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actually anthorizing, in your judgment, a new system, completed in the year 1897, called "the Ancient Gospel," and consequently the year 18:27 is called "the Era of the Ancient Gospel.”
I have, then, from your own pen, I think, demonstrated that what you called the Ancient Gospel" in 1823, is not that which you called ''the Ancient Gospel” in October, 1831. My first objection, then, I think, is, fairly sustained that the phrase is vague and indefinite.
But it is necessarily vague, not only in your acceptation of it, but also in the very import of the word ancient. The phrase ancient times means any times al a great disiauce-say, one, two, or three thousand years ago. So the phrase ancient gospel may apply to the gospel preached by Luther, klicklitte, Peter de Bruys, or Constantine the founder of the Paulicians, A. D. 650, “Ancient gospel" does not mean the first gospel, nor the Abrahamic, nor the Apostolic gospel; but some gospel of former times.
2. But iny second objection is to the speculitive character which it has recently assumed as a system subinted to the inderstanding, as the “Five Points" of Calvinism or any other system. This is more serious with me than the former, and therefore I request your attention to it. The illustration of faith, repentance, baprisni, &c. in their New Testament import, inay be, in regard to modern systems, a useful work; but to call these correct views of these terms the ancient gospel, is the very error which you reprobate in others. You condemn the Calvinist or the Armenian for calling his views of election, depravity, atonement, effectual calling, &c. "the gospel." Nomailer how he explains and arranges them, you tell him these are not the gospel: for a person may perceive and believe them and not be saved. Now may not any person perceive your definitions of faith, repentance, baptism, &c. to be more correct than other representations of them and receive them, and be as far from the kingdom of heaven as any man, Calvinist or Arminian, in the nation? And might not an ingenious Calvinist retort your own arguments against yourself, and call your views of faith or of repentance the ancient gospel of faith or repentance, as you speak of his five points? This may be the theory of the ancient gospel, in your acceptation of it; but the theory, , of any gospel, ancient or modern, is not the gospel, and ought not, in my judgment, to be so denominated. It is not glad tidings of great joy to all people, that faith is the belief of testimony; that repentance means reformation; that baptism signifies immersion, or that it means for the remission of sins, &c. nor is it glad tidings that these items are so arranged; but, us I understand your correspondent T W, it is glad tidings to all sinners that God has proclaimed pardon to every sinner who will return to him through Jesus Christ, and that he requires no. more of him than to believe his testimony, repent, and be immersed for the remission of his sins, in order to adinission into his family. --- *
As I intend, with your consent, to lay before yourself and readers, various objections to your course, I have, in this introductory letter, commenced at the beginning, and touched but one item; but have not, even on that, quoted any of the sayings or doings of those in cur VOL. III.
nexion with you. It will, however, be expedient that I lay before you what I have seen and heard touching the preaching of this ancient gospel.
. As I have never been called a “Campbellite,” though I have to my congregation long taught many of the things so stigmatized; I do not choose to give my name, because it would add nothing to what I have to advance, and I cannot think the suppression of it ought to detract any thing from my reasonings. It might, indeed, injure me in the estimation of some who receive from me what they would reject from you; and for their sake, and neither through cowardice nor false shame, I subscribe myself your friend for the gospel's sake,
EPAPHRAS. As my name can afford no proof of my doctrine, so neither can my place of residence.
P.S. If you will not give me a full hearing, so long as I demean myself in a becoming manner, please return this and do not insert it.
TO EPAPHRAS-No. 1. Dear Sir,
IT is with pleasure I have given publicity to your communication, because I have the highes“ confidence in your candor and ability, and feel assured that if, in the numerous confiicts in which we have been engaged, we have either assumed a false principle, or have been betrayed into any inadvertency, there is none more capable of detecting it, nor of setting it more clearly, candidly, and convincingly before the public, than yourself. You will, I doubt not, admit, that in a controversy so long and so diversified, and with such a host as have opposed our progress, it would have been super-human, and beyond the good fortune of erring mortals, not to have spoken or written something which ought not to have seen the light. We plead no exemption from the common lot of fallible man; and it would be saying very little for the experience of more than twenty years, to repeat, that, had we now again to run the same race, we would avoid some hills and swamps, some narrow passes, and some winding labyrinths, which have impeded our progress. But still we wonder more. at the straight-forward course which we have taken, and at our progress in that course, than at any incident which has befallen us in all our struggles for the faith once delivered to the saints."
Since our editorial career commenced, since we launched our feeble bark upon the mighty ocean of human opinions, tossed with the tempests of all the passions of every creed, we have tacked but seldom, if at all. The reason is, we had full experience of what all systems could achieve, and by what means they did achieve their results; and $2w distinctly that no theory in christendom was exactly the faith or the gospel once delivered to the saints. Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, Independentism, Methodism, in all their forms, stood full confessed and full depicted in all their tendencies in our view. The
little isms of Fullerism, Sandemanianism, and the hosts stigmatized New Lightism, were also fully explored before we weighed our anchors.
You, my dear sir, it appears, soon saw the object in view; but prudence required that the developments should have been as gradual as they were. Some imagine that our course has been changed because certain matters have been much more discussed now than formerly. But no attentive reader can believe this. They will see in embryo, in the first three numbers of the Christian Baptist, all that has been developed in the last nine years. And this most prominent matter with which you have commenced your strictures, is more fully developed in the quotatioris you have made, than was any item in that volume. · But I will not say that the name there selected to distinguish this gospel from all others, is entirely free from objections. But the his, tory of its origin will best explain its merits and demerits. The letter from my correspondent T. W. was written at my request, and was designed for the first number of the Christian Baptist; but not arriving in time, it was not printed till the second number. The subject on which that letter treats had been fully discussed and most satisfactoHly established in the mind of that correspondent and myself before the Christian Baptist was commenced. There is no person in exist. ence to whom I am more indebted than to the author of that letter, To his devotional reading, to his prayerful study of the Book, and to his indefatigable labors in the word and teaching for almost half a century, many are indebted; and, indeed, all who are benefited by the present reformation. And yet there is no person with whom I have debated more on all questions than with him. But on the burthen of that epistle we were fully agreed before the Christian Baptist was commenced.
He, as you have stated, headed the article (the proper and primary intention of the gospel;" but by examining the whole article you will find that he has distinguished it by the epithets “apostolie” and "original.” The phrases "original gospel” and “apostolic gospel" were selected by him to mark out its importance and to arrest attention to it. In making out the index for that volume, for the sake of contrast and of brevity we called it the "ancient gospel," an epithet then familiar by way of contrast from modern orders, arrangements, . measures, and gospels. Ancient and modern are the proper contrasts, and for this reason alone did we prefer the phrase ancient gospel to the phrase original gospel. But I doubt not if any epithet by way of contrast or distinction is to be prefixed, the epithet apostolic has the best claims. But of this I am not tenacious, and I would not contend with any man for an epithet of this sort which claims so humble an origin. It is true that we might urge in justification of this term, that, during the Jewish apostacy, when, like the Christians, they had departed from their original order of things, the holy Prophets, such as Jeremiah, used this epithet as we now use it. “My people" (says the Lord by Jeremiah, chap. xviii. 16.) “have forgotten me; they have burnt incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths in a way not cast up.” The two apostacies so analogous, and the two returns so similar, may we not, friend Epaphras, like Jeremiah, say, the ancient gospel and the ancient order of things? So much for the origin, reason, and philosophy of the name.
Now for the thing thus designated; for things are prior to names. You, have, indeed, given a fair representation of the thing first thus designated. As farther illustrative and confirmatory of this matter, I will ask of you the indulgence to read the following quotations from my debate with Mr. M.Calla, which occurred in the month following the date of the aforesaid letter. The capital and distinguishing article of the ancient gospel is discussed in several speeches in that debate; but the following specimens must suffice:
"To every believer, therefore, baptism is a formal and personal remission, or purgation of sins. The believer never has his sins formally washed away or remitted until he is baptized. The water has no efficacy but what God's appointment gives it, and he has made it sufficient for this purpose. The value and importance of baptism appears from this view of it. It also accounts for baptism being callel the washing of regeneration. It shows us a good and valid reason for the despatch with which this ordinance was administered the primitive church. "The believers did not lose a moment in obtaining the remission of their sins. Paul tarried three days after he believed, which was the longest delay recorded in the New Testament. The reason of this delay was the wonderful accompaniments of his conversion and preparation for the apostolic office. He was blind three days; scales fell from his eyes, he arose then forth with and was baptized. The three thousand who first believed, on the selfsame day were baptized for the remission of their sins; yea, even the Jailor and his house would not wait till day-light, bit-the same hour of the night in which he believed he and all his were baptized." I say this view of baptism accounts for all these otherwise unaccountable circumstances. It was this view of baptism misapplied that originated infant baptism. The first errorists on this subject argued that if baptism was so necessary for the remis. sion of sins, it should be administered to infants, whom they represented as in great need of it on account of their "original sin.” Affectionate parents, be. lieving their children to be guilty of "original sin," were easily persuaded to have their infants baptized for the remission of "original sin"- not for washing away sins actually committed. But of this again.
"Faith in Christ is necessary to forgiveness of sins; therefore baptism without faith is an unmeaning ceremony. Even the Confession of Faith, or at least the Larger Catechism, Quest. 185, says that “baptism is a sign of remission of sins.” How, then, can it be administered to those without faith? Is it to them "a sign and seal of engrafting into Christ, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his spirit," as the answer to this question declares?
Our argument from this tupic is, that baptism, being ordained to be to a be: liever a formal and personal remission of all his sins, cannot be administered to an infant without the greatest perversion and abuse of the nature and import of this ordinance. Indeed, why should an infant that never sinned- that, as Calysnists say, is guilty only of "original sın," which is a unit, be baptized for the remission of sins.?"
In this extract it is used as an argument against infant baptism; but we desired to rouse the Baptist preachers then present to the importance of this view of christian immersion, and to induce them to preach it in that sense; and for that purpose to urge an immediate submission to it. Thus on page 143.
"On this topic I would rally again. Its grand importance to all disciples will excuse me for being diffuse on ihis subject. Also its aspect to paidobaptism is such as 10 frown it out of the world. This Mr. M'Calla sees, and therefore he frowns contemptuously at it. Peter promised to three thousand Jews forgiveness on repentance and baptism. “What shall we do?" said they, in an agony of despair. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins.” The preposition eis here means in order to--in order to the remission of sins. Now i would say to any person or persons inquiring what they should do, just what Peter said"Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, in order to the remission of sins." "What God hath joined together let not man Purasander. Co n te first opening of the new religion, associated repentance and baptism in order to the remission of sins; and let him take heed to himself who preaches repentance in order to the forgiveness of sins without baptism in water, or who preaches baptism in order to forgiveness, without repentance or faith. We have already seen that Ananias preached baptism to one possessed of faith in order to the washing away of sins; soʻthat we may safely say, that a believer unbaptized has not his sins washed away in a very important sense. If, as Paul affirms, ritus iii. 3-6. God our Saviour saved sinners, dia loutron palig gee. sias, "by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit;": then, indeed, we may be bold to affirm, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God," and he only that believes and is baptized shall be saved.
“My Baptist brethren, as well as the Paidobaptist brotherhood, 'I humbly conceive, require to be admonished on this point. You have been (some of you, no doubt,) too diffident in asserting this grand import of baptism, in urging an immediate submission to this sacred and gracious ordinance, lest your brethren should say that you make every thing of baptism-that you make it essential to salvation. Tell them you make nothing essential to salvation but the blood of Christ; but that God has made baptism essential to their formal forgiveness in this life to their admission into his kingdom on earth. Tell them that God has made it essential to their happiness that they should have a pledge on his part, in this life-an assurance in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, of their actual pardon-of the remission of all their sins-and that this assurance is baptism. Tell the disciples to rise in baste and be baptized, and wash away their sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
It was, indeed, impracticable to give it a more practical aspect in a controversy upon the true and ancient import of this institution; but this indicates the stress then laid upon this capital item.
Remission of sins ever must be the burthen of any message which can be called glad tidings to a guilty and polluted world. Without this, any message called gospel, must be miscalled. Hence the ordi.. nance with which actual and personal remission is connected, must be most conspicuous in any scheme worthy of the name of glad tidings to sinners. I then thought that the discovery of this matter, and giving it its original importance in the proclamation of mercy to a ruined world, was worthy to be designated the ancient gospel; not, indeed, as if the mere design and meaning of this institution, abstractly considered, was entitled to this honor; but its scriptural connexions with faith in the blood of Jesus, and repentance, or reformation towards God.
Its connexion with the Holy Spirit, as the promised blessing to the subjects of the christian institution, was also asserted in the very next proposition in the aforesaid discussion, in the words following: