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TO THE STEREOTYPE EDITION.
EXPERIENCE is an effectual teacher. By the trial, persevered in amidst many difficulties, we have seen that effected, which was deemed impracticable,-an extensive religious reformation, founded upon the scriptural knowledge, personal holiness, and the constant sacrifice of all its abettors. Such an abiding, extensive and personal reformation, consisting in the knowledge and obedience of the sacred writings, differs largely from those hasty excitements of popular interest, which issue in an ephemeral association, whose bond of union is some sectarian peculiarity. But this is not all. The reformation alluded to, and which this book pleads, differs from others in this important respect: it contemplates not the change of any one sect or system, nor the amalgamation of any number or all of them; but it claims as a right, and labors to attain as its object, the reformation of society by a restoration of primitive christianity, i. e. christianity itself, in its gospel, institutions and laws. A creed reformed is a dividing barrier patched, and a seci remodelled is but a daughter the mother of abominations in a new dress. This reformation aims at the demolition of the creed and the sect, genera and species, reformed or unreformed, as purity is incompatible with corruption.
The happiest illustration of the justness of their cause, attempted by the apologists for modern degeneracy, fractured into " names and denominations,” is most infelicitous. They would harmonize around the Lord as sects, like Jacob's sons around their father, and the tribes of Israel about the ark, while marching in the wilderness, or when settled in Canaan, about the temple in the city of peace. But they are strangely insensible of the truth, that the twelve tribes had the same priests, subordinate and chief, the same altar, laver and table, offered the same incense and approached the mercy seat on one day, by a common intercessor; and that when they abandoned the one worship, God forsook them. They have forgotten that Jesus, in his death, grasped the towers, and bowed himself in the gate-way of the “ wall of partition”-the two tables of the fleshly covenant, and in his resurrection demolished them forever. They are not aware that “ the disciples were first called christians at Antioch,” when this imperishable name arose upon the ruins of all religious distinctions, in the first union of Jews and Gentiles in one corporate body. This name in its origin and object, designating the subjects of the one Lord Messiah, who is the Prince of Peace, is the most anti-sectarian of any applied to man; but when coupled with the surname Papist or Protestant, Presbyterian, Baptist or Methodist, &c., becomes dead in law, prophets and gospel, the signal of interminable divisions, and the war-cry of the bitterest persecution. 'Never was there a more complete misnomer than “Christian bect."
But has such a resuscitation of the ancient religion, but just now quite forgotten, been effected? Yes! and perhaps one hundred thousand persons in these United States now rejoice in its light and life. If we may believe the sectarian press, the millennium is just coming in upon our coasts, upon the tide of modern schemes, and by the united or disunited efforts of modern schemists. Such is the burden of every song in praise of the misguided benevolent operations of the day, while the truth that the growth of the army of the sects bears no proportion to the increase of population, stares them in the face. But this is studiously concealed from the blinded multitude, until it is thought that the Romanists are likely to have a majority in the entire republic. In the meantime, (think it not incredible,) the energies of this large number have been put forth in earnest to meet the Lord with oil and light furnished and prepared. Churches of the primitive stamp, subjects of the Prince of Peace, with their officers, his faithful and self-denying servants have, as by magic, sprung up from the seed of the word cast upon some of the good ground in the bosom of corrupt society; and to the admiration of thousands, have exhibited the ancient gospel, the ancient ordinances and the ancient laws of Christ; and though these institutions are yet in their infancy, God providentially indicates that they shall have a glorious harvest, if they betray not his cause.
But what has been the signal instrumentality? It is conceded universally that this book, more than any other means, has consolidated and extended the number and influence of those who have found in the scriptures " him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write.” It is now near twelve years since the Christian Bap; tist first lifted its warning voice, and displayed the light of its counsel. It claimed none of its discoveries as original; and if its distinguished editor had genius and talent, and erudition, and if from the hills of Western Virginia, he succeeded in wielding an influence which is felt in every corner of the Union, and waged a warfare with sectaries and sceptics, the fame and dread of which have passed the Atlantic, he aspired only to be the humble director of the public attention to the oracles of God and the order of his house! The Christian Baptist was the trumpet which was blown throughout the length and breadth of the land; and Mr. Campbell was not alone--some were already waiting for the consolation of Israel,” and others were roused by the first blast; and upon every onset of the opposers, some high spirits were captured, who, taking their places in the ranks, at the price of liberty, hurried the progress of the reformation; all these, through its columns, spoke fearlessly, terror to the aliens, and encouragement to the loyal in all the dominions of Prince Messiah. In this peculiar train of events this work became in many respects, the most remarkable of the age. The French revolution can never occur again, neither can the power of Napoleon ever be revived. In all antiquity Noah's family alone inhabited two worlds, and Adam, the progenitor of all the race, was the only man born an adult. This reformation has taken the highest ground which ever can be assumed among men; and in renouncing all alliance with politics, all creeds, systems and sects, except the inspired writings, and the one sect of christians, which, in the days of the Cesars, was every where spoken against, is as far before the politico-ecclesiastic revolutions of Luther and Calvin, as they were before the pollutions which they only modified and afterwards rendered perpetual, reformed corruptions by those engines pf impurity and oppression, creeds and ecclesiastic power. But this is conceding too much. We cannot compromise the value of a reformation, which cannot be mended, as far as these grounds are concerned. It is obvious that the Christian Baptist can never be reproduced by the same or greater talents; for the events will be wantingevents, the occasions which make men and originate all great and abiding interests. The work is now scarce, and I liave ventured a new and improved edition for the following reasons :
1. The restoration of primitive christianity in each community, is a new and distinct reformation. Consequently, in every place the means must essentially be the same; and past experience recommends this volume as the best possible to effect the object.
2. Since it ceased being published, great numbers have been converted; old churches have been reformed and new ones established, the organization of which is frequently imperfect, if they are organized at all. They should profit by the experience of oths ers, as detailed on these pages.
3, The scepticism of this age, so diversified in its character, has received a large share of attention, and has been foiled in a masterly manner in this work, which is proposed for extensive circulation in society, now alarmingly affected with this leprosy, to remove which, perhaps no other miscellaneous work is better calculated.
4. The Christian Baptist is admirably contrived to annihilate the existence, and to remove the evils and remembrance of sectarianism, by the accuracy of its calculations, the extent of its developments, and most of all, by its clear and forcible statement, illustration and defence of the christian religion.
5. The Romanists are determined upon the conquest of this country; and at this time the wishes of the Pope are nearer being realized than most imagine; and it is confidently believed, that the principles herein set forth are a sure defence against the man of sin and the mother of abominations.
6. Tired of filing reasons for this undertaking, we observe lastly, that it is republished because having attained, and being now better than ever prepared to attain, these objects, it is but right that the scarcity of the first edition should be remedied by this improved, correct, neat and portable volume.
Those long interested in the success of the reformation, will recognize an old acquaintance in this edition, now more venerable and none the less captivating by age. To them no apology is necessary for its appearance, and there should be none to all those who wish to see the apostles of Jesus Christ restored to their rightful dominion. Let these pages but be circulated and read by a candid and enlightened public, and we fear not the fate of the principles maintained, or the practices defended by them.
For the satisfaction of the curious inquirer, it may not be amiss to give him a glance at its general contents, which we will do in the form of
A SYNOPSIS OF DIVINE REVELATION.
PATRIARCHAL, (Adam.) JEWISH, (Moses.) CHRISTIAN, (Messiah.) Eace of these “dispensations'' had its gospel, ordinances, laws, priesthood, &c. The gospel proclaimed by God io Adam is found, Genesis iii. 15, the gospel proclaimed by Moses to the Israelites, Exodus, iii. chap, and the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, preached by the apostles to the world, Acts, ii. chap.
Christianity contains a Gospel-Ordinances-Laws.
Scheme of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord to the World.
Concerning the above table, which might have been extended to many times its length, let the reader notice:
1. That all things in the departments of nature, society and religion, are divisible into original elements; so that we must have light, heat, moisture, &c., to produce vegetation-intelligence and law as well as human beings to produce good society; and we must have all the items which were originally proclaimed for inmediato salvation, to assure us that we have the gospel. Light and heat alone, can by no ingenuity produce an apple or a pear; masses of men, subordinated to authority, but devoid of intelligence, will be but enslaved savages; and a religion called christian, wanting either the gospel, the ordinances or the laws of Christ, though it have the other items, is a false religion; for all false religions of all ages and all ‘nations, are but perversions of one or all of the revealed systems. Likewise, any gospel deficient in any of the nine items of the foregoing scheme, is not the gospel of Christ, but should be surnamed after its modern inventor.
2. The elements of any system being determined, it is then equally necessary to ascertain the order in which they are properly associated. We have the natural, social and evangelical order. God, the author of all things, is the author of order, and in disregarding it we are sinning against him. Now, it is impossible to prove the bible divine if we precede the patriarchal age by the christian, or succeed the christian by the Jewish. So the christian scheme becomes a humanized-sectarian thing, if in its operation we make it commence in ordinances, succeeded by laws, and consummated by the gospel, as do some. The evangelical order is gospel for the rebellious sinner-baptism for him, believing and penitent, and the King's table and all his laws for him, when, by regular naturalization, he becomes a true subject.
Again, if in this degenerate age we would be assured that we have the original gospel, after having ascertained to whom it was committed, when and where it was promulged, we must repair to the person, at the time and place, by the aid of the scriptures, and assemble all the items of the proclamation in the precise order in which they were delivered. Now, in the foregoing scheme we have the gospel divided into news, commands and promises. Who does not see that were the promises, the third item in this division, made the first, they would thereby be effectually separated from the gospel, while the gospel without them would be useless? Interfere with this order in any other way, and the consequences are equally disastrous.Once more, each of these three items is divided into other three; the first into three
facts. Can we, by any effort of imagination, place the resurrection of Christ before his death? Would not such a gospel be anathematized by all good sense? But it is as great an infraction of good order to put baptism, the third duty, before faith, the first. And who would think of placing eternal life precedent to remission of sins? But this is not the place to pursue this subject. .It may not, however, be amiss to observe that this scheme can be sustained, and is largely sustained in this volume, item by item, and position by position, in the light of reason and revelation.
I have devoted several months to the revision and correction of this work, and it is sanguinely hoped that, aided by the corrections of Mr. Campbell, it will now meet public expectation as to style of execution and accuracy. Some of the ephemeral matter, embracing notices, correspondence of local interest, personalities, &c., has been omitted; but with the concurrence of Mr. Campbell, to whom the list of omissions was submitted. The style has been modernized, and in several respects improved; but not being a literary work, and embracing in its correspondence, composition of every variety, it must, like all other miscellaneous periodicals, in many instances, ask the indulgence of the critical. But the work speaks only for the sentiment it contains, and it is presumed that men of all diversities of intellect and learning can understand it,
In reference to manner and means of propagating the christian religion, some things are said in the first pages of this volume, which, to be properly understood, the following facts should be before the mind. The great obstacle to the success of every reformation of religious society, has been the dominant priesthood. They have, en masse, always opposed the rights of the people. There are but a few honorable exceptions to this remark. There were two bishops that stood up with a large minority of noblemen, in favor of the recent English reform. This clerical grasping after power would be harmless, were it not for the lethargy which has overspread the public mind upon the subject. The people think the priesthood a necessary constituent of society. They do not understand that all christians are priests. Now, to break this spell it was needful that the unscripturality and unrighteousness of these clerical claims be made manifest. So necessarily engrossing was this topic, many had like to have overlooked the office of evangelist. So often was the new testament bishop contrasted with the popular clergyman, the presiding officer of one congregation with the circuit riding superintendant of many, that they began to think that no other officer, evangelist or messenger, was requisite to the extension of the church. Experience, however, has corrected and supplied what was wanting; and the few hints upon the subject in this volume have been acted upon largely. Many scores of evangelists and messengers of the churches, are now going to and fro, and the knowledge of the Lord has increased. Thousands have bowed to King Messiah. Thus the bishop's office has been preserved, and the office of the evangelist not lost to a generation which needed it as much as the people of the apos
I cannot better conclude these prefatory remarks, than by expressing my unfeigned thanks to the Giver of all mercies, that I have the opportunity to contribute my mite to his great treasury of means, in sending forth this edition. To him I commend the undertaking; and to him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, during the endless successions of ages: Amen.
D. S. BURNET. MARCH, 2, 1835.