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By Rev. R. W. Landis, Jeffersonville, Pa. Concluded from p. 130.]
$ II. Direct Arguments against Campbellism. It has already been intimated that Mr. Campbell's views of faith are such as have allowed bim to ridicule, in a very indecent manner, the doctrine of the saving influence of the Spirit of God in repentance and regeneration. The faith which he contends for, he says, is " purely historical.” " It is one of the monstrous abortions of a purblind theology for any human being to be wishing for spiritual aid to be born again. Transfer such an idea to the first birth, and to what an absurdity are we reduced !” This is a specimen of his ridicule.
According to Campbellism, a belief of the "facts recorded in the gospel," connected with inmersion in water, constitutes the real Christian. As we are about to present, in this section, a brief synopsis of direct arguments against the system, we will first, in connection with what has been already advanced, subject the above position to a short examination.
Does the belief of the “paked facts recorded in the gospel," constitute a believer, in the Scripture sense of that term ? fearlessly answer in the negative.
The precise point in debate is illustrated by the following occurrence related by Dr. Jennings, (Debate, p. 39). A young, but intelligent female, was urged by a proselyting follower of Mr. Campbell to be immersed; and was told that if she “ bistorically believed the gospel, or the bistory of our Lord Jesus Christ," that it was all the faith required. She replied, that she could not doubt the reality or sincerity of her bistorical belief of all that was contained in the Bible ;-that she was as conscious of the existence of this belief, as she was of her own existence ;-but that she was no less certain, that this belief was different from that faith which is the peculiar characteristic of all the true disciples of Christ, because it did not exert any suitable or lasting influence either upon her heart, or life. The reply was found unanswerable.
It is not our intention to enter into the controversy on the subject of faith, which has of late agitated a portion of the American churches; nor is this necessary, in order to expose the falseness of the Campbellite view.
That a mere naked assent to the truth of the facts mentioned in the gospel, is not that christian grace of which we read so much, appears from such passages as the following.
Paul (Rom. 15: 13) prays that the Roman Christians might be “ filled with joy and peace in believing ;" which certainly implies that joy and peace are distinct from a mere naked assent; else why thus pray? To the same purpose Peter says (1 Pet. 1: 8), that “ believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." If this were consequent upon mere naked assent, why speak of it thus as something distinguishing ?
But that something more is requisite besides a mere rational assurance, or certainty of the truth of the gospel, to win and overcome the heart of man, is clear from the whole history of the Bible. Can any one suppose that there was one among the people of Israel at Sinai who could have had the least doubt that their law was divine, and that Jehovah had proclaimed it to them? And yet how headlong do they rush into idolatry against its very letter. So in regard to God's constant dealing with that people. And who among the multitudes that followed our Lord could find room to doubt that he came from God, and taught divine truth. Yet how few really believed in him, agreeably to the Bible acceptation of that term. And Isa. 53: 1, (applied to Christ by his apostles,) shows that the saving belief of the gospel “report” is connected with the revelation of the “arm of the Lord.” Hence we read of those who “ believe according to the working of his mighty power,” Eph. 1: 19. “No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. 12: 3. See also John 6: 63, with verses 35 and 65; also ch. 7: 39 and Isa. vi.
The grievous mistake of these men on this subject arises from supposing that a rational certainty which is sufficient to satisfy the judgment, and silence all its objections ; must necessarily be sufficient to overcome the opposite and corrupt inclinations of that heart, which is “enmity against God.” But who does not know that a man may have ever so great a degree of the certainty of any thing which is contrary to the inclinations of his wicked heart, and yet that he needs more than the mere evidence of what has made him certain, to determine his will efficaciously against his vicious course. Can a man be more certain of any thing, than he is that he must die : and yet how few are even made thereby to think but one moment seriously in relation to death and its consequences ? This point is so plain that we deem further illustration of it useless; and shall proceed to consider the subject of regeneration.
The position on which Campbellism rests,—that no one can be discipled, converted, regenerated, until immersed ; is plain, comprehensive, and unequivocal. It is either entirely universal in its application to the human race since the commencement of the Gospel dispensation, or it is necessarily false. The very terms of the proposition, as well as the nature of the system founded upon it, preclude the possibility of any middle ground ; they do not allow a single exception; for they declare expressly, that no one—no person cun be regenerated until he is immersed. And in case of any supposed or alleged exception to the universality of their application, the reply is plain :—the excepted person is either not “converted, discipled, regenerated," or the principle excepted against is false. The terms are perfectly unequivocal.
The Campbellites must therefore either abandon this fundamental principle of their system; they must either admit that persons may be and are saved without being regenerated, or receiving the remission of sin ; or they must meet the consequences resulting from their principles. They are, indeed, formidable. But we leave Mr. Campbell and his followers to make a choice, while we proceed to point out a few of them. We shall present them as they occur.
1. Infants who die in infancy, (Campbellite infants likewise), either are not saved, or they are saved without being born again; because, as no one can be regenerated until immersed, and as infants are not immersed, they, of course, are not regenerated. So that, according to this system, infants dying in insancy are all eternally damned; or, if not, a vast and innumerable company of the redeemed have not been “scripturally regenerated.”
2. Paedobaptists are either lost, or, if saved, saved without being regenerated for they do not immerse—and Mr. Campbell declares that immersion" and "regeneration" are "two names for the same thing." Hence Paedobaptists are either saved without being regenerated, or they perish. But again : Mr. Campbell declares regeneration to be essential to salvation ; and therefore, as Paedobaptists are not immersed, (according to his views,) they are eternally lost.*
But is any Christian seriously prepared to admit that all Paedobaptists who bave died are eternally lost ? and that all who hereafier die musi perish likewise? Is any one prepared to admit that the pious Doddridge, and Henry, and Baxter, and Howe, and President Edwards, and à Kempis, and Fenelon, and Pascal, and Brajnerd, and Dwight, and the lovely and apostolic Martyn, with the noble-hearted Heber, and Fisk, and Swarız, and Parsons—is any one prepared to admit that these, with myriads of others as pious and devoted, are sunk to endless flames, because they were not immersed? Yet without this admission the fundamental principle of Campbellism cannot be sustained.
Nor is this all. Paedobaptists who are now zealously engaged in promoting the cause of Christ—in conveying the glad lidings of a Saviour's love “ to earth's remotest bound”-must, so soon as life terminates, join the “tbrong of frighted ghosts, because not immerscd.
Nor let us forget those beroic soldiers of the cross—the glorious martyrs—“ wbom,” says Polanus, a contemporary (Syntag. p. 1645), “no promises, no losses, no torments, nor even the diresul terrors of the most torturing death that awaited them, could for one moment swerve from their confidence in Christ." The dauntless Huss, and the brilliant Jerome, with Cranmer, and Latimer, and Ridley, and Bland, and Pbilpot, together with a vast multitude of those valiant sufferers “ who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus," or sung praises to the Lamb while the flames were consuming their mangled bodies, all-yes, every soul of them, have taken up their dreary abode amid the unspeakable horrors of the second death—because they were not immersed.
* Mr. Campbell at first shrunk from this consequence, but consistency drove him on to admit it in bis debate with Dr. Jennings (See pp. 172, 173), and his followers now also admit it. One of Mr. Campbell's “best beloved disciples" in bis periodical thus meets it: Speaking of Fenelon, and the “ hosts of worthy and excellent citizens of every nation and of every age” who have not been immersed, he says: " If therefore we are ourselves honest, we cannot but declare, that in relation to the religion of Jesus, they are unjustified, unsanctified, unpardoned persons." Author of the Mirror, in Advocate, Vol. I. p. 215.
The same fate has happened to those devout catechumens of the primitive church, who were dragged to the stake and put to death, before they had received the initiatory rite of baptism. The same too has been the fate of those pagans, who, (as the records of those times declare,) were converted to Christianity upon witnessing the constancy of the martyrs; and professing their faith under the first impulse of zeal, were barbarously butchered on the spot. But to enlarge on this point were needless.
3. It follows from this system that if a believing penitent is so circumstanced that he cannot be immersed, no matter how ardently he may desire it, be must die without remission of sins ; for immersion is essential to remission ;-he must die without being born again, for no one can be regenerated without being immersed. But if a person dies without forgiveness of sins, or without being regenerated, he of course dies in his sins ; and is of course an enemy to God, and where Christ is he can never come.
These consequences appear so astoundingly absurd, and so unlike the merciful provisions of the gospel, that the Campbellites have done all ihat men could do to avoid them without abandoning their system. But there is no other alternative. All that they have been able to do, however, has been to produce the following extract from the Christian Baptist of Mr. Campbeil, Vol. VII. p. 165. “I doubt not,” says Mr. Campbell, “ but such Paedobaptists as simply mistake the meaning and design of the Christian institution, who, nevertheless, are, as far as they know, obedient disciples of Jesus, will be admitted into the kingdom of glory.” But this is not an explanation, it is a contradiction. For how then is regeneration, and forgiveness of sins essential to salvation if Paedobaptists may be saved without either? And how is this declaration to be reconciled with some others of a different character, (10 one of which we have referred,) and made at a later date than the foregoing ? E. g. in his Extra I. Mill. Har. p. 30: “But whether they may enter into the kingdom of future and eternal glory after the resurrection, is a question much like that question long discussed in the schools, viz., Can infants who have been quickened, but who die before they are born, be saved ?" or with the declaration contained in our last marginal note? Here then, pressed with the difficulties wbich result from his system, Mr. Campbell endeavors to extricate himself, but only plunges headlong into greater.
As old Gaultier has it,