[By Alexander Campbell, with emphasis added in bold by Scott Shifferd Jr.]
THE present general order of things is exhibited in miniature in the preceding remarks. There are many who advocate the present order of things–not, we hope, the effects of that order, but the system of things which legitimately issues in these results. They are, to say the least, false reasoners, or fallacious philosophers. They do not assign to effects their proper causes, or to causes their proper results. True philosophy consists in assigning effects to their true causes; false philosophy, in assigning effects to other causes than their own. We have often heard much of how the Lord has blessed the present order of things by the numerous converts and large accessions made to congregations under the reigning systems. This is most fallacious and dangerous logic. If it were true philosophy, it would equally prove that infant sprinkling, the invocation of saints, and the whole system of papistical and protestant managements were of divine origin and approbation. For how often do we hear the Papist and the Protestant appealing to the mighty achievements of their leaders in proof that the Lord is with them, and that he countenances all their movements? Each party numbers its Israel every year, and capitalizes its converts, in attestation that the Lord is there. Scarce a revival comes, but Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists come in for a share; though, in general, the two former out-count the latter. Now if the Baptist annual converts prove that the present order of things is of divine origin amongst them, it will as logically prove that the present order of things amongst Catholics, Presbyterians, and Protestants, is of divine approbation. All that my reasoning powers can conclude from these premises, is, first, That if the Lord’s hand is not in these accessions, they are equally deceived; and though in different degrees, all distant from the equator of truth. One is ten degrees south; another, ten degrees north; and though twenty degrees apart, they are equally distant from the equator of true religion. But, in the second place, if the Lord’s hand is in these accessions, then it proves that he disdains equally their systems and their order, and bestows his favors indiscriminately on all. It cannot be argued that he approves all their systems; for this would terminate in the most absurd results. He would then approve of Papacy, Episcopacy, Presbytery, and Independency–of infant sprinkling and of believer’s immersion, and of a hundred things flatly contradictory to each other. I say, then, it proves, on the best hypothesis, that he disdains all their systems and their order, and that he loudly proclaims it by the distributions of his favor upon the Baptist order, the Methodistic order, the Presbyterial order, and so forth. If the Lord approved of one of the present systems he would confer all his favors upon that people; or, in other words, he would assemble his elect under that standard, and signalize them as he once did the only nation he selected and made his own. They could exclaim, What people like us!! What people has the Lord blessed as he has blessed us!! I say, then, that to my reasoning faculties, the logic of the Baptist Recorder or that of the Presbyterian Luminary now confederated, proves not that the Lord approbates that for which they contend, viz. the present order of things in their respective circles, but that he equally disdains both their orders. I would like to see them try their logic here. He sends his gospel to them all, on the supposition that the work of these revivals is his, and thereby calls them to reformation. I have no idea of magnifying molehills into mountains, nor of consecrating the language of Ashdod into that of Canaan; I have no idea of amalgamating oil and water, of christening pagans, or of paganizing Christians; I have no idea of raising up a holy seed from Egyptian or Babylonish wives, nor of proving that the Lord approves the present order of things, because the Methodists and Baptists annually count twenty thousand converts a-piece.
During the ancient order of things there was no church meetings for the purpose of receiving candidates for immersion. There were no monthly meetings to decide who should be baptized. There was no person who held his membership in one church and had the pastoral care of another in which he was not a member, and to which he was not amenable, as is now the case very generally. There was no church in those days of primitive integrity, composed of a hundred members, which, in a case of discipline, gave only eleven votes, six against and five for the delinquent, and they excommunicated him. There was no deacon appointed solely for the purpose of carrying about a plate four times a-year. There was no society whose whole code of discipline was the 18th of Matthew. There was no one who had any formulary, creed, or confession, other than the apostolic writings. Now let him that affirms to the contrary remember that the proof lies upon him. And we will assure him that his proof will be faithfully published by us, should he send it for that purpose. The subjects introduced here are intended for future development.