|"If any man speak, let him
of God..." (I Peter 4:11)
(Campbell's 1st Paper)
To convert the heathen to the popular Christianity of these times would be an
object of no great consequence, as the popular Christians themselves, for the most
part, require to be converted to the Christianity of the New Testament.
[see Matthew 7:21-29]
The societies called churches, constituted and set in order by the ministers of the
New Testament, were of such as received and acknowledged Jesus as Lord
Messiah, the Savior of the world, and had put themselves under his guidance.
The only bond of union among them, was faith in him, and submission to his
will. No subscription to abstract propositions, framed by synods; no decrees of
councils, sanctioned by kings; no rules of practice, commanded by ecclesiastical
courts, were imposed on them as terms of admission into, or of continuance in,
this holy brotherhood. In the apostles' doctrine, and in the apostles'
commandments, they steadfastly continued. Their fraternity was a fraternity of
love, peace, gratitude, cheerfulness, joy, charity, and universal benevolence.
Their religion did not manifest itself in public fasts or carnivals. They had no
festivals, no great and solemn meetings. Their meeting on the first day of the
week was at all times solemn, joyful and interesting.
[see Romans 16:16; 10:15-17; Acts 2:22-47; Galatians 1:6-9; I Timothy 1:3-11; II
Timothy 1:12,13; II Timothy 3:16,17; Galatians 5:22-28; II Peter 1:2-11; Ephesians
4:1-6; Acts 20:7; Galatians 4:10]
Their religion was not that elastic and porous kind, which at one time is
compressed into some cold formalities, and at another expanded into prodigious
zeal and warmth. No, their piety did not at one time rise to paroxyms, and their
zeal to effervescence, and, by and by, languish into frigid ceremony and lifeless
form. It was the pure, clear, and swelling current of love to God, of the love to
man, expressed in all the variety of doing good.
[see Matthew 6:1-18; John 4:21-24; Ephesians 3: 1-21; Ephesians 5:17-21;
Colossians 3:16,17; 1 Peter 4:11]
The order of their assemblies was uniformly the same. It did not vary with
moons and seasons. It did not change, as dress, nor fluctuate, as the manners of
the times. Their devotion did not diversify itself into the endless forms of modern
times. They had no monthly concerts for prayer; no solemn convocations; no
great feasts, nor preparation nor thanksgiving days.
[see James 2:1-26]
Their churches were not fractured into missionary societies, Bible societies,
education societies; nor did they dream of organizing such in the world. The
head of a believing household was not president or manager of a board of foreign
missions; his wife, the president of some female education society; his eldest son,
the recording secretary of some domestic Bible society; his eldest daughter, the
corresponding secretary of a mite society; his servant-maid, the vice-president of a
rag society; and his little daughter, a tutoris of a Sunday-school. They knew
nothing of the hobbies of modern times. In their Church capacity alone they moved.
They neither transformed themselves into any other kind of association, nor did
they fracture and sever themselves into diverse societies. They viewed the Church
of Jesus Christ as the scheme of heaven to ameliorate the world; as members of it,
they considered themselves bound to do all they could for the glory of God and
the good of men. They dare not transfer to a missionary society, or Bible society,
or education society, a cent or a prayer, lest, in doing so, they should rob the
Church of its glory, and exalt the inventions of men above the wisdom of God.
In their church capacity alone they moved.
The Church they considered the pillar and ground of the truth; they viewed it as
the temple of the Holy Spirit, as the house of the living God. They considered, if
they did all they could in this capacity, they had nothing left for any other object
of a religious nature. In this capacity, wide as its sphere extended, they exhibited
the truth in word and in deed. Their good works, which accompanied salvation,
were labors of love, in ministering to the necessities of the saints, to the poor of
the brotherhood. They did good to all men, but especially to the household of
faith. They practiced that pure and undefiled religion which, in overt acts,
consists in taking care of orphans and widows in their affliction, and keeping
one's self unspotted by (the vices of) the world.
[see 1 Timothy 3:15,16; I Corinthians 3:16-17; I Corinthians 16:1,2; II Corinthians
9:1-15; Galatians 6:8-10; James 1:27]
We happened upon the truth, when we published as our opinion, about seven
years ago, that "the present popular exhibition of the Christian religion is a compound of
Judaism, heathen philosophy, and Christianity."