« AnteriorContinuar »
of them is the gospel which Peter preached. We speak the word of God, in the terms and phrases of the book, and address men as Jesus and his Apostles did, not mingling our own philosophy, nor that of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, with the teachings of the Holy Spirit. There is something in the matter and manner of our preaching very different from any thing we have heard in Britain or Ireland. It is true we read the same Bible, preach the same faith, declare the same facts, exhibit the same testimony concerning them; but we begin at the day of Pentecost, and speak from that book as if we had lived before Augustine, or Tertullian, or Origen, or Justin Martyr, or before the Protestant reformers were born. We do not preach to every man as Paul preached to the Philippian jailer. When a person as ignorant as the jailer asks what he should do, we say to him what Paul said to the jailer; but we take care to follow Paul to the end of that chapter, and speak to him the word of the Lord, as well as say, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.' If a believer asks what he should do, we say so him, Repent, and be baptised, as Peter addressed the Pentecostians after they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. If a believing penitent, like Saul of Tarsus, in Damascus, asks what he should do, we neither say to him believe nor repent; but, Arise! (why do you delay?) and be immersed and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord.' Thus we divide the word of truth, and address every man as we find him. The effects of this preaching differ from the effects of Calvinian and Arminian preaching, as much as these systems differ from the Apostles. In a few years many myriads under this preaching have been converted to God; and these converts have an assurance of remission, and a confidence that they are the children of God, founded on the testimony on the promise of God, and not on fancy or imagination, as is too common under all the philosophic systems of the age. How long, think you, my venerable brother, would twelve missionaries be in converting the world by reading or preaching Calvin's Institutes or Arminius's Five Points! If they lived the life of Methuselah each, and laboured with the zeal and assiduity of Paul, would they in such a lifetime convert Asia, Africa, or Europe to the Lord? A great deal, you well know, depends upon a proper arrangement, the position of things, to any result. While the gospel was veiled in the Jewish institutions, the changing of the figure of the Tabernanacle or the position of the furniture in it, or any of the vestments of the High Priest, would have changed, obscured, and corrupted that religion. In the outer court, next the entrance, stood the brazen altar; next to it, and near the door of the ta
bernacle, stood the laver, filled with water. On entering the holy place, on the south or left side, stood the golden candlestick; on the north or right side, stood the table covered with the twelve loaves of the presence; and before the veil stood the golden altar. Thus was the gospel pictured out in the pattern showed to Moses on the Mount. Now to have changed the position of any of these-to have placed the laver first, or the golden altar where stood the brazen sea, would have corrupted or obscured the meaning of the whole Mosaic institutions. But as it was possible for the Levites to place all these things in their proper place, without understanding the meaning of them, apart and altogether; so it is possible to have a scriptural order of things without understanding the scriptural ideas represented in all the parts of the Christian institution. The Baptists in England and America have placed the brazen altar and the laver in the outer court, according to the divine model; but they have new-modelled the furniture and changed its location in the holy place; indeed, they have put the table with the loaves of the presence, for the most part, in the corner, or dispensed with it for the greater part of the year; instead of placing the loaves upon it every first day of the week, they have made new weeks of a month each, or a full quarter of a year, and sometimes even then the stale bread is not removed. The Scotch Baptists, on the other hand, have arranged the furniture of the sanctuary in proper order; but seem not to have laid a due emphasis upon the furniture of the outer court, or its position in it. I have understood that James Haldane in Edinburgh, and Alexander Carson of Tubermore, Ireland, persons held by me in high esteem, have virtually dispensed with the loaves, or allowed those without to enter the holy place by approaching the altar alone. Do you rank these brethren among the Scotch Baptists? The apostolic gospel led men first to the altar, then to the laver; first to the sacrifice of God's own Son, and then to the laver of regeneration. Their converts had their heart's sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies washed with clean water before they approached the golden altar. They confessed their sins, and acknowledged the efficacy of the blood of the cross before they were immersed, and they were immersed in the name of the Lord, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, For the remission of sins, before they entered the sanctuary. They buried their corruptions in the grave, arose to a new life, became priests to God under the great High Priest of the Christian confession. Then they drew near to the vail, in the full assurance of remission; they
approached the golden altar by the light of the golden candlesticks, strengthened by the bread of life; for in God's sanctuary there is light, and there is life, and there is joy. Their praises and songs of thanksgiving arose to heaven like the incense of the morning. The Christian worshippers, thus once cleansed, had no more conscience of past sins, but if any one, through temptation, transgressed the order of the house, or sinned against its Master, he needed not to return to the laver, but to confess his sins, and forsake them in ths assurance of pardon; for the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
"You have in these outlines our views of the gospel and gospel worship; which are never to be separated, if we would either convert the world or enjoy the Christian salvation. The whole system of sermonising, text-preaching, expounding scriptural scraps, and of doctrinal expositions, is unauthorised by God, and is not the way to save sinners or edify saints. There is no trace of such a mode of procedure in the apostolic age, nor in the times immediately subsequent thereunto. This system has darkened the counsel of God, and filled the world with error: it is unreasonable, and it is unscriptural. I would not be understood that a single sentiment, or some one, topic of Christian faith, piety, or morality, may not with propriety be the subject of an address; but in that case the subject is approached through a whole epistle, or section of an epistle, or portion of the sacred history; and is set before the audience in the light of its own context. There are much fewer parallel passages in holy writ than annotators and marginal references would seem to indicate. It is very difficult to find two words in the English language, or any other, exactly synonymous; and to me it appears just as difficult to find two portions of scripture exactly equivalent. But I am rather writing an essay for general use, than addressing a father, a much-esteemed and venerable father, in Israel. My habits of writing so much in the didactic style will, I trust, be accepted, as an apology for any thing I have written bearing this aspect. I have only touched at one point in your letter, and at that but imperfectly; but as you requested me to be explicit, I have occupied so much of my letter on this point, that I shall have to defer answering your other questions till next month. I intend, God willing, to write you once every month, till I have answered all your questions, and will solicit in return from you such information as will enlighten me more fully on the state of things in England and Scotland. I will endeavour to communicate to you any information in my possession relative to the state of religion in this country, in all the deno
minations, with whose statistics I am acquainted, or on any subject that may be interesting to my brethren in the British Empire. Any matters of a more private nature I will add in the way of postscript; and you will please do the same, that the parts of our correspondence, interesting to all citizens of Christ's kingdom in general, may be laid before them, as I send this letter before my readers. But I am aware that I have not fully satisfied you on the question before me; and that you may see wherein I regard our friend M'Lean's system of operations defective, I shall state our manner of preaching the word; leaving you, on comparison, to decide how far on this single point we and they differ. Our evangelists, that is, they who proclaim the word for the purpose of converting men to the Lord, after proving that Jesus is the Messiah, and laying before the audience his person, office, and character, and exhorting the persons addressed to put themselves under his guidance, tender an invitation to all present, who have not yet put on Christ, according to the promises, to come forward and signify their determination to submit to his government. Thus we make a draft on the faith of the audience, and give to all present an opportunity of deciding how much confidence they have in the person, office, and character of Jesus of Nazareth. After testifying and exhorting, if any persons come forward, and thus acknowledge Jesus, confessing him to be both Lord and Christ, and avowing their intentions to become citizens of his kingdom, we, on confession of faith, immediately, or as soon as practicable (by night or day), take them to the water and immerse them by the authority, or in the name of the Lord Jesus,' into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins' -that they may enjoy all the blessings of his government, who is exalted a Prince and a Saviour to grant reformation and remission of sins to Jew and Gentile, turning away from their iniquities. This is the application of our discourses. In this way we soon know, and the people know, who believe and repent, and who do not. We then baptise with the same despatch as the first preachers— that same day,' or 'that same hour of the night,' as the case may be. Thousands have been thus brought into the kingdom, who now rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. In the highest esteem and Christian affection, I have the honour to be your fellow-servant in the kingdom of heaven, and brother in the Lord,
I shall not here detain my readers with any remarks I may have to offer on any thing contained in this interesting epistle; but reserving them for a future opportunity, I now proceed to give a list of Mr. Campbell's publications, copies of which I have recently had the pleasure of receiving.
1. In the year 1824, Mr. Campbell and his brethren commenced THE CHRISTIAN BAPTIST, published monthly, and edited by ALEXANDER CAMPBELL; to which is prefixed the following advertisement :—
"To all those, without distinction, who acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be a revelation from God, and the New Testament as containing the religion of JESUS CHRIST:
Who, willing to have all religious tenets and practices tried by the Divine Word, and who, feeling themselves in duty bound to search the Scriptures for themselves, in all matters of religion, are disposed to reject all doctrines and commandments of men, and to obey the truth, holding fast the faith once delivered to the saintsthis work is most respectfully and affectionately dedicated by
This monthly publication, embodying the correspondence, united wisdom, and support of the whole denomination, ran a successful and brilliant course of seven years, and having fully developed the first principles, explained the system of faith and practice for which they contended, and vindicated them against a host of assailants, terminated its career at the end of the year 1829. It abounds with a variety of wellwritten and elaborate essays on very interesting topics, of which there are about one hundred from the masterly pen of Mr. Campbell himself. In the pages of the CHRISTIAN BAPTIST, the primitive apostolic gospel-the faith once delivered to the saints-the truth as it is in Jesus, are stated, and defended, and illustrated, with superior ability, as the reader will be convinced of from the selections which it is my design to make from it, and introduce into the pages of this journal. But these admirable essays are not restricted to a vindication of the doctrines of the gospel merely; on the contrary, they embrace a wide range of discussion on the ancient order of things-the constitution, discipline, and practices of the apostolic churches-the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth-with a bold and fearless ex