Thomas Campbell A Scriptural View of the Agency of the Holy Spirit in the Conversion and Salvation of Sinners--According to the Gospel (1841)

VOL. V. B E T H A N Y, V A. NOVEMBER, 1841. NO. XI.

See John Mark Hicks defining Alexander Campbell as a Trinitarian.

[Thomas Campbell noted elsewhere that: "I am not to be understood as objecting to the detection and exposure of a false and unscriptural experience, which, from your words, appears to be the thing intended; for, in your foot note, page 141, you assert, that we are taught, that

"since those gifts have ceased, the Holy Spirit now operates upon the minds of men only by the word;" and at the close of said note, you further assert, that "we are positive of one point,"

namely, "that the scriptures teach us not the doctrine of physical operations of the Divine Spirit in order to faith."

THE law was given by Moses, but the grace and the truth came by Jesus Christ.--He came to his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave the privilege to become children of God; that is, to them that believed on his name: which were born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man; but of God. John i. 11, 13, 17.

Except a man be born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, John iii. 5, 6.

No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. xii. 3.

Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.--As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.--Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.--The Spirit also helps our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us, with inexpressible groanings;--for he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Rom. viii. 8, 9, 14, 15, 26, 27.

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. Rom. v.5.
God has sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Cor. i. 22.
God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father. Gal. iv. 6.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Gal. v. 22, 23.

Phil. 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
That is because the name of the Comforting Spirit is "Jesus Christ the Righteous.

After ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.--Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption. Eph. i. 13. and iv. 30.

Hereby we know, that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. Hereby know we, that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 1 John iii. 24. and iv. 13.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy spirit; Titus 3:5

And be not conformed to this world: but ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Campbell first notes that these effects in connection with salvation are done by the Holy Spirit but are upon the heart or mind of the person. Even among the apostles (for example Paul) when the Lord as Spirit communicated a message it was not directly upon the mind; it was produced upon the mind through the use of spoken words. Not being inspired, we are not to expect to get a message in our mind directly from God the Spirit.

Secondly, that the Holy Spirit produces all those gracious effects above described, by his divinely authenticated word, as the instrumental cause, or efficient means of his saving operations.

For the very same saving effects, that are ascribed to the Spirit, are also ascribed to the word.--
Thus we are said to be begotten by the word, quickened by the word, born of the word;--nourished by it, enlightened by it, converted by it, made wise by it,--to live by it, to be entertained and delighted with it, to be sanctified by it, to be saved by it.

In short, God has magnified his word above every other exhibition of his name. Psalm cxxxviii. 2.

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods (armies of angels) will I sing praise unto thee. Psalm 128:1

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy WORD above all thy name. Psalm 138:2

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. Psalm 138:3

This is vocal or silent praise and it is personal. It is done with the heart as if in the presence of the heavenly hosts. The reason for his praise is the Word which is the superior Name of God. Personal worship was not part of the national worship and was directed toward the temple as the "location" which God allowed people under the unlawful secular kingdom.

For by it his people are made wise to salvation, thoroughly furnished to all good works.--See the following scriptures: James i. 18; Psalm cxix. 50, 93; 1 Peter i. 23, 25; ii. 2; Psalm xix. 7-11; cxix. 105; [496] Matthew iv. 4; Jeremiah xv. 16; John xvii. 17; 1 Corinthians xv. 2; 2 Tim. iii 17.

Query.--But is not the Spirit himself said to bear witness with the spirit of believers, that they are the children of God; and to help their infirmities, especially in prayer, by making intercession for them with unutterable groanings? Now what have the especial agencies to do with the instrumentality of the word?

To this it may be justly replied with respect to these unutterable groanings (of the person, not the Holy Spirit), that they are the natural expressions of unutterable desires and feelings, produced in the heart by the inconceivable things presented to the mind, in the gracious declarations, invitations, and promises of the gospel; or by the overwhelming impetus of troubles, trials, and afflictions, to which believers are frequently exposed in this present evil world.

Now, in either case, the mental embarrassment (of the person, not the Holy Spirit) is the effect of external causes, of which the mind is conscious, and proceeds from sensibilities divinely excited by the knowledge and belief of the truth through the Spirit; and, therefore, if the Christian knows not how to express himself or what to ask,

God, who in such cases, hears the desires of the heart, knows what to give: for these desires and feelings are, in reality, as truly the work of the Spirit, as are love, joy, peace, &c., which are also ascribed to the word.--

And, with respect to the Spirit's witnessing with the believer's spirit, that he is a child of God,

it necessarily implies the instrumentality of the word, without the knowledge and belief of which in the first place, he could not have been a believer; and, of course, not a child of God, nor have known any thing about the Holy Spirit.

And, now, as a believer, he must "not believe every spirit; but must try the spirits, whether they be of God." And how is he to do this but by the word? for by this alone can he know the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error. 1 John iv. 6.

They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 1 John 4:5

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:6

Of course, then, this proof trial, of the supposed witness of the Spirit, if sustained, identifies it with the word that sustains it: consequently, the only authenticated credible testimony of the Spirit is the word;-

His gracious and peculiar office is, to engraft and realize it in the heart of the believer, and so to make it forthcoming for his assurance of salvation.

Indeed, without this, the strongest impressions of assurance are unscriptural, untenable. Suppose, for instance,--"that a professed believer should feel the strongest impression on his soul, that he is a child of God; that Jesus Christ has loved him, and given himself for him; that all his sins are blotted out, and that he is most certainly reconciled to God."

Should he admit the truth of this without farther examination?--How does he know, that it is not a mere deception proceeding from the father of lies, maliciously intended for his destruction?--Is it by the exceeding vehemence of the impression?--Let him look back yonder to the worshippers of Baal, (I Kings xviii.,) and consider what he hears and sees.

"They cry aloud, from morning, till noon, saying, O Baal, hear us! They leap upon the altar, and cut themselves, after their manner, with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out!!!--"Astonishing!--Tremendous!--What feeling is here!--What earnestness!--What transporting excitement! Yet, alas! it is all deception--mere delusion. But, blessed be God, the true believer is not left to the hazard of such delusions.

For the Divine Testifier is known by his divinely authenticated testimony: and his testimony is divinely authenticated by himself--"God himself bearing witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will." Heb. ii. 4. Wherefore, both the Testifier and his testimony being the very truth itself, most divinely authenticated: John xviii. 17, and 1 John v. 6.

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10

Therefore his application of it can admit of no deception; being always founded upon the possession of certain scriptural properties, which evidently distinguish the new creature from every other description of character--Consequently, his scriptural attestation, to the real Christianity of such as possess those special attributes, can admit of no doubt in the minds of any, that can discern and realize them; and such alone are the specified subjects of Christian assurance; for they are all addressed, in the Good Book, as the capable subjects of self-examination.

Now, though in the mean time,

this special evidence may be justly called direct and immediate, on the part of the Spirit;yet the appropriation of it is the personal act and duty of the believer; to which he is expressly called by the direct injunction of the Holy Spirit, when his case seems to require it: see 2 Cor. xiii. 5.

"Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?"--"Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Rom. viii. 9.-

(Spirit, here, means mental disposition of a person.)

Thus when the professed believer finds in himself those special attributes of faith, feeling, disposition, and practice--of thought, word, and deed; in which Christian character is made to consist, as described in the Bible,

he then has the direct, immediate, and indubitable testimony of the Holy Spirit, that he is redeemed, justified, sanctified, and adopted into the divine family, for a habitation of God through the Spirit;--an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ.

Any other sort of testimony or witness of the Holy Spirit, respecting the real Christianity of a professed believer, the scripture no where specifies.

And here let it be observed, that all those holy principles and practices, which constitute the real Christian, are the fruits of the Spirit; and therefore evince his indwelling presence and blissful sanctifying agency; so that saying, (1 John v. 10.) is verified; namely, that

"he that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself,--that he dwells in God, and God in him; because he has given him of his Spirit." And also, that "God has given him eternal life in his Son." John iv. 13. and v. 11

Thus the Christian's assurance is complete; for the fruits of the Spirit prove his inhabitation; and this again indubitably proves the believer's relation to God. Wherefore, the Christian's assurance, in the highest and most comprehensive sense of that word, being thus complete while walking in the way of duty, he can, therefore, desire nothing more for that purpose, but merely to "hold fast his present confidence steadfast to the end," being thus completely assured of his interest in Christ. Heb. iii. 14. And were he to lose this divine assurance through negligence or apostacy, though an inspired Apostle, or angel from heaven were to speak peace, or whisper assurance, would he not, in so doing, incur the divine malediction, Gal. i. 3, 9.

Moreover were we to attempt to separate the Spirit from the Word, or the Word from the Spirit, the consequence must prove fatal: for it would not only be separating what God has constitutionally and solemnly united, saying,

"As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My Spirit is upon them, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth, and forever." Isai. lix. 21.

AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; Isaiah 11:2

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

But, moreover, to separate these, would also be depriving ourselves of that blissful certainty of our salvation, which the Word and Spirit of God, only when united, can give. Wherefore, what God has thus solemnly joined together, let not man dare to put asunder. Again, if either the Word or the Spirit separately, had been sufficient to have answered the divine purpose, why give us both? Do we not learn from the uniform tenor of the Good Book, that the Word without the Spirit could not save us? For "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." 1 Cor. xii. 3.

Also, is it evident, that the Spirit without his divinely authenticated Word, would be inaccessible to us? We could not approach him; and if he approached us by physical impressions upon our sensitive nature, or by suggestions to our minds; as things are, we could not certainly know whence these impressions and suggestions came; whether from a good spirit or a bad, as was shown above. Thus would we be continually exposed to most perplexing doubts and uncertainty about the only things that can render the thought of future existence desirable, or even tolerable.

But, blessed be God, he has not left us thus forlorn (orphans or without a Comforter); having favored us with the sure word of prophecy, as a light shining in a dark place, to guide us in the way of peace, truth, and certainty; with the blissful promise of his Holy Spirit to apply it: saying,

"I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.

A new heart also will I give you, and
a new spirit will I put within you; I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh; and I will give you

a heart of flesh." Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27.

Thus are both the salvation of the true believer, and his blissful assurance of it, most abundantly provided for; yea, most infallibly secured in the due use of the divinely appointed means: for thus it is written:

"Thus saith the Lord, I will yet, for this, be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." Ezek. xxxvi. 37.

Wherefore, it must be entirely owing his own sad neglect, if he is deprived of this most blissful certainty. Upon the whole,--blessed and happy, above all comparison in this world, is the realizing subject of these most blissful privileges.

Thomas Campbell, The Millennial Harbinger (November 1841): 496-499

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