“Circular Letter,” in:
Minutes of the Redstone Bap. Assoc.
[of the] Ministers and Messengers of the Redstone Association to the [several] Churches whom they represent, sendeth Christian salutation: --
In presenting you our annual epistle, we find several reasons for observing [gravity]. Among the reasons is the paucity of contribution made by the churches [for] the printing of their minutes. We shall endeavour to say much in a small space. You know, that for years past, our association has been in a state of distressing agitation. All connected with it have professed to deplore it; some with [the] sigh of sincerity, some with a crocodile tear. All have felt, or seen the effects; but few, comparatively, have known the cause. That cause, we for a moment advert to, and remark upon, as a beacon to you hereafter! It is greatly wise to [convert] the errors of the past into lessons of profit for the future. Several years ago a couple of THEOLOGICAL ADVENTURERS, "by good words and fair speeches, deceived the hearts of the simple," and unsuspicious among you, and by a bare majority of your votes, they got ingress among you as Baptists. There were those, however, in your association, whose experience, reflection and intelligence, led them to suspect, both the theology and design of those two men; and who opposed their admission into your association, in the first instance, as being of very equivocal character. In a short time after, these Adventurers became united to you, and in a moment of rampant vanity, they insolently professed, in the hearing of several persons, that it was their intention to revolutionize the Regular Baptist Church; and to that end they had joined themselves to it: while in their writings and harangues, they were introducing among you, in artful disguise, the most pernicious heresies. This necessarily called forth a stern and unyielding opposition on the part of those among you, who saw through the gauze of sophistry in which all the former's theology was clothed. As faithful centinels on the walls of Zion, they sounded the alarm, they endured the obloquy and persecution incident to their being thought disturbers of the peace of Zion. "The warning song was for a length of time sung in vain; but few would hear and fewer heed the strain." At length infantile credulity itself had to give way, and the greater part of your association shook themselves from their lethargy, and rose in opposition to these Adventurers. By this time, however, there were churches (so-called) introduced into connexion with your, which were the product or creatures of the said two would-be Revolutionizers! While some of your former churches, and of whom you had hoped better things, became, in the persons of their ministers and leading members, the busy agents in the circulation of the writings, and blustering echoes of the harangues of these revolutionary Elymasses. 1 Others of your churches were so far led astray by the dissimulation and fancied liberty, of this revolutionary device, that they united with the former churches in an attempt to destroy your constitution, and to suppress your good confession of that faith once delivered to the saints. To accomplish this, the GENIUS OF RIBALDRY, in the person of the JUNIOR of those two adventurers, went through the country, in written and oral philippick against the association, as being clothed with superstitious reverence for the old fashioned theology: filled with bigoted attachment to the confessions of faith: grossly ignorant of the Scriptures: swayed by the spirit of popish tyranny; and acting out a part of more than inquisitorial barbarity
1 Acts xiii, 8 to 10.
over the mental freedom and consciences of individuals, and the rights and independence of the churches! While hundreds who had caught this more than PERSIAN FLAME 1 of INDEPENDENCE stunned the ears of the community in vociferations of this declamation. 2 All this WINDY hubbub availed nothing with the association: she now saw through this ill-disguised machination. She felt satisfied that there had been no demur against her confession of faith, UNTIL that confession had condemned the faith of its condemners! She saw that it was detecting heretics and heretical churches: -- that it set in a blaze of rage and malignant opposition, the disguised errorists that had got into her churches. This taught her to prize that good confession of faith the more highly, as being of profitable for DEFENCE against heretics, as well as being explanatory of the doctrine of the Scriptures. Under the circumstances noticed, the association has been, for years past, not only struggling for the preservation of her faith and order, but also putting forth her best efforts to restore to their proper mind, and to bring back to the "good old way," those churches of her body whom she conceived had been made victims of a VARIED IMPOSTURE! Nor have her efforts been unattended with a pleasing degree of success. Where she has failed in her affectionate attempt to RECOVER, it has not been for the want of as much gentleness and effort as respect to her own existence would possibly admit of. She has borne with the INFIRMITIES of the weak, and the insolence and guile of the ANARCHICAL; until forbearance ceased to be a virtue, and further attempt to continue them in our fellowship would assume the character of a design to put a negative upon the word of God itself, which declares, that "two cannot walk together unless they are agreed." Hence at our last session, we felt it our duty to bring the case to an issue, and to that end avowed non-fellowship with those churches that continued hostile and refractory to our faith and order. For the particulars of which we refer you to our minutes. The churches that we have put away from us, we esteem as so much excrescence of which we are happily disburthened! Of those churches whose letters were not received, (at least most of them,) we hope better things, and things that accompany salvation. These churches we esteem as still worthy of our ministerial attentions and christian sympathies. To God we commend, (with hearts warmed by his grace) in the exercise of every friendly and prayerful solicitude on their behalf: and beseech the great Shepherd of Israel to save them, if vines, from the old fox and the young one too; who have already robbed them of many a cluster of their grapes. Perhaps they have departed from us for a season, that we may receive them again hereafter, to be more than ever profitable unto us, and we to them. Amen.
Having, brethren, briefly noticed the cause, progress, and termination of that contention which so long prevailed in our association; we shall now affectionately invite your attention while we make a few remarks on the subject of SANCTIFICATION: "Vast as Eternity our theme" -- A point our space to portray it in!
How imperfect then must be our representation.
There are two general ideas arising out of our subject, namely, the import [of] sanctification; and the agent and instrument thereof. We shall be compelled [to] limit ourselves to a mere glance of the first idea, to the end that we may have space to enlarge in our remarks of the last.
FIRST GENERAL IDEA.
1 See James iii. 6, for its name and character!
2 And yet not one church was necessitated to stay in the association one hour longer than it was pleased to continue!!!
ordained unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord!! 1 This sanctifying, or setting apart, begins, and is virtually made in God the Father's giving [the] Elect to his Son, to be the subjects of that Son's Mediatorial government! 2 [And] the Son sanctifies or sets them apart from the condemnation of the law and [the] pains of hell by his own blood and righteousness, in the man Christ Jesus! 3 The Holy Ghost sanctifies, or sets them apart from the love and reigning power [----in] by "creating in them a new man which after God," (i. e. after God's [purpose]!) "is created in righteousness and true holiness." 4 It is to this latter [----ch] of sanctification that we design to direct our subsequent remarks, and which [we] shall denominate vital or manifestive sanctification. In view of this sanctification an apostle has said, "now, if any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature:" 5 that is, if any man be vitally, or manifestatively, in Christ by the sanctification of the Spirit, he is a new creature. This passage of Scripture, with the ones previously referred to, will furnish us with this general idea, to wit: that sanctification does not consist in repairing or reforming the old nature, or in [making] that new; but is a NEW MAN! THE WORKMANSHIP of God! created [in] righteousness and true holiness and ORDAINED unto GOOD WORKS! 6 This, in [fact] and effect, is the "secret of the Lord abiding in the tabernacle of the righteous:" 7 This in fact is, Jesus formed in the heart, the hope of glory: this [is] the wrought needle-work that constitutes the believer ALL GLORIOUS WITHIN. This is the inner and hidden man of the heart! This new creature -- this heaven-born spiritual man, cannot sin -- cannot have any fellowship with the [unfruitful] works of darkness, but will for ever abhor and reprove them as they move [and] prevail in the "old man." The abode of this new man, in this life, is a "body [of] sin and death!" -- a living spark in an ocean of corruption! An infant of a day [in] a den of serpents, welted with their loathsome forms; transfixed with their poisonous fangs, yet remaining alive and unhurt! The two natures, this new man and the old, are ever at variance -- ever contrary the one to the other: The one [all] reverence, gratitude and passion toward God; the other all ingratitude to God [and] idolatrous passion for the world! So that the believer is truly and pre-eminently a phenomenon -- "a man to be wondered at" -- a devil and a saint! As the new man rules, the christian shines: As the old man rules, the glories of the new man are obscured. The new man "waxing stronger and stronger," the old man with his deeds and lusts, is the more easily kept under; though the old man is just as strong in the hour of a believer's death as ever he was; and the greatest saint when he comes to die, has as much corruption about him as ever he had: The difference is, that there is a new man, and the old man is in subjection thereto! Hence the only appropriate language that a believer may use, after the most extended life, of the most exemplary piety, is, "God be merciful to me a sinner." On death, the corruptible -- the old man -- the body of sin and death, shall be put off. The law in the members warring against the law of the mind -- the company and conflicting of the two armies -- the wrestling with flesh and blood -- the agonizings against the heart of unbelief shall then, (and not till then!) all terminate. Then the new man shall inhale an atmosphere of holiness congenial with his nature. Then shall it worship its CREATORS 8 in the all-devouring great emotion and perfection that it has here desired, longed, panted and roared for! (Who knows not these things knows nothing as he ought to know of sanctification!) Meanwhile the body of sin and death, that leprous house, shall go down to the dust, and be, like ashes, blown to and fro around the earth, until the voice of the archangel and the trump of God shall summon every flying and every recumbent particle thereof to reunite, and the Holy Ghost shall fashion the body, as he has previously garnished the soul, in the "beauties of holiness, and like unto Christ's most glorious body;" then the sanctification will be complete -- the IMPORT will then be fully made out in the sight of an astonished universe.
1 Ephes. i. 4.
2 Jude i. 1.
3 Heb. xiii. 12, x. 14.
4 2 Thess. ii. 3. 1 Pet. i. 2.
5 2 Cor. v. 17.
6 Ephes. ii. 10
7 Job xxix. 4.
8 Eccl. xii. 1, Zeber ath Buraik, i. e. remember thy Creators.
That agent is the Holy Ghost! hence, says Jehovah by the pen of the prophet, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord;" and, says Jesus, -- "It is the Spirit that quickeneth the flesh," (i. e. the wisdom, volition [and] power of the natural man,) "profiteth nothing:" This sanctification is denominated in the Scriptures, [as] being born again -- born of the Spirit -- having the Spirit in the soul, "as a well of living water springing up unto eternal life" -- having [a] heart opened by God the Spirit, and an incorruptible seed, (i. e. the truth of the word of God,) planted there, which liveth and abideth (there! in the heart) forever! The operations of that Spirit, in his work of sanctifying the soul, are [represented] as being irresistible as the winds of the heavens, or the lightening of the clouds. All and every of the constituents that make up the new man, [are] throughout the Scriptures, represented, severally, as the product of the Holy Ghost. Is it, for instance, Repentance: the Spirit convinces of sin and gives Godly sorrow. 2 Is it Faith: no man calleth Jesus Christ Lord, save by the Holy Ghost; and faith is the gift of God by the Spirit. 3 Is it freedom or liberty from the bondage of the law and influence of a corrupt world; the Spirit gives the liberty. 4 Is it direction to Christ as the Mediator: -- the Spirit only can lead [the] soul to him. 5 Is it the enjoyment of the adoption as sons of God: that the Spirit communicates. 6 Is it the mystical and essential union of saints: by one Spirit we are baptized into one body. 7 Is it daily and hourly strength to overcome the world, endure afflictions, and keep under the body: by the Spirit we are strengthened in the inner man. 8 Is it the exercise of effectual fervent prayer: the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that are unutterable. 9 Is it the essential knowledge of Christ, or an understanding of the truth of what the Scriptures testify of him: that the Spirit only can reveal to the understanding? 10 Is it love to God, or the manifestations of the love of God to the soul: that is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. 11 Is it the gradual advancement of the believer in the divine life unto entire meetness, for the inheritance in glory: the Spirit rests upon him to that very end. 12 And so in reference to the other gifts and graces -- as hope, fear, meekness, humility, patience, peace, joy and [courage] all, all are the product of the Spirit of Jehovah: and thus declared to be in [full] DETAIL, as the whole is represented in the Scriptures in general terms, to be "THE WORKMANSHIP OF GOD ACCORDING TO HIS ELECTION, AND THROUGH SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT["]!! 13 Wherefore any and every system of theology [that] excludes the doctrine of the Spirit's direct, special, and unintermitting influence upon the soul, that system we say, is not only a "damnable heresy," but the use of the Bible, and the profession of faith in that system is as gross a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, as that of the Jewish Rabbies is against Jehovah when they say that he takes great delight in reading their Talmud: there is just as much essential religion in that system, as there is grace and truth in this saying. From the throne of the universe Jehovah has declared, in a voice more terrible than the groan of expiring nature, "that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ [he] is none of his." 14
1 Zech. iv. 6.
2 Ezek. xxxvi. 26 to 31.
3 2 Cor. iv. 13. Ephes. ii. 8.
4 2 Cor. iii. 17.
5 John vi. 65.
6 Gal. iv. 6.
7 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13.
8 Ephes. iii. 16.
9 Rom. viii. 26, 27.
10 Matt. xvi. 17.
11 Rom. v. 5.
12 1 Pet. iv. 14.
13 Ephes. ii. 10. 1Pet. 1. 2.
14 Rom. viii. 9.
In general terms, we observe, that the instrument is the word of God, [contained] in the Old and New Testaments.
"My doctrine," says Jehovah, "shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as showers upon the grass. 1 And, again, as the rain and the snow cometh down from heaven and accomplishes the will of God in nature, so shall his word be in grace, it shall [prosper] in the thing whereunto he sends it. 2 And, says the Psalmist, "The entrance of thy word giveth light." 3 Now, the manner in which the word findeth entrance into the heart is explained in the case of Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened by his Spirit. 4 By the Spirit, the word is made "swift and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword." And here we may ask -- what is a sword [less the] scabbard? or what is a sword without a hand strong and skilled to use it? Under such circumstances its properties as an instrument of offence or defence, [can] neither be seen or felt. Apply this to the case before us: -- The Bible is the scabbard: the truth of that Bible is the sword of the Spirit. That Spirit has ever [provided] a ministry competent to discriminate between the scabbard and the sword! [What] officers and soldiers, in the army of faith, they must be, who do not know whether there be such a thing as a sword! or who confound the sword with the scabbard! or who fling away the sword (i. e. a confession of the essential truth [of] the Bible,) as a matter of uselessness or incumbrance! And, what hopeful aspects there must be of the conversion of the world, from the doings of those [various] individuals and societies who are declaring the sword supererogatory, and [--ting] it placed somewhere, like Mahomet's coffin, between heaven and earth, where no one will be troubled, or offended with the unseemly object! and where, [they] might add, it will not be found present to judge them! What hopeful prospects, we say, again, there must be of converting the world, or subduing the nations of the earth to Immanuel, by the use of the scabbard! What marvellous evidence there is of the adorable Spirit's redeeming influences, when the sword [of] the Spirit is trampled under foot! And, O, what a faith, as to quality and [magnitude], to believe, that the Lord is there! But, to return. By the preaching of the word sinners are pricked in their hearts; they are convinced of all, they are judged of all, and the secrets of their hearts are made manifest to them (that [of] their heart's innate depravity, which is a thing hidden to a man in a state of nature, is made manifest,) under a view of which they become humble in the dust [in] self abasement, and from bold blasphemers of God, or contemners of his word, they are made worshippers of Jehovah, in spirit and in truth; and confess that God, the person of the Holy Ghost, is in all his saints, of a truth. 5 Upon this [ground] an apostle declared, he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, because it was the power of God to salvation, to every one that believeth, even as many [as] are ordained unto eternal life, and that Jehovah, our God, shall call. But, this [word] is not only an instrument of sanctification -- setting apart, or effectual [calling] of the sinner from the world and his sins: it is also the instrument of the believer's growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ: "All scripture," says an apostle, "is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction in righteousness, that the man of God, i. e. the man whom God hath by his Spirit sanctified or set apart unto himself, -- see Psalms iv. 3,) may be perfect; thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 6 The same apostle declares, that believers are begotten, or spiritually born, from [above], by the Gospel: 7 and, says the same apostle, "We all with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory as by the Spirit of God." 8 This unquestionably refers unto
1 Deut. xxxii. 2.
2 Isaiah lv. 10.
3 Psal. cxix. 130.
4 Acts xvi. 14.
5 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25.
6 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.
7 1 Cor. iv. 15.
8 2 Cor. iii. 18.
the Scriptures, which only testify of Christ. Here, as in a mirror burnished [by] the hand of heaven, Immanuel's transcendant glories, enchanting loveliness, [ineffable] preciousess, and unsearchable fulness and riches of grace, is seen, more and more, by every soul enlightened by the Holy Ghost, until that Immanuel becomes a NAMELESS object to the MUSING soul!!
Again -- we remark, that it is THE TRUTH of the Scriptures that is [------] SPECIFICALLY the INSTRUMENT of vital sanctification: Hence, says Jesus is intercessor with the Father for his people, "sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth:" here the great God is referred to by Jesus as the sanctifier, and the truth of the word as being specifically the instrument of sanctification: elsewhere Jesus says, "no man can come unto me except the Father draw him:" and, again, he declares, that his people "shall know the truth and the truth shall make them free:" and, says an apostle, "we are chosen to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and the belief of the truth:" and, says another, "we are begotten by the truth;" and, "no lie" says he, "is of the truth." From [these] passages, and many others of a similar import, we learn, that the truth of the word is specifically the instrument of sanctification. Now, the truth must, unquestionably be the ESSENTIAL MEANING of the of the Bible! The understanding of this truth is discriminated by such phraseology as the following, to wit: "The faith of God's elect: a form of sound words: a good confession: rightly dividing the word of truth." On the other hand a misconception of that truth [is] represented to be, "changing the truth of God, (or God's word,) into a wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction: ever learning, (that is, of the word,) and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth: holding the truth [in] unrighteousness." Upon this ground, Jesus thanked his Father, that his disciples were led into the truth; and, that all his people should know the truth; that the truth should make them free, as the Spirit itself would lead them [thereafter]. Upon the same ground, an apostle declared that he would not give place [even] for an hour, to false representations of the word, that the truth of the Gospel might continue among his brethren: 1 and upon this ground he rejoiced, that his brethren knew the grace, (or Gospel) of God in truth. 2 Upon the same ground, another apostle declared, that he had no greater joy, than to witness his children in the gospel, walking in the truth thereof. 3 On the other hand, we hear Jesus rebuking with indignation those who made void the law, or falsely interpreted the Scriptures, by their traditions: and against false teachers of the word, he warned [his] disciples. Against false gospels the apostles warned the church; and, against those who should rise up, from among themselves, as professors, speaking [perverse] things, (to draw away disciples after them!) in the name of Christ and [the] word: 4 -- men who were reprobate concerning the truth of the Scriptures, [though] they were, professedly, teachers thereof. Upon this ground were the apostles so earnest in exhorting their brethren to "hold fast the form of sound words" -- their good confession -- "the faith once delivered to the saints." Upon [this] ground they gave commandment to the churches, to examine and try the spirits (i. e. preachers,) whether they were of God: 5 and, upon this ground, the church at Ephesus is commended; "because she had tried them that said they were apostles, and had found them liars." 6 All the foregoing references to Christ and his apostles, is made to furnish out a full and conclusive testimony that [is] the ESSENTIAL MEANING, or, in our former language, the truth of the word of God that is specifically the instrument of sanctification; and that in contradistinction to all and every of the false interpretations, and contradictory meanings that ever has been, or ever shall be given of that word!! Here arises one of the most interesting inquiries that ever pressed itself upon the mind of man: namely -- [where] or who is a guarantee to be found, that any of the human family shall know [what] os the essential truth of the Bible? With JEHOVAH is that guarantee, and [that]
1 Gal. ii. 5.
2 Col. i. 6.
3 2 John i. 4.
4 Acts xxviii. 30.
5 1 John iv. 1.
6 Rev. ii. 2.
Brethren -- Our limits admonish us to come to a conclusion. We feel that we have arrested your attention, for a moment, to a subject as important as any [one] that can engross your reflections on this side eternity. We live in a day [----g] with portentious signs against the truth, however auspicious it may appear to [---] to the Bible! The time is not far distant, we conceive, when that state of things will be realised in the world which the apostle describes in the third chapter of [his] second Epistle to Timothy: when "a form of Godliness will prevail, and [the] power thereof be, to appearance, extinct; and to which time the Lord Jesus himself refers, where he asks, "When the Son of man cometh" (doubtless, his second appearance,) "shall he find faith" (i. e. the faith of God's elect) "on the earth." 6 We conceive it amply in our power, did space permit, to give conclusive evidence that the present time is the "young dawn" of that fearful epoch among the variety of evidence existing, the abandonment of the truth of the bible by multitudes in the Baptist and Presbyterian churches, is not the least. These
1 Isai. liv. 13. John vi. 45.
2 John viii. 32.
3 1 Tim. iii. 15.
4 1 Pet. iv. 14.
5 1 Cor. xiii. 6.
6 Luke xviii. 7, 8.
denominations may be considered the two last witnesses on earth for the [essential] truth! Already they are infested with shoals of Arminians and semi-arminians, and the generation, most likely, has commenced, in which the MOTHER OF HARLOTS, 1 and the MONSTER ARMINIANISM will, like Pilate and Herod, unite 2 to hunt, persecute, and exterminate, if possible, the faith of God's Elect from the earth: and to deride and reject the truth of the bible, at the same time that they professedly adore the bible! We believe it will devolve [on the] Regular Baptist Church to bring up the rear of the last generation of martyrs [for] the truth! Let us leave them an example of unyielding devotion to, and [struggle] for, the truth, to which they may recur in the hour of their "fiery trial," [and] in view thereof "thank God and take courage." It devolves upon us brethren, to judge righteous judgment! To this end we must believe THE LORD to be [------] the bible where its truth is known, revered and supported; and that [there ---ists] the essential church of Christ! On the other hand, we must believe the [Lord not] to be with the bible where the truth is not known, respected, or proclaimed [with] interpretations, or bald, disjointed, and contradictory representations [of the] Scriptures, can no more be an instrument of sanctification, (or of the real [----- ----] of the sinner and of blessing to the church of Christ!) than the preaching of the Zandevaster of the Persians -- the Koran of Mahomet -- the Talmud [of the Jews, or] the Sybelline Fables, or any other tale produced from the lawless [--- ---- ----] of men, can be an instrument! You will then, brethren, it is [true --- ----] continue to judge of professed churches, ministers, and disciples of Christ, [by their] intelligence in, and fidelity to the truth! Were all the world a BIBLE SOCIETY, and every habitable spot of earth a Missionary post, and every family a professed household of faith, and every individual a translator of his [own] bible; still the whole case might be destitute of a particle of living faith, or knowledge of the essential truth! 3 If in connexion with all this, the truth of the [word] be despised, i. e. the doctrine of Jehovah's sovereignty -- the Election of grace [and] particular redemption by the blood, and free and full justification by the righteousness of Christ imputed -- effectual calling -- final perseverance -- and eternal glorification of the heirs of the kingdom; if this doctrine, which constitutes, essentially, the truth of the bible, be despised and rejected, then the whole scene of design and doing in the name of Christ, may, and must be considered nothing better than "a form of Godliness," and mere THEOLOGICAL JUGGLARY!!
"Charity rejoiceth in the truth," saith the Spirit "and not in iniquity." But the use of the bible out of the truth thereof, must be iniquity! therefore [---] charity cannot rejoice therein, though the acclamations thereof may exceed [the] sound (SENSE is out of the question) of the prophets of Balak, or the worshippers of Diana and Juggernaut! But true love to God cleaves to that truth which [gives] glory to God in the highest! and that is true love to saint and sinner, [who] cleaves to, supports and publishes that truth which Jehovah has ordained to [be] the instrument of sanctification: That is insult to God -- infidelity to Christ -- [injustice] and fraud to the church, and cruelty to man, that abandons the truth.
In conclusion, Brethren, suffer the word of exhortation, as well as of admonition. You profess to be sanctified by the truth -- set apart unto God as vessels of mercy and honour -- that you are not your own but bought with a price, that you may be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Examine yourselves therefore, brethren, as individuals and churches, and ascertain what you do for the support, promulgation, and defence of the truth. Do you openly and [sternly] confess the truth, though the multitude cry out against you as Bigots! Do you withdraw yourselves from the societies who have not the truth with their bible, or who hold it in unrighteousness, though you be hailed as illiberal! Do you discriminate
1 The Roman Catholic Hierarchy.
2 Rather, the elementary principles being the same, they will become merged into [every] society!
3 The revolution of a few more years will give this a horrible exemplification!
between those who, as ministers, rightly divide the word of truth, and [those] who make it a tissue of contradiction; and thus discriminating, give a "God speed" to the former, and a "get thee behind me SATAN," to the latter, [though] you are proclaimed rude and insolent fellows, and disturbers of the peace [----]. In a word, while the world and carnal professors are making furious [and] subtle assaults upon, and EVANGELISING the world to get the truth annihilated, are you proportionably energetic in your defence thereof! Is there, brethren, [yet] a character still on earth as a Minister or Pastor of the church of Christ after God's own heart! have you any among you of that character! men who unblushingly proclaim what the Holy Ghost has revealed of truth -- even the "whole counsel of God;" and that in the spirit of majestic confidence in, and reference to the SOVEREIGN WORKING of the Holy Ghost through that instrumentality, and the bowels of untold solicitude for the welfare of Zion. If, brethren, you have [such] men among you, they are no common character; they are engaged in no common ministerial labour; they have no common trials, temptations, discipline and sufferings; and they toil and suffer to no common end. For the glory of God, the praise of Immanuel, the honour of the Gospel, the welfare of Zion, [and the] salvation of the Elect are their spirits clothed with intrepidity [t----- ----- ----] and their hands skilled and nerved to defend, that truth of the God [--- --- ---] Saviour, which all hell trembles at, which the world esteems [for ------ ---ors], and which the multitude of professors abandon and betray [--- ---- ---] a carnal peace, or a claim to that delusive charity which is [tr------ ---- ----] heaven and earth; or, for the sake of enjoying an unsanctified [fellowship with an] adulterous generation. If you have such men among you, brethren, [remember], [that] as you treat them, you would treat the Lord Jesus Christ: just as you nourish and support them, do you foster and defend that truth which is, instrumentally, to clothe your precious souls in the beauties of holiness, and to prepare you for that glory in the vision of which the eye of our faith shall be lost, and at the throne of which the wing of our faith shall be folded in everlasting rest -- AMEN AND AMEN!
Letters on A. Campbell in:
W. L. M'Calla's The Unitarian Baptist...
OF THE ROBINSON SCHOOL
In papers collateral to a Discussion of Christian Baptism,
and its effects upon civil and religious society as shewn
in the Scriptures, and in the history of the Church,
in opposition to the views of
MR. ALEXANDER CAMPBELL,
As expressed in a seven days' debate with the Author, at Washington,
Kentucky, October 1824, and in his spurious publication of
that debate, and of a previous one of two days with the Rev.
John Walker of Ohio, and in opposition to the views of the
celebrated Mr. Robinson, and other Baptist Authors.
BY W. L. M'CALLA,
Pastor of the Eighth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, and Author
of a "Discussion of Universalism."
PHILADELPHIA: PRINTED BY JOHN YOUNG.
[ 3 ]
In the autumn of 1819, the author settled in Augusta, Kentucky, as the Pastor of a Presbyterian Church at that poor and obscure, but delightful and healthful village. As soon as he began to lecture on the Gospel according to Matthew. the Baptists in the neighborhood, who, as yet, appeared friendly, began to predict that he would take little or no notice of the Sd Chapter. It is now confessed with shame, that after a severe internal struggle, he had partially determined to follow this unfaithful course, although he kept his intention to himself. His resolution was occasioned not by any doubt of the propriety of our views or practice in relation to Baptism, but by a too anxious desire to live in peace, and to shew his affection to Baptist christians to whom he was very tenderly attached. Just before the Sd Chapter came under review, Major Fee, a man of very advanced age, and an elder of the Church, hearing the prophetic rumour which the Baptist friends had set in motion, communicated it to the author, accompanied with a remonstrance against a policy so unmanly and so unministerial. This occasioned him to give our Saviour's baptism a prayerful discussion of a few minutes, qualified with many sincere expressions of love and esteem for Baptist. christians. Mr. Vaughn, a Baptist minister settled in the same place, acknowledged openly from the same pulpit, on the next sabbath-day that the Preacher had said nothing which could wound the feelings of him or his brethren in the least degree. This was exceedingly gratifying to the Preacher's heart; for although he had not an exhalted opinion of Mr. Vaughn in any respect, he thought that union in a good cause, if it could be attained, promised far more usefulness than unnecessary and unprofitable dissention. Had Mr. Vaughn's subsequent conduct been consistent with the above candid declaration, the present work would probably never have been imposed upon the public attention. But bad counsel, disappointed ambition, and a mistaken view of the motives of his friend's conduct, induced him to assume a very different attitude. There is reason to believe that Mr. Vaughn's opinion of the Author before and after the lecture on the Baptism of John, very much resembled the opinion which the frogs entertained of King Log before and after their acquaintance with him. They feared and honoured him, because they thought him dangerous; they afterward despised and insulted him, because they found him harmless.
Being destitute of that generosity which can appreciate disinterested motives, he afterward attributed forbearance to feebleness, and publically scoffed from the pulpit, at the Author's expressions of tenderness, as an indication of his timidity and the weakness of his cause; assuring the people that he in reply, had no notion of touching the subject delicately like a man treading on glass. He discovered too late that a more tender walk would have been to his advantage.
After Mr. Vaughn's most mortifying failure in an attack as unprovoked as it was scurrilous and unfeeling, he and his warmest adherents were much refreshed with Mr. Campbell's publication of the debate between him and Mr. Walker, in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, June, 1820. This remarkable man is not satisfied with a friendly investigation of the subject and mode of baptism, but he undertakes to prove that our practice is "injurious to the well-being of society, religious and political"" and to the discussion of this question as well as the other, he publishes at the close of his debate, what he himself expressly calls "an invitation or challenge to any Pedo-baptist minister." It soon appeared that a subscription paper was in circulation for the joint purpose of requesting a visit from Mr. Campbell, and of paying his expenses. On the Author's expressing a willingness to subscribe five dollars himself, if the paper were presented, it soon disappeared; probably from an apprehension that a repetition of Mr. Vaughn's precipitancy might issue in a similar manner. While they were deliberating upon the matter, between two and three years, the rumours which reached Augusta, concerning Mr. Campbell's genous and education, his resistless boldness and overwhelming eloquence, raised the spirits of his friends completely to the war point, and drove the author of this work to (what he hopes may without presumption, be called,) constant and fervent prayer. From the reports of Baptists and Pedobaptists, all parties expected that on Mr. Campbell's appearance, their eyes should behold such a man as they had never seen before, and might never view again. Their fancies were glowing with the image of a man, whose clear and accurate reasoning, whose ready, rapid and inexhaustible elocution, were backed by such a person and port, such a visage and voice, as were altogether unparalleled and irresistible. The courage of his friends so far from faltering, was now wound up beyond the point of composure, to a considerable degree of confidence. They resolved that the Author should either decline a meeting with Mr. Campbell, or fall before him. Major (now Colonel) Morris, a real friend, was despatched to him, to inquire first whether he was willing to meet Mr. Campbell, and on another visit, to inquire whether he would undertake to communicate his willingness in writing. An affirmative answer being given to both these questions, a correspondence was immediately begun, and on the 15th of October a debate commenced, which (omitting the sabbath,) continued until the evening of the 22nd, (not the 21st, as Mr. Campbell's title page declares.)
In the Prospectus of Mr. Campbell's professed Report of the debate, he has promised that "all the arguments on both sides, shall be faithfully and impartially DETAILED." Having circulated many thousands of copies throughout the United States, he has publicly triumphed in the effect produced upon the character and cause of his Antagonist. Sufficient time has elapsed to satisfy both parties that this effect is considerable. In proportion to the groundless exultation of his adherents, Pedobaptists suffer mortification and loss. The exultation was on the other side, at the debate, but it has changed hands by means of his printed Report. Whatever may be thought or said about the propriety of exposing such a work, among persons at a distance from the field of conflict, it is confidently believed that every Pedobaptist who heard the discussion, and myriads who did not hear it, are conscientiously convinced that to answer Mr. Campbell's book is an important duty, and that it cannot be neglected without betraying the cause of truth. In defending himself and the Church of Christ from the injurious assault of Mr. Campbell, the Author does not seek a contest with other Baptist ministers or churches. With honest and respectful plainness, he can assure them that it is not their wisdom to be identified with him. Of in some instances, they have thought and acted otherwise, they and not the Author, must be answerable for their folly. It will be recollected that the subjects in dispute, are, whether an ordinance which we hold dearer than life, is "a human tradition," and whether it is "injurious to society, religious and political." When our religious principles and moral characters are unjustly assailed, we are not more willing to plead guilty, if Mr. Campbell were backed by every Baptist on earth, than we are, when our Accuser stands alone. That the better sort of Baptists in Mr. Campbell's neighbourhood, condemn him and his book, appears probable from the combing which he has received from Mr. Greatrake, a preacher of theirs....
Notwithstanding Mr. Greatrake's statement that "the more solid and pious of the Baptist Church" condemn Mr. Campbell's public debates, he admits that they have secured him extensive
"influence among the Baptists," who have abundantly rewarded his false zeal "with their subscriptions and their smiles." In one place he tells them, "It appears that a considerable part of the Baptist church in these western sections of the country have given the reins of dictation into your hands." From one of these deluded followers, a letter was sent to the Editor or Editors of the Columbian Star, a Baptist paper, published in Washington City; remonstrating against a gross slander which that paper had aided in circulating concerning the manner of conducting the debate... These accusations, no less impious than impotent, form just one half of that cause which the Columbian Star, through their "very respectable clergyman in Kentucky," would have the world to believe was supported "in a most masterly manner." They are found in that zealous production which secured to Mr. Campbell the "subscriptions" and the "smiles" of western Baptists, and gave him among them what Mr. Greatrake calls "the reins of dictation." These accusations form an important part of that book, which, if we may believe its author, has been declared by Mr. Brewster, of New York, and other flatterers equally great, in "many parts of the United States," to be "so full, so plain, so pertinent, so instructing, so convincing, so unanswerable, and (even) so UNEXCEPTIONABLE." Be it so then. There are many Baptist preachers in the East and in the West, who wish others to place them along with the amiable Fuller or Gill, while they choose to identify themselves with Robinson or Campbell. By profession, they are so charitable and antisectarian that they seem to think it quite sinful to mount a polemical charger even in the best of causes, yet they are willing to hold the stirrup while a more daring champion vaults into the saddle. If in the overthrow of their hero, a mingled strife should trample upon the toes of his abettors, let them remember who made this unhallowed attack, and who said that it was conducted in a manner so "masterly" and so "unexceptionable." Let them who will utter or approve such foul aspirsions, it is right that they should be repelled, that innocence should be brought to light, and the ordinances of God defended.
When, under a mask of zeal against infant-baptism, the Unitarian Robinson of England endeavoured to lead the people away to infidelity, the greatest Baptist in the kingdom was among the first to expose the imposture. But the Baptists of America have republished and industriously circulated this infidel production, and where is the Andrew Fuller to lift his voice against it? Even the solitary and unheeded little Mr. Greatrake, who has condemned Robinson's legitimate offspring (as truly as death is the offspring of sin,) has not, it is believed, borne any testimony against the guilty parent. Even his indignant rebuke of heresy and hypocrisy, accompanied with the most wanton and inexcusable calumny, is rather a reproach upon his brethren, who, partly by silence, and partly by express approbation, have become accomplices in his guilt.
If their error cannot be corrected by wisdom and pious zeal, they are likely to be convinced by sore experience. They already find that taking him into their favour, is like receiving worms into the human body; they prey upon the coats of the stomach, instead of its pernicious contents. They would let him bite at the heels of Pedobaptist Editors, Pastors, Missionaries, Churches and Church-courts, until his heart was eased of its venom; but they find that he is not satisfied with this. Wherever he sees any evidence of piety, zeal or usefulness, among the Baptists themselves, he considers them lawful game, especially if his temper is whetted, like Esau's appetite, by disappointment. When he has made an unsuccessful campaign against such papers as the Lexington Luminary and the Pittsburgh Recorder, he is very apt to make the Baptist Luminary and Star pay the expences of the war. These he treats with perfect contempt, while he quotes Socinian and Infidel papers as supporting their cause in the most masterly manner. It is well known that he is not only opposed to the voluntary pecuniary support of the clergy, but even to the existence of such an order; and this, not only among the Pedobaptists, but among the Baptists themselves, unless they will become as impious as this Clerico-anticlerical Knight-errant, and as abject in their servility as his Sancho, Sidney Rigdon, who attended him to Kentucky. The superior virulence which he has shewn to the Baptist Missionaries reminds one of the conduct of Ahasuerus or Cambyses the son and successor of Cyrus, who, after a disgraceful retreat from a foreign war, wreaked his vengeance upon his own magistrates and subjects, and even upon his own brother and sister. A war with women was more suitable to the temper and talents of that degenerate monarch, and those who have witnessed Mr. Campbell's brave and repeated assaults upon the character of Mrs. Judson, the Baptist Missionary, can attest the same for him, without putting Mr. Rigdon to the trouble of signing a certificate. If Mr. Campbell would be satisfied, like Sanballat the Horonite, with opposing the building of Pedobaptist churches only, some of his brethren could bear it, but his anger has burned against the Baptist Church in Pomfret, Connecticut, for devoting
a house to religious purposes...
(pages 8-9 under construction)
None of these things appear in their true colours in his printed report. There he has suppressed much nonsense, introduced much new matter, and endeavoured to give everything of his own, such a turn as would at least appear to bear upon the subject at hand. As this is an object better worth contending with than his real speeches, the Author is in some measure, under the necessity of making a corresponding alteration in his replies. Besides this, the audience will recollect that the author repeatedly and emphatically informed them that he was obliged, by the want of time, to omit much matter which was in his notes. His notes are also enlarged during his residence in Philadelphia, by examining the Commentary of the great and the good Dr. Gill, the most eminent and orthodox of the Baptist Clergy. Perhaps the greatest improvement in his argument may be found in the history of the mode of Baptism, and in the argument on household baptism, on which last, he has been much aided by Trommius' Concordance, lent to him by his friend and neighbor Dr. Wylie; and by the controversial pieces of Taylor, the Editor of Calmet's Dictionary. For this purpose these last were sent for to London, and by Mr. Jos. P. Engles, a member of the same Session with the Author, and one to whose assistance he is much indebted in publishing the "Discussion of Universalism," as well as the present work.
Introductory to Mr. Campbell's Report, he has professed to copy our correspondence. Its many typographical errors make it necessary that a new edition should accompany these papers. In one of these letters, the Author mentions a reformed City of Switzerland, as the seat of a theological debate. In the letter now in my hands, the name of the place is Berne; in Mr. Campbell's printed copy, it is Rome. However, in his view, there is very little difference between the Mother of Harlots and the Bride of Christ: for the sake of their infants, he treats them both pretty much alike. The unusual freedoms which he has taken, not only in composing and publishing for the Author, but in traducing his character, and that of others, would certainly deceive the public, and injure the truth, if they were to pass unnoticed. A narrative of facts, the spuriousness of the report, and some account of the Reporter, will necessarily swell these collateral papers. On the last subject the Author hopes to be excused for republishing several pages of Mr. Greatrake's testimony. These documents will be closed by a new miniature ironical Report, in alternative speeches, intended as a syllabus of the Author's real argument, in connexion with specimens of that portion of Mr. Campbell's book, which cannot be noticed in a serious defence.
After what has occurred in a similar case, it would not be at all surprising, if Mr. Campbell had succeeded in propping his frail fabric, by the premature and ex parte testimony of many witnesses. Of this he has had a fine opportunity, from which his Antagonist has been precluded by removing to Philadelphia.
He even tells us of several of his particular friends who took notes during a part of the debate. Yet after all, he has laid before the public no certificate, except that of his mere shadow, Sidney Rigdon, who might as well be called Sidney Sub-Campbell. As many are in the habit of confirming matters by two or three witnesses, he thinks to give double weight to his certificate, by representing its author as a Bishop of Pittsburgh. He neglected however, to inform us that this celebrated Pittsburgh Bishop, Sidney Rigdon, is the creature of Alexander Campbell, Archbishop of Buffaloe Creek As this expert manufacturer of Episcopal witnesses, knew that several Pedobaptist ministers also took notes, he endeavours before hand to invalidate their testimony, by an artful insinuation that neither of them was present during the whole debate. After naming one who actually did depart, he mentions the other, as "the young divine that took his place, after he quit the ground." Mt. Campbell had skill enough to know the point of danger. He knew that this young divine had a soul of his own; and he knew also that he had taken no man's place, but had, attentively and laboriously and faithfully, kept his own place, from the commencement to the close of the controversy. Now Providence so directed events, that this young divine came to Philadelphia as a Delegate to the General Assembly of May 1825, a few weeks after the Author had commenced the perusal of Mr. Campbell's book. A certificate which, by request, he wrote at his lodgings, and handed to the Author, may now be seen beside that which Mr. Campbell has adduced.
Let any sober, experienced and practical man, ----- let any pious and intelligent Baptist, now place himself in the Author's situation. Suppose that a decided enemy to Christianity, calling himself a Regular Pedobaptist Minister, were to arraign the whole Baptist denomination before the public, undertaking in the most confident manner, to prove them guilty of the highest crimes, and to prove their system of religion inconsistent with
the well-being of civil and religious society....
(pages 12-72 under construction)
As given by Mr. Greatrake, a highly esteemed, regular Baptist Minister, in Mr. Campbell's neighbourhood. Out of several pamphlets, we can only copy his 4th, 5th and 6th Letters with a part of his 3d to Mr. Campbell, his circular to the Western Baptists, and a few extracts from his "Miniature Portrait of Alexander Campbell."
Mr. Greatrake to Mr. Campbell.* * * * the character of individuals, in your sphere particularly, is fairly ascertainable in all its essential features, by coming to a knowledge of its effect upon those With whom it has estimation. That you have many admirers and adherents there is no doubt; that they have been sitting at your feet learning of you, and holding up to their view your character, as model for their imitation, is equally certain. Now, if the many of these individuals with whom I have been more or less acquainted, have not been most bungling scholars, they have been taught by you, and others more immediately your subordinates, a variety of sentiments, which, if not altogether new, is at least so in relation to their influence among the Baptist churches in America. And though it is in the chapter of probabilities that your sentiments may have been misunderstood, yet what is found as the views of your professed disciples, will necessarily be considered as the production of your labours, and correlative with your opinions. In the first place then, we notice, that among your adherents, pupils, or disciples, there are those who believe, and have publicly declared, that a man by being baptized was made as holy as an angel! or which is the same thing, and to use the words literatim, that "he came out of the water as holy as an angel." -- Again, it has been said by some of them, that "the Almighty had been tired of his own moral law for 1500 years, when he abrogated it by the New Testament dispensation, and that it is no longer a rule of conduct for the believer in our Lord Jesus Christ." -- Again, many of your adherents profess to scout the doctrine of the Holy Spirit's immediate influence in regeneration, as well as in all subsequent stages of christian life, and to denominate the well known characteristic experience of spiritual Israel, a mere phantasy, or mass of mysticism. -- Again, they profess to believe that prayer is no duty, but rather an insult to the majesty of heaven. Such are some of the horrible brood of sentiments entertained and expressed by individuals who are recognized as under-teachers to you, as well as others who are your joint hearers. Now, I do not exactly say that these and other kindred doctrines are the offspring of your own teeming brain, but you are certainly and strongly suspected of having begotten them in their ductile pericraniums by certain secret intercourses; though under more public circumstances you have appeared rather to disown the progeny. If such sentiments, sir, are really the product of your system of theology, the results of your writings and your labours, you must have a mind circumstanced to enjoy them! and I can conceive your feelings of admiration and exultance, while you fondle with, and hang over them with a father's love and father's hopes, to be closely allied to the sensations of Milton's Satan, when for the first time he beheld his incestuous
grand-children, the progeny of sin and death, y'clept hell hounds. Whether, sir, you be, or be not, the teacher of such doctrines, is of little consequence, as long as they have the authority of your name. Of such sentiments, at least some of them, I am free to say, that they exceed the whole sum of blasphemies that ever I met with in the character of men or devils, and the propagators thereof ought to be known and hung upon the gibbets of public infamy. But leaving every thing that cannot absolutely be identified as part of your opinions, speculations, and teachings, we will proceed to notice what is as tangible thereof as the leaves of your "Christian Baptist." You are then, in the first place, endeavouring to create universal distrust of the ministry, in all denominations, bating an occasional qualification in the admission of an individual now and then, as an exception to the degraded character you give of the rest. Those individuals that are your exceptions may be calculated upon as those of whom you expect to make partizans in your own scheme of operations; hence the occasional allusion to them in different and well-timed expressions of panegyrick, becomes a stroke of policy, and not a feeling of charity. But for what, sir, is this almost universal attack upon the character of ministers made? the end in view is obvious; and that end is, that you may dissolve, if possible, existing connexions between pastors and people, and thus effect the first step towards making the latter your followers, or the proselytes to your system of theology, under the direction of your agents! and in thus doing, consummate the measure of your fame by becoming the acknowledged head of some new, though yet nameless sect. That you really believe, sir, what you intimate and assert of the dishonesty and selfishness of ministers, I do not doubt: the reason is, that you never had the necessary mental perception to see the real and spiritual pastors and servants of the church of Christ, and having met with many that were the reverse, and the constituents of whose character you could by natural affinity analyze, you have suspected the whole to be of the same base material. -- The subject we shall notice more fully hereafter. This spirit of distrust we know you are labouring to diffuse in every direction, and while it is evidently to the end, and for the object we have suggested; you have the effrontery to pass it off as a labour of love, an expression of disinterested zeal for the church of Christ. -- Again, we know that you propagate the doctrine of the church's independency, so far as to exclude all reference to articles of faith, and principles of order upon which they have been founded, (I am now speaking of the Baptist church) this your writings are uniformly understood to aim at. And really, sir, your attempt to disseminate this sort of sentiment, in the Baptist church in particular, demonstrates your very great attainment in impudence, or that you are extremely ignorant of the constituents of social unity and order, as I shall hereafter endeavour to exhibit. Can you suppose that any reflecting intelligent member of the Baptist church, will ever conceive favourably of that man, or have confidence in the purity of his motives, who attempts to destroy the very foundation upon which the denomination has risen to such imposing magnitude, in such fair proportions, and with such solidity? indeed, sir, the attempt on your part, or that of any other person, bears testimony of a radical defect in understanding, and can only leave you, (in the exercise of all possible charity) the character of the knight of La Mancha, or the phrenzied Swede. * * * *
In my last I noticed some of the moral impressions made upon the minds of that part of the community which are to be considered, more immediately, your disciples. Having adverted to certain doctrines held by them, as well as to their general sentiments respecting church order and government, and in recognition thereof seen, what may be fairly considered as additional features of your own character; I shall proceed to raise some other characteristics of the same fraternity. For brevity and distinctness sake, I will fix your attention upon a solitary church, as a specimen of the whole, and as sufficient to afford you, a tolerably correct estimate of the general results of your labours. In this church there are two Pastors, or Elders, or Teachers, as you please: one of them occupies an entire sabbath, in expounding a certain part of the scripture to his flock, who are immensely delighted and edified, by the luminous, as they think, discourse; and run to and fro through their respective neighbourhoods to proclaim the erudition and the knowledge of their semi-pastor who last addressed them -- while he hies away to his worthy associate and fellow-labourer, to tell him how his audience had been astonished at his learning, delighted with his commentaries, ravished with his eloquence, and established in their faith. He then proceeds to give his coadjutor a summary of all he had said in the course of the lecture, which is no sooner communicated to the former, then he very gravely tells him, that the whole of his views upon the subject are entirely different from his; and proceeds to give an exhibit of what he conceives to be the legitimate, and true meaning of the subject. Our lecturer no sooner hears the sentiments of his dear help-mate, than in true philosophical mood of indifference, he observes, well, brother A. if what you say be true, I must have instructed the people erroneously, but never mind, the people are pleased with what I said and I am pleased too; and as we, only, are interested in the case, I do not see that there is any occasion to take further notice of it. Besides, brother A. your charity ought to cover all such infirmities: add to which, you know not how soon you may stand in need of equal forbearance. And sure enough, sir, this intimation of brother A. turned out in the end to be a literal prediction; for it was not long before Elder A. had occasion to acknowledge, that he had found himself to have been in something of an error for a long time; having disbelieved in the influences of the Holy Ghost upon the human mind, subsequent to the apostle's days; but that now he thought it was a New Testament doctrine -- the word said so. And though he might not teach it, for fear of collision with his amiable brother, and out of reciprocal charity; yet he would believe in the doctrine, to the end I suppose, that his faith might be verbatim et literatem, as was that of the Jews of old, who considered themselves orthodox believers if they knew the number of words in the Pentateuch, and kept them stored up in their head; no matter who was occupant of the heart, one, or one legion of devils.
But to proceed with our sketch of the character we have noticed -- leaving their personal difference in sentiment, let us follow them to the field of their public, social, and private ministerial exercises. Behold one of them going forth to the margin of the river, where a number of raftmen and others are engaged in their avocations: these are unregenerate, impenitent, perishing sinners, as you and I, sir, are by nature. To a posse of these characters, your Elder
directs his way, and commences an harangue, by telling them, "that they are not under the law; that the ten commandments are abrogated, as well as the ceremonies of the Old Testament dispensation; that the world is full of priestcraft; that preachers of the gospel, as they call themselves, are only preaching for money; that himself, and the system with which he revolves round his splendid centre, is the true light." With a hundred other things of the same sort, and a thousand other, and different sayings, quite as irrelevant to the gospel. After having finished his address, his auditors separate from him, some saying, that he is a noble fellow, that he has extracted from their conscience, something like fragments of the law, that had been there all their lives, like thorns, when they devised, or perpetrated, what they had been taught were crimes. Others declare him to be truly an antinomian -- others understand him to denounce the doctrine of the spirit's influence, and to treat it as an idle notion -- others understand him as absolutely calling in question the divinity of Jesus Christ -- and a socinian present cries out, my brother -- while others believe, that in this single address, he has advocated, and rebutted all, and every one of these sentiments; together with many more. Are you not delighted, sir, with the clearness of this man's perceptions -- the intelligence of his mind -- the piety of his doctrines -- the solidity of his system altogether; when the exhibition thereof, produces no more opposition of views among his hearers, than just -- antipodes. Paul could rejoice that he was a father to Timothy -- But O! how superlative must be your joy to be the father of so many children as you are, of whom the above character is a specimen; how enviable must be the lot of your disciples to have provision made for their guidance, of such able leaders, and intelligent instructors. "Treading the crude consistence, half on foot, half flying -- o'er bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense or rare; they swim, or sink, or wade, or creep, or fly." While, indeed, the hubbub of their jaring notions and sentiments, carries forward the resemblance between their situation and that of the celebrated personage, to whom the above extract is originally applied, when he was groping his way through the chaos and old night. We will follow the same Elder of yours to the exercises of social worship. See him recumbent upon some three or four chairs, with his segar in his mouth; disposing of its smoke with one respiration, and going on by breaks, with a lecture, on some part of divine truth, with another -- or, standing up at the fire, mingling the fumes of his tobacco pipe, with a breath of prayer and praise issuing from the mouth of his professed brethren, while engaged in their devotions! but we will stop; nor wound any more the religious sensibilities of the children of God, by a further exhibit of the flagrant abominations, and blasphemous irreverence towards "him whom their soul loveth." Leaving your Elders, sir, we come to notice, briefly, some of the features of the character belonging to those we may call your lay-men; and well do we find established, in referring to this part of the subject, the prophet's adage, "like priest, like people;" the most of whom, connected with you, shew, conspicuously, that vanity rules in and over them. They are not so politic as you, sir; they cannot, indeed, put any restraint upon their ruling passion; but, under its influence, many of them, "play such fantastic tricks before high heaven," as, if not to make angels weep, at least to make devils laugh, and fill with sorrow the breast of every real christian; particularly those of the Baptist denomination, upon whom, their character and conduct brings the
reproach of the wicked, the contempt of the wise, and pity of the good. As two or three specimens of the whole fraternity, we remark -- here is a man who has borne the name, and made the profession of almost every sect in Christendom -- say, Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Universalist, Socinian: at last he comes to your society, professing to be a convert to your theology, (though that's all a gratuitous assertion, for mortal ken never yet discerned what it is) he says that he will join your fraternity, and at his induction deliver an address upon baptism. All this being acceded to, the time arrives when he is to be baptized: and at the water he delivers an harangue of five hours in length, or in other words, gives a recitation of what you have compiled and published upon that ordinance, from the writings of other men. And to crown the inconsistency of the whole, you, sir, the would be star of the west; you, become his amanuensis, and the pitiful caterer to this vain man's vanity, by virtually professing, to be taking down notes of something new upon the subject, from what this speckled disciple of yours is saying: whereas, in fact, he is advancing nothing but what is as old as his great-grandfather. Now, sir, think you, that if this man had been a poor, humble, broken-hearted sinner, as he ought to have been before he was baptised, that he would have had any disposition to obtrude himself upon the notice of men at such a time? particularly, after having exhibited such an unsettled mind through a period of many years, as he did, and such a fitful scene of profession and reprofession. Or sir, if you had been a regenerated man yourself, and a fit person to be a minister of the gospel, do you think that your thoughts, and your gratification, would have been in, or your time and labour devoted to, making a record of what this poor deluded man said about the mode of baptism? no, sir, you would not; but instead of this, your soul would have burned within you to make, if possible, the conversion of this man, had he been converted, the means, under the Holy Ghost, of making your auditors, or the spectators, humble penitents towards God, and spiritual believers in Christ Jesus -- and not merely proselytes to baptism. Instead of this, what has been done? the disciple has had his vanity gratified, by being the orator of the day; and rising (like an ignis fatuus from the bog) for a few moments, a little above the level to which nature designed him in the community, to sink again to the same place, confirmed in a delusion, perhaps, that shall only be dissipated in hell: (I mean by delusion, that baptism is salvation.) The vanity of the society to which he has connected himself, is gratified in being numerically enlarged; and your vanity, sir, was gratified, in being recognized, as the mighty agent by which this Jack-o'-the-lantern professor was caught, and safely secured within the pale of your society. Here then, is an expression of the vanity of your society; and the same is visible in nearly all your followers. If they read the Scriptures, it is only to get some additional notions about them, to the end, that they may gratify their pride and their vanity in the exhibition of these speculations. Their tongues are ever going like the pendulum of a clock, and with as much noise, almost, as the machinery of a steam engine; indeed, it is the fullest trial of the saint's patience to listen to them: and that is the best thing that results from their acquirements. Some of them say, they have been regenerated -- some of them say, there is no regeneration -- some of them admit, that part of their brethren deny the spirit's influence in any stage of the christian's life, but that they believe it, though they consider disbelief
as nothing essentially defective in faith -- some of them say, that they would never have fellowship with teacher or laymen in their body, who denied the spirit's influence, and that none of their brethren do it; while others maintain, that the word is the spirit, and the spirit is the word, and that it is no matter whether there is any spirit or no: meditation, social, family and closet prayer, are, for the most part, esteemed a matter of foolishness with them. I have, sir, you will perceive, made some exceptions among those who are your followers from the character I have been briefly exhibiting of them. Deeply do I regret that I have to make such exceptions; I would that all who follow you were what I most solemnly believe, and feel well assured the greater part are, unregenerate persons: but I feel afraid, that there are gracious souls who have been led away after you, as Barnabas was by the dissemulation of false teachers in former times; they are given up, perhaps, to be buffeted by you, as Peter was by satan, to the end, that they may learn similar lessons to what he did. For them I feel, sir; and had it not been for them I should have never addressed a line to you, or thought more about you than any other unregenerated man; you are filling their eyes with chaff, feeding them with husks, and quenching their thirst with waters fouled to the most abominable stench. But I shall curb the feelings of my soul, until I come to address them in connexion with these letters to you; to spread out my feelings for them to you, would only be unintelligible jargon in your estimation. Having now given as much of an exhibit of the moral impressions, which your writings and your teachings, make upon the community that give heed thereto, as I deem necessary at present, I shall recapitulate that, together with the previous investigation of your character, in my next and concluding letter, in which you will have brought to a point the estimation in which you are held by
A REGULAR BAPTIST.
In recurrence to what I have written, you will perceive, I mean to be understood, as saying, that you never gave the Baptist denomination any evidence whatever, that your becoming professedly a Baptist yourself was the "answer of a good conscience;" on the contrary, there is much reason to believe, that you left the Pedobaptist ranks, and joined our denomination, from sinister and selfish motives. The whole series of your disposition and conduct toward that body, since you left them, must forcibly impress the mind of every close observer of human character, with the conviction, that mingled vanity and rage drive you on in your assault thereof. This conviction is deepened, when we take into notice, (and what is solemnly true) that no Pedobaptist church, possessing any thing of the power of Godliness, could ever derive any edification, or satisfaction under your ministry, though you were to be as laborious as Luther. This is a sentiment, in which every regenerated, spiritual man under the heavens, I know, will unite with me. Whatever ability they may concede to you, as a teacher of ecclesiastical history, or Biblical critic, they will all unite in saying, that however much you may amuse and instruct the head, you have no access to the believers' heart. You know not any thing of the history of that, from the dawn of regeneration, to the completion of its salvation in the beatific vision. Think, sir, on that! ten thousand thousand persons of different denominations of christians, and many of them in
every respect your superiors in natural gifts, would, if they knew you, declare simultaneously, that you know nothing about the "Heavenly Gift." Yes, the best spirits in even the denomination to which you now belong, consider you still dead in trespasses and sins, yea, they know it. As a man of some sense, such a circumstance, if true, must have a solemn impression upon your mind, however much you may appear to hector above all human opinions. The second particular to which we recur is, the subject of your public disputations and writings: in all of which, every intelligent man, and humble disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus, will perceive that you sacrifice to the idol self; and all the character that we challenged, as witness to your unregeneracy, will unite in declaring, that your professed zeal for one denomination is without knowledge, and your hostility to the other but beating the air; that both combined, demonstrate that you are radically ignorant of what are the essential constituents of every christian church. Were you not ignorant of these things, sir, you would never dare to level such unqualified anathema[s] against the Pedobaptist churches, particularly against that denomination from which you seceded. The most common placed mental integrity, would constrain you to neutralise the obloquy that you have poured upon it. Yea, policy would have prompted you to have done it -- for we Baptists, generally, are not so bigoted and ignorant, as not to know, and acknowledge to the praise of sovereign grace, that there are, among the Pedobaptist churches, tens of thousands of blood-bought, heaven-born, heaven-bound souls: with them, in all the essential relationship of the gospel, we have refreshing fellowship; with them, grow up in essential faith; with them, twin in love, until we shall be forever one, visibly and invisibly, on the glorious head. Yes, and from the ministry of many of them, we Baptists receive the word of divine truth in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, again and again. We know, and feel assured that they are pastors after God's own heart, and made overseers of the flock of Christ by the Holy Ghost. I say, we Baptists, in general, know and feel assured, that there are many, even of the Pedobaptist ministers, that bear this interesting relationship to us: and you may rest assured, that you might as well attempt to shake the foundations of the earth, as our confidence in them. We dare not call that common or unclean, which the living God has made clean, "by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" such character, let me tell you, sir, will always be transcendently higher in our estimation, as regenerated spiritual Baptists, though they should not observe one ordinance of the New Testament, than that like yours, though you had a "throat of brass, and adamantine lungs," worn out in contending for our ordinances, which we know to be truly gospel ones. I have mentioned sober facts sober facts, sir -- you may dispose of them as you please. The third particular to which we refer, of what has been addressed to you, is the effect that your controversies have upon the Baptist denomination generally; and that is, they draw off their attention from fundamental principles of Godliness, to that which, abstractly considered, can never give them estimation in the sight of God, or man. And little do you know of human nature, in its unregenerate or regenerate state, or you would never dare to engross the attention of mankind so much upon the subject of an ordinance: indeed, were you truly an evangelical minister of the gospel, you could not do it. But as we have said, your evident ignorance of every spiritual feature of the church of Christ, must in
a measure, plead your apology for spending all your time in making the door of the house creak. Nevertheless, you must admit, that it is possible the noise may be productive of disturbance, to even your own family at times; and that they must, one and all, feel mortified to perceive it is publicly noticed, that one of their household can do nothing else. If you, sir, should succeed in proselyting four-fifths of the Pedobaptist denomination to the Baptist order, what would be the consequence? why, that our denomination would become incrusted with that much more wood, hay and stubble! for I take upon myself to say, that until God and the Holy Ghost makes you a different, and a new creature, that no truly spiritual Pedobaptist would ever cast in his lot among a people, of whose character he was to judge by that of yours: no, not if he was never to have connexion to the church militant. So then, all we can calculate upon of proselytism is, of those from whom we had far better be separated. On the other hand, many alas! very many of the Baptists, it is to be feared, are, under your auspices, only solicitous to be known by a name, not by a life. If the spirits of departed saints can take cognizance of what transpires here on earth, it appears almost impossible, that those devoted, holy, and laborious servants of the cross, who, in sweat, in tears, and groans, and even blood, laid the foundation, under God the Holy Ghost, of the Baptist church in this Hemisphere; I say, one would suppose it almost impossible for them to be calm spectators of such desolation, as you are bringing in upon that spiritual vineyard for which they were spent to the last pulsation of their lives. But an attempt to make application of sentiment to you, sir, I am afraid, would be as unavailing as to extract sunbeams from cucumbers. The fact I wish to fix upon your attention is, that you are destroying much of the power and life of religion, in the Baptist denomination, by fixing their attention upon and engrossing their minds with subordinate articles of their faith; and that is one of the results of all your debates, writings and orations. Literally, then, you may say, that your "zeal will eat them up."
The next particular that we shall recapitulate of our previous remark is, that your vanity is gratified, and your pecuniary interest advanced by the whole circle of your doings, and that these combined, are the grand controling principles from which you act. You pass for a man of vast comprehension of mind, and great attainments of knowledge; upon the same ground that what we call a common stone, is considered a wonder in some of the southern sections of the country, and gains the appellation of a rock, or that Gulliver passed for a giant among the Lilliputians. But, sir, whatever may be the amount of your knowledge, which I venture to say is nothing extraordinary, your judgment is certainly miserably defective, or you would never have supposed, that your intrinsic character could remain hid from the eye of men of experience, under the flimsy veil of your sectarian zeal; and that they would not perceive the "Caesar aut Nihil" was your motto. While men of sense will readily discern the ambition of your projects, those of the most common placed ability, in business calculation, will be enabled to furnish themselves with conclusive testimony, that by the publication of your Debates on baptism, and your mere sounding "Christian Baptist," you wheedle the Baptists, and others of the community, out of as much money as would cover the salary of nine out of ten, at least, of the Baptist ministers.
I shall here enter into a brief calculation of the pecuniary advantages resulting to you from your publications. In the first place then, we have your first Debate upon Baptism, in a volume of about 200 pages. Of this book, I should say that its publication did not stand you more than 37˝ cents per volume. This I say with the fullest conviction that it is a fact, unless you choose to pay extra prices for the work, which is not likely to have been the case. As a particular evidence for the correctness of the foregoing assertion, I may observe, that about the same time you published your first Debate on Baptism, I was interested in the publication of a book, altogether superior in materials to yours, of 360 pages, and that did but cost 45 cents per volume; add to this, my book was published in a part of the country, where the price of labour and material for making up a book is 33 1/3 per cent. more than it is in Ohio, where you published your first Debate -- For the said first Debate you charged 75 cents. In the publication of your second Debate, I take it upon me to say that you did, or that you could have published it at an expense not exceeding 50 cents per volume: and for that your price to your friends is #1.25 The number of copies that you had printed of the first was 2000, and you sold the copy-right for 300 dollars. I will suppose that the whole of both debates will be sold by the middle of the year eighteen hundred and twenty-five. From this data we shall have the following exhibit to give of the case --
“To 6500 copies of Debate with Mr. M'Calla, at 50 cents per copy, 3250 00
To incidental expences of distributing said Debate, including contingent losses,
say 12 1/2 cents per volume, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1062 50
“To balance, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4862 50
"By 2000 copies of Debate with Mr. Walker, at 75 cents per copy, 1500 00
“By sales of 6500 copies of Debate with M’Calla, at $1.25 per copy, 8125 00
“By sale of copy right of Debate with Mr. Walker, . . . . . . . . . . . . 300 00
“By balance, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $4862 50”
Now, sir, it appears that you have made the sum of 5000 dollars, within a fraction, clear profit, when your books are disposed of; this we suppose will be done by the middle of the ensuing year, at which time there will have been five years elapsed since the debate with Mr. Walker. This will show, that you have been writing and preaching and debating upon the ordinance of Baptism, (a scrap of our faith,) without any inducement whatever, but your zeal for the Baptists and regard for the truth, excepting, the mere sum of 1000 dollars per annum; which in the western country, where you live, is equal to 2000 dollars in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore! Where did this money come from? did it not come principally from the Baptists? it did, nor have they had any better value for it than you suppose them to receive by sending their dollars to convert the Laplander or the Hindoos. So much, sir, by way of redeeming our pledge, to prove that you are not the disinterested champion for the truth that you profess to be -- that your eye sometimes is directed to the glittering clifts of Potosi. It is perfectly natural, sir, that you should attempt to persuade every body, that you are governed by no sordid motives in any thing that you do: but really, sir, it is "passing strange" that
men should be so credulous as to believe you, with such facts staring them in the face; it shows that they are prone to "swallow without pause or choice, the total grist unsifted, husks and all," so that it is sweetened with a little adulation, of their civic, their moral, their intellectual worth. We shall say nothing at present about your "Christian Baptist," as being a source of revenue to you; if you have, however, even a thousand subscribers, for that, I will undertake to prove, that you clear 300 dollars by it per annum; and even that sum is more than nine out of ten of the Baptist ministers of these western states get per annum; perhaps I might be safe in saying, that it is twice as much as they receive. What! envy them a paltry $150, when you get 100 to 1300 dollars -- what, deem them overpaid by 150 dollars, who preach all the glorious truths of the gospel, and who labour incessantly to inspire spiritual life and universal holiness into the church, when you receive 10 to $1300 for mere disquisition upon an outward ordinance! or things allied to it! Nor does it escape observation, that you are giving evidence, that you consider the present stage of your operations but the mere seed time in pecuniary results, that you calculate, e'er long, on throwing a considerable part of the religious community around you into such a state of anarchy, as to make any kind of order that you may dictate desirable. In such an event you would know, no doubt, how to fix your price for your interference. You have, no doubt, a full account of all costs. Here let me say, sir, that while from my soul I abhor all extravagance, luxury, and covetousness in the ministers of the gospel as much as you, or any other man can, on the other hand I must say, that the manner in which you declaim against all pecuniary compensation to the ministers of the gospel, proves, in itself, without referring to many other evidences that exist, that you are absolutely ignorant of the essential relationship subsisting between the pastor after God's own heart, and the flock of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a man, destitute of the spirit of the living God, who alone can give adaptation to the office of the ministry; or indeed, make one jot or tittle of efficient application of the salvation of Christ to the human soul; as such a man it would be a futile attempt on my part, to furnish your mind with any just perceptions on that subject. Till God the Holy Ghost does it, the subject in any and every form of language, would appear but foolishness in your eyes. All this remark, a spiritual people and a spiritual minister, know to be true, to whatever denomination they may belong; and you may as soon expect to allure the living to the embrace of a putrescent carcass, as to draw the "Israelite indeed," the truly lively and devotional believer, from the pastor of his choice, to such a character as you are among ministers.
The next thing we shall refer to of our remarks, is, the effort you are making to render obsolete all forms of faith and church order. In this attempt of yours we must positively consider you a fool, or designing to disorganize, and overthrow all social compact in the religious community. We have already expressed our conviction, that it results from your design to produce anarchy; that in the end you may dictate what shall be faith and order, and your own terms for which that shall be done. We may pause, to decide whether there should be pity or indignation felt toward you. Certainly you ought not to calculate upon offering such an insult to the understanding of sensible men in the Baptist denomination, as is found in your proposition to lay aside their
faith and order, without expecting their contempt of their frowns; this circumstance itself demonstrates to every reflecting mind, that you are no Baptist; only after the will of the flesh! no, nor ever have been.
The next feature of the subject that we have brought to your view, which we shall retouch is, the general character of your adherents, or disciples, (teachers and pupils;) in view of which, are you not rather abashed at the motley group! teachers advancing sentiments and doctrines one day, that they gainsay another -- acknowledging that they had been for years instructing others in the gospel of Christ, while disbelieving the very fundamentals of it themselves; and even in the concession of their ignorance themselves in the past, giving no jot or tittle of evidence, that they even now believe in, or feel the truths they have been ignorant of. Teachers, of whose views no definite opinion can be formed, by learned or unlearned; whose hearers say, alternately, that they are Antinomians, Sandeminians, or Socinians, and in the aggregate, that they cannot tell what they say, or know whereof they affirm: while their immediate adherents say, away with all forms of faith and order; we will be freemen; we will read and think, and judge for ourselves -- our Elder thinks one thing, we another -- we had such and such views yesterday -- to-day we have different ones -- and to-morrow we calculate upon having opinions at variance with all we have heretofore entertained: this they call the liberty of the gospel -- a mark of mental independence -- the evidence of their growing in the knowledge of the Scriptures. They profess to feel great satisfaction in reading the Bible, to have much peace and joy in their attainments of knowledge. Now, the truth is, that in every stage of their experience, the pride of their minds, the vanity of their hearts, being gratified, is the sole cause of their satisfaction. Indeed, the whole of your fraternity, from the first to last, including yourself, sir, are flatterers of each other -- they say, that there is no teacher like you -- you respond, there is no people so well instructed and intelligent as them. You recollect, I suppose, who "obtained a kingdom by flatteries." Bear in mind also, that it is written upon good authority, "he who speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail" -- and that the characteristic of an evangelical minister is, "not to use flattering words;" for, that is to be considered, and set down, as "a cloak of covetousness" after fame or emolument, or both. Now, it is not my wish to be understood as disapproving of all possible devotedness to the perusal of the Scriptures: on the contrary, I think your fraternity worthy of imitation in this particular; but I wish to be understood, as saying, that, generally, they read for no other object, and no other end, than to grow wise in their own conceit: and you know it is written, "that there is more hope of fools," than such characters. You will, I persuade myself, look over the address of the Baptist churches appended to these letters; in that you will see some of the contrast which I conceive the real and the spiritual believer bears to the characters of your adherents. For the present I relieve your attention, with simply observing, that it was not for your sake that I have made a recapitulation of my former remarks in this last letter, but for the sake of those whose minds may not be so well disciplined in recollection, as yours.
A REGULAR BAPTIST.N. B. I shall trouble you with a few lines more, rather than swell the last letter to greater dimensions.
In view of what I have exhibited of your character, from the fairest ground of conjecture, and from the face of your doings, since you have been a professed Baptist, together, with the notification, that the same estimate is formed of you by far the greatest, if not all the really spiritual and intelligent part of the Baptists that have knowledge of you; from these circumstances combined, I say, one might hope, that you will fall a little from the loftiness of your self-complacency. Perhaps, in the reminiscences which the consideration of the subject will produce, the language of the prophet may come up to your mind, where he says, "Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thy heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill; though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord." Confident that you have an undue and deleterious influence upon the Baptist church, I would wish to see it destroyed. To this end I am now writing to you; believing that nothing is necessary to the accomplishment of the object, but to rouse the minds of the Baptists around you to an investigation of your character, similar to that which I have given an outline of -- "the death of reflection, is the birth of all wo;" and when churches sleep, the enemy will sow tares. Hence, good will to the Baptist cause, and not ill will to you, sir, moves me to address these remarks to you for the public eye. I am fully persuaded, that you are every day sinking the character of the Baptist church in these western states, both in the estimation of the truly religious and irreligious. All you do, all you say, together with your satellites, is fathered upon the regular Baptist church -- doctrines however horrible -- practices however corrupt -- observances however foolish -- inconsistencies however numerous -- and speculation however absurd, incongruous and versatile, that prevail in your fraternity, are all set down to the account of the Baptist denomination. Does not the blush crimson and burn your cheek, sir, when you see the mental dishonesty, the moral turpitude that is implied in the fact of your having threw around you the habiliments of a Baptist profession, to the end, that you might, unsuspectedly, propagate sentiments and doctrines directly at variance with, and disgraceful to the Baptist church! but "vengeance belongs to God." The Lord rebuke thee in the chambers of your own conscience; then you will be the first to acknowledge, that of such character, and such conduct it may be truly said, "O full of all subtlety, thou child of the devil, will thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord." I assure you, that I entertain no idea of moral superiority over and above you by nature; that in an unregenerated state, I know myself capable of practising all the trick and manoeuvre that you have been practising, to get a name in the world; that the pride of the human heart in its native language, is in accordance with Satan's, when he says, "better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." The principle that appears chiefly to govern you, is, what the world in its severest judgment, calls "the infirmity of a noble spirit;" but then, you must not be surprised if others should feel somewhat indignant while suffering under the devastating freaks of that "noble spirit;" or, if they raise a warning voice to their neighbours of its presence, particularly when it comes dressed in long and flowing Phylacteries, with disinterested zeal -- universal reformation -- absolute equality -- and consummate perfection written thereon.
You are, sir, a citizen of America; and as such, free to worship God after the dictates of your own conscience, to profess to believe, or not to believe, in any, or every part of the Bible -- to advance whatever doctrines you please in the community, unless in hostility to the known laws of the land. But you are not at liberty, sir, to profess a connexion with any religious denomination when you are advancing doctrines diametrically opposite to theirs. What head of a religious family is there in the community, but would feel indignant, were you to enter his house, and having gained some general ideas of his family affairs, go forth into the world, and make use of that information as an evidence, that you were his son, or otherwise nearly related to him! and how would his indignation be increased if he found, that you were passing yourself off as his son, while living in the practice of theatrical buffooneries, or any other kind of habits at variance with that respectability of himself and family, which you were referring to, and making use of, to command attention from, and influence with others! certainly, every man would conceive you deserving of rebuke for taking such unjustifiable liberties with his good name: indeed, it would be fairly considered as the worst species of robbery -- and can similar conduct be more authorised because it is practised on a large body? certainly not -- and here is the particular point on which I found all my reason for considering you deserving of public exposure. Come forth, sir, to our view, what you really are! but not as a genuine Baptist -- for you now are, and have been, trying to overthrow the faith, the order and the ministry of that for years past. Come out then, sir, in your real character, and with your real sentiments -- tell us candidly, that you do not believe in what we emphatically denominate regeneration, or in the Spirit's special influences at all -- tell us, that you consider a man eligible to baptism without one word of inquiry as to what God has done for his soul, and upon his bare declaration that he believes -- tell us, that you do not believe the moral law of God to be a rule of life for the believer! -- tell us, that you do not believe that preaching the gospel since the completion of New Testament revelation has the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ -- tell us, that you have no fellowship with any forms of faith or church discipline -- tell us, that you have no confidence in the exercise of prayer, as a means of grace, or estimation of it, as a believer's privilege: and that in proof thereof, you have been entirely neglectful of it even in your own family for years past -- tell us these things openly, declare them explicitly, and merit the name of a candid man. You are at full liberty, and under positive obligation to do so. You will then give the public a reasonable pledge, that you are governed by no sinister, no improper motives. The Baptist denomination will then be answerable for the palpable inconsistency of holding connexion with a man whose sentiments are in direct opposition to that faith and order which they hold up to public view, as the foundation of their spiritual hope, and bond of their visible existence. Had you done this, sir, at a proper time, no one would have had any cause to reproach you; and multitudes who now shun you as a deceiver, would have been pleased to have met with you upon principles of ordinary intercourse, and interchanged the feelings of social amity -- among whom, sir, I assure you with the utmost sincerity and truth, I may mention myself; believing as I do, that as a natural man, you have a good share of those attractions of mind and manners, which beguile the tedium of life, and smooth its rugged path. Before I close, indulge me with permission to repeat, that my
own judgment dictates solely and wholly, in this address to you: that if my wretched heart does not deceive me, I have had the best motives in endeavouring to pourtray your character, as being opposite to what you profess it to be, under the name of a Baptist! Upon a review of what I have written, I do not think any injustice is done to the subject. I am sensible, however, that infirmities will ever characterize me in all I attempt to do while in the flesh; and that iniquity belongs to my most holy things. I have endeavoured to write with death, eternity and judgment before my eyes; and to keep up an earnest desire and prayer in my soul, that I might not unnecessarily inflict any wound upon your feelings, or that of any other person. You are, sir, and all whom I have adverted to as like you, in these letters, my fellow man, fellow immortal, and fellow sinner. If you and they are under the fatal mistake, and in the awful darkness that I believe you to be, the foregoing address may be made use of, by that God who delights to make use of the weakest things to accomplish the greatest of purposes, to your essential benefit; as I hope he will to the benefit of his people in the Baptist church, where your influence is felt. At all events, I feel satisfied, that my soul is big with inexpressible desire, that you and all who drink into your particular views in religion, may realize the overshadowing and indwelling power of the Holy Ghost, who can only make an effectual and saving application of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to your precious souls. I now take my leave of you, sir, after informing you that my real name I wish to conceal in reference to this publication; not that I want to avoid any responsibility connected with what I have written. No; my name is at your service through the medium of the printer hereof, when you may think proper to demand it in proptia persona; provided, you gave a fair reason for having it communicated to you. I have not written to you without counting the costs. It has been severely painful to my feelings while speaking in any respect harshly to you -- but, sir, you have struck, and are striking at my faith. "'Tis my glory, the lifter up of my head" from every billow of affliction -- yea, more, 'tis the glory of the Baptist denomination. And well it may be; for without any qualification, it makes Jesus Christ all and in all of the sinner's hope; it gives to the adorable three in one, their respective, proper and full share in the salvation of the elect. Moreover, many of that denomination, together with myself, not only charge you with attacking our faith, (this had it been done openly we could, we must have borne) but it has been done insidiously by you. "There's the rub:" this consideration perhaps, has roused more resentment in writing to you than I ought to have felt. But in perfect coolness I now tell you in my concluding sentence, that my pen is but the echo of ten thousand voices when I say, that you ought to be divested of the name of "the Christian Baptist," and known by that of "the Theological adventurer."
A REGULAR BAPTIST.
To the Regular Baptist Churches, scattered throughout the
As many of you as read the foregoing letters to Alexander Campbell, will, I hope, be disposed, in justice to him and to yourselves, to give every possible investigation to the subject of which it treats; and like the noble Baerians, "search if these things be so." Yes, brethren, search, search his whole life as far as possible; it is high time he should be fully known to you, for he is either your very zealous, though ignorant advocate, and therefore wants your Aquila's and Priscilla's to direct his zeal according to knowledge, or he is an enemy in disguise and ought to be exposed. You cannot, brethren, but perceive, upon a most common-place notice of this man's life, since he has been among you, that you, as a denomination, have been made the citadel of his safety, while throwing the shafts of his hostility at other denominations; particularly at that one with which you most assuredly stand in the greatest degree of fellowship.
The question then is, whether Mr. C. represents your feelings towards the Presbyterian and other Paedo-baptist churches, against whom he "breathes out threatenings and slaughter?" if he does, let us know what cause they have given for this interminable rage. But I need not put this sort of question to you, being fully persuaded that your greatest partiality is towards that very church which Mr. C. appears to hate with the most deadly hatred. It is but reasonable that it should be so; for with all their spots and imperfections, they approach the nearest to what is your glory as a denomination, I mean experimental religion and solid piety. Perhaps, brethren, you are indulging yourselves in a little merriment, by allowing Mr. C. to go out in your name to challenge, and even attack, with his single arm, the formidable phalanx of the Paedo-baptist churches. Indeed, brethren, apart from other considerations, and it is really amusing. You have an exhibit of the freaks which human vanity can play, and how it can make a man fancy himself a Hercules, and push him forth in quest for adventures for his prowess, when indeed, he is but a pigmy; and that he can draw out from the deep leviathon, with a hook that his own fingers have fashioned. But, brethren, you will, I hope, seriously reflect, that the animosity which Mr. C. exhibits towards the Pedo-baptists, will be regarded, at least very generally, as your feelings towards them, so long as he shall have a name and place among you. Think, I say, seriously, of that brethren, and judge you, whether it is not taking away from you the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit! if it is not getting you the character of a tribe of Ishmaelites, whose hand is against every one, rather than the name of a church of the Lord Jesus Christ, walking in the fear of God, the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and living peaceably with all men. Then, the next question is, will you indulge your humour, or gratify the vanity of Mr. C. at the expense of that good name of yours, which has been like ointment poured forth? besides, brethren, you may rely upon it, that no man, much less any body of men, ever familiarized themselves even to the fighting of dung-hill cocks, or little surly curs, but what found themselves gradually warmed up to fighting temperament!
hence, saith the wise man, in the maturity of wisdom, "leave off contention before it be meddled with; cast out the scorner and contention will cease." Now, brethren, the proposition I have just advanced, is known to be true to every one of any observation on human life. It was by the exhibition of different kinds of fighting among bests and men, that ambitious demagogues and wiley politicians of old, were wont to brutalize the feelings, and render ferocious the disposition of the common people, to the end, that they might be prepared for all manner of violence and rapacity that their leaders might see fit to direct them to. You will understand, that these demagogues pretended to have only the pleasure and amusement of their fellow citizens in view, in the exhibitions alluded to. Now, the same or similar causes will always produce similar effects. It makes no difference where the contention goes on; in church or state, in city or family: when men see contention and fighting, as we said, they begin to wax warm on different sides of the fray -- the breath quickens, the pulse doubles, the eye rolls, the hands clinch, the fist smites, almost unconsciously to themselves. Ah, and this Mr. C. knows right well too: and having had you for two or three years spectators of his own personal combats, or familiarized your minds to a view of his own fightings, you will find, perhaps too late, that the object contemplated by Mr. C. was to prepare you for dissentions and fightings among yourselves; to the end, that he might share the spoils by making you a divided people. Already, brethren, it is to be feared, that many of you are much more ambitious to make it known,that you have a variety of Greek prepositions, Latin verbs, and Hebrew roots in your heads, than the incorruptible seed of divine truth abiding in your hearts. Already many of you are disposed to content more for the faith once delivered to the saints, in noisy, empty words, than by a well ordered life, and a holy conversation. Is this not the case? or if you refuse to answer that question, at least, brethren, solemnly and prayerfully inquire of your souls, individually before God, soul! soul! of what profit to thee is the spleen and declamation of Alexander Campbell or any other man against any body of people? does, or can it ever add one jot or tittle to the spiritual prosperity of the church to which I belong? If it is evident that no benefit results from attention thereto, it is certainly both foolish and wicked to have the fleeting moments of our fleeting lives, occupied therewith: then, brethren, if you do not wish to have Mr. C's animosity towards other denominations chargeable to you, you must learn him to be quiet.
You have, brethren, in your church, a justly regulated observance of the only two ordinances of divine appointment in the New Testament dispensation, binding in common upon all the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ; they are Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Before any person is entitled to the first, you professedly believe, that "he must be born again;" -- born of the adorable Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ; or to use the apostle's strong and comprehensive language upon the subject, he must experience "the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" that to baptize any one who does not give evidence of this change of heart (not a change merely in the head,) is awful presumption, abominable blasphemy, and a deed of darkness, which is emphatically to mimick the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, brethren, the next inquiry is,
whether or no Mr. C. has ever given evidence that he is a regenerated man? if he has not, then you must necessarily consider him an "evil tree," and you know, upon good authority, that "an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit," neither towards God nor man, spiritually. You may as soon, and as reasonably expect to gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, as any real and spiritual benefit from the services of an unregenerate man; be they ever so numerous and extensive, they will amount to nothing more, as respects the church of Christ, than the many things which Herod did. Now, I say solemnly, and in the fear of God, that there is great, if not unqualified reason to conclude, that Mr. C. is an unregenerated man. The reasons for my believing so you will have seen in the preceding letters addressed to him. One solitary circumstance, however, of the many which I have noticed as evidence of his unregeneracy, is all that I deem necessary to settle the point with you: that is, there is every reason to conclude from his writings and orations, together with the general sentiments of his adherents, that he does not so much as believe in the Spirit's immediate influences upon the soul, in the first, or any following stage of the believer's life.
I know, brethren, that it is said, with some degree of plausibility, that there is reason for suspending judgment on Mr. C. in that respect, because many good meaning people are held in doubt; alternately believing that he does, or that he does not acknowledge a belief in the doctrines alluded to. O! heavens! and has it come to this pass, that Baptist churches will suffer themselves to wait six or eight years to ascertain whether or not some other of their ministers believes in the Divinity or Godhead of Jesus Christ! What next? wait six or eight years to inquire whether or not some other of their ministers acknowledge the being of a God! What next? wait to the end of our lives to know whether or not we are to have any part of our faith admitted as the truth; and quietly sink into hell, while in the attitude of humbly waiting upon Mr. C. and other innovators, for something which they may call believing. It ought not to be a matter of question for one moment, with any regular Baptist, or any real and spiritual christian, as to who and what that man is, who, as a minister of the gospel, even neglects to preach the doctrine of the new birth by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. No, nor will it be a matter of question with any intelligent, spiritual christian, of whatever denomination they may be! they will one and all pronounce him to be an unregenerated man, and an impostor. We repeat, that there is no necessity of his saying in so many words, he don't believe in it; if he does not preach it, he virtually denies it, and ought to be estimated accordingly! The Devil, brethren, is never so dangerous, as when he assumes the form of an angel of light, and comes into the churches with great profession of zeal for ordinances, and some part of the truth: but not the whole truth. You will recollect, the Lord Jesus Christ has admonished us, that not every one that even says Lord! Lord! unto him, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: as if he had said, you already know, that he who denies ,e to be the Lord Jehovah, has no saving knowledge of me. I now tell you what shall surprise you even
more, that there shall be many that shall give me every name of honour and distinction, as God over all, who, nevertheless shall not enter into heaven. Brethren, if the Devil was to be permitted his choice of devices against the Baptist churches, I should expect it to be exhibited in a flaming zeal for their ordinances, and earnest vociferation of the name of Christ, as Lord, Lord. He knows that they love the ordinances, and are delighted to hear the name of Jesus exalted. Under these circumstances, suppose him to select an instrument for the infliction of some disastrous injury upon you: it would be of an individual of the best outside appearance, and one that would have the most untiring zeal for the minutia of your faith, as the Pharisees of old had for mint, rue, and cummin; and your attention to which, he would praise and commend you above all others, and insensibly lift up your minds in pride, and a disposition to measure and compare yourselves with those around you; contrary to the command given us to know no man after the flesh, but to judge, if we would judge correctly, by the fruit of the spirit; which is, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. He would be full of exclamation of "Lord, Lord, we prophecy in thy name:" that is, not denying the eternal power and God-head of Jesus Christ, but readily acknowledging him to be the King of kings, and Lord of lords; the Almighty's Fellow, and Father's equal; Creator, Upholder, final Judge, and Disposer of all worlds; together, with the admission of his being the end of sin, by the sacrifice of himself, and the Lord, our everlasting righteousness. Here, however, he would stop; having charmed your ears with these great swelling words, and words without knowledge, he would have you to repose upon these abstract truths; because, all these things you might hear, and read, and historically believe, to the end of your lives, and be damned as certainly as Satan himself is! Wherever there is a ministry that stops here, you may rely upon it, that there is a devil in, and destruction following it -- it is Satan transformed into an angel of light -- it is hell moving to deceive, and make a prey of the human soul, in its master stroke of machination. To accomplish that, it will be no marvel if the Devil, in some instances, gives up all reference to pecuniary considerations; particularly, if it is likely to give his doings the greater appearance of good intentions. However, he generally makes a liberal compensation to his agents, in some way or other: and if he does not permit them to touch the fleece of the sheep, he will, perhaps, give them a fat flourishing ewe from the goat-herd.
But to return to the subject immediately before us: and, of all such ministry, we must say, that it is but an illustration of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ already quoted; namely, "not every one that saith Lord, Lord unto me shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." No, brethren, we profess to believe, that God the Holy Ghost, only, can make a saving application of the gospel of Christ to our souls, by its immediate, enlightening and regenerating influences: that without this, the gospel is but a dead letter. We profess to believe, that the adorable Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is the great, the glorious, the soul refreshing promise of the New, as Jesus Christ was the promise of the Old Testament. What think you then of the man, as a minister in your denomination, who never preaches this doctrine? [Who], at
best, is all equivocation in his remarks upon it? and who, in truth, does not believe in it? Are you going to call such a one, brother! can you as ministers and people, possibly consider yourselves at liberty, to welcome to your churches, and place in your pulpits, a man entertaining such sentiments as these? a man, that will tell you, there is no spirit to regenerate and quicken in righteousness: no Holy Ghost for those who ask it of God: no comforter for the saints now: no spirit to make intercession for them with groanings which are unutterable; or, to bear witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God; and to seal them heirs of heaven. O! brethren, what a rent is here made in the rock of your salvation! the heavens being shrouded, the sun of righteousness is hid from your eyes, the stars of glory's firmament vanish from your view. What cruelty, injustice and fraud is there contained in the attempt to fill your hearts with unbelief in this glorious doctrine. I repeat, that it is the master stroke of hell's machination[s] against your souls! that as many of you as indulge in any such sentiments, you have reason to consider yourselves reprobates; and that if you die in this state, you must inevitably be damned. So, then, you were under delusion, when you thought, that God the Holy Ghost convinced you of sin, of righteousness, and judgment to come; when you saw and felt, your hearts all deceitfulness and desperately wicked; when you were broken and contrite in spirit; when you felt your souls to draw nigh unto the grave, and your lives to the destroyers. You were under a delusion, then, when you thought that God, by the Holy Ghost, gave you the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. You have been under a delusion, then, in the thousand instances wherein you thought, that you found fellowship with the Father and Son, and communion with the Holy Ghost. You have been mistaken when you have thought that at a throne of grace, in prayer and supplication, God has lifted your souls from a sea of trouble, to a peace that passed all understanding: from awful wickedness, to a joy unspeakable. You have been mistaken too, when reading the Scriptures, you thought you saw, in a moment, a glory, and fulness, and loveliness, in the salvation of the cross; and through the august agency of the Holy Ghost, that surpassed the power of language to describe, and greater than you could ever have acquired, through a life of ten thousand years, unoperated upon by that Spirit who reveals the things that belong unto Christ. You then, and all the precious souls, of those highly intellectual, gifted, holy and spiritual men whose memories are embalmed in hymns, and psalms, and spiritual songs, as well as other impressive, soothing, sanctifying writings; you, I say, and they, have been under a delusion, a phantasy of the brain; for Mr. C. says so. Ah! Mr. C's master is a bold and impudent accuser; he had the audacity to tell the Almighty to his face, that he did not believe in his servant Job's experiences; neither in that of "Joshua and his fellows," whom he followed to heaven, to deride and accuse as fanatics. And you, my brethren, are to expect Satan, and all unregenerated men, to treat your holy things as swine treat pearl. "The natural man understandeth not the things of the spirit, for they are foolishness to him; neither indeed, can he understand them, for they are spiritually discerned." He may, nevertheless, talk or write with as much volubility, energy of language, and splendour of conception, about the Lord Jesus Christ, as did Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, converse with Job about the Almighty.
Yet they could never say, with Job, that they knew "their Redeemer lived." And in the end Jehovah rebuked them for their empty declamation about himself; and his wrath fell upon them while he told them, "ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath." Job felt that he knew the Almighty, for he had his spirit in his soul. The others were full of confidence, that they knew Jehovah as well as Job! but the latter knew they were deceived. And God made it manifest they were so in the end. Parallel to this, is the case between those who have, and those who have not the spirit of God in these days. They may both talk or write equally well, in a certain degree, of Christ; but those who have the spirit will know that the other is blind, when he says he sees, and sinking to hell when professing to be soaring to heaven. Of the latter character, I feel but too much afraid Mr. C. is. But you will make it I hope, a subject of due enquiry: and if it is so, will you, can you, dare you profess fellowship with such a man? will you suffer him to blaspheme the Holy Ghost (for it is nothing less than blasphemy,) by preaching to you in the name of Jesus Christ, without reference to the glorious office of that adorable Spirit, in the economy of salvation? alas! so far as you do so, it is ominous of the most fearful and disastrous consequences to your unity, peace, and spiritual prosperity. Whatever may be the scene of trial, of confusion, and of temporary sacrifice of your personal feelings; you are called upon, by every consideration of fealty to Jesus Christ, of obedience to his precepts, of honour for his gospel, of regard for his cause, and the welfare of Zion, as well as respect for your personal religion, to tear off and cast from you, as a deadly viper, every individual infested with those desolating sentiments.
You will, I say again, it is to be hoped, make proper inquiry upon the subject before you. You will not only find the heterodoxy we have mentioned, to be chargeable to Mr. C. but that many of his fraternity, who are less wary and intelligent, have in many instances, the effrontery to laugh at, and make derision of your professedly, and really essential experience as christians. The broken and contrite spirit, the new heart, the disquieted and cast down soul, the groaning intercessions, the fears within and fightings without; together, with all that proves you to be of the number of God's people, whom he has "chosen in the furnace of affliction," and who "have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ in his sufferings;" all this is considered by them, as the price of a misguided and distempered brain. So, also, are the opposite circumstances in your new and spiritual life; wherein, you have refreshings from the presence of the Lord when his candle shines bright upon your tabernacle; when you feel that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, that he is imbuing all your thoughts, and affections, with the constituents of his glorious kingdom; whereof, is joy unspeakable, peace that passeth all understanding of the unregenerate mind, love to God, all vehement and devouring; views of the adorable person, and work of Christ, as mediator unutterably ravishing and glorious; and under which views, your souls become clothed with humility, meekness, gentleness, patience, and all the bright hues that characterize the "garments of salvation." All these things, in the history of your life of faith are estimated, and spoken of, by these formalists, as was the power and influences of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of Christ and his Apostles, spoken of by the Jews. In the latter case, there was a sinning against the Holy Ghost, for which there was no forgiveness; and in the former case, it may be said, "Behold,
ye dispisers and wonder and perish: for I work in your day, a work in which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." Mr. C. and his followers do not believe in this work! therefore, "they shall all likewise perish;" unless that spirit, against whom they are doing despite, shall make them wise to salvation. Brethren, I have dwelt longer upon the subject, than I contemplated to do; but its vital importance to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, will justify all my remarks. Indeed, take it away from the Baptist church, and I would as soon have a connexion with a body of Socinians, or a club of Deists, as with them. The question returns; is Mr. C. and his followers chargeable with such views as we have stated? and if they are, well may we exclaim with Jacob of old, (Jacob, brethren, was an Israelite, indeed -- the first of all the Israelites: and what made him an Israelite? prayer! noon-day, midnight, fervent, effectual prayer! are you Israelites, indeed!!) "O my soul come not thou into their secret; and unto their assembly mine honour be thou not united."
Brethren, I shall occupy but little more of your time, having had your attention to what I consider the great, the conclusive and absolute evidence, that Mr. C. and those who think like him, are unregenerated people. And I have yet to learn, that any body of people, calling themselves a regular Baptist church, ever admitted, that an unregenerated man was fit material for church-fellowship, much less to be a minister of the church of Christ. With an aspirant after worldly fame, however, with one who would be the founder of some new sect in religion, the character of the material of which it is to be formed, will be of secondary consideration. The first and important point will be, to get the material, and then follows the work of bringing it together and giving it some semblance to the Church of Christ. To the mind of the real and spiritual Christian, however, all those limitations of the work of God, the Holy Ghost, will bear no more resemblance to the reality, than does the clumsy, half-human, half-brute idol of the Hindoo, to the beauty of a well proportioned man.
Brethren, let me beseech you, by the mercies of God, again to ask yourselves, individually, as churches, if Mr. C's controversies about baptism, have done you any real service? if they have made, one thought more holy! one affection more spiritual! one moment of your lives more heavenly and happy! Did Mr. C's preaching to you ever humble, and abase, and empty you, to the end, that you might learn, experimentally, (not speculatively or notionally) the fulness treasured up in Christ. O, did it ever make you feel, (not merely think or say) that you are nothing, and Christ is all in all. Does he by his orations, or writings, clothe your minds with solemnity, fill your hearts with hungerings and thirstings after righteousness; expand your breasts in mighty supplications to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by day and by night; wean you from the world, and make your conversation to be in heaven! in a word, has he ever done any thing to diffuse the power of godliness in your hearts as individuals? to promote your peace, unity and spiritual fellowship as churches? or your essential beauty and glory as a denomination, by making you conspicuous among the sects in the christian world, in holiness unto the Lord, and not in mere talkativeness and vain contention with men. On the contrary, has not his verbose disputations about the ordinance of baptism, been of serious injury to you individually, by making you think more highly of yourselves than you ought to think; and by lessening your prayerful attention to
essential faith, hope and charity -- "to the things that accompany salvation," and that make the possessor meek and lowly in heart. Does not his preaching leave upon your minds the conviction, that he addresses you exactly upon the same principle, and to the same end, that an attorney speaks for his client, or that an office hunter harangues at the hustings! that is that he may "rise to shine" -- that he may appear great by putting all others below his own level. Yes, brethren, you know, that however much Mr. C may have amused, or even informed your minds by his preaching, he never was the means of sending any of you in Godly sorrow to a throne of grace; he never made you humble nor self-abased, nor comforted your souls when "enduring the fight of affliction," in which, and to which, it hath pleased God to choose his truly believing people. Instead of this, brethren, he has attempted to rob you of the only "comforter;" that you can possibly have in this life of tribulation -- I mean, the adorable, the condescending Holy Ghost, without whose influences, your souls will become impoverished and lean, your minds vain and arrogant, your hearts hard and impenitent. O, brethren, hell triumphs most fearfully over you, if any of you have given up your belief in the spirit's influences. God grant that it may not be to demonstrate that you are reprobates; but, to teach you how foolish, and how beast-like you were in giving heed, for one moment, to the blasting, withering, damning doctrines of innovators upon the faith of God's elect. You know, brethren, that there is a veil upon the hearts of the Jews, so that they cannot understand the coming of the "Son of man," though he is the great burthen of all the ceremonies and prophecies of the Old Testament, and though the very day of his being "cut off for the sins of the people" is therein predicted. Yet these Scriptures they always have, and do continue to read incessantly. Exactly similar is the case with Mr. C. and those that think as he does, in reference to the New Testament! those that do not receive the spirit's influences, are no more benefitted by reading the New, than the Jews are in reading the Old Testament. They might both read to eternity and still be in darkness! or, as an Apostle says, "ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." Six millions of Jews, however, are ready to rise up and declare that they do understand the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and that the Messiah is not yet come. But this only shows how blind and deluded are their minds; and that they are capable of asserting, and even swearing to a lie. And if six million of Campbellites, or more properly speaking, Glassites and Sandeminians, were to swear that there was no Holy Ghost now, to operate specially, and immediately upon the human soul, it must only be considered as an evidence, that they were equally as blind and wretched in their spiritual condition as the Jews! ah, and just as consistent and pious would it be, for professors of religion to go to a synagogue to learn gospel truth, as to an assembly of the Sandeminians, or those denying the doctrine of the spirit's influence!
But I have digressed, and no wonder, for the subject to which I unintentionally returned, is so awfully and essentially important, that I could write the same things to you about it a thousand times, if, peradventure, I might succeed in stirring up your pure minds to a proper concern about it. I was saying, that Mr. C. in his preaching or writings, makes you not more holy, more humble, more heavenly minded, or spiritual: but, as numbers of you have told me, he appears to darken counsel by words without knowledge! he confuses
and perplexes your minds! he disquiets your souls! troubles your hearts, and causes you to call in question all that the blessed Spirit of your dear Jesus has done for your precious souls! so that you have been led to abandon your closet devotions, your family prayers, and all hope of keeping up a holy and sensible communion with your God. Alas! this is "making havoc of the churches" indeed! The cruelties of Saul of Tarsus were tender mercies compared to this. Flee then, "ye prisoners of hope," flee from this plague, pestilence and famine, that is stalking forth in your churches! turn to the strong holds of God's elect, the salvation of your souls through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth! this is the strong hold, this is the only hope of every true believer, of his ever being made mete for the inheritance of the saints in light. By this he feels sensible, that "the love of God is shed abroad in his heart," and without this he knows that all men would lie, if they said they loved God, or knew any thing of his love in their souls! Again, brethren, is not Mr. C. attempting to destroy your confidence in your ministers, and to have you lay aside your church order and discipline? What is this for? Suppose for a moment that you have done it, and we will soon shew you the object in view. Well, all is still! Mr. C. has commanded, and the Baptist churches around him have silenced their ministers: they have threw away their discipline; they are one and all searching the scripture for themselves. Nobody but Mr. C. dare put a foot, or move a tongue among them as a minister. But there soon appears some difference of sentiment: the low murmur and muttering of contention is heard! Mr. C. has calculated upon this: he knows that it must arise: he secretly fosters and promotes it: it grows, it rises, it rages to such a calamitous extent, that at last it is agreed on all sides to refer the differences to Mr. C. that he shall be umpire; and that rather than endure such feud and confusion, they will submit to whatever Mr. C. may say is faith and order. And thus he becomes your rabbi, your master, your pope, your antichrist. There -- that is what Mr. C. is after, or something nearly allied to it. And I challenge the whole history of mankind, in their political, social, and domestic compact, to prove, that that must be what Mr. C. or any other man designs, when either shall make a proposition to cast away known principles of union, and rules of order among any body of men. I say, I appeal to the whole history of mankind through past ages, and to every living person around us, of sense and observation, to prove, that such a proposition must be coupled with the design specified, or that the proposition itself must come from a fool! but Alexander Campbell is not a fool -- ergo, Alexander Campbell's design must be as above represented. Brethren, with such a proposition before you, a proposition to surrender your faith, your ministry, your discipline, you ought to rise in holy indignation, and respond -- "No, sir, we shall not trifle with our own souls, nor with the militant existence of our denomination in this manner! The glorious sum and substance of the gospel scheme of salvation is found spread out incidentally through the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; our venerated and pious brethren, who have preceded us in the pilgrimage of this life, have brought together and embodied, all the grand outlines of that sovereign, finished, everlasting, special and spiritual salvation: and connected therewith a clear, sufficient and gospel exhibit of the discipline necessary for the well being of the church militant. Both have been tried, and re-tried a thousand times told, and compared and re-compared with the scriptures in
instances without number, and never found other than pure gold! It is only when it is subjected to the moral breath of unregenerated men, that it becomes dim! and in this very incident, we have warning given us of the presence of impostors! we shall therefore retain our precious faith as a "measuring line for that part of spiritual Jerusalem which we constitute; and our discipline, for those unrenewed, refractory, innovating and ambitious spirits which the Devil may be permitted to send in among us, to try our brotherhood and fellowship, as well as patience and forebearance;" for, as it is written, "there must be also heresies among us, that they which are approved may be made manifest among us." We shall not, sir, confide in a man who shall make us any such proposition; we shall not gratify him by joining him in spouting and blowing, like so many grampus whales, against other denominations, and as if it were the whole sum of our business and happiness in this life. We shall not, sir, believe that man a Baptist at all, or deserving the name of a Baptist, who, in public, creates the spirit of general contention, and in private of local animosities; who would have us renounce our well known, clear, solid, and glorious faith, for his, which no one can define or understand. We will not, sir, throw ourselves into a sea of tumult and confusion by giving up our discipline and order, to the end that you may have an opportunity to pull us out, or do something in our behalf, and to prevent our drowning, for which we should be compelled ever after to bow our necks to the yoke of your arrogant dictum, and pay you your price. We will not confide in the man who calls in question the general character of our ministers, who serve us, for the most part, for less than what clads them comfortably, and in many instances for less than what really hides their nakedness, whether of seasonable or unseasonable clothing. We will not support that man, who is evidently unable to raise himself by any intrinsic merit, and therefore resorts to the prostration of the character of others, that he may get a pedestal on which to perch his own insignificant self in ephemeral distinction. No sir, we will do none of these things; and besides, for what would you have us rise with you in this hubbub of solicitude for the conversion of the Paedo-baptists to our order? are their ministers the designing, selfish, covetous, luxurious and effeminate creatures that you have represented them to be? and is it these characters, forsooth, that you want to bring in among us!! is a dipping in the water to change them? it must be you think so! or, you intend to bring them into our denomination dripping with all their existent loathsomeness! and is this, sir, your kindness, your zeal for us!! ah! sir, do not be surprised if we tell you, that suspicion of yourself begins to flitter o'er our minds! But you would proselyte not only ministers, but people, one and all, in the Paedo-baptist churches to our order. Now is it, or is it not true when the prophet says, "like priest, like people?" We have no doubt but what you, by this time, think the saying is correct; indeed your own writings accord therewith: then, sir, as an additional expression of your loving kindness and tender mercies to the Baptist denomination, you are putting forth all your energies for the purpose of proselyting the ministers and people of the Paedo-baptist churches to us, stinking in all that filthiness, heterodoxy, pride, luxury and unregeneracy, in which you have been, and still are holding them up to our view!! O, if this be an expression of your zeal, what must be your opposition! if this be an expression of your love, what
would be your hatred! We have somewhere read that "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruelties;" and really, we think, if you did, or do mean us well, we are likely to have no better evidence of it than the wicked give us of mercy. Seriously, sir, ascertain if you are not under some similar and fearful mistake, in regard to your service for us, that Saul of Tarsus was, when he thought, that by going to Damascus and making havoc of the church, he was doing God service! Saul was quite as great, scholastic, and intellectual a man as you, and yet he was subject to this awful delusion; that is, he denied Jesus Christ of Nazareth! -- you, the Holy Ghost from heaven! -- "par nobile fratrum." Think, sir, we say, upon this subject: go down and tarry a little season at Jericho; at least, until you have a few scattering hairs of testimony for to shew us, that you are a regenerated man! As for us, sir, we shall proceed to make proselytes of the Paedo-baptists by the use of entirely different means, to what you have been using: our weapons shall not be carnal but spiritual, and thereby mighty to the pulling down of the strong holds of sin and Satan. We will, sir, through the spirit of Christ strengthening us, rise and shake ourselves, as a denomination, from the dust, and put on the beautiful garments of salvation -- we will out-pray, out-labour, and out-love, our Paedo-baptist brethren, in the gospel of Christ; we will be ambitious to set them an example in all manner of Godliness, to demonstrate ourselves to be holiness unto the Lord! in unity, peace and concord among ourselves. This shall be the method to which we will resort, to make them take knowledge of us, that we have been with Christ and learned of him, that we love one another: and by which, we will compel them to inquire after, and adopt, every minutia of our faith. Thus we will manifest to them, that we have, and enjoy, the fellowship of the Father and Son, and the communion of the Holy Ghost. Holy Ghost! O glorious, blessed and sanctifying bond of union between all the regenerate on earth, and all the ransomed before the throne of God and the Lamb. Yes, yes, we will manifest to our Paedo-baptist brethren that we are full of the Holy Ghost! this will allure, will constrain, all that are spiritual among them, to seek and solicit a name and place among us. And as for the many, alas! too, too many among them, that are not spiritual members of the church of Christ, we want them not: the Lord knows, we have enough dead weight, of that sort; as much as we can very well stagger under. Take, sir, and welcome, from both denominations, all the latter description of material, if you can: -- should you get it, there will be no lack of slime and brick to make yourself a Babel Tower, equal in height, if not in base, to the mountain Cotopaxi. Take it all, sir, you know how to manage such material as that; but do not meddle with the "lively stones," until the spirit of our God shall have made you a workman therefor. To attempt to do any thing to, or for them, until you are thus prepared, will prove like the officiousness of Bruin, in brushing away flies from the human face: you will be more apt to injure than preserve! We shall, sir, exercise the spirit of prayer on your behalf; and should God the Holy Ghost, of whom you appear to be entirely ignorant, convert your precious soul, you will then be welcome, to our arms, to our heart, to our all! We
shall rejoice over you, more than over ninety and nine persons that need no repentance; yea, we will "joy over you with singing!!"
Ye ministers and people of the Baptist denomination, let some such sentiments be expressed by you towards Mr. C. immediately, and towards every one whose religious views are what his are. Never, never can you tamper with such glaring errors without the most pernicious of consequences. -- O! by all that is adorable in the God-head! by all that is precious in the blood and righteousness of Christ! by all that is connected with the glory of God the Father, the exaltation of the Son, and the honour of his gospel! by all that is essential to the peace, purity, and welfare of the church of Christ at large, and of your own souls individually; I conjure you, to cast out, any and every one from your connexion, who is an unbeliever in the adorable Spirit's special influences, in and upon the soul of every real believer. Yea, though an angel from heaven should gainsay the doctrine, be true to your blessed comforter; and tell, e'en an angel, that he lies. Ah! the apprehension trembles in my heart, that many of you have been living, days, and weeks, and months, without the "communion of the Holy Ghost." O! mournful circumstances! O! miserable state! No marvel, then, if you have your doubts and fears about the reality of the subject, as part of the christian's experience. Grieve not the Spirit any more; return to seek his presence, you shall find it. THE LOVE OF GOD SHALL THEREBY, ONCE MORE be shed abroad in your hearts: your peace be as rivers, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea! Satan shall fall, like lightning from heaven, and hell recede from you, detected, exposed and defeated, in its direful master-stroke of machination against your souls!! Full, then, will be the cup of his joy, who, on earth, will be known to you only by the name of
A REGULAR BAPTIST.
If you have ever understood him to say, either in his preaching or writings, that the ordinance of baptism has any tendency to wash away sin, or to infuse holiness into the soul of man, he has said that, which is at direct variance with the Baptist faith; and if he has said it as a Baptist, it is a foul slander upon them -- or, if he has said, under the name of a Baptist, that there is no Holy Ghost to operate especially and essentially upon the souls of sinners in conversion, he has denied the faith of the Baptist church -- or, if you have understood him as saying, that the moral law of God is not a rule of conduct for the believer in Christ; that also is contrary to the Baptist faith. If he has said that prayer, after a man has believed, or professed to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; is not a duty, and a mark of saving faith, that also is in opposition to the sentiments of the Baptists. If he has said, that preaching the gospel since the apostles' days is gratuitous, and unauthorised by the Lord Jesus Christ; that is likewise foreign to the faith of the Baptist church. And if he has advanced such doctrines as the foregoing, while professedly a Baptist, what confidence can be placed in his honesty or veracity? Could you consider that man your friend, who was reporting things of you, by which you would become disgraced in your own estimation, and that of others? who gave currency
to sentiments as yours, which you had disavowed, by the most solemn profession of contrary opinions before God and man. Then turn off your eyes from beholding "vanity" in Mr. C. or any other person of the same character, and remember, that he who bids him, God-speed, is a partaker of his evil deeds. a
He has shown, that he considers baptism as either the whole, or part, of the "being born again," which Christ speaks of." He has made Peter say, that it is salvation. He has said, that it washes away adultery, theft, &c. -- and is for the remission of sins; and Mr. Rigdon has said, it makes a man holy as an angel!
In view of this exhibit of the subject, by Mr. C. himself, and who will doubt, but what I had reason to charge him, and his fraternity, with the strong delusion of believing, that baptism is a saving ordinance. And what shall be thought of their bitter invective against me, for intimating that they held these sentiments. Now, the fallacy of the foregoing sentiments is known to every christian, spiritual Baptist; because, he feels that dipping had nothing to do in saving him from the guilt of sin -- it was the blood of Christ. He knows, that dipping had nothing to do with saving him from the dominion of sin -- it was, and is, the Holy Ghost! Every Paido-baptist, of a truly spiritual character, feels the same Holy Ghost -- sees the same Invisible Saviour, in all his transcendent fullness of grace and truth; and is as mighty on his emotions of panting desire after the God of his salvation, as is any Baptist; and herein, Baptist and Paido-baptist, have evidence, that God is no respector of the persons of those whom he has really quickened in righteousness; and, consequently, that all ideas of baptism being essential in the economy of salvation, is in direct opposition to sober facts, and every day experience, with both Baptist and Paido-baptist believers. Every observing man of the world knows, and feels satisfied, that there is nothing effectual, or of saving influence, in baptism; inasmuch, as in too many instances, he sees those who have been sprinkled with a little water, living in sin! and those who have had water poured upon them in baptism, (as it is called) b living in more sin than he that was sprinkled! and he also sees, those who have been dipped in four foot water, committing more sin, than either of the other professors! c Such is the fact in many instances; and those, perhaps who have been baptized in all the modes practised, (that is, those who have been sprinkled, poured upon, and dipped backwards and dipped forwards) are among those who are the least holy as professors -- a striking instance to the point might be referred to in Pittsburgh.
I will take upon me to assert, that neither Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, or Baptist, or any other denomination who are of any
a. A word to the unconverted, in the 27th page of his Letters.
b. How tallys this interpretation of the new birth, with what he has said elsewhere, of regeneration being a Pentecostal out pouring of the spirit!!
c. I am not to be understood as intimating, that the Baptist denomination are less pious than other sects; no, but the reverse is my candid opinion.
general estimation in the world, with the shadow of consistency, or upon the fundamental principles of their personal religion, regard Mr. C. in any other light, than as one of the dry bones in Ezekiel's valley; or, in other words, as a poor deluded unbeliever. For my own part, I must confess, that it is one of the most inexplicable circumstances that I have ever met with, how he should be acknowledged as a believer, in any part of the christian church, after the public expression of the sentiments here quoted from his writings: but above all, how the Baptist denomination should tolerate him for an hour, as one of their ministers! The substance of his views is -- That man, by nature, has the faculty of faith -- that reading the scriptures, attentively, naturally produces faith from the testimony of prophecies and miracles -- that believing in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, upon that testimony, is faith -- that faith is non-essential until connected with baptism -- that thus believing, and being baptized, and practicing the morality and virtue of the great prophet, makes a christian to all intents and purposes! Now, the reveries of Swedenbourg, or the rationale of Joseph Priestly, is not more distinct from saving faith, than these views of Mr. C. -- Speak, ye mourners in Zion! Ye, who are broken in heart, contrite in spirit, ye heavy ladened and labouring sinners: speak, and tell Mr. Campbell, that e'er saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is realized, you find, that repentance toward God is essentially necessary -- a subject that he speaks not of, and knows nothing about.
In page 27 of Mr. Greatrake's "Miniature Portrait of Alexander Campbell," he copies from Mr. Campbell's writings, the following extract, viz.
"The grandeur, sublimity and beauty of the foundation of hope, and of ecclesiastical or social union, established by the author and founder of christianity, consisted in this, that THE BELIEF OF ONE FACT, and that upon the best evidence in the world, is all that is requisite, as far as faith goes, to salvation. The belief of this one fact, and submission to one institution expressive of it, is all that is required of heaven, to admission into the church. A christian, as defined, not by Dr. Johnson, nor by any creed-maker, but by one taught of heaven, and in heaven, is one that believes this one fact, and has submitted to one institution, and whose deportment accords with the morality and virtue taught by the great prophet. The one fact is, that Jesus the Nazarene is the Messiah. The evidence upon which it is to be believed is the testimony of twelve men, confirmed by prophecy, miracles, and spiritual gifts. The one institution is baptism, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Every such person is a christian, in the fullest sense of the word, the moment he has believed this one fact, upon the above evidence, and has submitted to the above mentioned institution."
On this extract Mr. Greatrake remarks as follows, viz:
"Upon this principle, it appears quite evident, that the Devils want nothing but baptizing to be bone fide christians! They said, "we know thee, who thou art, thou Holy One of God" They said, "Paul we know, and Christ we know." They believed this ONE FACT. They now believe this one fact
If Mr. Campbell can only get some water to them, or get them to some water, he may have disciples plenty. Query -- Were not the Devils that entered into the herd of swine, believers of this ONE FACT! they owned Christ to be the "Son of God!" were they not "dipped," (and in the body too) they ran down into the sea -- ergo, they were Christians!! Yes, Mr. C. they were just such believers, and christians, as your system makes yourself and your disciples."
(remainder of text under construction)
Letters On Religious Notions
(Ravenna: Western Courier, 1826)
is today only known from 1826 advertisements for it
printed in some eastern Ohio newspapers, such as the
Ravenna Western Courier and the Warren Western Reserve Chronicle. A copy is still being sought after.