Jul 27, 2009

Campbell vs. Peck on Ordo

The following are excerpts from a back and forth discussion between Alexander Campbell and John M. Peck concerning whether Andrew Fuller and the Baptist Confessions taught regeneration before faith and without the word as a means.

Alexander Campbell wrote:

"Faith purifies the heart," says Paul; but say Fuller (Andrew Fuller) and Peck (J. M. Peck), 'The heart purifies faith.' Fuller regenerates the heart first, and then faith follows in some cases—in others, never. In elect infants and Pagan adults dying there is a new heart without faith before or after: in other cases there is faith after; but in all cases it is regeneration not simultaneous, but antecedent.

You, indeed, say that your creed admits of faith, and speak of "the instrumentality of the word" in order to regeneration. Here there is no debate between us. But you immediately astonish me by asking, "What has the necessity of regeneration to faith to do with regeneration without the Word?" They are, with me, two modes of expressing the same idea. Regeneration without the word and without faith, are the same idea in two garbs: for that the Word can be used instrumentally, without faith in it, to accomplish any moral or spiritual change, will requite a new science of optics and a new assortment of intellectual eyes before I can perceive it. I wish you would make an effort to explain the passages quoted from Mr. Fuller in my last letter. Fuller and Hall, if you are correct in identifying them, teach a regeneration with and without the Word. But as I have not yet examined Mr. Hall, I will defer any allusion to his views. Mr. Fuller makes the instrumentality of the Word a mere accident in the case of regeneration: it is not essential to it. Else there are two kinds of regeneration—one for infants and one for adults—one for Christendom and one for Pagandom. So I understand your theory.

I believe with Paul, that the Spirit of God purifies the heart by faith; and with Peter, that the Word is the incorruptible seed of regeneration; and that our Saviour uttered the true philosophy when he prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is the truth," I also concur with John, that "he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God." The truth is the instrument, the means, and the Spirit of God is the cause or agent of regeneration. Such are my views and teachings on this great subject. And, my dear sir, if you always make the Word the instrument of regeneration, you may always expect me to concur with you in saying that it is but the instrument, and not the first cause of a great spiritual change." (pg. 258 - Millenial Harbinger, 1842)

See here

Peck to Campbell (INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT—No. III.), in reply, wrote:

To Elder A. Campbell:

In a former communication you called on me to endorse a particular dogma, that the Spirit, without the ward, regenerated the soul of the sinner. This you alleged to have been the old Baptist faith. This dogma you charged upon Gill, Fuller, and the old Baptist writers generally. In this you are certainly mistaken. None of these writers depreciated the value and importance of the gospel of Christ, or divine truth in conversion. Probably you have heard this dogma preached by some illiterate Baptists of antinomian cast of doctrine, during your connexisn with the denomination; but you do great injustice to the fathers of the last age by such allegations. You will never find such Vol vi.— N, s 7 a sentiment announced in the writing of Andrew Fuller. "The gospel worthy of all acceptation,"' was the earliest and most distinguished polemical writings of this great and good man, from the principles of which proceeded most of his other works, and this work in its whole process of argumentation taught the reverse of your allegation. The obligation of every sinner who hears the gospel, to believe it unto salvation, is the fundamental principle of Fuller's polemical wiitings. Surely you have never read his works; or, reading, you have forgotten, or you would not charge upon Andrew Fuller of teaching the dogma "that the Spirit without the word regenerates the soul!"

"The late Robert Hall, a man of Iranscendant abilities, wrote a tract on the work of the Spirit, which has had an extensive circulation.— Hall was the intimate friend and companion of Fuller, and accorded with him in principles of doctrine. He no where teaches the dogma of regeneration without the word.

The "Baptist Confession of Faith," you are aware, was put forth by the ministers and messengers of seven congregations, in and about London, about two hundred years since, and revised, enlarged, and modified by the ministers and messengers of upwards of one hundred congregations in England and Wales, in 1689, and adopted and republished by the Philadelphia Association, in 1742; yet it teaches a doctrine on the work of the Spirit the very reverse of what you allege.

It teaches that "the whole council of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is contained in the Holy Scriptures"—that "nothing is at any time to be added, whether by a new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men"—that -'the inward illumination of the Spirit of God is necessary to the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word." [See Con. Faith, chap, i, sect. 6.] In describing the office of Christ, as Mediator, (chapter viii , sect. 8.) the Confession says, "To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, uniting them unto himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, In And By The Word, the mystery of salvation; persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his word and Spirit." Believe and obey whai? Why the word of truth, or gospel. In chapter x., section 1., on "Effectual Calling," (the same doctrine as is now termed regeneration,) the "Confession" affirms the saints are "effectually called By His Word And Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to the grace of salvation by Jesus Christ," &e. And section 3d reads—

"Elect infants, dying in infancy, aie regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth; so also are all other elect persons, who are incapable..."

Campbell then responds, writing:

"But have you read the discussion of the previous holy principle, or regeneration before faith, between Andrew Fuller and Archibald Mac Lean of Edinburgh? If not, you ought to read it before you endorse so freely for the "great and good" Mr. Fuller. But if you have read it, I wonder how you could write as you have done touching his views. You say, 1 '-will never find such a sentiment announced in the writing of Andiew Fuller." I perceive, sir, you have never read the works of Andrew Fuller; or, having read them, you certainly have forgotten them. Do you recollect to have read the "Appendix to the Gospel worthy of all acceptation," in which he animadverts on Archibald MacLean's Treatise on the Commission? In this he certainly teaches "regeneration before faith"—regeneration without belief; and certainly that which is done without the word believed, is done without the word. The whole object and drift of the Appendix is to teach a change of heart before belief, or regeneration before faith and independent of it; that faith is an effect of regeneration. Mr. Fuller's views seem evidently to be formed after the model of Messrs. Hopkins and Bellamy, then of high esteem among some of Mr. Fuller's brethren. Mr. Hopkins says in a sermon on John i. 13., that the Spirit of God is the only and the immediate agent of regeneration. "The change," says he, "is wrought by the Spirit immediately; that is, it is not effected by any medium or means whatever. I would," says he "particularly observe here that light and truth, or the word of God, is not in any degree a mean by which this change is effected: it is not wrought by light. Men are first regenerated to introduce light into the mind; therefore, they are not regenerated by light or the truth of God's word." Now hear Mr. Fuller:—"A spiritual perception of the glory of divine things appears to be the first sensation of which the mind is conscious; but it is not the first operation of God upon." p. 212.

Again, in summing up his views on this subject, he says, "All that I contend for is, that it is not by means of a spiritual perception or belief of the gospel that the heart is for the first time effectually influenced towards God; for spiritual perception and belief are represented as the effect, and not the causes of such influence." p. 211. On this subject he is ample. He elsewhere says, "Every thing which proves spiritual perception and faith to be holy exercises, proves that a change of heart must of necessity precede them." p. 2-27. And on another page he says, "But if a spiritual perception of the glory of divine truth precede believing, this may be the same in effect as regeneration preceding it." Mr. Fuller certainly teaches regeneration without faith, and without the word, if language have any meaning. When you hare fully disposed of these Fullerisms we may furnish you with a few more. Mr. Fuller, sir, great and good as he is esteemed, was very ably refuted and exposed by the Scotch Baptists of that day, at the head of whom deservedly stood Archibald MacLean of Edinburg. See his Reply to Fuller's Appendix above quoted.

If, then, as you allege, the "transcendant Mr. Hall" (a name which I highly esteem, as well as that of Fuller, on various accounts,) was of the same views with Fuller, they both taught that very dogma which I oppose as making the word of God of non-effect. Hall's works stand on my shelf, but I have not time to open them now. I will believe you that he and Fuller both concurred in teaching the same views of regeneration "strict and general;" for Fuller has a strict regeneration, or regeneration proper, as well as regeneration general; and you, confounding these, may have wholly misconceived him—if, indeed, you have ever read his works. Mr. Fuller, my dear sir, was too much captivated with the American Divines of that day— Bellamy, Hopkins, and the great Edwards. He did not comprehend the whole tendency of their system as well as some of the American Baptists have since done.

You next introduce the Baptist Confession of Faith; but too confidently assert that it teaches not the doctrine that I assert it does.— Because it asserts at one time views which cannot be reconciled with its other assertions, are we obliged to believe whichever of the contradictions our theory requires, and to deny the other! Yet after all, your candor overcomes your prejudices against me, and you admit that the Confession does teach regeneration without the word, but fortunately limit it to elect infants and other elect persons, Indians, Pagans, &c. &c.— 'persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the word.' Now, sir, you have conceded all that I have ever said of that good little Confession of Baptist Faith. It teaches regeneration by the Spirit, without the word; and perhaps more than half the saved are of the class which it so specifies. Now if it admit that man is sometimes regenerated by the Spirit through the word, is not this a species or accident of regeneration? for if in any case it be without the word, it might be so in all cases; inasmuch as the word is not essential to it. Matter, for example, is frequently in motion; but motion is not essential to matter, for matter can exist without it. Just so faith and the word may sometimes accompany regeneration; but as regeneration can be without either, they are mere accidents, and not essential to it. It is then proved, and that beyond all doubt, my friend himself being judge, that the Baptists do believe and teach regeneration by the Spirit without the word. If, as I believe, the Baptists are generally receding from this dogma, the causes of opposition to us on their part are certainly diminishing. For we believe with all our heart that the heart must be changed by the Spirit of God through the truth believed, before any one can enter into the kingdom of God. I sincerely thank Mr. Peck for this full concession of the dogma in dispute, as having been the faith of the Old Baptists, and, till very recently, of almost all the denominations. I will soon begin to look for better treatment from you, sir, and the more magnanimous and conscientious portion of your denomination. If you candidly give up the dogma in the Confession, yea and I will have a more pleasant and agreeable discussion of the great question; and, perhaps, will very soon come to an amicable close: for so full am I of the conviction and belief of divine influence, the influence of God's Spirit on the heart, that I believe without its aid a Christian man can do nothing at all commendable before God. A religion without the Spirit of God is like a dead body, a putrid carcase; for as the body without the Spirit is dead, so a profession of faith without the Spirit of Christ, is dead also. Fraternally, and with the kindest regard, yours, &c. A. CAMPBELL."
(pgs. 75-78)

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