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THE CORINTHIAN SPIRIT. IF, as is supposed, the faithful delineation of character in the scriptures, is a convincing proof of their inspiration;- the sameness of the character there revealed, with that disclosed in the living volume of society, will doubtless be deemed a sufficient proof that human nature is unchanged. And does not this reflection yield evidence in another direction in favor of the Bible? For if the accuracy of its delineation of the character of its own time, prove it divine; human nature being thc same, does not the suitableness of character of later ages to the descriptions there given, afford proof that the Book we have is the veritable document written by Old Testament Prophets and New Testament *Apostles? Avaunt, then, all ye sceptical doubts and difficulties, as to the authenticity of the holy scriptures. This consideration will satisfy hundreds who have not opportunity to consult the critical and historical evidence of the identiiy of the Book.
But this observation is made at this time only to introduce to de. served attention some remarks in relation to a spirit which began to be developed in the church in the days of the Apostles; which increased to a great and dangerous evil in succeeding ages; and which is even yet discoverable in religious society. I mean the partiality evinced for favorile public speakers. The workings of this spirit first appeared in the church of Corinth. Paul, aware of its dangerous tendency, promply endeavored to correct the evil. Thus he describes it: “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” Heresy, then, arose in the church, by an exclusive attachment to particular inen; first, perhaps, as favorites; and then as leaders. But although the Apostle keenly and justly reproves them; saying, "While one of you saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos, are you not carnal?”—he could not wholly eradicate the roots of heresy.
Tacitus decla what from all quarters, all that is vile and shame. ful, flows into Rome;" and who but an Apostle could have foretold that this spirit, finding its way to the “Eternal City," would have originated the Papacy? When the episcopate of Rome was to be filled, there was not more rivalry in ambitious candidates, than partial. ity in the members for their favorite. Those in office or high stand. ing often procured the place for one more conspicuous for shining talent, or oratorial display, than for the more grave and useful virtues that save the church. The industrious electioneering that attended these occasions, frequently caused more feuds and jealousies, than the candidate elect could suppress during the period of his occupancy of the office.
Nor was it confined to the days when Romanism was in its infancy. When the “Holy Father” received from the murderer of Mauritius the title of Universal Bishop, this Corinthian spirit experienced a cor, responding enlargement. When the papistical chair became vacated by the death of the incumbent, the Cardinals and Bishops, ambitions of preferment, began to survey their prospects and to calculate their chances of success. The members of the church general, or church particular, as the case might be, readily ranged themselves for one or another; and, supported by these factions, the rival candidates, in mimic greatness, contended, like Cesar and Pompey, for the empire of Rome.
I would not lead the reader to suppose that this spirit is found alone in the ancient church; or that it is peculiar to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It is far otherwise: although it is to be hoped, that, with the other corruptions of the Man of Sin," it is on the decline. But it is still to be seen in all its odious and pernicions features. A ‘pulpit,' or an episcopal see is to be filled. The parishioners look around for the man of their choice. Some are for •Paul,' and some for ' Apollos. They form into parties; and the persons proposed are regularly served up and dissected.. Their comparative merits and talents; their excel. lencies and defects, are discussed. At length one party prevails; and the person elected is informed of his preferment. Understanding well the part he has to play, he qualifies himself to meet the expectations of his friends. He prepares a few discourses with great care, in which the rules of logic, grammar, and rhetoric are consulted full as much as the “word of the truth of the gospel," He utters them in the softest tones of refined elocution. The ear of criticism is pleased; and the eharmed auditory retire in admiration of the preacher. Thus the modern clergymen, professing to derive his doctrines from Paul, cherishes and strengthens that very spirit which Paul brands as heresy in his letter to the Corinthians.
Let none suppose that this spirit, like water or oil, runs in channels, or that it may be confined in particular vessels. It is rather like electricity, that pervades and enters all bodies that have an affinity for it. And do we suppose that the mere sound of reformation can exorcise it from those who are standing on the ancient foundation? It will require something more than a few essays on paper. Nothing but a constant and vigilant watchfulness on the part of all the brotherhood, can detect and destroy this subtile and baleful enemy of all Christian confidence and communion. These partialities for favorite speakers often give occasion for rivalries; rivalries always excite jealousies; and jealousy has more death in it than the poisoned pot of the young Prophets. Is there no desire now to be the greatest? Are there not those even yet who preach Christ from envy, striving to equal or excel in the estimation of the hearers, some brother who is known to be popular? Is not the preacher sometimes tempted to adorn his discourses to excite the admiration of the audience, rather than to speak the truth with simplicity and fervor, that the light and love of heaven may fill the hearts of his hearers? All this but proves the antecedent existence of this Corintbian spirit. For who would thus adorn himself, if he did not know it would secure the applause of the people? Now this is often merely an error, and not to be imputed as a crime. There are many thoughtless people who are always talking, and who never seem to consider the tendency of their indiscreet discourses. But the effect is none the less pernicious. I have known a very good and useful brother, but of no great splendor of talent, totally eclipsed by one of perhaps less moral worth and Christian excellence, who happened to possess some more brilliant and attractive qualities. The brethren were understood to speak, by way of contrast, disparagingly of the humble and persevering man, and he felt himself neglected and injured by them. "Now I do not claim to have made any original discovery, but it is true, on this subject at least, that all the evil lies in the two higher degrees of
comparison. The positive is harmless; but the comparative and superlative contain a virus that seldom fails to inoculate ihe persons under contrast or comparison; the one with jealousy, and the other with vanity. This inocularion may not always take a very deep root; but such decidedly is its evil tendency. All are desirous of showing their respect for the popular orator. They praise his eloquence, and admire his skill and learning. They seek his company, and are delighted in his pre.
He is repeatedly urged to renew his visit; while visits from the less showy and more practical brother, are seldom solicited, and little valued. Moreover, if ever a spirit of liberaliy, in communicating for the temporal necessities of the evangelist, is felt, it is pretty sure to be shown in favor of the eloquent brother. He is liberally rewarded; while a scanty and insufficient pittance sends the other in coldness away. Such gifis are not tendered to the Lord, but to man. But why should we hold the showy and more successful speaker in higher estimation? He may not, after all, be so useful a man as the more unostentatious and retiring laborer. A husbandman purchased a piece of untamed ground for a garden, and hired four men to prepare and till it. The laborers parcelled out the work: the first taking it upon himself to clear the ground; the second, to break it up and plant the seeds; the third, to keep it clear of weeds and nurse the growing plants; the fourth, to gather in and secure the fruits. Now who thinks the last deserving more reward than the others? Had not a sturdy man cleared off the ground four months before, he would have gathered no fruit.
There is another evil related to this-nay, a branch of the same, which deserves to be mentionad here. It is the practice of bestowing public praise on successful speakers. Judging from epistolary communications sometimes made public, we would conclude that the writers of them were themselves infiated with this Corinthian gas. I am aware that Luke bestows an adjective of praise on Apollos; but I imagine it was only to set off in clearer light another and a better quality of which he was possessed; for it seems he had humility enongh te be “taught the way of the Lord more perfectly,” by an old brother and sister who wrought with their own hands for their support! No praise is bestowed on Peter for that moving discourse which converted three thousand! Perhaps you say he was inspire:d, and no praise to Peter. Well, brother, art thou not inspired? Hast thou no argument or a power to turn men to God, which thou hast not receiv. ed? If all these arguments, and these "powers of the world to come," were taken from thee, thou mightest be seen, like the heathen, gazing with thine eyes on Mount Olympus. Brethren, praise the Lord, and let him praise his servants,
INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT-No. III.
To ELDER A. CAMPBELL:
My dear Sir-The proof-sheet of your communication No. 2, reached my office during a long absence. The pressure of business in preparing for a tour of five months, and indispensable engagements since, have prevented an earlier reply.
I cheerfully give you all due credit for ingenuity in evading the subject, by availing yourself of a clause in your proposition of Augusi
, 1839; the intended bearing of which escaped my notice. Taking your explanation, it appears the “Baptist Doctor or respectable Scribe who should have the iemerity to enter the lists with the veteran champion of the "Ancient Gospel,” has to perform what no other writer ever thought of, and which strikes me as an after-thought of your own, "put an end to the controversy." If the discussion is to be prolonged only on this stipulation, I frankly acknowledge my inability to comply. I can never engage to achieve such an enterprize. I claim no prerogative over any member of the Baptist, or any other denominaiion-far less over the controvertists of all future time! Hence I can give no such pledge. Really, sir, you have multiplied conditions with startling rapidity. First you require on the part of your opponent, not only the consent, but the entire and respeciful silence of his coeditors. Next he must be recognized the champion of the whole Baptist denomination. Then he must subscribe to your misrepresentation and perversion of the distinguished writers of the denomination of former days. Finally, he must pledge himself to "end the controversy” before it is fairly commenced. “This,” you say, "is the very object proposed." The proposed "stereotyped volume orice finished, no one hereafter must have the hardihood to touch upon, or breathe a thought on the eubject of divine influence.
So simple were my thoughts, and so obscure my percep'ions of the proposition you sent forth in August, 1839, that I really supposed an wend of the controversy” meant no more than a close of the discussion between the parties immediately engaged. Am I now to understand you to claim a pledge from me before you can condescend to discuss the subject at issue, that no other persons shall engage in a controversy on the influence of the Spirit, either during the period of our discussion, or at any subsequent period? As all arrangements are presumed to be reciprocal, I inquire if in making the proposition for a discussion "to end the controversy,” you regard yourself bound to prevent all other persons from speaking or writing on this subject? Can you control others? Will you engage that no one shall ever agitate the subject after you and I have furnished a book as “an end of the controversy” between us?
You are mistaken-wholly mistaken in your assertion that my coeditors whave refused the identical overture made, of having the discussion to appear simultaneously on the pages of the Baptist Banner and Pioneer.' You do them and your readers injustice by such an assertion.
In a former communication you called on me to endorse a particular dogma, that the Spirit, without the word, regenerated the soul of the sinner. This you alleged to have been the old Baptist faith. This dogma you charged upon Gill, Fuller, and the old Baptist writers generally. In this you are certainly mistaken. None of these writers depreciated the value and importance of the gospel of Christ, or divine truth in conversion. Probably you have heard this dogma preached by some illiterate Baptists of antinomian cast of doctrine, during your connexisn with the denomination; but you do great injustice to the fathers of the last age by such allegations. You will never find such
VOL VI.-N, 9
a sentiment announced in the writing of Andrew Fuller. “The gospel worthy of all acceptation,' was the earliest and most distinguished polemical writings of this great and good man, from the principles of which proceeded most of his other works, and this work in its whole process of argumentation taught the reverse of your allegation. The obligation of every sinner who hears the gospel, to believe it unto salvation, is the fundamental principle of Fuller's polemical writings. Surely you have never read his works; or, reading, you have forgotten, or you would not charge upon Andrew Fuller of teaching the dogma "that the Spirit without the word regenerates the soul!"
The late Robert Hall, a man of transcendant abilities, wrote a tract on the work of the Spirit, which has had an extensive circulation.Hall was the intimale friend and companion of Fuller, and accorded with him in principles of doctrine. He no where teaches the dogma of regeneration without the word.
The "Baptist Confession of Faith,” you are aware, was put forth by the ministers and messengers of seven congregations, in and about London, about two hundred years since, and revised, enlarged, and modified by the ministers and messengers of upwards of one hundred congregations in England and Wales, in 1689, and adopted and repub. lished by the 'Philadelphia Association, in 1742; yet it teaches a doc. trine on the work of the Spirit the very reverse of what you allege.
It teaches that the whole council of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is con. tained in the Holy Scriptures”- that "nothing is at any time to be added, whether by a new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men”-that "the inward illumination of the Spirit of God is necessary to the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word." [See Con. Faith, chap. i, sect. 6.] In describing the office of Christ, as Mediator, (chapter viii , sect. 8.) the Confession says, “To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, uniting them unto himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, IN AND BY THE WORD, the mystery of salvation; persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his word and Spirit.” Believe and obey whai? Why the word of truth, or gospel. In chapter X., seetion 1., on "Effectual Calling," (the same docirine as is now termed regeneration,) the “Confession” affirms the saints are "effectually called BY HIS WORD AND SPIRIT, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to the grace of salvation by Jesus Christ,” &c. And section 3d reads
“Elect infants, dying in infancy, ale regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth; so also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being vutwardly called by the ministry of the word." I quote this last section, not to excite an unprofitable controversy about infants, but to show that this ancient and numerous convocation of Baptist ministers and messengers from more than one hundred congregations, limited ite influences of "the Spirit without the word in regeneration” to “infants dying in infancy,” and other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.” are disposed to controvert this dogma respecting infants, I will freely