Further excerpts from Alexander Campbell’s series of articles, beginning in 1825, by the same name.
“Had the founder of the Christian faith been defective in wisdom or benevolence, then his authority, his testimony, and his commandments, … his religion might be improved, or reformed, or better adapted to existing circumstances. But as all Christian admit that he foresaw and anticipated all the events and revolutions in human history, and that the present state of things was as present to his mind as the circumstances that encompassed him in Judea, or in the judgment hall of Caiaphas; that he had wisdom and understanding perfectly adequate to institute, arrange, and adapt a system of things, suitable to all exigencies and emergencies of men and things, and that his philanthropy was not only unparalleled in the annals of the world, but absolutely perfect, and necessarily leading to, and resulting in, that institution of religion which was most beneficial to man in the present and future world. I say, all these things being generally, in not universally agreed upon by all Christians, then it follows, by the plainest and most certain consequences, that the institution of which he is the author and founder, can never be either improved or reformed. The lives or conduct of his disciples may be reformed, but his religion cannot. The religion of Rome, or of England, or of Scotland may be reformed, but the religion of Jesus Christ never can. When we have found ourselves out of the way we may seek for the ancient paths, but we are not at liberty to invent paths for our own feet. We should return unto the Lord.
“But a restoration of the ancient order of things, it appears, is all that is contemplated by the wise disciples of the Lord, as it is agreed that this is all that is wanting to the perfection, happiness, and glory of the Christian community. To contribute to this is our most ardent desire – our daily and diligent inquiry and pursuit. Now, in attempting to accomplish this, it must be observed, that it belongs to every individual and to every congregation of individuals to discard from their faith and their practice every thing that is not found written in the New Testament of the Lord and Saviour, and to believe and practice whatever is there enjoined. This done, and every thing is done which ought to be done.
“But to come to the things to be discarded, we observe that, in the ancient order of things, there were no creeds or compilations of doctrine in abstract terms, nor in other terms other than the terms adopted by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Therefore, all such are to be discarded. it is enough to prove that they ought to be discarded, from the fact that none of those now in use, nor ever at any time in use, existed in the apostolic age. …
“Human creeds are composed of the inferences of the human understanding speculating upon the revelation of God. Such are all those now extant. The inferences drawn by the human understanding partake of all the defects of that understanding. Thus we often observe two men sincerely exercising their mental power upon the same words of inspiration, drawing inferences or conclusions, not only diverse, but flatly contradictory.
“To attempt to unite the professing disciples by any other means than the word of the apostles … is, then, an attempt to overrule the will of heaven, to subvert the throne of the Great King, to frustrate the prayers of the Son of the Blessed.
“He that advocates the necessity of creeds of human contrivance to the unity of the church unconsciously impeaches the wisdom of God, arraigns the benevolence of the Saviour, and censures the revelation of the Spirit.”