Nov 4, 2008

Campbell Essays on HS

Alexander Campbell wrote the following in his battles against Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism.

"That faith is necessary to salvation, is a proposition the truth of which we need not now attempt to prove, as all professors of christianity admit it; and that testimony is necessary to faith, is a proposition equally true, evident, and universally admitted. He that believes, believes something, and that which he believes is testified to him by others." (Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of men.--No. I)

"Correct views of the office of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men, are essential to our knowledge of the Christian religion, as also to our enjoyment of it. On mistaken views of it are engrafted most of the extravagant systems of our times.

Some describe faith to be an inward principle of grace, implanted in the heart by the operation of the Spirit, separate from, and previous to the knowledge of the word of God. (Hardellism or Hyper Calvinism - SG) But it is impossible to conceive what is meant by such a principle of grace as this. It cannot be any sentiment respecting Christ or his salvation, since it is supposed to be previous to the knowledge of the word of God, wherein alone he is revealed. Nor can it be any disposition or affection of mind towards Christ; for the mind cannot he affected with any object of which it has no knowledge; and our confession of faith makes the principal acts of saving faith to have immediate relation to Christ, trusting on him alone for justification, &c. But the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth, and operates upon the mind not abstracted from the word, which is truth, or without it, but by means of it, enlightening the understanding in its doctrines, and influencing the will by its motives: so that the word itself, is the very principle established in the heart by the Spirit. Men are born of the spirit; but it is by the incorruptible seed of the word, 1 Pet. i.23. It is of his own will that God begets men to the faith; but it is with the word of truth, James i. 18, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Rom. x. 17. To suppose, therefore, that the Spirit implants faith, as a principle of grace in the heart, without the word, or previous to any knowledge of it, is unintelligible, and unscriptural, and contrary to the word of God, and the confession of Faith:--it makes the word of God of little consequence--supercedes the necessity of preaching it to sinners, or of its being read by them in order to faith; and the Spirit does not glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in his operations, as he was promised to do, in imparting it. It opens a flood-gate of wild enthusiasm, and sets aside the scripture rule for distinguishing the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error. Isai. viii. 20. 1 John v. 1-6.

When men conceive faith to be a principle wrought in the heart by the Spirit, abstract from the word, it will lead them to look within themselves, for the operation of some spirit, very different from the spirit of truth, who speaks in the scriptures, whose work is to guide into all truth, to testify of Christ, and take of his, and show it to us. John xvi. 13, 14. It will make them seek after this inward principle, in the first instance, as the main hinge of their hope, and prevent them taking any comfort from the word till they find, or rather they fancy they find, this mysterious principle wrought in them: which, after all, seems to be only a principle of blind enthusiasm or self-conceit.

Saving faith is distinguished from every other, by its object and effects. Faith cannot so much as exist without an object; for, when nothing is believed, there can be no belief. It saves in no other way than that it has a saving object; and all its influence upon the heart and life, is, properly speaking, the influence of truth believed.

Though there can be no true faith without knowledge, yet there may be a kind of speculative knowledge without true faith. There is a wide difference between understanding the terms of a proposition, and believing the truth of it.

Whatever men may think of their knowledge and belief of the gospel, yet if they do not in some measure perceive its excellence, suitableness, and importance to their lost condition as sinners, they do not in reality know, and believe it--it is the operation of God's Spirit that produces this.

Christ told his disciples that the Spirit of truth, the Holy Ghost, when he came, would not speak of himself--but would glorify him. Accordingly, his operations, during the age of miracles, were all performed in glorifying Jesus Christ, and in his name. The gospel of Christ, since the days of the apostles, has been the theme he has blessed, in convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and through which he has imparted saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was in the name of Jesus, all the miracles were wrought; and by the preaching of Christ, and him crucified, as he is exhibited in the record God has given of his Son, the same Spirit has exerted his power, through this preaching, its regenerating the hearts of men. Hence, it is by preaching Christ to sinners, and not the Spirit, that the Spirit operates in glorifying Jesus in their conversion. If I preach to sinners less about the Spirit, it is that they may experience the operations of the Spirit more, by preaching Christ and him crucified, which is the sum and substance of the gospel. On believers I urge the necessity of praying the Father, through the Son, for the Spirit, that he may enlighten and sanctify them, &c." [107]

(NOVEMBER 1, 1824 "Essays on the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men"--No. IV)

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