Apr 9, 2009

Campbell on Fuller I

The following are the first of some citations from the writings of Alexander Campbell against the "born again before faith" error of Andrew Fuller.

Campbell on Fuller (emphasis mine - SG)

"Mr. Fuller introduces them into his pages as so many characters in a drama--only with so much ambiguity that the reader cannot conclude till he comes to the last page whether it is to be a comedy or a tragedy; and even then, without taxing his memory, it is not easy to decide whether the whole performance ought to be dedicated to the comic or the tragic muse. Suffice it to say, that the most knotty point in the volume is to decide whether the physical influence consists in removing blindness or hatred, ignorance or enmity, previous to the impartation of spiritual life. Messrs. M'Clean and Ecking appear to agree that the removal of ignorance, as the cause of unbelief and unregeneracy, or "spiritual illumination," is essentially previous to faith. Mr. Fuller will have something more necessary as a previous principle; and between him, Sandeman. M'Clean, Ecking, and Co. the controversy is not about the necessity, but the nature of this previous change of mind. A spiritual principle of life, or a spiritual principle of light, superadded to the preached gospel, must, on either hypothesis, be infused or communicated as prerequisite to faith. With Messrs. M'Clean and Sandeman this previous principle of illumination is "the truth passively received." Mr. M'C. says, as quoted by Mr. Fuller, page 126, "It is not pleaded that any truth or sentiment is communicated to the mind by the Spirit, besides what is already revealed in the word, and the illumination of the Spirit is to MAKE MEN PERCEIVE AND UNDERSTAND THAT REVELATION WHICH IS ALREADY GIVEN, IN ITS TRUE LIGHT." Mr. Fuller contends for a QUICKENING INFLUENCE which he cannot explain; but such an impartation of life as that communicated to Tabitha by the immediate power of God, which at once makes the mind spiritual, destroys the enmity, and new-creates the soul previous to believing, and in order to believing the gospel. "That for which I contend," says he, page 120, "is, that there is a change effected in the soul of a sinner, called in scripture, giving him eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to [568] understand--a new heart and a right spirit--a new creation, &c. &c.--that this change is antecedent to his actively believing in Christ for salvation; and that it is not effected by motives addressed to the mind in a way of moral suasion, but by the mighty power of God." In page 133 he represents Mr. M'Clean, his opponent, as essentially agreeing with him, and more fully explains this work of the Spirit upon the regenerated in the words following:--"He (Mr. M'C.) holds with the necessity of a divine supernatural influence being superadded to the word, by which the mind is illuminated and rendered spiritual. But if divine influence consist in any thing distinct from the influence of the word, it must be supernatural and physical. The party is also equally unconscious of it on his principles as on mine: he is conscious of nothing but its effects. He finds himself the subject of new views and sensations; but as to knowing whence they came, it is likely he thinks nothing of it at the time, and is ready to imagine that any person, if he would but look into the Bible, must see what he sees so plainly taught in it. He may be conscious of ideas suggested to him by the word, and of their effect upon his mind; but as to any divine influence accompanying them, he knows nothing of it."

He also introduces President Edwards as teaching that a "NEW SPIRITUAL SENSE" is communicated in regeneration, and defining spiritual understanding in the following words, p. 111: "It consists in a sense of the heart of the supreme beauty and sweetness of the holiness, or moral perfection of divine things, together with all that discerning and knowledge of things of religion, that depend upon and flow from such a sense." "Spiritual understanding consists primarily in a sense of heart of that spiritual beauty--I say, a sense of heart; for it is not speculation merely that is concerned in this kind of understanding."

These extracts fully show Mr. Fuller's views of the physical work upon the heart is order to faith; and prove that, in his view, a person is regenerated or born again of that which he receives; than which we cannot conceive a greater outrage upon the use of words, figures, and analogues. The pangs of the new birth, as explained, are transferred to the child. In nature the mother travails; but in grace these Doctors make the child travail in birth! Paul once said that he travailed in birth in bringing forth his spiritual children; and that though the Corinthians had ten thousand instructers, they had not many fathers; for he was their only father, having begotten them by the gospel. But Paul had respect to the propriety of the analogy and language, and not to the marrow of modern divinity. The regenerated unbeliever, or he that, is born again in order to faith, receives the sixth sense, or a sense in the heart, by which he perceives the truth before he believes it.

All these Doctors agree that man is naturally dead; but the nature; of this death, or rather the cause of it, is not so unanimously agreed upon. A death in trespasses and sins it is said to be; but whether ignorance, carnality, or hatred, as such, is the cause of their spiritual death, is with them an important question: for with them the removal of the cause is the removal of the effect. Removing the ignorance [569] by supernatural and physical illumination with one; slaying the enmity, or destroying the carnality by the infusion of spiritual life, with another, is the necessary work of regeneration in order to faith. According to the Scriptures, which theorize not upon this subject, some persons are said to be dead in trespasses and sins. To this apply their favorite maxim, "Remove the cause and you remove the effect," and then we approach the Scripture doctrine, as stated in my last essay on this subject. "You who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive, having forgiven you all trespasses." Remove the sins and the death in trespasses and sins, as an effect is removed.

Mr. Fuller labors to prove that faith is "a spiritual act" and a "holy act," in order to prove that a man must he spiritual and holy before he can perform such an act. "Believing is a holy exercise of the mind." p 52.
The holiness of faith and its spirituality, as taught by Mr. Fuller, arises from its being "the act of a holy person--of one born of the Spirit."

To call a person holy, or any of his acts or feelings holy, before he is sanctified through faith...is as much at war with reason and the meaning of language, as with the plainest affirmations of the Apostles.

But in all the refinements of these religious metaphysicians, one thing seems to have escaped their notice, that there is as great an incongruity in representing their natural mind, or "natural man," as being a fit subject of this physical, regenerating, sanctifying energy, as there is, according to their own reasoning and showing, in an unregenerated person believing; or being fitted, without such supernatural aid, to receive the testimony of God. IS NOT GOD'S WORD AS HOLY AS GOD'S POWER, AND GOD'S POWER, ON THEIR REASONING, AS HOLY AS GOD'S WORD?

But the doctrine of Mr. Fuller is, that independent of the word believed, without the word, and in order to enabling a person to believe it, the Spirit of God does impart something he is pleased to call spiritual life, by a physical operation, as he made man rational, at first; and until this work is completed, and to effect which, neither argument, nor motive, wish, nor prayer, nor any agency in the power of man, can avail any thing; man is as dead as Lazarus in the grave, as to all power to help himself, to believe, repent, or obey the gospel...This is a capital item in Mr. Fuller's gospel, who yet disguises it all in a parade about the universality of the atonement, while it is as special in its application as this secret decree, physically and supernaturally to impart spiritual life to A, B, and C, which he calls regeneration in order to faith "strict and literal, and evangelical regeneration," from which D, E, and F are excepted, for no other reason than this same special and secret decree!!!! I hope I shall be excused from a farther exposition of this popular doctrine of metaphysical regeneration and its tendencies."

October 30, 1830 M. H.

See here

Next, in "METAPHYSICAL REGENERATION--No. III," Campbell wrote:

"IT will be remembered that Mr. Andrew Fuller defines his strict regeneration to be "a real physical work, whereby the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual life to the souls of all who are truly regenerated." It were well for mankind that the terms were well defined which writers use in all these great controversies, on the one side of which all is life; and on the other side of which all is death. To make men damnably erroneous for a tenet, contradictory to "essential points," it is surely necessary and all-important that these essential points should be plainly expressed, in a style familiar and perspicuous to all. In this definition of "strict regeneration" there is great obscurity resting upon the subject for the want of a definition of the terms. It is a philosophical definition and couched in terms excogitated by speculative reasoners; very unlike the terms which the Holy Spirit employs to communicate his mind to men upon the gospel.

A "physical work" few understand; and "spiritual life" is a phrase not understood by a tithe of those who use it. Ask a majority of our proclaimers and teachers what they mean by either, or both of these expressions, and how embarrassed will they be to give an intelligible definition. Mr. Fuller gives a hint or two indicative of his meaning of "physical power." He means a power in which there is nothing moral; that is, in which there are no motives presented. As for example, no motives were presented to man in order to make him rational: he was made rational without argument, or persuasion; just as he was made with two eyes or two feet. The power that made man rational was the same which made a fish swim, a bird fly, or a stone quiescent; and was put forth in the same manner. No moral power, or power influencing by motive, was displayed in giving either fins and scales, or their use, to fishes; or wings and their use to birds. Fire acts physically upon metals; and a hammer in the hand of the smith who uses it, works physically upon the iron. But he that overcomes by persuasion, argument, or motive, works morally, as philosophers would call it; and such power as operates upon the understanding, will, or affections of men to induce to voluntary action, is called moral power.

He who seizes a man, and manacles his hands or fetters his feet by superior strength, overcomes physically; but he who persuades a man to submit to reason, or to yield by motive or persuasion, overcomes morally. Now when God works physically upon men's minds according to this dogma of the Rabbis, he pays no more regard to the reason, will, or affections, than Samson did to the fingers and toes of the Philistines whom he vanquished in battle. Such is the "physical power" of the schools.

"Spiritual life" is a phrase of more subtilty than the phrase "physical power." The meaning of the latter is much more easily approached than the import of the former. Indeed, philosophers themselves are puzzled to define life of any sort. Before we inquire into this spiritual life of the schools, we shall make an effort to illustrate life simply, and relatively considered.

But suppose that there is any, the least analogy, between any thing called life, animal or vegetable, and this spiritual life, does it not appear that it is by receiving Jesus as "the way, the truth, and the life," and only by being engrafted into him, that we can be made alive to God? If so, this physical quickening is wholly a human invention."

Cambridge, Ohio, October 28, 1830.

See here

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