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will continue with increasing brightness and glory, till the last conflagration.
This was the grand secret in the eloquence of Whitefield. It was this that gave to his ministry such powerful attractions—such wonderful charms. When he rolled the thunder of the gospel, his eloquence struck his hearers with awe, and made them tremble like Felix before the apostle.
This was the grand secret in the eloquence of Brainard: as it echoed through the trees of the forest, the savage dropped his tomahawk, and with streaming eyes, cried, have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me.
This was the very soul in the eloquence of St. Paul, as kings on their thrones trembled, and beggars leaped for joy. It made songs of triumph echo in the dungeon, and carried transports of joy to the rack and the flames.
Nor has it lost the least degree of its power in eighteen hundred years. No! even now it melts icy hearts on the cliffs of Greenland, lights with celestial brightness the plains of Hindostan ; it removes blackness even from the Hottentot, and opens upon the Otaheitan the light of the world.
Excel, my brethren, in this kind of eloquence, and extend it through the world, and the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven-fold, and the Light of Zion will eclipse them. Kings will come to their light, and princes to the brightness of her rising. Her sun will not go down by day, her moon not withdraw herself; the Lord will be her everlasting light, and the Lamb her glory. A voice will be heard, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ. And the whole earth will be full of his glory, as the waters fill the seas.
V. Ministers should seek a revival of religion in their own hearts, that they may be the means of reviving others. If there is to be a revival of religion, where should it begin? Who may be supposed to be the first partakers of it? The ministers of religion. As the sunbeams strike first upon the mountains, and the clouds pour forth their treasures first upon the hills, which often form a kind of reservoir for the vallies, so may it be looked for, that the spiritual rain will descend first into the pulpit, before it reaches the pew. The influence of ministers upon their flocks is very great, for good or evil. “Like priest, like people," is a proverb founded upon truth. We are in the midst of our people, like central fires, producing a glowing atmosphere around; or like icebergs, which chill every thing in their vicinity. If we are eminently spiritual and devotional, the influence will be felt by our people. Our prayers and sermons in the house of God, and our conversation in private intercourse, will all tend to keep up the power of godliness in their hearts. But if we are secular, lukewarm, and trifling, the same spirit may be looked for in them. Should a revival take
place among them, and not in us, we should undo what has been done ; but if our piety be increased, the influence of it will, in all probability, be spread through the church.
But does the state of religion need to be revived in our minds? I am of opinion that it does. I am fully and painfully convinced, that the bulk of the present race of ministers are by no means distinguished for the more spiritual and elevated exercises of religion. Do we not fall very short in what may be called devotional habits, in spirituality of mind, in communion with God, in self-examination ? Let us read the memoirs of eminent and pious ministers in former ages,
and compare ourselves with them, to see how dwarfish our piety. Permit me to ask, What is the state of our closet devotions? 'Do we spend much time in reading the Scriptures, not as critics, but as Christians, anxiously desirous of drinking deeply into the spirit of the word of God ? Do we spend hours, or even an hour, every day, in that breathing, panting, and wrestling after God, which characterized the ministers of a by-gone age? Have we our seasons of extraordinary devotion, our days of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, as they had ? My dear brethren, does the
fire of devotion burn with that intensity upon the altar of our hearts, ! which is necessary to form a central flame, from which the whole
church should ever be receiving a renewed warmth and glow of
Are we in our families men of God, ministers of Christ, prophets of the Lord, always teaching both by our word and actions ? "We should be domestic ministers ; pastors of the church in our houses, looking well after the souls of our wives, children, and servants ; breathing the spirit of devotion through our habitations. A minister's house should be the element of piety, the vestibule of heaven.
How do we act and appear in the houses of our friends ? Are We mere guests and companions? or do we preach from house to house, not ceasing to diffuse the knowledge of Christ in every place? If religion be revived in the church, it must be revived in the house ; and if it spread with greater vigor round the greater circle of the vestry, it must be nourished with care in the smaller circle; and if this be done at all, it must be done instrumentally by Us. And in our intercourse with each other, let us remember, while we cultivate cheerfulness, and discountenance gloom and grimace, that we bear a high and sacred character ; that our vocation is religion, our great business is salvation, our labor for immortality ; that we are ambassadors of Christ, and should be consistent, and maintain that dignity and seriousness which become our office. Let there be much of mutual edification, of mutual excitement to deeds of piety and zeal, of earnest prayer, of conversation upon the difficulties and encouragements of our office. While we entertain each other as men and brethren, let us improve each other as Christians and as ministers.
Are we spiritual and devotional in our public services ? Arooms
sermons the fruits of our experience, as well as of our studies ? We should lay before our flocks that which we ourselves have tasted and handled of the word of life, and never preach to others what we have not first preached to ourselves. Discourses full of thought, yet at the same time characterized by fervor, simplicity, and spirituality, are too rare ; if we take pains, it is too often merely to shine. We look for tokens of approbation, and expressions of admiration, and are, perhaps, disappointed if we do not receive them; and seem to feel as if we had preached in vain, if we hear not the language of applause. I do not say that this is the case with all, or with any of us always; but it is too much the case with many of us, and must grieve the spirit of God.
It is also to be feared that our prayers are not characterized by that solemnity, spirituality, and earnestness, which are essential to the cultivation of devotional feelings in the people. A minister's prayers, when they are of an intense and elevated character, do more, perhaps, to keep up the spirituality of his people, than his sermons.
My dear brethren, do let us examine ourselves. We must begin with our own souls; we must seek, first, the revival of religion in our own hearts; we must exhibit to our people the example of a state of piety, renewed and invigorated. Of a revival of religion, it may be said, “ This kind goeth not forth, but by fasting and prayer on our part.” The impulse must be given by us, not by words, but by example. All our operations are influenced by the kind of religion which prevails; the members of our churches, the teachers in our Sabbath-schools, the singers in our galleries, the people who wait upon our ministry, the heads of families, all feel the influence of a revived state of religion: they cannot be expected to be active while their souls are lukewarm; or if they do anything to circulate religion, they will circulate only a poor, feeble, and heartless kind of piety. Suffer me, dear brethren, to exhort you most seriously, to inquire whether an improved state of our churches must not begin with us, who are ministers of the word ; and whether we should not immediately and most earnestly apply ourselves to this business? Let us begin afresh to live for God, and to commune with him. Oh! what preachers shall we be, if we preach from the full, rich experience of a renewed and revived piety! An earnestness and freshness will be imparted to our public services, and this, by the grace of God, will clothe them with new power,
and invest them with new attractions.
Remarks on the Doctrine of Immersion for the Remission of Sins.
Tue doctrine of immersion for the remission of sins, as taught by Mr. A. Campbell, and embraced by his followers, is contained in an essay of some seventy-five pages, duodecimo, and published in 1835. The subject of this essay is highly important, and it becomes the more so, as Mr. C. is making the attempt to introduce a new system of theology, entirely unknown to any sect of the Baptists, since the period of the Reformation. The claims which he has set up for the new theory, require an impartial and candid investigation; and if it be founded in truth, it ought to be received ; but if it be founded in error, it ought to be exposed and rejected. It is our intention to give the subject a fair and candid hearing, and fully yield to it all of truth it can justly claim. One great evil which has arisen from theological discussions, is an attempt, too often made, to widen the breach between the parties, and to represent the difference of sentiment much greater than it really is ; but I sincerely hope that, in this case, nothing of the kind will be attempted, but that, on the contrary, an effort will be made to break down prejudices, to remove error, and to unite the Disciples and the Christians in the truth, as it is in Jesus. These two great bodies of the professed followers of Christ, holding as they do so many sentiments in common, should, if practicable, be brought to act together in harmony, and unite their efforts to build up the cause of
So far as the writer of this article is concerned, he most sincerely desires that this may be the case.
In entering upon the discussion of the question contained in this essay, the writer of this paper freely admits that he labors under some embarrassment, arising from fears that he may not have been able fully to perceive all Mr. Campbell's abstractions. His mind is 80 metaphysical, his style so abstruse, and he has such a command of words, and pours forth such a torrent of them, that the reader often finds himself inundated with words, but sometimes finds it difficult to perceive the true idea intended to be conveyed. This always enables Mr. C. to rebut the most logical argument, by merely saying, “ I am misapprehended;" but when he re-states his positions and his arguments, the reader labors under the same difficulty as at first, arising from the circumlocution and verbosity of
The writer of this paper is not alone in this view of Mr. C.'s style of writing, and method of debating; he has heard the same idea expressed by some of the first men in the country; and he has heard them assign this as a reason for not replying to some of the positions assumed by Mr. C. in his theory of religion. It shall be our object, however, fairly to state Mr. C.'s views, and then, if we dissent from them, fairly to refute them by Scripture
argument and testimony. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
We shall now proceed to state Mr. Campbell's theory, as laid down in this essay, in his own words. He says: “ The converts made to Jesus Christ by the apostles, (by immersion,) were taught to consider themselves pardoned, justified, sanctified, reconciled, adopted, and saved; and were addressed as pardoned, justified, sanctified, reconciled, adopted, and saved persons, by all who first preached the gospel of Christ. These terms are expressive, not of any quality of mind—not of any personal attribute of body, soul, or spirit—but each of them represents, and all of them together represent a state, or condition.” That “this change of state is effected by an act of faith.” This “act of faith is immersion into Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;" that when a person is “immersed into Christ, he is then in Christ,” and “not before ;” that “ conversion, immersion, and regeneration, are all descriptive of the same thing, different names for the same act, contemplated in different points of view, are convertible terms, and all signify immersion in water, constituting the process by which a change of state is effected; so that a man's state is changed when he is immersed.” I understand this to be Mr. C.'s system, as laid down by himself; having received his last finishing touch, and being rendered perfect and complete.
This system, including merely a change of state, and not of character, merely a relative holiness, and not a personal holiness, can give to no man a title of future blessedness, an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away; and, consequently, all such converts, if they have nothing more to entitle them to the promises of everlasting life, will certainly perish. If a man be personally unholy and impure, no change of state, without a change of character, can make him personally holy and pure. Pluck up a thorn and a thistle, growing in the wilderness, and plant them in a vineyard; and although their states are changed, yet they still remain a thorn and a thistle, and will produce neither grapes nor figs. A corrupt foreigner may leave his native land, and emigrate to this country, and his state may be changed by naturalization, by which he will become a citizen of the United States; but if his character be not changed, he will still remain the same corrupt man he was in his native country.
A dissolute woman may enter into the bonds of matrimony, by which her state may be changed; but if her character be not changed, she will still remain the same dissolute woman she was before this change of state. A minister of the gospel may incorporate into the temple of God, by immersion, hay, wood, or stubble, by which the state of these materials will be changed; but this change of state will make them neither gold, silver, nor precious stones, the materials will remain essentially the same after, as before this change of state. And so a cor