Thursday, September 4, 2008


In 1826 Alexander Campbell began publishing a paper with 32 pages 8½ - 5½. It was published monthly and sold for the equivalent of $36 a year in our money. Campbell mailed it postage due as was the custom then. Campbell's first paper, The Christian Baptist, which later became The Millenial Harbinger was one of the factors of the amazing growth of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement in the 1800s. It was widely read by friend and foe alike. Sometimes congregations were led to join the "Plea for the Ancient Order" as Campbell liked to call it. We reproduce two articles by Campbell with the language revised. by myself.
Churches of Christ follow Campbell's "Common Sense" method of understanding the Bible. We read a newspaper using the "laws of language" without micro-examining each individual word. Campbell looked for direct commands, approved examples, and necessary inferences. Since the Bible cannot contradicts itself, what is said in one place must be understood and qualified by what is said in other places.

[I have revised the language slightly. RDI]

1. The first man was the logical conclusion of creation. In the natural state as he came from the hand of God he was the perfection of all earthly creations and institutions. In the elements of his being he was partly heavenly (godlike) and partly earthly - a body of earthly material, but a spiritual intelligence and a divine life. Designed to know and to enjoy his Creator, and to have communion with all that is divine, spiritual and material in the universe, he was capable of an almost unlimited variety of enjoyments.

2. And God said: "Let us make man in our image after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man a his own image, in his own image created he him; a male and female created he them" (Gen. l:26-27). Man was a companion to his Father and Creator. He had the ability to admire, adore, and enjoy Cod. God created the earth for man. God was fully glorified in His creation of the earth when man was made happy, grateful, and thankful to Himself by it. Man, in his natural state was not merely an animal, but an intellectual, moral, pure and holy being.

3. His position or state in this creation was that of a managing director. The earth is the Lord's; but He gave it to man on a very easy and liberal lease, and so it became his property. He was a free and responsible agent, capable of managing his estate and paying his rent. Consequently, he could choose virtue or vice, happiness or misery. To produce freedom, virtue, and happiness, it was both expedient and necessary to place him under a law; for where there is no law there can be no liberty, virtue or happiness. The law became a test of his character, a guarantee his continued use of the life and property which God had leased to him on the condition of his obedience to that command.

4. That there might be little temptation to disobedience and great motive toward obedience, the command was simple, positive and clear. It could not be a moral precept, because other reasons than simple submission to the will of his Lord and King might have prevented that display of pure loyalty which was to test his character and determine his future. It was therefore a positive law. The demand was so small as to present the least possible restraint upon the liberty of thought and of action. Yet it was the most infallible test of his loyalty. The Adamic Code was therefore designed and adapted to happiness. It placed only one restriction in the way .of universal liberty. That restriction was at such a distance as to make the circle of his unrestrained and free movements within a single step of the last outpost of all intellectual, moral, and tangible enjoyment. The entire earth was his to use, with the exception of one single fruit. Truly God was superlatively good and kind to man. "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou hast put all things under his feet; all sheep and oxen; yea, and the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the sea. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:5-9).

No comments: