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P, S. There seems to have been different kinds of demons in the days of our Lord, some of which his disciples failed 10 cast out, Matth. xvii. 21. "This kind, however, is not dispossessed unless by prayer and fasting.” If all were the spirits of dead men, how did they differ in kind?
REPLY TO M. WINANS.
My deur Sir_Would not the power of counterfeiting miracles, such as the power which, on your hypothesis, Jannes, Jambres, and Simon Magus possessed, as much militate against the character of that species of evidence, as though it were a real power exerted, so far as the pretence went? It would render something more than the mere display of supernatural power necessary to faith, whether we suppose the power assumed genuine or feigned. And that this is the true state of the case, you have only to consider the full import of a single passage in Deuteronomy, 13th chapter, at the beginning.
The predicting of an event, beyond the certain precincts of all human prescience, is as supernatural as any other species of miraculous power. Moses supposes such a case, and admits its occurrence; and then on the admission of iis exact accomplishment, affirms that the prophet is not to be believed unless he speak in accordance with certain received principles. Indeed, he goes into the merits of the question, and declares that the Lord in permitting such things designs "to prove men”-10 evince whether they do or do not love God. The whole passage reads as follows:-"If there arise among you a pro. phet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not heaken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord yonr God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from ihe midst of thee."
The Lord does not say that it was only a pretence, but supposes a real case, and argues from it as such; and on the admission of its truth pronounces sentence upon the prophet, and on those who believe in
VOL. VI.N. 9.
him. It helps not the matter of evidence, then, to suppose it always a lying wonder or a true wonder. Examination, comparison, and inference are equally necessary, whether it be a pretended or real miracle. Nothing, then, is lost to the utility of miracles on my hypothesis, that is gained on yours. But had there been no satanic supernatural power at all permitted under any condition whatever to exist, then indeed it would have been enough to say that such powers were false; mere pretence, and if only examined could at once be detected.
Now, as you are pledged to believe and teach that the book means what it says, when it says that the magicians cast down their rods and they became serpen/s, not like serpents, but serpents, and that the superiority of Aaron's rod appeared in this, that when it became a serpent, not in appearance, but in fact, it devoured their rods. Now if you assume that this is contrary to your philosophy, and undertake to say that there was no miracle in the case, no serpent, but only in appearance; what will you say to him who tells you when you quote Acis ii. 38. &c. in its fair contextual import, that it does not mean so, because it contradicts his theology or his reason? The magicians turned the waters of Egypt into blood, and brought up frogs as certainly as did the rod of Moses But they could not convert dust into lice, and they had to acknowledge it, and affirmed that such power was the finger of God. From that moment they fell before Moses and acknowledged themselves vanquished. Now can any man show how they could have imposed on the senses of the Egyptians in the case of the frogs and blood, and not in the case of the lice, &c.? Thus Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses and Aaron, but were finally subdued.
Do you not, brother Winans, assume too much when you assume that all miraculous power is equal? Or do I misconceive you? If not expressed, this appears to me to be essential to your artificial difficul. ty, which I suppose you have rather imagined than felt.
But is it a rational hypothesis that all supernatural or miraculous power is equal? It occurs to me that as physical and intellectual agents possess unequal physical and mental power, so neither angels nor demons possess equal angelic or demoniacal power. How far angels, demons, or spirits in general have power over Nature's operations, is not ascerlained by any information in or out of the Bible. It is, however, evident that demons and angels have supernatural power. A legion of demons have entered one man, and infuriated him. They have also possessed a thousand swine and driven them to madness. Satan had power over wind and tide in the days of Job; and the angel that opened iron gates by a volition, and struck the handcuffs and fetters off Peter by a look, possessed to mortala a miraculous or superhuman power,
There are miracles both great and small, and the very postscript to your letter indicates that among demons some take a stronger hold on the human soul than others. Some are dispossessed by a word others require prayer and fasting.
To rebuke a fever, to cleanse a leper, to dispossess a demon, and to raise a dead man to life again, are all miraculous powers; but the last is greater than the first, and the third than the second. Hence in the scriptural style we have "great miracles," "special miracles," and even in the text you quote from Nicodemus all this is implied in his saying, “No man can do these miracles which thou doest unless God be with him." He does not say, No man can do miracles,' but “No man can do these miracles," &c.
Comprehend the suspension or controlling of the laws of nature as we may, one thing is evident, that miraculous powers are ascribed 10 various demoniacal and other agents in the sacred scriptures; and I see no more incompatibility with the fact of its existence in various de. grees, than with the relative indications of various gifts bestowed on Apostles and Prophets and other persons gifted with demonstrations of the Spirit in ancient times. But one point of superlative importance in appreciating the weight of the Christian evidences, is that miracles alone are not the test, but the doctrine and the miracle together. To this we may add that the full weight of the apostolic miracles consists, first, in the doctrine; and secondly, in the manner of life accompanying the miracles of those who first introduced it. Without the two first, miracles would not prove whether it came from above or beneath. Sincerely and benevolently yours,
BAPTISM NOT BECAUSE OF REMISSION.
JAMES City County, January 28, 1842. Brother Campbell,
At the request of some of the brethren and friends of the reformation, I write you a line or two upon a subject which we do not remember to have seen reverted to since the publication of the article in the Harbinger, Dec. No., 1840. In that number notes on Mr Mere. dith's communication, you say, (1 write from memory,) that "some of your brethren in their zeal have made baptism rather a pardon-procuring than a pardon-certifying ordinance." Some of us are disposed to think with those brethren, with the Book before us, that baptism is one of the media by which we get at the efficacy of that blood which cleanseth from all sin. This opinion of yours has gone far to allay the inquiries of many an honest man in the Baptist ranks after truth and reformation.
It appears to me that the great point of difference between us and the
Baptists and other immersed believers, is, that we baptize that the applicant may have the forgiveness or the remission of sins, whilst they baptize because their sins have been pardoned. If they are wrong, we are right, or vice versa. Many seem to think that you have abandoned the ground of baptism for the remission of sins: hence the Methodists say "you have returned to orthodoxy, and should be let alone" since the opinion expressed in that number; and the Baptists say that “iliat admission is all they ever contended for." You will oblige us by an explanatory answer to these interrogatories, which appear to me to cover the whole ground:-Is immersion for the remission of sins? If so, how can a man be pardoned or justified without im inersion? And if not pardoned or forgiven his sins, how is he in the new covenant? We desire information on these points, and hope you will not drem these queries impertinent, but will give us an answer privily or through the Harbinger, as may best suit your views of propriety. We do not wish 10 agitate the troubled waters of controversy, but seek light. The cause of reformation is slowly onward, owing I think to causes which we deem useless to mention at this inue The additions to the church are “few and far between,” and some I think of high order of intellectual and moral worih; and if it did not savor of arrogance in appearance, I would say that it is my conviction that the in'elligence of the people, the young and ri-ing generation, is with us; but time will show.
Accept ot my best feelings for yourself and the cause you advocate. Peace be with you and yours!
CHARLES M. HUBBARD.
Dear brother Hubburd-- That conscience that would take such an advantage of an admission such as you define, were ii in fact just as you represent it, is far from being in a healthy state. But if any one so interpret iny views or statements alluded to, as to make baptism not for the remsssion of sins, bui because sins are remitted before, such is not to be reasoned with by you or me. True, indeed, I have heard, and still hear of preachers who have spoken of baptism as though the efficacy were wholly in it to cleanse from sin, which only belongs to that blood to which baptism brings us so near; and whose representations are so strong and unguarded as though a person could not be hereafter saved who had the faith of Abraham, and failed by accident of finding water. Now is because I oppose this latter representation of this subject as much as “baptism because of the remission of sins,” some person of perverted reason and judgment affirms that I give up baptism for remission of sins; might he not as justly say of me, that in contending with James for justification by works, I had given up Paul and his justifica ion by faiih. I still say with Jesus the greater teacher, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." He does not say that he that believeth or he that is baptized shall be saved; but he that eveth and is baptized; and I say with Peter, "Repent
and be bap
tized every one of you for the remission of sins,” &c. And to the baptized I say, “Add 10 your faith courage, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love," else they cannot enter into the everlasting kingdom of God, though made constitutional citizens here,
THE UNLAWFULNESS OF DEBATES IN CHURCHES.
Debates in churches are generally unhallowed things, and ought to be avoided. Hear our brother J. H.
A.C. I met with a few -persons who hold the very singular notion that debate must not only be allowed, but encouraged in a church, in order to preserve its purity! The idea was so startling to me, that I reason. ed with those most amiable persons on the impropriety of such a course; and I was plainly told it is too late the day to talk about our ideas!
We must have, said one, a thus saith the Lurd for anthority: nothing else will do! Well, thought I, the church of Christ is a school, and if you do not learn there the meekness and gentleness of Christ by faithful and humble teaching and exhortation, you may learn how to be very smart-how to turn the corners of an argument adraitly—and especially how to depreciate all that other people say, by calling it merely their opinion, and modestly assuming to yourselves, and yourselves only, loyalty to the King!
Finding that I had io do with persons of such wonderful attain. ments in debating, and remembering the old adage that “practice makes perfect," I began to reconcile myself to a good-natured castigation, as my hand was entirely out in this business; for I believe it is fully seven years since I had a debate in the church with any one. Has it never struck you that there is a great difference even in debates? Some of them are conducted with much of that magnanimity which the victor may always afford to assume; but then it is apt to be really a vinegar affair with him that has been worsted in the rencounter! But mark, the rule in these Olympic churches is, that if you wince under the severest castigation, inflicted too by one who is war to the knife against man-ism, it is evidence that you are not influenced by the proper motive! The man who lays on the stripes is in no danger of being actuated by a spirit of pride and self-will-but he that refuses io take them patiently is sure to be ruled out by the judges at these exhibitions as unworthy of fellowship!!
I could but evince my astonishment at the arguments and passages brought forward in support of this combattiveness on the part of the church. I did not know, as a churchman would say, but I should have to learn my Catechism over again. However, in my unpracticed and inexperienced way I remarked that there were some general principles in the kingdom which would be infringed upon by such a course-as, for instance, the kingdom of God is said io be righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." Now nothing can be plainer than that the deportment of disciples in a church must be in accordance with these principles. Paul wrote to Timothy what he