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do not agree to state what it is that thus procures acceptance and salvation. Perplexed by the doctrinal details of sectarian standards, they have failed to disentangle essential truth; or, already ranked among the adherents of a party, they have feared to compromise themselves and their associates by a bold return to the original platform of the gospel.
If they have even, as the members of the Evangelical Alliance, ventured so far as to propose certain points of agreement, these have been either so general as to admit all who profess to believe in the divine origin of Christianity; so precise as to be received only by a part of a single party, or they have been tenets selected on account of their popularity rather than their truth, and adopted from expediency rather than conviction. And all these, too, are doctrines of course—the waking dreams of Protestantism—the speculative deductions of human reason-opinions, cherished as the last hope of religion; the very essence of piety, and the only security of morality!
It is, however, one of the most striking traits of the present reformatory movement, that, in adopting the scriptures alone as the source of religious knowledge, and in employing the exact language of the inspired writers as the only “form of sound words," it has erected an impassible barrier, and marked out an unmis takeable distinction between faith and opinion, and dissipated the dreamy visions of religious philosophy, by that sun-light of divine truth which reveals the realities of the spiritual life. It resists the demon of speculation and partyism, as the Author of Christianity resisted the prince of demons, by “It is written;"' and casts out, by the word of God, even the deaf and dumb spirits, by which so many of the laity are possessed. There is, then, here no ambiguity, nor indefiniteness. We have here no human standard of divine truth. We have no mingling of men's opinions with the revelations of God. The dense mists which, rising from the earth, confounded it with heaven, are dispersed, and the clear line of the horizon now marks with vivid distinctness the boundary between the things of the world, and those which are above.
But, as formerly remarked, it is not the wide and varied area which the Bible furnishes, that is proposed as the basis of Christian union. Upon the Bible alone there might, indeed, be formed, as was the case in the origin of the present effort, a most desirable union in the search for truth,-a profitable co-operation in the workings of its mines of sacred treasure; and such a union and cooperation must commence and continue any religious refomination
that really deserves the title. But it is not mere union that is the object, nor is it even religious union in a general sense, but Christian union,-a union that is particular and specific, and which rests upon a peculiar basis of its own.
A proper progress, therefore, in divine knowledge, necessarily narrows the wide field which the whole Bible exposes to our view, and by marking off the just boundaries of the primitive, the patriarchal, and the Jewish institutions, leaves to Christianity its own sufficient and appropriate area. It is then, here, in the view which this reformation presents of Christianity, that its great distinctive feature is to be found. In its conception of the nature of the Christian religion itself, it differs in the most marked and striking manner from all the religious denominations of the day. And it is upon this peculiarity, which is the crown and glory of the present movement, that we desire more especially to fix the attention of the reader.
It is, as we have shown, the approved and universal Protestant custom to make every thing regarded as essential in religion to turn upon particular points of doctrine. Christianity seems to be regarded by all parties as an institution based upon a system of doctrines; a religion consisting of certain essential and determinate points, the reception of which is absolutely indispensable to salvation. Now in direct contrast with all the denominations, we regard Christianity as an institution based uron FACTS, rather than upon DOCTRINES;—a religion which consists of PRINCIPLES, rather than of POINTS. Could the religious world be induced to examine with candor our true position, and justly to appreciate the importance of the distinctions we have just stated, it would, we think, be clearly apparent to all, that, upon the ground which we propose alone, can a union ever be effected ainong Christians, and that no other view of Christianity is just, consistent, or divine.
When Paul set up the Christian institution at Corinth, he de. livered, first of all, as he declares (1 Cor. xv.) the simple facts of the gaspel, which, as he alleges, had power to save, if retained in remembrance. When he unfolded to those who received these facts, the nature of the religion of Jesus, he resolved it into its principles of faith and hope and love. He made known Christ and him crucified alone, as the personal object of these divine principles, and the only foundation which could be laid for the Christian church. How simple and how clear the language every where employed by the inspired writers to express this true basis of the Christian faith, and this proper ground of Christian union! How obvious the connexion of their usual correlates oftestimony and saith; love and obedience; Christ and union! How comprehensive those generalizations, found especially in the apostolic epistles, in which God himself is announced as LOVE; or declared to be LIGHT; or represented as LIFE-in which Christ is styled “the truth;” “the word;" "the way;" “the beginning and the cnd;” “the author and the finisher of the faith.” It would seem as though the inspired writers delighted thus often to present and to contemplate the unity which belongs to Christianity: to show the ease with which the whole may be generalized under a single head; resolved into a soli. tary principle; concentered upon an individual object; or included in a single expression. And, in showing thus the essential unity of the system, do they not exhibit its admirable adaptation to the meat purpose of "gathering together all under one,” and of afford. ing a home of peace and love to every true follower of the Messiah? Certainly this constant tendency to reduce the whole religion to a single item-these beautiful generalizations,or condensations of truth every where recurring, like brilliant foci of light, in the sacred pages, might rebuke and put to shame that prevalent disposition to run into endless detail; to disperse and enfeeble the light of truth; and to multiply unnecessarily the points of Christian faith, by which the Christian community itself has been dispersed and enfeebled, and its schisms created, multiplied, and continued.
The question in religion is not that of Pilate, “What is truth?" In harmony rather with the witness of Jesus, the inquiry is, What is the truth? “To this end,” said Jesus, “was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” But the religious world seem to have sought an answer to the indefinite question of Pilate, instead of hearing the testimony of Jesus. The question with Protestants has ever been, What is true doctrine? and whatever was adjudged to be true, must be made an article of faith, and received on pain of excommunication and all the penalties of heresy. It is, however, the other inquiry that is the proper one, What is the truth? or, in other words, What is the important truth? What is the gospel? What is the gcod confession? We have already, we trust, sufficiently shown that all truths are not equally important in religion, and that to expect entire uniformity of sentiment in the whole minutiæ of Christian doctrine, is utterly visionary and futile. We have also shown that in affirming this, we but assert the fundamental principle of Protestantism,the right of private judgment.
It is, however, in furnishing an answer to the above proper inqui. ry, that the present reformation is distinguished from every other
religious community. It is entirely peculiar to this reformation to present, in harmony with its view of the nature of Christianity, the simple gospel facts as the subject matter of faith, and the brief yet comprehensive confession for which Jesus died, as the bond of Christian union—to present, in short, Christ himself in these facts-in this confession-in those institutions of the gospel which commemorate his work of redemption, as the great object of trust and hope and love; the true centre of attraction and the real bond of Christian union. It is here, then, as formerly stated, that a personal attachment to Christ is to rule, rather than love for a particular doctrine or system of doctrine; and that obedience to his commands is to be the test of faith, rather than subscription to a creed.
In seeking thus to promote the cause of Christian union, we may fairly claim at least the credit of being perfectly definite, and of not only urging in common with others its great importance, but of stating most distinctly also, in addition, the basis on which such a union may
be consummated. We are not content to descant upon the duty of forbearance, or to dwell upon the mere principles of union, either proximate or remote, but we proceed at once to adopt a fixed and definite groundwork for this glorious superstructure, Nor, in doing this, is it proposed to "lay any other foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ;" but, on the contrary, to show the folly of attempting to provide another; to recall to remembrance the former things, and to restore both the profession and the practice of Christianity to their original uncorrupted simplicity and power. It is to assert the just supremacy of the gospel facts, and the legitimate authority of its principles, and thus to carry out into actual practice the best and clearest proposition ever offered by the friends of union, that acceptance with God should be the ground of Christian fellowship—that the means of salvation, which is the gospel, should be also the means of union amongst the saved.
Fellows” and “Free Masons." No. VII.
PARIS, KY., September 30, 1840. BROTHER CAMPBELL:
Dear Sir-An apprehension that I may occupy more space than I ought, restrains me from saying as much as I wish to say in defence of the present phasis of the temperance reformation. Your two last numbers, both of which have been written since I have had an opportunity of reply, cover so large a field and embrace such a variety of topics, that were I to undertake in support of my position, to develope the truth in every particular, our discussion would run into interminable lengths, and my essays would become burden. some to you, as perhaps they would be, to your readers. I would be brief, but I seek the truth.
Before I proceed permit me to say, that I have not understood you to be an opponent to the "success of the cause of temperance." On the contrary, I have said, that you made “no objection to the institution of the Sons of Temperance as such," and that the “git of your opposition was against Christians becoming members of the order." Your zeal for the success of the old-fashioned temperance societies,” the Washingtonians, as shown by your former essays in the Harbinger; the fact that you met with them and prayed with them, and was as I suppose one of their fraternity, afforded to me proof amply sufficient on that subject, and so far as I am concerned, there was no ground for the supposition as erpressed by you, that I did not understand your "real position,” nor did I, to use the language of brother Winans, feel the “bite” of "your essays.”
In these essays, while you advocate the “cause of temperance" and have "no argument with me against the Sons of Temper. ance,” you “assume to show that Christians cannot” join them “without bringing reproach against the Son of God;” or as otherwise expressed by you in the form of a “charge before Heaven and Earth” that the Sons of Temperance "do more or less profane the name and desecrate the worship of our glorious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Your affirmation is in substance the same as at the beginning; which was that the Son of Temperance, (if a Christian of course,) "rendered himself obnoxious to the censure of the church, and that he "ought not to complain” if the church with. drew its fellowship from him; and, as at first, although I am free to admit the point and force of your arguments, I am constrained to remain in the negative.
An issue, or something like one, incidental but important to the main point, has arisen between us. I assert that a college, a Bible Society, and numberless other organizations, may be "auxiliary” to the church. You say "that they neither are nor presume to be auxiliary institutions." You assign to them a place with “corn and wine and oil.” They are “advantageous” to the church only. She has "no auxiliary under the broad heavens." Not “to get into the mist of abstractions,” I will say, that I cannot perceive a distinction betwixt an association which is “advantageous” to the church and one that is "auxiliary." I speak of institutions, not of inani. mate substances, as “corn and wine and oil.” An association of individuals, to be “advantageous” to the church, must be “auxilia. ry.” One institution may be auxiliary to another, without any dependence the one on the other. This relation may exist and imply neither dependence nor connexion. What is there, then, in the distinction? Colleges and Temperance Societies are “advantages” to the church. If so, are they not “auxiliary”? The labors