Alexander Campbell Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit


Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. I.
by Alexander Campbell, pp.

82-84.Volume II: August 1824 to July 1825
. Number 1. August 2, 1824, pp. 79-86.

Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the
Salvation of men.--No. I.

      TO THE Spirit of God are we immediately indebted for all that is known, or knowable of God, of the invisible world, and of the ultimate destinies of man. All that ancient Pagans and modern Sceptics pretend to have known of these sublime topics, was either borrowed from the oracles of the Revealer of secrets, or was mere uncertain conceits or conjectures of their own. Were it our design, we could easily prove, upon the principles of all modern sceptics, upon their own philosophical notions, that unaided by the oracles of the Spirit, they never could have known that there is a God, that there was a creation or Creator, or that there is within them a spark of life superior to that of a brute. Indeed this has been unanswerably done already, in a work published a few years since, by James Fishback, D. D. This ingenious and profound reasoner has shown with demonstrative certainty, that, on the acknowledged principles of Locke, "the christian philosopher," and of Hume, the subtle sceptic, all the boasted intelligence of the deistical world is a plagiarism from the oracles of this Divine One. Indeed it all comes to this--if there be no innate ideas as these philosophers teach, then the bible is proved, from the principles of reason, and from the history of the world, to be what it purports, a volume indited by the Spirit of the invisible God. To pursue this argument is, however, foreign to our present purpose. We are not now, on set purpose, addressing infidels, but those who profess to believe that the christian religion is of divine authenticity. We may, perhaps, find it our duty to drop a few hints on this subject. In the mean time, we speak to those who profess faith in the sacred scriptures.

      It being granted that the bible was dictated from heaven, it follows that it is revealed truth, that there is one God and father of all, one only begotten Son of God who is Lord of all, and one Spirit of God, who alone reveals to men the secrets of God. Leaving out of view all the metaphysical divinity of ancient councils or modern theological schools on the philosophical doctrine of the Trinity, we may safely assert, upon the plainest evidence, that these THREE must occupy the attention of every reader of the holy oracles. Scarcely have we time to exhaust one breath in reading the history of the creation, as written by Moses, until the Spirit of God is introduced to our view as operating in this marvelous demonstration of almighty power. And scarcely do we read a page in any one of the four Evangelists, until this Divine One appears to our view as a mighty agent in some work connected with the redemption of man. Even the New Testament closes with a gracious discovery of his benevolence, and the last welcome of heaven to the sons of misery and wretchedness is echoed by this self-same Spirit, who says, "COME and drink of the water of life FREELY."

      Without presuming to roam in the regions of conjecture, or to indulge in the flights of imagination; or even to run at random through all that is recorded concerning this sacred name, into which we have been baptized, we shall confine our inquiries, and if possible, the attention of our readers, to that office which the Spirit of God evidently occupies in the salvation revealed in the New Testament.

      That the christian religion was to be established and consummated by the ministration of this Spirit, is one of the plainest truths in revelation. It was a subject of ancient prophecy, and the facts recorded in the New Testament concerning the gifts and operations of this Spirit, are but the accomplishment of what was long foretold and anxiously expected.

      The christian religion was established by the personal labors of its founder, who appeared to be no more than a Jewish peasant, and the labors of a few illiterate fishermen. It is the most singular fact on the page of history, sacred or profane, the best established, and most universally admitted, by friends and foes, that a Jewish peasant (as his enemies called him) and a dozen of individuals, without learning, without money, without family, without name, without any kind of human influence, revolutionized, in a few years, the whole world, as the Roman empire was then called; and that, too, at a crisis the most forbidding in its aspect, the most unfavorable that ever existed. Paganism was long established and strongly guarded by the sword [82] of the civil magistrate, and myriads of hungry, sunning, and avaricious priests. Judaism, still better confirmed, as it had truth well attested on its side, and the imposing influence of the most venerable antiquity. On the one side, prejudices, creeds, rubrics, temples, gods in the Gentile world innumerable and indescribable--established and confirmed by many succeeding generations. On the other, the most inveterate antipathies, the most unrelenting malevolence, aggravated and embittered by a superstition that once had much to recommend it. Before their face, poverty, shame, sufferings through life, and martyrdom at last, were presented, not as matters of conjecture, but as awful certainties, to forbid their efforts and to daunt their souls. But by the energies of this Holy Spirit, its gifts and its endowments, they triumphed. Temples were vacated, altars pulled down, and idols abolished in every land, and a new religion established in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Such is the fact, the marvelous fact, recorded, recommended, and proved by a combination of evidence, the splendor of which throws into the shade all the evidence adduced in support of any other historical fact in the annals of the world.

      In the contemplation of this wonderful revolution, the Holy Spirit is the most striking object presented to our view, and to it are to be ascribed all these marvelous results. And here we open the New Testament and commence our inquiries into the character of its operations.

      That faith is necessary to salvation, is a proposition the truth of which we need not now attempt to prove, as all professors of christianity admit it; and that testimony is necessary to faith, is a proposition equally true, evident, and universally admitted. He that believes, believes something, and that which he believes is testified to him by others. A man, every body who thinks, knows cannot see without light, hear without sound, nor believe without testimony. Some people, we know, say they believe what they see; but this is an abuse of language. I know what I see, and I believe what I hear--upon the evidence adduced in the first case to my eye, and in the second to my ear. It is as natural for a child to believe as it is to hear, when its capacity expands: and were it not for lying and deceit, it would continue to believe every thing testified to its understanding. Children become incredulous merely from experience. Being deceived by lies and deceit, they become incredulous. Having experienced that some things reported to their ears are false, they afterwards refuse to believe every thing which they hear. The more frequently they have been deceived, the more incredulous they become. Hence the examination of testimony becomes as natural, in a little time, as it is necessary. The first lie that was told on earth was believed to be a truth. Fatal experience has rendered the examination of testimony necessary. These observations are altogether gratuitous, as all we demand is cheerfully granted by all professors of christianity, viz. that faith is necessary to salvation, that testimony is necessary to faith; and that owing to the existence of falsehoods and deceits, the examination of testimony is necessary to full conviction. These positions being adopted as indisputable truth, we proceed to observe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John testify that there was a woman named Mary who brought forth a son supernaturally, who was called Jesus; that the child was announced by John the Baptist as the Redeemer, or Lamb of God, that was to take away the sin of the world, who had been foretold and expected for many generations; that he was distinguished above all that were born of woman, in the circumstances of his nativity, childhood, baptism, and it every personal accomplishment; that he spoke and taught truths, and performed actions peculiar to himself; that he was maliciously put to death in Judea in the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, under the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate, by the Jewish sanhedrim; that he rose from the dead the third day, and after appearing alive for forty days on the earth, he afterwards ascended into heaven, and was placed upon the throne of the universe, and appointed Judge of the living and the dead; and that until his second coming to Judge the world, he is exalted to bestow repentance and remission of sins to all that call upon him. These things and many others of the same character the Evangelists and Apostles, una voce, declare. Now their testimony is either true or false. If false, then all christians are deceived, and all the religion in christendom and in the world is delusion; for if christianity is not true, it will be readily admitted by my readers that neither is Mahometanism, Judaism, nor Paganism. If true, then all the christian religion depends upon their testimony. Their testimony, on either hypothesis, is worthy of the most impartial and patient investigation. But such a testimony required supernatural attestations. For although there is nothing in this astonishing narrative impossible in the nature of things, nor indeed improbable on the acknowledged principles of human reason itself; yet the marvelous character of the facts testified, the frequent impositions practised, and, above all, the momentous stress laid upon them, required that they should be authenticated from heaven. In the attestation of this testimony, and in the proof of these facts, the office of the Holy Spirit first presents itself to our notice.

      It was not enough that the Apostles were qualified by the Spirit to deliver a correct, intelligible, and consistent testimony, but for the reasons above specified, that this testimony be attested by such accompaniments as would render the rejector of it damnably criminal, as well as afford the fullest ground of certainty and joy to all that received their testimony. Nor are we in this inquiry so much called to consider the import of their testimony or their qualifications to deliver it, as we are to exhibit the attestations afforded by the Holy Spirit.

      Miracles were wrought by the influence of the Holy Spirit in confirmation of their testimony that is, signs or proofs of a supernatural character followed their testimony. The very circumstance of miracles being added, proved their necessity; for all declare that God does nothing in vain. If miracles were wrought by the Saviour and his apostles, those miracles were necessary appendages to their testimony. For if faith, which we have agreed, is necessary to salvation, and if testimony is necessary to faith, as also admitted, then, in the case before us, miracles were necessary in order to the confirmation of this testimony, or to its credibility; for this is apparent from the fact that they were exhibited, and from the acknowledged principle that God does nothing in vain. But our remarks upon miracles must be postponed to the next number.

      Two conclusions are fairly deducible from the preceding observations. The first is that the truth to be believed could never have been known but by the revelation of the Spirit; and secondly, that though it had been pronounced in the most explicit language, yet it could not have [83] been believed with certainty, but by the miracles which were offered in attestation of it. It may then be safely affirmed that no man could believe the gospel facts without this work of the Holy Spirit in attestation thereof; for the Spirit of God would not have empowered those witnesses to have wrought those miracles if their mere testimony without them was sufficient to produce faith. For let it be remembered, that it is universally granted that God's works are all perfect, and that he does nothing superfluous or in vain.


Number 2. September 6, 1824, pp. 87-93.

Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. II by Alexander Campbell, pp. 89-91.

Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the
Salvation of Men.--No. II.

      IN our last essay it was, we hope, fully proved, that with regard to the truth to be believed and the evidences of it, we owe every thing to the gracious ministrations of the Holy Spirit. The matter of faith preached is, that "Christ died for our sins, was buried, and is risen from the dead;" but even this fact is attributed to the immediate agency of this Glorious One. He, therefore, may be said to have made the truth, as well as by the most illustrious displays of his power in its behalf, to render it credible to men. His testimony in its behalf consists of miracles and prophecy, but it is with the first of these only we have to do in our present essay. The term miracle is general, and comprehends not only those displays of power whose legitimate and single purpose was to establish the fact that Jesus was risen from the dead, but the gifts also which were vouchsafed to those who believed, and whose primary intent was to fill with light and wisdom the new converts to our holy religion.

      It has often been asked, what necessary connexion is there between a miracle and a revelation from Heaven? If the term miracle is properly defined to be "the suspension of some known law of nature," the connexion will be as follows:--The suspension intimates the certain presence of a power superior to the law, and this is all it proves. The miracle, I say, only proves that a power superior to the law operates in its suspension, but the moral character of the agent is to be deduced from the nature of the miracle combined with the end for which it is said to be performed.

      The miracles of our Saviour are chiefly of a beneficent kind, and the declared end of them is to establish a mission the most salutary. From a consideration of the character of his miracles and the salutary end for which they were wrought, we are constrained by the rules of right reason to believe that they were effected by the Spirit of God, and not by Beelzebub, as the infidel Jews evilly suggested. The moral character of the power is to be known by its effects; and so the Saviour, as a key to guide us in this difficult step, tells us that we are to this case to judge as in the case of trees bearing fruit. If the fruit is good, the tree is good--if bad, the tree is bad. If the miracle is of a beneficent character and its declared end good, the agent by whom it is effected is good. It was not our Saviour's finger that performed the miracles his touching the cured was only to connect the miracle with the end for which it was wrought, viz. to show that he was the Messenger of the Most High, that this display of power was in behalf of his pretensions, and not of others who might be present. The work of the Holy Spirit in this respect, then, is most glorious, and becoming Heaven in the highest degree.

      The Jewish religion and the Christian are the only two religions that ever were received by men, purporting to be confirmed by miracles. Neither the Mahometan religion nor any system of pagan superstition at its first publication claimed the evidence of miracles. On this topic we shall present an extract from Dr. [89] Campbell's "Essay on Miracles," in reply to Mr. Hume. He says:

      "Can the pagan religion--can, I should rather say, any of the numberless religions (for they are totally distinct) known by the common name of pagan, produce any claim of this kind that will merit our attention! If the author knows of any, I wish he had mentioned it; for in all antiquity, as far as my acquaintance with it reaches, I can recollect no such claim. However, that I may not, on the one hand, appear to pass the matter too slightly; or on the other, lose myself, as Mr. Hume expresses it, in too wide a field, I shall briefly consider whether the ancient religions of Greece or Rome (which of all the species of heathenish superstition are on many accounts the most remarkable) can present a claim of this nature. Will it be said, that the monstrous heap of fables we find in ancient bards, relating to the genealogy, productions, amours, and achievements of the gods, are the miracles on which Greek and Roman paganism claims to be founded?

      If one should talk in this manner, I must remind him first that these are by no means exhibited as evidences, but as the theology itself; the poets always using the same affirmative style concerning what passed in heaven, in hell, and in the ocean, where men could not be spectators, as concerning what passed upon the earth. Secondly, that all those mythological tales are confessedly recorded many centuries after they are supposed to have happened; no voucher, no testimony, nothing that can deserve the name of evidence having been produced, or even alleged in proof of them. Thirdly, that the intention of the writers seems to be solely the amusement, not the conviction of their readers; that accordingly no writer scruples to model the mythology to his particular taste, or rather caprice; but considering this as a province subject to the laws of Parnassus, all agree in arrogating here the immemorial privilege of poets to say and feign, unquestioned, what they please. And fourthly, that at least several of their narrations are allegorical, and as plainly intended to convey some physical or moral instruction, as any of the apologues of Æsop. But to have said even thus much in refutation of so absurd a plea, will perhaps to many readers appear superfluous.

      Leaving, therefore, the endless absurdities and incoherent fictions of idolaters, I shall inquire in the next place, whether the Mahometan worship (which in its speculative principles appears more rational) pretends to have been built on the evidence of miracles.

      Mahomet, the founder of this profession, openly and frequently, as all the world knows, disclaimed such evidence. He frankly owned that he had no commission nor power to work miracles, being sent by God to the people only as a preacher. Not, indeed, but that there are things mentioned in the revelation he pretended to give them, which, if true, would have been miraculous; such are the nocturnal visits of the angel Gabriel, (not unlike those secret interviews, which Numa, the institutor of the Roman rites, affirmed that he had with the goddess Egeria) his getting from time to time parcels of the uncreated book transmitted to him from heaven, and his most amazing night journey. But these miracles could be no evidences of his mission. Why! Because no person was witness to them. On the contrary, it was because his adherents had previously and implicitly believed his apostleship, that they admitted things so incredible, on his bare declaration. There is indeed one miracle, and but one, which he urges against the infidels, as the main support of his cause; a miracle for which even we in this distant region and period, have not only the evidence of testimony, but, if we please to use it, all the evidence which the contemporaries and countrymen of this military apostle ever enjoyed. The miracle I mean is the manifest divinity, or supernatural excellence, of the scriptures which he gave them; a miracle, concerning which I shall only say, that as it falls not under the cognizance of the senses, but of a much more fallible tribunal, taste in composition, and critical discernment, so a principle of less efficacy than enthusiasm, even the slightest partiality, may make a man, in this particular, imagine he perceives what has no reality. Certain it is, that notwithstanding the many defiances which the prophet gave his enemies, sometimes to produce ten chapters, sometimes one, that could bear to be compared with an equal portion of the perspicuous book, they seem not in the least to have been convinced, that there was any thing miraculous in the matter. Nay, this sublime performance, so highly venerated by every Mussulman, they were not afraid to blaspheme as contemptible, calling it "a confused heap of dreams," and "the silly fables of ancient times."

      While modern sceptics would tell us of miracles wrought in support of paganism, and of the Roman priesthood, they have not as yet attempted to say that either the "lying wonders" of the "mother kirk," or the false miracles of the Pagan temples, were exhibited in the first exhibition of a religion or for the establishment of it. Mr. Hume, indeed, would compare the miracles of Christ and his apostles to some things he calls Pagan and Popish miracles;--but there is not, in fact, one point of coincidence or resemblance between them. What were the tales of Alexander of Pontus, the celebrated Pagan fortune-teller, or of Vespasian the Roman emperor, in common with the miracles of Christ and his apostles? What has the miracle reported in the memoirs of the cardinal De Retz or those said to have been performed in the church-yard of Saint Medard, at the tomb of abbe Paris to do with the christian miracles? Is there one point of coincidence in the alleged design of these miracles, or in their character and use? Not one. Mr. Hume himself was constrained to yield the point. And those miracles mentioned by Mr. Hume were the best suited to his design of any "lying wonders" in the annals of the world. Those Pagan and Popish miracles, as far as the sceptic has introduced them, were not wrought in confirmation of any new religion as proofs of its divine origin. The cures said to have been performed, were, even by their own testimony, few in comparison to the number of applicants who received no cures, and few in comparison to the number who were thrown into diseases in seeking remedies. In these false miracles impostures were often detected and proved, and as Dr. C. has shown that all the cures said to have been effected were such as could have been effected by natural means. Again, none of those cures were instantaneous; many of them were the effects of medicine before used, and in many instances the maladies had evidently abated before application for remedies was made. Many of those miraculous cures were incomplete, and the relief afforded was in many instances temporary. Now if all the false miracles which one of the most ingenious and most learned of unbelievers was able to assemble from history and from fable, were liable to all the above imputations, and if the gentleman himself who advanced them was put to silence on these grounds, how transcendent [90] this species of evidence afforded our holy religion. The miracles wrought by the Holy Spirit in attestation of the preaching of the apostles, were numerous, public, beneficent; no imposture was ever detected, the adversaries of the christian faith themselves being judges; the cures were always instantaneous, always complete and always permanent. To this Holy and Eternal Spirit, then, is every christian indebted for that most splendid and powerful of all evidence, which puts out of countenance all opposition, which covers with shame and confusion the subtle and presumptuous infidel, and which, in fact, presents the whole phalanx of opposers to the christian faith in the same ridiculous and absurd attitude as the dogs in the fable, which conspired to bark down the moon walking in brightness.

      We must reserve our remarks on spiritual gifts to the next essay, which in the department of miraculous evidence, are the most triumphant and glorious of all.


Number 3. October 4, 1824, pp. 94-101

Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit, in the Salvation of Men--No. III. Spiritual Gifts by Alexander Campbell, pp. 95-97.

Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit, in the
Salvation of Men.

No. III.
Spiritual Gifts.

      DAVID the king and prophet foretold that when Messiah the Lord would ascend to his throne, he would bestow gifts upon men. This passage of Psalms, lviii. 18. Paul (Eph. iv. 8.) applies to our Lord. When he ascended he says, "he gave," and by spiritual gifts qualified "some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." Peter also, on the day of Pentecost, ascribed all the stupendous gifts vouchsafed on that day to the Lord Jesus. "Therefore," says he, (Acts ii. 33.) "being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He hath poured out that which you now see and hear." These "distributions of the Holy Spirit," as Macknight renders Heb. ii. 4. issued in the perfect qualification of apostles with "the word of wisdom;" prophets with the "word of knowledge;" evangelists with "tongues and miracles;" pastors with an immediate possession of all the requisites to feeding the flock, and teachers with the means necessary to instructing the novices in all the christian doctrine. It may be necessary to remark, that the pastors and teachers mentioned in this passage are to be distinguished from the ordinary bishops or elders of a christian church, inasmuch as the elders or bishops are to be qualified by ordinary means and to be selected by their brethren for the possession of those ordinary attainments mentioned by Paul in his epistles; whereas those pastors and teachers given on the ascension of the Lord, were as instantaneously prepared for their offices as Paul was made an apostle; they were not only converted to the christian faith, but, in an instant, by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, qualified to teach the whole religion. That this is no conjecture, but matter of fact, will appear from Eph. iv. 8-13. Three things are distinctly stated in this context to which we refer the reader, and these three must be distinctly noticed to understand the passage. The first is, that these apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, were gifts bestowed by Jesus the Lord on his receiving the throne of the universe. The second is, that they were given for an immediate exigency, or for a purpose which the infant state of the church required, that is, says the apostle Paul, (v. 12.) "for the sake of fitting the saints for the work of the ministry, in order to the building of the body of Christ"--(Macknight)--for fitting the converted Jews and gentiles for the ordinary work of the ministry or service requisite to the building of the church. The third is, that these supernaturally endowed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, were to continue only for a limited time, marked by an adverb in Greek and English, which always denotes the time how long--mechri, "until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, even to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, that we, the church, be not always composed of nepioi, babes."--Dr. Macknight in the following words: "These supernaturally endowed teachers are to continue in the church until, being fully instructed by their discourses and writings, we all who compose the church, come through one faith and knowledge of the son of God, to perfect manhood as a church, even to the measure of the stature which when full grown it ought to have: so that the church thus instructed and enlarged, is able to direct and defend itself without supernatural aid."

      These three things being noticed, it is evident that these apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, were all supernatural characters, for a precise object, and for a limited time; that this object was answered by their discourses and writings, and, that this limited time has expired For the benefit of those of weak understanding it may be observed, that although apostles were appointed before Pentecost, even from the commencement of the Lord's ministry, yet they were not qualified fully for this peculiar work, until endowed with those supernatural gifts bestowed on Messiah's sitting down on the throne of his Father, after his ascension into heaven; and consequently, it might be said, most justly, that on his ascension, "he gave apostles," as well as "prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers." It may also be noticed for the benefit of the same class of readers, that while the word of wisdom was given to one--the word of knowledge to another--faith to work miracles to a third; to another the gifts of healing; to another the inworkings of powers, that is ability to produce or work in others the ability of working miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of foreign tongues; to another the interpretation of foreign tongues by one and the same spirit; yet some individuals possessed more than one of those gifts, and the apostles many, if not all of them; and one in particular, which distinguished them from, and elevated them above all others, viz. the ability of conferring some particular gift by the imposition of their hands.

      These gifts differed both in their nature and dignity, and some envied those possessed of the more splendid gifts, which gave rise to the apostle Paul's illustration of these gifts, in the 12th, 13th, and 14th chapters of his first epistle to the Corinthians, where he shows that although there was a great diversity of gifts, yet the matter of those gifts, if I may so speak, was the same; for they were all distributions of the same Spirit; their object was the same, for they were ministries of the same Lord; and their origin or authority was the same, for the same God inworked them in all the spiritual men. And while some were eminent for the word of wisdom, which appears to have been the doctrine of the gospel communicated by inspiration; others for the word of knowledge, or an inspired knowledge of the types and prophecies in the ancient revelations; others for faith which, as a spiritual gift, "led the spiritual men, without hesitation, to attempt the working of miracles;"2 others for the gifts of healing, &c. &c. [95] it was to be remembered that these distributions or these manifestations of the Spirit were given to every member of the church of Corinth; or a manifestation of the Spirit was given to every spiritual man to profit withal, not for his own honor or benefit, but for the good of the brotherhood; which the apostle in the subsequent context compares to a human body composed of many members--no member created for itself, or for its own benefit, but for the service of the whole.

      To shew more fully the nature and use of those gifts, it may be necessary to take a view of the church of Corinth, of which church the apostle says, "It came behind in no gift." "You," says he, speaking to the Corinthians, "are enriched with every gift by him, even with all speech and knowledge." "When the testimony of Christ was confirmed among you by the miracles which I wrought and the spiritual gifts I conferred on you, so that you come behind in no gift." In the history of this church, then, we may expect to learn the nature and use of those gifts, to as much advantage as from the history of any other.

      Corinth at this time was the metropolis of the province of Achaia, and was as famous as Athens itself for the Grecian arts and sciences. Cicero calls it "totius Græciæ lumen," the light of all Greece; and Florus calls it "Græciæ decus," the ornament of Greece. Refined and intelligent as Corinth was by Grecian sciences and arts, it was, through its luxuries and wealth, the most dissolute, lascivious, and debauched city in its day. Here Paul preached and taught for eighteen months the doctrine of Christ, and converted a very numerous church, composed of some distinguished Jews, but chiefly of the idolatrous and profligate Pagans. Luke tells us, "Many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized." From the history of this church, gathered from the Acts of the Apostles and these epistles, it appears that there was a schism in it, envying, strife, and many irregularities; so that the presence of those gifts did not place the church out of the reach of those human corruptions, but were necessary to the illumination and confirmation of the disciples in the faith which purified the heart by its intrinsic influences. Indeed, we find that even the spiritual men themselves needed the word of exhortation and admonition for their imprudence in the management of those gifts; which at once teaches us that those gifts had no general influence, and were not necessarily productive of the appropriate effects of the saving and sanctifying truth in the minds of the subjects of them. No wonder, then, that the apostle Paul commended the cultivation of brotherly love as a "more excellent way" than the coveting of the most splendid gifts. It is evident from the face of the first epistle, that even among the spiritual men there were blemishes and imprudences that required the castigation of the apostle. The apostle, indeed, settles the contest about the precedency of those gifts, and places them in due subordination to one another. A free and full translation of the 28th verse represents the matter thus: "The chief members of the church are thus to be ranked as God has distinguished them by gifts. First, apostles, who being endowed with the word of wisdom, from them all must receive the knowledge of the gospel. Secondly, the superior prophets, who, possessing the word of knowledge, are qualified to interpret the ancient revelations. Thirdly, teachers, embracing all who boldly declare the doctrine of Christ, illustrate it, and confirm it by miracles. Next, those who communicate to others the spiritual powers. Then, those who possess the gifts of healing diseases. Helpers, who, speaking by inspiration to the edification of the church, are fitted to assist the superior teachers, and to help the faith and joy of others. Directors, who, by the gift of discerning spirits, are fitted to direct the church. Lastly, persons who, having the gift of speaking different kinds of foreign languages, can preach to every nation in its own language." But yet the church can never be composed of all such, no more than the body can be all eye or all ear; for, says the apostle, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets?" No, indeed. The nature of those gifts, however splendid, was evidently only adapted, and their use merely designed, to illustrate and confirm that doctrine, which in its primary and essential results, when received and understood, purges, purifies, elevates, and ennobles the mind of the recipient. Hence the Holy One prayed, "Sanctify them through your truth?"

      Again, when the Lord spake of the Holy Spirit, (which was to proceed from his Father and himself, when he should be glorified,) he assured his disciples that this Monitor would testify of him, and would not only conduct them into all truth, but when he is come, "he will convince the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment: concerning sin, because they believe not on me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the Prince of this World is judged. He will glorify me."3 The signs and wonders, and distributions of this Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul declared were the confirmations by which Jesus was glorified in the world, and the testimony of the witnesses rendered credible and omnipotent. So, on Pentecost, the unbelieving Jews were convinced of their sin in not believing that Jesus was Lord Messiah, by the Holy Spirit confirming their word by signs following or accompanying. They, were [96] convinced of his righteousness, or of his being the righteous Messenger of Jehovah, by the proofs the Spirit gave of his having been well received in heaven by his Father; and they were convinced of judgment, because it was evident from the testimony of the apostles, confirmed by those splendid signs of the Holy Spirit, that, by his cross, Jesus had triumphed over principalities and powers, and had vanquished him that had the power of death. Thus the Saviour promised and thus it was performed, and thus the world, infidel Jews and infidel Gentiles, were convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The apostle Paul also declares in that same epistle, chapter xiv. that "foreign languages are for a sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers." Now the sign by which the Holy Spirit glorified Jesus on the day of Pentecost, was that of foreign tongues; diverse, or separated tongues of fire, appeared on the heads of the witnesses, and they spake in foreign tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This, then, was such a sign to the unbelieving Jews as to convince three thousand of them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and hence they gladly received the word that announced to them the remission of their sins and the promise of the Holy Spirit. Thus the word came in "demonstration of the Spirit and with power," and their faith rested not on the wisdom of human reason, but on the power of God, thus exhibited with the word.

      In our next essay this same topic will be further illustrated. As we promised to investigate this important subject with some degree of attention, we must request the patience of our readers to be put into requisition; and we must also remind them, that our object is to present just what the scriptures teach on this subject, not attempting to support any system of divinity, however canonized or extolled. But in these things every disciple of Christ will suffer no man to judge for him while he is able to read the revelation of God in his own tongue--at least such ought to be his determination.


Number 4. November 1, 1824, pp. 101-108. Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. IV. by Alexander Campbell, pp. 101-104.

Essays on the work of the Holy Spirit in the
salvation of men.--No. IV.

      HOW transcendently kind and excellent is the work of the Holy Spirit in glorifying Christ, in advocating his cause, and in affording to men [101] such a gracious confirmation of that testimony, which, when believed, puts them in possession of the most certain, cheering and animating hope--the hope of immortality and eternal life! How diverse its gifts and operations! This persecuting Jew, in a moment, is converted, not only to the christian faith, but becomes himself the subject of its powers, the temple of its residence. The converted Jew, by its influence, is filled with the word of wisdom, and, while his tongue pronounces divine oracles, his finger communicates health to the incurable, and life to the dead. Another, who, yesterday, could not read an ancient prophecy or explain a Jewish emblem, to-day, filled with the word of knowledge, infallibly expounds all the secrets concealed in dark oracles, in obscure allegories, and in mysterious types of the oldest times. Another, who a moment before had no confidence in the crucified Nazarene, has that peculiar faith which impels and emboldens him to bid a demon depart, or a leprosy withdraw, in the assurance of seeing his command obeyed. Another, who, just now, ignorant of the past, and even of the present times, can, by the gift of prophecy, foretell infallibly what will happen next week, next year, or a century to come. Another, who, till now, knew not what manner of spirit was in himself, can, by the gift of discerning spirits, detect the inmost thoughts of a stranger who has put on the christian name. Another who never knew a letter, an obscure and idolatrous pagan, who never learned the grammar of his vernacular tongue, can speak foreign tongues with all the precision and fluency of an orator. And another, in the twinkling of an eye becomes an able and accurate expositor and interpreter of languages, a letter of which he never learned. Yes, all these gifts, and many more, did one and the self-same Spirit distribute to every individual, respectively, as he pleased. These glorious, inimitable, and triumphant attestations to the truth concerning Messiah, did the Spirit of God vouchsafe, as well as reveal the truth itself. And, although these gifts were not bestowed on every first convert; yet in some instances, whole congregations, without an exception, became the temple of these gifts; and, for the encouragement of the gentiles, who, for ages, seemed to be proscribed from the favors of Heaven, the first gentile congregation to which the glad tidings were announced, was filled with these gifts, and they all, in a moment, spake foreign tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

      Let it, then, be distinctly noticed, from all these premises, that these gifts had for their object, first, the revelation of the whole christian doctrine; and secondly, the confirmation of it; and without them, no man could either have known the truth or believed it. To this effect does the apostle reason, 1 Cor. ii. 9-16. He shews that none of the princes, the legislators, or wise men of Judea, Greece or Rome, ever could, by all their faculties, have discovered the hidden wisdom, "which God had determined before the Mosaic dispensation began, should be spoken to the honor of those apostles, gifted by the Holy Spirit." For so it was written, "Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and into the heart of man (before us apostles) those things have not entered, which God has prepared for them who love him. But God has revealed them (those unseen, unheard, and unknown things) to us (the apostles) by his Spirit"--"Which things (before unknown, unheard, and unseen,) also we (apostles) speak (to you Gentiles and Jews, that you may know them) not in words taught by human wisdom, (in Judea, Greece or Rome,) but in words taught by the Holy Spirit, explaining spiritual things in spiritual words. "Now, an animal man, (whether a prince, a philosopher, a legislator, or a rhetorician, in Judea, Greece or Rome, by the means of all arts and sciences) receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, (by all his faculties and attainments,) because they are spiritually examined" (by the light which revelation and not reason affords.) "But the spiritual man (the man possessed of a supernatural gift) examines, indeed, all things; yet he cannot be examined by any animal man (because such cannot judge of the principles suggested to him by the Spirit;) for what man (who is merely animal) has known the mind of the Lord, (his deep designs respecting Jews and Gentiles, now made known to us apostles,) who will (or can) instruct him (the spiritual man.) But we (apostles) have the mind of Christ," and are able to instruct your spiritual men, with all their gifts. O! you Corinthians! How has this beautiful passage been perverted by system into a meaning the most remote from the mind of the Spirit! The translation above given is most consistent with the original, and, indeed, is the translation of Dr. Macknight, who seems to have rendered all those passages that speak of spiritual gifts, in all the epistles, much more accurately and intelligibly than any other translator we have seen. The animal man, or what our translators call a natural man, spoken of by the apostle, is quite another sort of a man than the Calvinistic or Arminian natural man. The apostle's natural man, or his animal man, was a man who judged of things by his animal senses or reason, without any revelation of the spirit; but the natural man of modern systems, is a man who possesses the revelation of the Spirit, and is in the "state of nature" as it is called. The apostle's natural man's eye had never seen, his ear had never heard, his heart never conceived any of those things written in the New Testament--our natural man's ear has heard, and it has entered into his mind to conceive, in some way or other, the things which were revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles. To argue from what is said of the one by the apostle, to the other, is a gross sophism, though a very common one; and by many such sophisms is the word of God wrested to the destruction of thousands.

      While we are upon this subject, we conceive we cannot render a more essential service to our readers than to detect and expose a few such sophisms connected with the work of the Holy Spirit; in doing which we will still farther illustrate the topic under investigation.

      Before coming to specifications, we shall make but one preliminary observation, viz. that in the fixed style of the New Testament, there are certain terms and phrases which have but one meaning attached to them; and when we use those phrases or terms in any other meaning than that attached to them in the sacred style, we as infallibly err, as if in using the term Jupiter, I should always attach to it the idea of a planet, whereas the author, whose work I read, always attaches the idea of a god to it. In such a case, I must, in every instance, misunderstand him and pervert his meaning.

      The first specimen (and we can only give a few specimens) we shall give is from 1 Cor. xii. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to [102] every man to profit withal." A thousand times is this sentence quoted to prove, and many a sermon is preached from it to show, that there is some kind of communication, afflation, or gift of the Holy Spirit given to every man to improve, or profit withal, to his own salvation. Three notable mistakes are obvious in such a perversion of the text: First, the manifestation of the Spirit denotes in this context, some spiritual gift by which the Spirit is visible, or, at least evidently manifested to be in or with the person. Secondly, the every man denotes the spiritual men only, or every one that possessed a spiritual gift; for of these only the apostle here speaks. Thirdly, to profit withal denotes that the spiritual man did not receive this gift for his own benefit especially, but for the profit of the other members of the body; as the ear or eye does not receive impressions for its own benefit merely or primarily, but for the benefit of the whole body. This is just the design of the apostle in the whole passage.

      We shall find another specimen or example of this same sophism in the 2d chapter, 4th verse: "And my speech (or discourse) and my preaching was not with persuasive words of man's wisdom, but with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power." How often do we hear the modern sermonizers praying that their preaching may come with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, meaning thereby some internal operation of the Spirit;1 whereas, the apostle uses these words to remind the Corinthians that his preaching was not successful among them by means of his eloquence, but because of the demonstration of the Holy Spirit; or that his mission was established by the gifts of the Spirit imparted to them, and by miracles wrought in their presence. The next verse makes this evident; for the design of this was, he adds, "that your faith might not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God," in the miracles which God empowered me to perform; for such is the fixed meaning of the term power in this connexion. "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power." "You shall be endued with a power from on high." Those who were converted by seeing, and those who are converted by hearing of the miracles which God vouchsafed to the witnesses, their faith rests or stands upon the power of God. I know that some, to countenance the above-mentioned perversion, are wont to cite the 19th verse of the 1st chapter of the Ephesians, which reads thus: "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, who believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead." Here, say the populars, is a plain proof "that the power that produces faith in us is equal to the power that raised Jesus from the dead." This will serve as a third example of this species of sophistry. Without either denying or affirming the truth of the popular sentiment, as an abstract speculation, let us see whether this was the meaning of the apostle. The apostle, from the 17th verse, is declaring his prayer to God for the Ephesians; and, in the 18th verse, mentions one item of his request, viz. "that the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, they might know what is the hope of their calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance prepared for the saints: and that they might know what the exceeding greatness of his power will be (in the resurrection and glorification of their bodies) with relation to us who believe (which will be similar in glorifying the bodies of the saints to what it was to raising and glorifying Christ's body) according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and exalted him," &c. So that the power here spoken of is a power to be exhibited in raising the bodies of the saints, and not a power to be exhibited in producing faith; for the Ephesians had already believed.

      Another example of the same sophism we often observe in the citation of Acts vii. 51. "O! stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you." Hence it is argued that there is some kind of operations of the Holy Spirit which are called common, and which are equally enjoyed by all men, the saved and the damned; and on this, and another saying or two, is the whole doctrine of common operations predicated. But that Stephen, who was full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, had no reference to any internal or external operations upon the unbelieving Jews, is most evident from the context. He shewed that his audience, as did their fathers, persecuted the prophets who spoke by the Spirit, and in resisting his word delivered by the prophets, they resisted the Spirit of God: for to resist a person's word and to resist himself, is, in all idioms of speech, the same thing. The unbelieving Jews, in resisting the testimony of Stephen and of the apostles, resisted the Holy Spirit; and many in our time, who resist the testimony of the apostles, dictated and confirmed by the Holy Spirit, do, in fact, resist the Holy Spirit. And, as in the days of Noah, the Spirit of God, by the preaching of Noah, strove with the antediluvians; so the Spirit of God, by the preaching of the apostles, committed to writing, does strive with all those to whom the word of this salvation is sent; and yet many still resist the cogency and power of the truth, and the arguments that confirm it. They did not all believe who saw the miracles, and such of the spiritual gifts as were visible; neither do all, who read or hear the apostolic testimony and its confirmation, believe it. It has, however, been shown in the first volume of this work, that the miracles and signs were written for the same purpose that they were wrought. This, indeed, needs no other proof than the testimony of John the apostle. He says, chap. xx. 30, 31. "Many other miracles Jesus likewise performed in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are recorded that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing (this) you may have life through his name."

      Curiosity inquires, How long did this age of miracles and spiritual gifts continue? It would be no matter of great consequence to settle this [103] point, and, therefore, it cannot be precisely determined. A few hints, however, on this subject, may be useful, in connexion with the design of these essays. It must be remarked, that when Peter first opened the reign of heaven to the Jews, these gifts were showered down in a more copious manner, than at any one period afterwards among the Jews. The proof of this fact will presently appear. When the same apostle Peter, who was exclusively honored with the keys, opened the reign of Messiah the King to the Gentiles, in the house of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit fell on all the congregation, as it did on the Jews "at the beginning." This phrase, "at the beginning," denotes that the Spirit of God had not fallen on the Jewish congregation, as it did on Pentecost; and from Pentecost, till the conversion of the Gentiles, such a scene was never witnessed, even by the apostle; for he could find no parallel case, to which he could refer in giving a description of it, save that which happened in Jerusalem on Pentecost. The Samaritans did not receive it in the same manner as the Jews and Gentiles received it. Until Peter and John went down from Jerusalem, after many of the Samaritans had believed and were baptized, the Holy Spirit had fallen on none of them; but Peter and John imparted it to them by laying on their hands.2 In almost every other instance, if not in all other instances, the Holy Spirit was communicated by the apostles' hands; consequently, when the apostles all died, these gifts were no longer conferred; and gradually all the converts who had those gifts died also; and, therefore, these gifts did not long survive the apostles. A reason for their ceasing to be conferred will appear in our next essay, which will be devoted chiefly to the third species of evidence, which the Holy Spirit vouchsafed to the testimony concerning Christ. Correct views of the office of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men, are essential to our knowledge of the Christian religion, as also to our enjoyment of it. On mistaken views of it are engrafted most of the extravagant systems of our times.


Number 5. December 6, 1824, pp. 108-117. Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. V. by Alexander Campbell, pp. 108-111.

Salvation of Men.--No. V.

      ALL the evidences of the marvellous love of Jehovah, exhibited in the salvation of men, are like itself, superlatively grand and sublime. The evidences which command belief, are all miracles; the evidences which corroborate and strengthen that belief, sometimes called "the internal evidences of the record," are admirably moral and rational. The evidences on which the faith of the intelligent rests, are, in the first instance, all miracle. But when we discourse intelligibly on this miraculous evidence, we distinguish miracles, spiritual gifts, and prophecy. We have briefly suggested a few thoughts on miracles, properly so called, and on spiritual gifts, and are now to attend to prophecy. We have already found prophecy amongst the spiritual gifts, as also, indeed, the power of working in others the power of working miracles. But we are now to consider prophecy in a higher and more exalted sense.

      Many of the primitive Christians were possessed of the gift of foretelling future events. Paul declared that the Holy Spirit testified to him in every city, that "bonds and afflictions awaited him." In what manner the Holy Spirit testified this in every city we are informed. Let us take a few instances which settle this point. Acts xxi. 3. Paul found some disciples "who said to him, through the spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem," because of those afflictions that awaited him. Philip, the deacon, had "four [108] daughters which did prophesy," and while Paul was there a certain prophet named Agabus, came down from Judea, and when he came into the presence of Paul, he took his girdle and bound his own hands and feet, saying, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owns this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." Thus the Holy Spirit testified to Paul by the words of the prophets. This Agabus was a prophet of some note, as appears from Acts xi. 28. "There stood up Agabus, and signified, by the spirit, that there should be a great dearth through all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cesar." This gift of prophecy differs from another gift of the same name. To prophesy, in the church of Corinth, imported no more than to speak, by inspiration, in a known tongue, to the edification of men; but to foretell future events, by the spirit of inspiration, is, what we are now contemplating. Nor is it our design to attend to those prophecies, which many individuals, in the age of spiritual gifts, uttered for the immediate exigencies of that period, for either the conviction or confirmation of their cotemporaries; but we are now to view the recorded prophecies, which were designed as a standing evidence of the truth testified concerning Christ. We all see the advantages which resulted to both Jews and Gentiles from the recorded prophecies of the ancient revelations, in the times of the Saviour and his apostles. Indeed, the prophecies, written and read, were the last appeal, and the all-convincing or silencing one, against which there was no rising up. But it is not prophecy, in that enlarged sense, which includes the evidence given to the Messiah, before his appearance in Judea, by the Jewish prophets; but it is the prophecies of the New Testament, afforded by the Holy Spirit, in honor of the Messiah and his cause, since his appearance in the flesh, which I am now to consider under this head.

      The greatest wisdom is apparent in this department of evidence. The Spirit, given immeasurably to Jesus, afforded him all means of confirming his mission. His wisdom in exercising the gift of prophecy was admirably adapted to the exigencies of the time. He did not, in the first exercises of this gift, utter predictions that respected events long future: no, this would have been altogether useless in the first place; and, therefore, his first predictions respected events soon to happen with respect to himself and his apostles. If I possessed the gift of prophecy, and wished it to contribute to my honor, I would, doubtless, foretell some events which would soon happen, in order to obtain credit to predictions of greater futurity. So did the Saviour. His first predictions respected events just on the eve of being born. He foretold to Peter, that, on going to the sea, and in casting in his line, he would take a fish with a stater in his mouth. This was a small matter, but as difficult to tell as an event two thousand years distant. He prophesied that he would be killed by the chief priests, and that he would rise from the dead the third day, a few months before it happened. When they were on their way to Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples to a village, predicting to them that they would there find an ass tied, and her colt with her, and ordered them to bring them to him; at the same time assuring them that, on telling the proprietor that the Master wanted them, he would send them. These little matters all tended to confirm the disciples in their faith concerning him. And, indeed, there was much need that their faith should be well confirmed, as it was soon to be put to a most severe trial. He, therefore, gives as a reason for his numerous predictions, the following: "This I tell you now, before it happen, that when it happens, you may believe?' But, to pass over the numerous predictions that respected minor matters and approaching events, we shall proceed to notice a prophecy of great utility, which respected an event about forty years distant. This prediction was designed for public conviction, and was perfectly adapted to this end. It was of that character of events which must necessarily be notorious and eminently conspicuous. Let us attend to it. When all was tranquil in Jerusalem, the city and the temple standing guarded by the enthusiasm and patriotism of a powerful people, under a Roman procurator; when religion and business were going on in their regular course as for ages, he foretold, that, before the people then living, died; before the existing generation passed off the stage, the city and the temple should be razed, and not one stone left on another that should not be thrown down. « On the Mount of Olives his disciples accosted him privately, saying Tell us, when shall this happen? What shall be the sign of your coming, (to do this,) and of the conclusion of this state?" These questions he minutely answered. He declared the preceding events--the means by which the city and temple would be destroyed--gave directions to his disciples how they might escape this impending calamity, frequently called "the wrath to come," or "impending vengeance." And, as to the precise day, he informed them that he was not authorized to communicate it, for the Father had reserved this in his own bosom, and willed not men or angels to know it; but at the same time, he would so far satisfy them as to assure them that the people then living would not all die till it actually came to pass. This was as definite as a prophecy, so public and comprehensive, ought to be.

      Let the reader remember that this circumstantial prediction concerning an event to be notorious through all the earth, was committed to record, and published through Judea, Greece, acid Rome; in a word, through Asia, Africa, and Europe, many years before it came to pass.--And also let it be noted that the apostles, while they published it, gave exhortations in their epistles to the christians concerning it. Matthew's gospel was published in Judea thirty two years before the destruction of the city and temple; Luke's memoirs of Christ were published in Greece seven years before Titus, the Roman general, razed Jerusalem and made the plough pass over it. Mark's memoirs of Christ were published in Rome five years before this era of vengeance. But, besides these written records, there were all the publishers of Messiah's words and deeds going to and fro through all the world. These are facts, which christians acquainted with the New Testament and the history of the world, believe; and which learned infidels are constrained to admit. That the apostles declared this prophecy to the churches, and that it was uniformly believed, and its accomplishment anxiously looked for, can be easily shewn from their writings. I say, anxiously looked for, because the persecuting power of the Jews was to fall with their city and temple; and the apostles solaced the disciples with the hope of its speedy fall. Paul assured the suffering Hebrews that their sufferings by the Jews would soon cease; [109] "For," said he, "yet a little while, and he who is coming will come, and will not tarry;" he will destroy the Jewish state, and then your infidel countrymen will have to cease persecuting you. This the context declares. He tells the Thessalonians, that the Jews killed their own prophets and the Lord Jesus; that "they were hindering us (apostles) to preach to the Gentiles that they might be saved; so that they fill up their iniquities always. But the wrath of God is coming upon them at length." (Macknight's Translation.) Paul also assures the Romans, that the God of Peace would soon put under their feet the infidel Jews and the Judaizers. The Jews he calls Satan, or the enemy, and adversary. He comforts them with the assurance that God "would bruise Satan under their feet soon." It seems from what Peter says in his epistles, (the latter of which was written three years before the Lord came to avenge his quarrel with the Jews,) that the infidel Jews scoffed the idea of Christ's ever coming, as if the apostles had been long talking about it, and yet he had not come. He consoles the dispersed brethren with these words, "Know that there shall come scoffers in the last days, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?" And James, in the clearest style, after speaking of the wickedness of the Jews, in a tremendous gradation, which ends in these awful words, "You have condemned and killed the Just One, who did not resist you," exhorts and comforts the christians in these words, "Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draws nigh." From these, and many more expressions and references to the epistles to the predicted fall of Jerusalem, and the power of the Jews, we are authorized to say that this catastrophe was, by all the christians, universally expected for years before its arrival, and therefore they required exhortations to patience under their persecutions, and were consoled by the certainty of the accomplishment of their Lord's prophecy. In the year 70 Jerusalem and its temple were levelled to the dust, after being immersed in all the calamities the Saviour foretold. This event, then, gave a terrible blow to the Jewish adversaries of the christian cause, aid stimulated the christians with fresh courage. Their patience having been tried for many years, the deliverance would be the more appreciated, and their faith would be greatly confirmed. The more extensive the hatred, opposition, and persecution of the Jews had been, the greater publicity was given to the prophecy, and the more convincing the accomplishment. Had I lived in those days, and been so happy as to have been one of those persecuted christians woo had witnessed the catastrophe, I would have argued thus with all opposers of the christian faith--"That Jesus the Nazarene was the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and now the Governor of the Universe, is abundantly proved, not only from the ancient prophecies, from his resurrection from the dead, from the gifts he has bestowed on many of his disciples, from the private prophecies he gave, which have been all accomplished, from his continued presence with his apostles, from the success attendant on their labors; but now, from the accomplishment of one of the most public and particular predictions in the annals of the world. It cannot be denied that this prediction has been read by thousands in the writings of his apostles, has been heard proclaimed a thousand times by his followers; yea, that some are still living who heard him pronounce it; and that it is literally fulfilled, all the world is now witness. I pass over every thing of a mere private character--I fix my eyes exclusively on this astonishing circumstance. I see everything so exactly fulfilled in it; not one of his disciples perished in the siege; they all obeyed his commands; when they saw Jerusalem invested with armies, they fled; the people that were considered an abomination, that makes desolate, have come; the walls of Jerusalem are levelled to the ground; the temple laid in smoking ruins; the nation dispersed. The blood of the righteous prophets has been avenged; and the curse the rulers invoked upon themselves and their children, has come upon them. 'This is the Lord's doing and marvellous in our eyes.' Kiss the Son, lest he be angry. If his wrath be roused for a little, blessed are all they that put their trust in him."

      Such an argument would, we think, be omnipotent with all who would hear and consider it. Besides, this prediction gave a vast weight, and a new impetus to the other prophecies delivered by the apostles in their writings. For when this one, which figured so prominently in all their writings and speeches, was so exactly fulfilled, who would hesitate in looking for the accomplishment of the others in their proper seasons.

      The prophecies delivered by Paul and John concerning the fate of christianity in the world occupy the next place in the written prophecies, and immediately succeed in train to that one now noticed. The size of this paper forbids a minute attention to them. The intelligent will readily perceive, what an essential service they render to the testimony of the apostles. I will only set down the items of Paul's prophecy concerning the great apostacy, which we have lived to witness. "That day (speaking of the last day) shall not come unless there come the apostacy first, and there be revealed that man of sin, that son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every one who is called a god, or an object of worship; so that he, in the temple of God, as a god sits, openly shewing himself that he is a god. Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things? And you know, what now restrains him, in order to his being revealed in his own season. For the mystery of iniquity already inwardly works, only till he who now restrains be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed that lawless one. Him the Lord will consume by the breath of his mouth, and will render ineffectual by the bright shining of his coming. Of whom the coming is after (or similar to) the strong working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and miracles of falsehood." (2 Thess. ii. 3-9. Macknight's Translation.) This is as minutely descriptive of the apostacy, called anti-Christ, as the Messiah's description of the destruction of Jerusalem.

      John informs us that he was in the Spirit, in Patmos, on the Lord's day, when the Messiah vouchsafed him a prophetic view of the church's history till the end of time. In this prophecy, declared to be the fruit of the Spirit, we have a most signal evidence of the truth of the apostle's testimony. The prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, forty years before it came to pass; the prediction of the dispersion of the Jews, which yet exists; the prediction of the rise of the apostacy, and the removal of the Pagan power of imperial Rome, hundreds of years prior to the event; and the prediction of the downfall of the anti-christian kingdom, with the means eventuating therein; (a part of which we have lived to see,) constitute a sort of standing [110] miracle, in attestation of the truth of the divine authenticity of the christian religion, which we owe to that Holy Spirit, which searches and reveals the deep designs and counsels of God.

      These brief notices of the work of the Holy Spirit in revealing the saving truth, and in confirming it by miracles, spiritual gifts, and prophecy, merely suggest to the intelligent reader a train of reflections, which, if followed out, may lead to a further acquaintance with this most interesting subject, than could be communicated in volumes of essays of this diffuse and general character.

      It must be remembered in all our inquiries into this, and every other question pertaining to the revelation of God, that it was all given since men fell into a state of sin and misery; and that, like every other work of God, it is perfectly adapted to the end for which it was given; that is, to make wise to salvation those that are ignorant and out of the way, and to guide those that are reclaimed by it in the paths of righteousness and life.

      Hitherto we have been considering the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Wisdom, and the Spirit of Power. We have not yet introduced him as the Spirit of Holiness or of Goodness. This will be more particularly attended to by and by.--For it is not only revealed as the spirit of wisdom and of power, but also as the spirit of all goodness in man. As the Spirit of Wisdom and of Power, it was the author of all the miracles, spiritual gifts, and prophecy; but as the Spirit of Goodness, it is the author of that principle in christians, which inclines and enables them to cry Abba, Father.


Number 6. January 3, 1825, pp. 117-124. Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. VI. by Alexander Campbell, pp. 117-118.

Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the
Salvation of Men.--No. VI.

      BEFORE dismissing the subject of miracles, spiritual gifts, and prophecy, we may inquire into the necessity and use of this work of the Holy Spirit. That it was necessary to render the testimony credible, and that this is its use, will appear from the fact that it was vouchsafed, and from a brief reference to a few passages of scripture. The effect of miracles is thus declared, John ii. 23. "Many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did" John iii. 2. "Nicodemus came to Jesus and said, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher sent from God; for no man can do these miracles which you do, except God be with him?" John vi. 14. "Those men, when they had seen the miracles that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." Chapter vii. 31. "And many of the people believed on him, and said, When the Messiah comes will he do more miracles than these which this man has done." John viii. 30. When speaking in relation to his claims, and when prophesying of what was to be done to him, to those who had seen his miracles, we are told, "as he spake these words many believed in him." At another time, (John xii. 42.) when explaining and applying the ancient prophecies to himself, we are told that, "among the chief rulers many believed on him."

      But in his own preaching he shows the use he would make of this work of the Holy Spirit; John v. 31-39. He appeals, when speaking to the people that discredited his pretensions, to the evidences on which he claimed their attention and their reception of him. He classifies the evidences on which he rested his claims under four items:--1st. He appeals to the miraculous, and every way credible testimony of John the Dipper. 2d. He appeals to his own marvellous works. 3d. He appeals to the testimony the Father had given, viva voce, at his baptism, and the Holy Spirit by its visible descent. And, 4thly, he appeals to the ancient prophecies which the Jews had received as of divine authority.

      The works which Jesus did he often said were works given him to do by his Father; that his Father worked with him; and so necessary were those works to the credibility of his mission and pretensions, that he declare that" no man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him;" as if he had said, 'Neither my personal attractions as a man, nor my saying that I am the Son of God, would be sufficient to lead any person to receive me as God's Messiah; and therefore no man can, consistently with reason or the common principles of human action, come to me, except the attestations the Father has afforded, in these works which I do by his authority, draw him or persuade him to receive me as such.' So that in fact, faith in him or a reception of him, he declares impossible, but by the evidence of miracles.

      Many, it is true, of those that received him, and especially before the Holy Spirit was given to his disciples, fell away; and, from the love of the praise of men, or the fear of persecution, apostatized. He, however, encouraged those that believed on him, on the evidence of miracles, (which was not perfected during his lifetime,) to persevere, with this assurance, that whosoever believed in him, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." This figure the Evangelist thus explains, ( John vii. 39.) "This he spake of the Spirit which they that believe on him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

      Here, by the way, we must pause on this remarkable explanation which John the apostle gives of this promise. The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. The Spirit, then, it is evident, could not be given till Christ was glorified. Now we know that he did not expect to be glorified until his ascension to his Father's throne. He prays just before his death for this glorification. No man could enter into the kingdom of God until it was revealed, or come under the reign of God until this reign commenced. And it has been already proved that this reign did not commence till the Messiah was crowned Lord of all. Hence the Holy Spirit was not given till Christ was glorified, and until his reign commenced. The commencement of this reign is called the regeneration, or renovation, and therefore the apostles were not themselves regenerated in the sense of the Lord's discourse with Nicodemus; until the period called the regeneration came. The Saviour declared to Nicodemus that except a man were born again he could not see the reign of God. A man that was regenerated would, then, see or understand this reign. But none of Christ's disciples saw or understood this reign till Christ was glorified; for, before his ascension, they asked a question concerning his reign, which showed that they did not understand it; consequently, had not yet been born in the sense of John iii. 3. But it was promised to every one that believed on him, on the evidence of miracles, that he would be regenerated; for "he that believes on me," as the scripture says, "shall prove a cistern, whence rivers of living water shall flow." "This he spake of the Spirit, which they who believed on him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet (given) because Jesus was not yet glorified." [Campbell's Translation.]

      There is one great and distinguishing difference between the disciples of Christ before, and since he was glorified. Those who believed and became his disciples, seeing the miracles which he wrought, on the evidence afforded them, had to wait for the promise of the Spirit, through faith, a good while, and some a long time, till Christ was glorified. But now they who became his disciples after he was glorified, soon received the Holy Spirit. For in one day after Christ was [117] glorified thousands were born of the Spirit and of water, and entered into the kingdom, and immediately were filled with love, peace, joy, long suffering, goodness, fidelity, meekness, and temperance--the blissful cluster of heavenly fruits of which the sons of God are all partakers.

      But to resume the subject of the necessity and use of the work of the Spirit, I would request my readers not only to examine the use and necessity of this marvellous evidence before the Saviour was glorified, but let us see its necessity and use since.

      Beginning with the first preaching of the gospel after the Holy Spirit was given, (Acts ii.) we see that the miracles and spiritual gifts, or the miraculous evidence, was indispensable to the production of faith. The sudden tumult of apparent rushing tempests in the air drew together a great concourse of Jews. When they entered the house where the one hundred and twenty disciples were assembled, they saw and heard. They had heard a sound which brought them there. They now saw tongues resembling fire distinctly separated from each other, on the heads of the apostles. They heard them explain the meaning of all this. For miracles will not produce faith without their meaning be apprehended--the end or design understood. They were convinced by what they saw and heard. What they heard assured them that what they saw was the fulfilment of prophecy, and that the crucified Jesus was now on the throne of his Father. What they saw convinced them that what they heard was true, for God would not confirm a falsehood by his signature. They had not yet heard that there was pardon; and, therefore, knew not but God was about to take vengeance on them for their iniquities--Peter had not yet opened to them the door of faith and hope. They cried out in distress, "What shall we do?" Peter promised them pardon and the gift of the Spirit, on repentance and baptism. They heard him gladly, and were baptized, and then received ten dorean, the favor or gift of the Holy Spirit. Here we see the necessity and use of the miraculous evidence. In the third chapter of the Acts we read of another splendid conversion. Thousands believe. But there was a signal miracle wrought in the name of Jesus the Nazarene. Peter, taking by the hand a notable cripple, commanded him to rise up and walk. He obeyed. Multitudes assembled: they saw and heard. Peter explained the meaning of the miracle, and it was understood as a witness from heaven that he spake the truth. They believed. See again the necessity and use of miraculous evidence.

      Acts 4th, we read of the terror these miracles gave the enemies of Messiah's cause. They threatened the apostles. The apostles prayed, that with all boldness they might speak the word, and that God would stretch forth his hand to heal, and that signs and wonders might be wrought by the name of Jesus. The prayer was heard. The house shook. And so we soon read, that "by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people, by which believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women."

      Saul of Tarsus was not only converted, but he was made a minister at the same time. Hence, said the Saviour, I have appeared to you to make you a minister. Those who suppose that all that happened to Saul, on his way to Damascus, happened to him for his conversion, pay no respect to this declaration. It is, however, true, that what he saw and heard, caused him to believe that Jesus whom he persecuted was the Son and Saviour. He received the Holy Spirit by a special messenger whom the Lord appointed. Ananias came to him--laid his hands upon him--he received his sight, and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul said that, by the help of God, (in signs and wonders,) he continued always testifying the truth that Jesus was the Messiah. And a better summary of his labors and success we cannot give than in these words--"Christ has wrought by me to make the gentiles obedient in word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about into Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ."

      I need not, as if proving a point that required a specification of every item on record, be further tedious in showing the necessity and use of this miraculous evidence. It is, however, necessary to state, that the reading or hearing of these things now recorded, stands precisely in the same relation to faith, as the seeing of the apostles work the miracles, or the hearing them declare the truth. The words they spake are as much the words of the Holy Ghost when in written characters as they were when existing in the form of sound. And we have often shown that the miracles are recorded for the same reason they were wrought. And that the word written is as capable of producing faith as the word preached, is easily shown from the same Record--Acts xvii. 11. 12. These noble-minded Thessalonians "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily whether these things were so;" therefore many of them believed. The truth to be believed is supernatural, and the evidence on which it is to be believed is of the same character. So says the apostle, "Faith, (while it is the offspring of the Spirit,) comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the word of God." And to the same effect says Peter, "Love one another with a pure heart fervently, having been regenerated not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of the living God, which remains forever. But the word of the Lord (not logos but rema) remains forever. Now this is that rema, or word, which by the gospel is preached to you." [Macknight's Translation.]

      Having occupied so much of this essay in exhibiting the necessity and use of the miraculous evidence, in order to rendering credible a miraculous testimony or narrative, I shall not introduce the topic primarily designed for this number, reserving it for our next.

      I would only add, as a concluding observation, and I place it by itself that it may be distinctly noted, viz. That no person ever has believed the gospel to the salvation of his soul, but in the same manner and upon the same evidence, that all who now believe, or who will hereafter believe to their salvation, do believe or will believe on the same evidence and in the same manner as they who believed after the Holy Spirit was given. The difference, in the most rigid criticism, betwixt seeing and hearing, never, in my judgment, affecting the truth of the proposition. The blind men who applied to Christ for cures, believed that he was able to cure them as strongly, on the same evidence and in the same manner as they who had the use of their eyes.


Number 7. February 7, 1825, pp. 124-131. Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. VII. by Alexander Campbell, pp. 124-126.

Essays on the work of the Holy Spirit in the
salvation of men.--No. VII.

      IN the preceding essays on this subject, we have, as far as the limits of this work admitted; glanced at the outlines of those grand and benevolent displays of the Spirit of God, afforded in the revelation and confirmation of the christian religion. His multiform and splendid distributions as the Spirit of Wisdom and the Spirit of Power to the holy apostles, and to many of the first converts to the christian faith, in the introduction of the christian age, have just been noticed.

      As the Spirit of Wisdom, he bestowed those gifts of wisdom, of the word of knowledge, of prophecy, and of tongues, to the ambassadors of Messiah, to qualify them to reveal, in words adapted to every ear, the character and achievements of Gods only Son, and the benevolent purposes of the Father, through him, towards the human race. As the Spirit of Power, he clothed them with all those magnificent gifts of power over the bodies of men, by which they were always able to prove their mission and demonstrate their authority as the plenipotentiaries of the Son of God. What remains is to notice, with the same brevity, what the scriptures teach us of him as the Spirit of all [124] Goodness.The apostle says: "The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth." This fruit, on another occasion, he particularizes thus: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness,1 fidelity, meekness, temperance."

      While his distributions, as the Spirit of Wisdom and of Power, were confined to the apostolic age, and to only a portion of the saints that lived in that age, his influences, as the Spirit of all Goodness, were felt and realized by all the primitive saints, and are now felt by all the subjects of the new reign, or by all the citizens of that new kingdom which the God of Heaven set up in the reign of the Cesars. The citizens of this kingdom, which commenced on the literal Mount Zion, and which will extend to all nations, tribes, and tongues, have ever experienced, and will, to the end of time experience, the influences of this Spirit, as the Spirit of all goodness, righteousness, and truth. The full development of these influences requires us to take a brief view of the Old Covenant and the New, or of the Letter and the Spirit.

      Whatever illuminations were enjoyed by, and whatever prospective views were communicated to, the ancient saints and Jewish prophets, respecting, the christian age, one thing is certain, that the Old, or Sinaitic Covenant, was a covenant of letter, and not a covenant of spirit. It is equally certain and obvious that the Jewish church, with all its privileges, had but the shadows of good things to come; that their condition was as different from ours as flesh and spirit; and their rank as unlike ours, as that of servants and sons. We are authorized in speaking thus by no less a personage than that distinguished Jew and great apostle to the Gentiles--Paul. He represents the Jews as being in the flesh while under the law, or covenant of letter, and the christians as being in the spirit, as under the gospel, or covenant of spirit. He speaks of the service of the Jews as a service in "the oldness of the letter," and of the christians, as a service "in newness of spirit." He speaks of the Jews while under the covenant of letter, as in the bondage of slaves and possessed of the spirit of servants; but when in the covenant of spirit, as being the sons of God and possessed of the spirit of adoption--"not having a second time received the spirit of bondage, but as having received the spirit of adoption, crying, as new-born babes, Abba, Father." Wherefore, he argues, the believing Jews are no longer servants, but raised to the rank of sons.

      There are three passages in the writings of Paul to which we will at present refer in illustration of these two covenants. The first in his epistle to the Romans, chap. vii. "For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which we had under the law wrought effectually in our members to bring forth to death. But now we are loosed from the law, having died in that by which we were tied; so that we ought to serve in newness of the Spirit, and not in oldness of the letter." So the apostle represents the state of the Jews--first under the covenant of letter, and again under the covenant of spirit. The bondage and fear of the first covenant forms a perfect contrast to the liberty and confidence of the worshippers under the second. As we have given this passage in Macknight's translation, we shall also give it in Thompson's for the comparison of our readers: "For when we were in the flesh the sinful passions which subsisted under the law exerted their energy in our members to bring forth fruit to death; but we are now set free from the law by the death of that by which we were holden, so that we may serve with a new spirit and not by the old letter."

      The second passage to which we shall refer, is 2d Cor. iii. In this chapter the apostle contrasts the two covenants, the manner of introduction or establishment of each, and the tendency and result of each. The covenants he contrasts by calling the law or old covenant the covenant of letter, and the new, or second covenant, the covenant of spirit. The literal and correct translation of the sixth verse retakes this manifest. The apostle says of himself and his associate apostles, "Our sufficiency is of God, who has qualified us [apostles] to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter, but of spirit. Not a new covenant of letter, but a new covenant of spirit, then, was ministered, or introduced and established by the apostles. The reason of the introduction and establishment of a new covenant of spirit the apostle gives by contrasting the tendency of each; for, adds hot the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. The tendency of the first, or Sinaitic covenant, was to condemnation and death. The tendency of the New Covenant or Testament2 is to justification and life. The apostle next and chiefly contrasts the manner of the introduction of each, called the ministration. In strict propriety of speech he does not call the one the ministration of death, nor the other the ministration of spirit; but he speaks designedly and particularly of the manner in which they were ministered or introduced; that is, the manner in which the letter and the spirit, the law and the gospel were introduced. These things premised, and the passage is plain and instructive in the highest degree. Now, says he, if the manner of introducing the letter which ends in death, that letter "of death, engraven in stones," was attended with glory, shall not the manner of introducing [by us apostles] the Spirit be much more attended with glory. Nothing could be more natural, when the apostle had called himself a minister, and while he was defending his mission, than to call the service which he was called to perform, a ministry, or ministration. After being so diffuse in these remarks, we shall now briefly give the sense of the whole passage, varying the terms for the sake of clearness. He has qualified us apostles with suitable and splendid miraculous powers to introduce a new covenant--not of letter, but of spirit. For the covenant of letter issued in death, but the covenant of spirit issues in life. Now if a covenant of pure letter, written and engraven on stones, and which issued in death, was introduced by Moses from God with considerable glory, so that it shone in the face of Moses who introduced it, shall not the introduction of a covenant of spirit from God, by us apostles, which issues in life, be attended with greater glory, inasmuch as spirit is superior to letter, and life more desirable than death. I say--if the introduction of that letter which immediately began to work condemnation, was attended with glory, much more does, in the present time, the introduction of that spirit which puts men in the enjoyment of righteousness, abound in glory. For, again, if that which was only of temporary duration was introduced with glorious accompaniments, much more shall the introduction of this, which is to [125] be permanent, be attended with miraculous accompaniments, incomparably more glorious. Let it be noted that in varying the terms we are not translating; but giving the ideas in other terms for the sake of perspicuity; and let it be remembered that the terms letter and spirit denote the law and gospel, of which the apostle speaks, and above all, that the design of the apostle in this chapter was to vindicate his official character, as one called and qualified to introduce the spirit or new covenant.

      We hasten to the third reference, which is designed to illustrate the two former. It is Heb. viii. The apostles were the ministers of the new covenant or the persons to whom the service of introducing it was committed, but Jesus is the mediator of it--for the grace came by Jesus Christ. Now then, says the apostle, he has more noble services allotted to him, inasmuch as he is the mediator of a better covenant, [not a mediator of the old one], which is established on better promises, [than the old one.] For if the first covenant had been faultless [but it was not, because it was letter engraven on stones,] there would have been no occasion for a second; for finding fault with them, [who had the letter; which made them faulty by condemning them] he says--by Jeremiah a Jewish prophet,--"Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant [not of letter but of spirit] with the house of Israel and the house of Judah--not such a covenant [of letter] as I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt (when at Sinai) because they did not abide by that covenant (of letter) of mine; therefore I took no care of them, says the Lord, (but gave them up to their enemies.) This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel, after these days, (for the letter was to be temporary) says the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind (without letters on stone) and write them upon their hearts, (not by letter but by spirit,) and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not (as the people under the letter) teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying (according to the letter,) Know the Lord, for all shall know me (under this covenant of spirit,) from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." By saying a new covenant, God has made the former old. "Now that (old covenant of letter) which decays and waxes old, is ready to vanish."--Macknight and Thompson.

      We here see the new covenant is called spirit, and the old one letter. In the former a letter was presented to the eye, but in the latter it is written on the heart. The tables of the old covenant were marble--the tables of the new covenant are the spirit or mind of man. The letter when engraved upon the marble was as cold and as dead as the marble itself--the gospel, when believed or engraven on the heart, inspires a spirit as active and powerful as the spirit on which it is written. The old covenant left its subjects in the flesh where it found them. The letter addressed them as men in the flesh, and the covenant when first promulged was marked in the flesh of the subjects by a bloody excision. Neither righteousness nor eternal life was enjoyed by it. The saints under it were saved by the provision of a better covenant. The apostle said if any man might have confidence under that covenant, or in the flesh, he might have had more; and then tells that he was "circumcised the eighth day," &c.--and that "touching the righteousness that was in the law he was blameless;" yet he counted all the privileges he had in the letter as nothing, in comparison of the knowledge of Christ. Christians are told by the same instructor, that they "are not in the flesh, but in the spirit; not under the law, but under grace." All the religious institutions under the letter terminated in the flesh. They sanctified and purified only as respected the flesh, and could never make them that came to them perfect as pertains to the conscience.

      The new covenant is, then, fitly called a covenant of spirit, because it respected not the flesh, but the mind of man, and because it is consummated by the spirit of God. There are, it is true, written words in the book of the New Testament, as there are written words in the book of the law. But there is a MORAL fitness in the words of the NEW to be the medium of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of all goodness, righteousness, and truth, as there was a MORAL fitness in the engraven words of the former, to be the medium of the inspiration of a spirit of bondage, fear and dread.3 There is a natural fitness in the pen in my hand to form letters on paper, but there is no natural fitness in it to cut down trees. Again, there is a natural fitness in an axe to cut down trees, but no natural fitness in it to answer the purposes of a pen. The exhibition of those attributes of the Deity, which the letter or law presented to them in the flesh, was, in like manner, morally fitted to produce guilt, and fear, and bondage. Just so, the exhibition of the inexpressible love, mercy, and condescension of God in the gospel, concerning his Son, is morally fitted to produce peace, love and joy in the minds of those who apprehend it.

      In a word, the covenant of letter could not inspire men with the spirit of sons. It demanded what it did not impart strength to yield. It presented a perfect rule, but left the heart unable to conform to its requisitions. The more clearly a Jew understood it, the less comfort he derived from it. It filled his heart with the spirit of bondage, and issued in condemnation and death. Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound; and it was added to the promise of the inheritance, because of transgression, till the Seed should come. But the new covenant developes that love which is morally adapted to inspire the spirit of adoption. It makes sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.

      Thus far we have viewed the old covenant and the new, with a reference to the developement of the influences of the Holy Spirit, as the spirit of goodness, righteousness, and truth in the hearts of the faithful. We have merely noticed the means which God has employed, that his spirit might dwell in his church as in a temple. Submitting these remarks to the consideration of our readers, we shall postpone further remarks on this subject till our next.


Number 8. March 7, 1825, pp. 131-137. Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. VIII. by Alexander Campbell, pp. 131-133.

Essays on the work of the Holy Spirit in the
salvation of men.--No. VIII.

      EVER since the creation of the heavens and the earth, God has always employed means, fitted to the ends he designed to accomplish. Indeed, the creation of this mundane state, is a creation of means suited to certain results. The means, as well as the end, are the creatures of God. His wisdom is most strikingly conspicuous, through all his works, in adapting his means to his ends. When he designs to bless the inhabitants of this globe with abundance of food, he sends the early and the latter rain. But does he intend to scourge them with famine? then the heavens become as brass, and the earth as iron. Or, perhaps, to vex them more grievously, he sends forth his armies of insects, apparently imbecile, but terribly victorious and puissant by their numbers. Or does he waste the race of men by diseases incurable? then the pestilence is inhaled in every breath, and a burning impetus given to every pulse, the means of which elude the philosopher's eye, and triumph over the physician's hand. When ships are to be engulphed in the fathomless ocean, and their crews buried beneath the foundations of the mountains; when forests, and villages, and cities, are to be prostrated to the earth in his vengeance, the whirlwind marches forth in awful grandeur, and knows no restraint but the will of him who rides upon its wings; or the earth rent with internal fires, trembles to its centre, and, while in convulsive throes, it spues up new islands in the ocean, it swallows myriads of men and their devices in a single respiration. Or, perhaps in the multitude of his resources, he sends the flaming thunderbolts, which fall with resistless power on those doomed to a more instantaneous destruction.

      The means are always suited to the end. In the accomplishment of a moral renovation, or regeneration of the human mind, the same fitness in the means employed is exhibited in every respect. No new faculties are created in the human mind, nor are any of the old ones annihilated--no new passions, nor affections are communicated. He that possessed a quick perception, a steady and retentive memory, a strong discriminating judgment, a vigorous and vivid imagination before he was regenerated, possesses the same without any change after he has been renewed in the spirit of his mind. Indeed, the whole temperament of the human mind remains the same after as before. He that was before of a volatile, irascible, bold and resolute temperament, or the contrary, is the same when regenerate. The biography of Saul of Tarsus, and of Paul, the apostle; of Simon, son of Jonas, and of the apostle Peter; of John, the son of Zebedee, and of John, the apostle, fully and unanswerably demonstrate and confirm these remarks. Indeed, who does not admit that men perceive, remember, reason, love and hate, fear and hope, rejoice and tremble, after they have been regenerated, as before. The experience of every man concurs in this fact. The renovation of the human mind, or the purification of the human heart, is not then affected by a new creation of faculties or affections, which would be the same as creating a new soul. The soul or spirit of Saul of Tarsus was the soul or spirit of Paul the apostle. The spirit of Saul was not destroyed and a new spirit infused into Paul; for then the spirit of Saul was annihilated, and not saved. It appears, then, that the faculties of the human spirit and the affections of the human mind are affected no more by regeneration than the height of the human stature, the corpulency of the human body, or the color of the human skin are affected by it. The memoirs of every saint recorded in the bible are appealed to as proof of this.

      If, then, as is proved, no new faculties are created, no new passions nor affections bestowed in regeneration, it may be asked, What does the renewal of the Holy Spirit mean? The scriptures authorize us in declaring that it consists in presenting new objects to the faculties, volitions, and affections of men; which new objects apprehended, engage the faculties or powers of the human understanding, captivate the affections and passions of the human soul, and, consequently, direct or draw the whole man into new aims, pursuits, and endeavors.

      A partial illustration of this may be taken from the history of Joseph, governor of, Egypt, and David, king of Israel. Joseph and David, in their childhood and youth, were employed in the cares, enjoyments, and pursuits of the shepherd's life. All their faculties of understanding, all their passions and affections as boys, were engrossed in the rural objects attendant on the shepherd's life. When elevated to the throne, their powers of understanding, affections, and passions were engrossed in the affairs of state, in the concerns of human government and royalty. A great change in their views, feelings, and pursuits, was necessarily effected by an entire change of objects. Or suppose an African child were transplanted from a Virginian but to an African palace, at the age of ten or twelve; new scenes, new objects of contemplation, a new education, new companions, and new [131] objects of pursuit, would revolutionize its whole mind, affections, and passions. But all these instances, although it might with truth be said, "Old things are passed away and all things are become new;" yet their mental faculties, powers of volition, and affections, are the same as when boys. This is, as was said, but a partial illustration; for in that renewed state of which we are speaking, heavenly objects of contemplation and pursuit are presented to all that is within man, and the change produced rises to a level with the magnitude, purity, and glory of the objects proposed. But lest we should get into metaphysical speculations, and fall into the errors we labor to correct, let it suffice to say, that before we can understand or admire the wisdom of God, in the adaptation of the means of regeneration, we must first know what the renewal of the Holy Spirit is. If regeneration, or the renovation of the human mind, were the result of the mere creative energy of the Divine Spirit, then, indeed, it were vain for us to talk of any means of renovation; then, indeed, a revelation in words, spoken or written--preaching or reading, are idle and unmeaning. This matter is at once determined with the utmost certainty, not by human speculations, nor reasonings, but by a sure and infallible testimony; and on this alone would we rest our views. Paul declares that Jesus Christ told him that he would send him to the gentiles to accomplish the following results: "To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God; that they might receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." Acts, xxvi. 18. Or, as it is more correctly translated by Thomson, "To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God; that they may receive a remission of sins and an inheritance among them who are sanctified by the belief in me." Such was the object of the Messiah in sending Paul to the gentiles. Now who will not say, that when all this was done, those gentiles were regenerated or renewed in the spirit of their minds, and that the presentation of new objects to the mind was the means employed for the accomplishment of this end? Their turning from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, are made dependant on, and consequent to, the opening of their eyes; and we all know that Paul, when sent to open their eyes, always presented to their minds new objects, or the light of the world. And, indeed, this was all he was commissioned to do, because it was all that Jesus Christ deemed necessary to be done, and all that Paul was empowered or capacitated to do. There was, then, the same fitness in the means Jesus Christ employed to the end proposed, as appears in the whole kingdom of means and ends. Paul declares that the ministry of reconciliation was committed to him as to the other apostles, and that the word of reconciliation was summarily comprehended to this one sentence: "God was in Christ reconciling a world to himself, not reckoning to them their transgressions; for he has made him who knew no sin a sin offering for us, that by him we may be made the righteousness of God." The means employed to reconcile enemies must ever fail of effecting a reconciliation, unless the means are adapted to their state and character. Now herein consists the great and the apparent difference between the majority of the popular preaching and the apostle's preaching. The former pays no attention to the suitableness of means, but the latter always did. This we shall be at some pains to illustrate. Let a popular preacher of one school preach his gospel to a congregation he desires to see converted, and somewhere in his sermon a few dogmas of his school are presented to neutralize the other parts, or to orthodoxize the whole of it. He will say, it is true, that "natural men are spiritually dead, and as unable to believe in the Messiah as they are to scale heaven by a rope of sand, or to create something out of nothing;" or he tells the people that "God has foreordained a part of the world to everlasting life, and left the rest in their imbecile and bankrupt circumstances to sink down into everlasting death; that for these Christ died, and for a great portion of the human race no sacrifice was offered: no man can believe unless he to whom it is given;" and it must remain a matter of awful uncertainty whether any of the congregation he addresses are among those for whom Christ died, or to whom it shall be given to believe. Another preacher, of another school, tells his unconverted hearers that "their wills are as free to good as to evil, and that they are as able to believe in the Messiah as they are to eat and drink; that Christ died for all mankind, savage and civilized; and that it is still uncertain whether any of his congregation will be saved or not, or whether those who now believe will be saved or damned; but God did not foreordain the salvation or damnation of any man." These dogmas of the two great schools are continually heard from a vast majority of all the pulpits in the land. For, in fact, although there are perhaps ten thousand preachers in the land speaking every Sabbath day to all the synagogues, yet but two men speak in them all--and these two are John Calvin and James Arminius. Now it must be confessed that such preachers were not the apostles. Such means as these the Spirit of God never did employ in the conversion of Jews and Gentiles, in the age of primitive simplicity. And the reason is obvious, for there is no moral fitness or suitableness in those means to the end proposed. For what fitness is there to produce faith in telling a man that he cannot believe? or what fitness is there in telling a man that until he is quickened or regenerated by the Spirit of God, he cannot become a disciple of Christ in truth? Can such dogmas, however solemnly declared, or however often repeated, cause the Spirit to descend or to regenerate the man? But he must say these things in order to be, or to appear to be, orthodox! Again, what fitness is there to produce faith in telling a man that he is able to believe? Did ever a discourse upon what is called "the freedom of the human will," or men's natural powers, incline a man to choose what is good, or cause him to exert his displayed powers to believe? As rationally might one man attempt to persuade another to go to Spain or the Cape of Good Hope, by telling him his will was free to choose or to refuse, and that his natural abilities were sufficient. All such preaching is as absurd as it is unprecedented in the New Testament.

      I enter not into the merits or abstract truth of the above systems. This would be to run the same old metaphysical race again. Some of those dogmas may be metaphysically true, but they are distilled truths. They have come from the Calvinistic or Arminian distillery. That is, in other words, certain parts of the bible, mingled with philosophy, and put through a Calvinistic or Arminian process of distillation, issue [132] in these abstract notions. The men who deal in those distilled truths, and those who drink those distilled doctrines, are generally intoxicated. For even here there is a certain analogy between the revelation of God, and the corn and wheat of God. When the whole wheat or corn of God are used for food in their undistilled state, or when eaten in all their component parts, those who eat them are healthy and enjoy life; but when the component parts of those grains are separated by a chemical process, and the distilled spirit presented to human lips, men cannot live upon these spirits, but become intoxicated, and in process of time, sicken and die. This analogy is complete. They who believe and obey the New Testament, as God has presented it, live upon it, and enjoy life and spiritual health; but they who attempt to live upon those theories sicken and die. Those who feed themselves upon their free will and sufficient strength, often take care not to will to obey the apostles doctrine; and those who complain that the will is not free, often appear "freely willing" to neglect the great salvation.

      But some of the orthodox contend that it is not safe to permit a man to preach, or to speak to men on religion, who will not expressly and publicly declare that his theory is that men cannot believe unless they are first regenerated by the Spirit of God. This is the consummation of absurdity on their own principles. For surely they do not think that the Spirit of God will suspend or change the order of its operations according to the opinion of the speaker. On their theory, the Spirit of God will operate in its own way, whatever be the private theory of the speaker; and whether a man think or do not think that men can believe only as the Spirit of God works faith in them, the result on their own principles must be the same. But we have gone farther into this subject than was intended. I had intended, in this essay, merely to illustrate that there is a moral fitness in the word of reconciliation to become the means of the impartation of that Spirit of Goodness which we stated in our last as the peculiar characteristic of the covenant of Spirit, under which all christians live. And how much happier would the majority of Christians be, if, instead of eagerly contending about the fashionable theories of religion, they would remember that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights--that he has promised his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, and that every necessary blessing is bestowed upon all them who, believing that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, ask for those favors comprised in the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.


Number 9. April 4, 1825, pp. 137-145. Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men--No. IX. by Alexander Campbell, pp. 137-139.

NO. 9.] APRIL 4, 1825.  

Essays on the work of the Holy Spirit in the
Salvation of Men.--No. IX.

      THE gospel, or glad tidings of the benignity of God to mankind, is emphatically called the grace of God. Grace is a term of frequent occurrence in the New Testament, and always signifies the favor of God towards sinners.--This is no where so fully exhibited as in the gift of his Son. Hence the full, free favor of God came by Jesus Christ; and this is termed the grace, or the grace of God. The Spirit of God, by whose agency this grace is exhibited, is therefore called the Spirit of Grace. Those who have apostatized from the faith of the gospel, are said to have done despite, or to have offered an indignity to the Spirit of Grace, because they have treated with contempt that record which he inspired, and have contemned those splendid attestations which he vouchsafed in proof of its authenticity.

      A great many enthusiastic and extravagant things are said about the grace of God--by those, too, who profess to teach the christian religion. Hence we often hear grace spoken of as a sort of fluid, resembling the electric, which bursts from the clouds that pass over our fields. Free grace, sovereign grace, and grace in the heart, are terms long consecrated and hackneyed in sermon books, until many suppose that they are bible terms and phrases. Hence the grace of some religious sectaries is free, and of others [137] not free--is sovereign, and not sovereign--is in the heart, or not in it. There is a grace, too, which is called special, and a grace that is irresistible and efficacious. With some the day of grace is sinned away; with others it never comes, or never passes away. From all this confusion in the modern Babel, let us turn to the style of the New Testament. There we find that every bounty expressive of the favor of God towards man, is called a grace; that the bounty which one Christian exhibits to another, is called a grace; that the written or spoken gospel is called the grace of God; and when this gospel is announced, the grace of God is said to appear, or to shine forth. Those who hold or stand to the gospel, as delivered by the apostles, are said to stand in the true grace of God, contradistinguished from those who blended the law and the gospel. Those who did not correspond in temper and deportment to the gospel, "received the grace of God in vain;" and those who did so correspond are exhorted "to continue in the grace of God." Those, then, who believe the gospel, receive the grace of God; for, in receiving the gospel, they, in other words, receive the grace of God. When the gospel is exhibited to any people, "the grace of God has appeared," or "shone forth" to them. When they believe it in their hearts, or receive it sincerely, then, and not till then, they have the grace of God in their hearts. This is all the countenance the scriptures give to the popular phrase, "the grace of God in the heart. When men have believed the gospel, they are under the reign of grace--they are under the favor of Jesus Christ, and all the benefits they enjoy are so many multiplications of his favor. So that when the apostle prayed that grace might be multiplied to, or that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ might be with the saints, he, in other words, desires that the favor or benefits of his reign might be with them. While Christians keep the commandments of the Saviour, they grow in his favor, or grow in grace, which is exhibited in the increase of all those dispositions and tempers of mind which are compatible with their state, as standing in the true grace of God.

      This grace of God works in the hearts of the recipients. By it the peace of God rules, and the love of God is diffused in the hearts of men. A heart ruled by the peace of God, and warmed by his love, is as conscious or as sensible of it, as of any of its own emotions. Every person knows or is conscious that he loves, or fears, or dislikes any person, or thing. When two individuals are at enmity against each other, they are conscious of it, and of the cause. When they are sincerely reconciled to each other they are just as conscious of it, and of the means or cause of their reconciliation. And shall it be, when men are reconciled to God through his Son Jesus Christ, that they are, in this instance only, inconscious of it! Were this the case, with what propriety or truth could the apostle say to the Christians of his time concerning the Saviour, "Whom, having not seen, you love; on whom, not now looking, but believing, you greatly rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory!" That a person could believe on, or trust in another, that he could love him, and rejoice in him, without being conscious of it, is altogether inadmissible. A persuasion that God is so benign, that he is so philanthropic, as to account faith for righteousness to him that believes the record given of his Son, as necessarily produces peace with God, as the appearance of the sun dissipates darkness. "Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom, by this belief, we have obtained access to his favor in which we stand, and rejoice in a hope of the glory of God."

      Indeed a transition from darkness to light, from enmity to friendship, from hatred to love, from distrust to confidence, from despondency to hope, from sorrow to joy in those of adult age, is marked with so many sensible attributes, as to render the inconsciousness of it morally impossible. Those, however, who are from infancy brought up in the education and discipline of the Lord; on whose infant minds the sun of righteousness has shone, are not capable of contrasting their present views and feelings with their former. From the earliest recollection they have believed in Jesus, and have, in some measure, enjoyed the benefits of a hope of acceptance with God. As their capacities of understanding have expanded, as their faith and confidence have increased, their enjoyments of the grace of God have also enlarged--But, perhaps, in no case amongst those born in a land where Christian revelation is so generally diffused, can the contrast be so sensible and so obvious as in the first age of Christianity. For thousands of men and women who yesterday were perfect Pagans, to-day rejoice in the hope of eternal life. Once they were darkness, but now they are light. Their renovation was as sensible, as obvious, and as striking to themselves, as the emancipation of an adult slave, as the liberation of a captive, or as the opening of the eyes of a blind man is to himself. Not adverting to the extreme disparity in our circumstances in these instances, from those of the first converts, has given rise to a perplexity, and sometimes, to a perturbation of mind, extremely prejudicial to the happiness of many disciples. To this the popular harangues have contributed in no small degree.

      It is, perhaps, chiefly owing to the religious theories imbibed in early life from creeds, catechisms, and priests, that so few comparatively enjoy the grace of God which brings salvation. The grace of God, exhibited in the record concerning Jesus of Nazareth, affords no consolation. The hopes and joys of many spring from a good conceit of themselves. If this good conceit vanishes, which sometimes happens, despondency and distress are the consequences.--While they can, as they conceit, thank God that they are not like other men, they are very happy; but when this fancied excellency disappears, the glad tidings afford no consolation: anguish and distress have come upon them. This, with some of the spiritual doctors, is a good symptom too: for, say they, "if you do not doubt for you." When they have worked them into despondency, they minister a few opiates, and assure them that they are now in a safe and happy state. Now they are to rejoice, because they are sorrowful; now they are to feel very good, because they feel so very bad. This is the orthodox "christian experience." This is the genuine work of the Holy Spirit!

      Now in the primitive church the disciples derived all their strength, confidence, peace, hope, and joy, from the grace of God appearing in Jesus Christ. In this grace they saw their sins forgiven, themselves accepted, and, on the promise and oath of him that cannot lie, they looked for eternal life. They continued in this joy while they continued keeping the commandments of their Lord, and thereby continued in his love. By this grace of God appearing in Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God comforted their hearts: through [138] it the spirit of adoption was received, and by it they cried Abba, Father. Their life and their joys sprang from him in whom they confided, and not from a high opinion of themselves. The foundation of their hope made them humble; the foundation of the hope of many moderns makes them proud. The fruits of the Spirit which they received were love to Trim that loved them, and to the saints for his names sake; joy, springing from their acceptance with God and hope of eternal life; peace with God through the sacrifice of his son; forbearance towards all, springing from the Divine forbearance which they were every day conscious of; goodness exhibited to friends and enemies, in overt acts of kindness; faithfulness to God and man; meekness in their temper; and temperance in restraining all their appetites, springing from the example of their glorious Chief. The fruits of the Spirit of the fashionable christians, are love to themselves, and to those who unite with them in subscribing the same creed, and in paying the same priest; joy, springing from a high conceit of their moral worth; peace with God, through their having made a covenant of peace on conditions of their own stipulating; forbearance towards the rich or honorable transgressors of their laws, or those of God; goodness to them that love them; faithfulness to men, so long as their interests are consulted thereby; meekness in their temper to those who flatter them that they are every way excellent; and temperance wherein appetite makes no farther demands. In others the fruits of the spirit of orthodoxy are various:--doubts, which spring from their want of certain good symptoms; fears, which arise from a conscience not purged from dead works; and alternate joys and sorrows arising from a good or bad opinion of themselves--censoriousness towards them who cannot say shibboleth as articulately as themselves, and pride originating from a notion that they are exclusively the elect of God. We hope that amongst the popular establishments there are many whom the picture will not suit; but it is with sincere regret that we declare, it is drawn to the life and deportment of very many who stand very high in the religious world, who are pillars, too, in the temples in our favored land.

      But to conclude, we commenced this essay with the intention of exhibiting the import of the grace of God, in the fixed style of the New Testament, regardless of the spurious dialect, or new nomenclature of modern divinity. The prominent ideas intended to be exhibited are, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is emphatically the grace of God; that this gospel received is the grace of God received; that this grace of God when received, works in the hearts of them that believe, that the Spirit of grace therein dwells in the hearts of men, and teaches them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world; that they have "received the grace of God in vain" who do not exhibit its fruit; that "christians continue in the grace of God" while they abound in these fruits; and that while men hold fast the gospel as delivered by the apostles, they "stand in the true grace of God."

      Thus we see that the whole work of the Spirit of God in the salvation of men, as the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of power, and the spirit of grace or goodness, is inseparably connected with, and altogether subservient to the gospel or glad tidings of great joy to all people, of the love of God exhibited in the humiliation to death of his only begotten Son Detached from this we know nothing of it, because nothing more is revealed. And to indulge in metaphysical speculations, or to form abstract theories of our own, is not only the climax of religious folly; but has ever proved the bane of Christianity. If, at any time, in these essays, we approached the precincts of those regions, it was in following the gloomy doctors who begin and end there.



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