Contents The Christian System
by Alexander Campbell



I. WHILE adjusting the most important terms and phrases in the Christian system, in order to a more perspicuous and comprehensive intelligence of it, it is expedient that we should also advert to other predicates of the genuine Christian. The five terms at the head of this chapter are all indicative of his state; and do not include any attributes of his character.

II. These predicates are but so many counterpart aspects of a new state in reference to an old one; or they represent the gospel as affecting the position of man in the universe in all those points in which sin affected him. Was he guilty, condemned, unholy, alien, and lost, in Adam the first? When in Adam the second, he is just in an opposite state; -- he is pardoned wherein he was guilty -- justified wherein he was condemned -- sanctified wherein he was unholy -- adopted wherein he was alien -- and saved wherein he was lost. Sin, then, condemns, pollutes, alienates, and destroys its subjects. Grace justifies, sanctifies, adopts, and saves its subjects in reference to these points. Pardon has respect to guilt; justification, to condemnation; sanctification, to pollution; adoption, to alienation; and salvation, to destruction. Those out of Christ, are then, in their sins, condemned, unholy, alien, and lost; while those in Christ are pardoned, justified, sanctified, adopted into the family of God, and saved.

III. In former dispensations, and in the present, two things are immutable as respects the preparation for a change of state, while the act by which that change is formally consummated is not necessarily immutable. Thus, in reference to actual transgression, faith and repentance, in all dispensations of religion, were necessary to forgiveness, justification, sanctification, adoption, salvation. In one word, God cannot forgive an impenitent and unbelieving transgressor. But whether this or that act shall consummate a change of state, as respects man's relations to the moral universe; whether that act shall be circumcision, animal sacrifice, baptism, confession, prayer, etc., is not from any necessity, either in the divine or human nature, immutable. It has been changed; but faith in God's appointments, and repentance for past transgressions, are now, always were, and ever more shall be, necessary to forgiveness.

IV. The philosophy or reason of this is, that faith and repentance change the state of man's heart to God; and if there was no universe beyond God and the sinner, all farther acts respecting it would be uncalled for. But as respects the condition of sinners in the universe, and their views, affections, relations, and manner of life, more than faith and repentance, or a change of views and feelings, is necessary to actual, and sensible, and formal pardon, justification, sanctification, adoption, and the salvation of the soul from sin. Hence came the ordinances of baptism, confession, prayer, fasting, and intercession.

V. It is wise and kind on the part of Heaven to ordain such acts, or to institute such ordinances as will assure ourselves and others of our new relations; and to suspend our enjoyment of the favour and love of God, not merely upon faith and penitence, or any other mental operation; but upon certain clear, overt acts, such as baptism, confession, prayer, etc., which affect ourselves and others, much more than they possibly can affect God himself; being the fruit of our faith, or perhaps, rather, only the perfecting of our faith in the promises of God.

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