. He took away "the first will,''
says Paul, "that he might establish the second will,"- by which we are
sanctified. We are not pardoned as were the Jews or the Patriarchs.
It was not till Jesus was buried and rose again, that an acceptable
offering for sin was presented in the heavens. By one offering up
of himself, he has perfected the conscience of the immersed or sancti-
fied. Since his oblation, a new institution for remission has been
appointed. You need not flatter yourselves, that God will save or
pardon you, except for Christ's sake; and if his name is not assumed
by you, if you have not put him on, if you have not come under his
advocacy, you have not the name of Christ to plead, nor his inter-
cession on your behalf — and, therefore, for Christ's sake you can not
be forgiven. Could Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, think
you, if living now — could they, I ask, find forgiveness at the altar?
And will you imagine, that he, who honored every institution by
Moses, by connecting rewards and punishments with the obedience or
disobedience of his commands, be less jealous for the honor of the
institution of his Son? And will that Son who, for no other purpose
than to honor his Father's institution, was immersed in the Jordan,
bestow pardon or salvation upon any who refuse to honor him, and
him that sent him? He has been graciously pleased to adapt means to
ends. He has commanded immersion for the remission of sins, and
think you that he will change his institution, because of your stubborn
or Intractable disposition. As well, as reasonably might you pray for


loaves from heaven, or manna, because Israel ate it in the desert,
as to pray for pardon while you refuse the remission of your sins
by immersion.

Demur not because of the simplicity of the thing. Remember how
simple was the eating of the fruit of that tree, "whose mortal taste
brought death into the world, and all our woe." How simple was the
rod in the hajid of Moses when stretched over Egypt and the Red Sea.
How simple was looking at the brazen serpent. And how simple axe
all God's Institutions. How simple the aliments of nature; the poisons
too, and their remedies. Where the will of God is, there is omnipo-
tence. 'Twas simple to speak the universe into existence. But God's
will gives efficacy to every thing. And obedience ever was, and ever
will be, the happiness of man. It is the happiness of Heaven. *Ti3
God's philanthropy which has given us something to obey. To the
angels who sinned he has given no command. 'Twas gracious to give
ur a command to live — a command to reform — a command to be born
again — to live for ever. Remember light and life first came by obedi-
ence. If God's voice had not been obeyed, the water would not have
brought forth the earth, nor would the sun have blessed it by his
rays. The obedience of law was goodness and mercy; but the obedience
or faith is favor, and life, and glory everlasting. None to whom this
gospel is announced will perish, except those who know not God, and
obey not the gospel of his Son. Kiss, then, the Son, lest he bo angry,
and you perish for ever.

To the unregenerate of all classes, whose education and prejudices
compel them to assent to the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke. John,
Taul, Peter, James and Jude. You own the mission of Jesus from
the bosom of the Eternal — and that is all you do! Each of you is
living without God and without hope in the world — aliens from the
family of God — of various ranks and grades among men; but all
involved in one condemnation, because light has come into the world,
and you love darkness, and the works of darkness, rather than the
light. To live without hope is bad enough; but to live in constant
dread of the vengeance of Heaven, is still worse. But do you tremble
not at the word of God?

If you can be saved here, or hereafter, then there is no meaning in
language, no pain in the universe, no truth in God — Death, tho grave,
and destruction have no meaning. TTie frowns of Heaven are all rmiles,
if you perish not in your ways.

But you purpose to bow to Jesus, and to throw yourselves upon his
mercy at last. Impious thought I When you have given the strengtn
of your intellect, the vigor of your conFtitution. the warmth of your
affections, and the best energies of your life, to the world, the flesh, ani
the Devil; you will stretch out your palsied hands, and turn your dim


eyes to the Lord, and say, "Lord, have mercy upon me!" The first
fruits and the fatlings for the Devil, and the lame and the blind for
God, is the purpose of your heart; and the tJest resolution you can

The thief upon the cross, had he done so, could not have found
mercy. 'Tis one thing to have known the way of salvation, assented
to it, and to have in deliberate resolution rejected it for the preesnt,
with a promise of obeying it at some future period, and to have never
known it, nor assented to it, till the end of life. Promise not, then, to
yourselves what has never happened to others. The Devil has always
said, "You may give to-morrow to the Lord — only give me to-day."'

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 68 of 70)