Mr. Chaffin was able to procure a manuscript of one of Rev. Campbell’s sermons, and wrote regarding it, “Its theology is antiquated, for its doctrine of the atonement, which represents Christ as actually suffering under the wrath of an incensed God, long since gave way to a more rational and merciful theory”.
However, God’s proclamation of Christ’s atoning work is in no way deterred by any who reject it. In spite of Mr. Chaffin’s relegating the Biblical doctrine of the atonement to the dustbin of history, Mr. Chaffin also wrote of the sermon, “It shows exceptional ability of composition and much rhetorical power… it shows a heart deeply affected by the love of Christ, and thoroughly permeated and possessed with a devout and adoring faith”.
As such, because of his admiration of Rev. Campbell’s zeal and abilities, a portion of this sermon is included in Chaffin’s history. This portion of the sermon alone is well worth the price of purchasing a reprint copy of this book.
An excerpt of the sermon with its original spelling and expression reads, “Yes, the King of heaven and Controller of universal nature, when Dwelling in a tabernacle of Clay, was exposed to Chilling Damps and smitten by sultry beams ; the stars in their Midnight watches heard him Pray, and the sun in his Meridian fervors saw him toil : Hence are our frozen hearts Dissolved into a mingled flow of wonder, love, and joy, being Conscious of a Deliverance from those insufferable flames, which kindled by Divine indignation burn to the lowest hell. Our allglorious and everblessed Creator's head was encircled with the thorny wreath, his face was Defiled with Contemelous spitting, and his Body bathed in a bloody sweat, that we might wear the Crown of glory that fadeth not away. All the waves of vengeance and wrath, of tribulation and anguish passed over his crusified body and his agonizing soul, that we might emerge from those Depths of misery, from that abyss of guilt into which we were Plunged by Adam's fall and more erritreavbly sunk by our own transgressions”.
Clearly, Rev. Campbell embraced and freely proclaimed the marvelous truth that Jesus Christ indeed came to suffer the just penalty due for the sins of all who place their trust in him. As such, Jesus Christ, God Himself in the flesh, stood in the place of believing sinners to receive the brunt of God’s wrath against sin. In this way, and in this way only, God’s justice was satisfied.
God created man in his image, and to be in the image of God was to be a perfect reflection of God’s pristine moral character in every thought, word and deed. However, man as represented by Adam chose to disobey God, and by this action placed himself and all mankind under condemnation. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation…” (Romans 5:18).
But as Rev. Campbell put it, “For me the author of all blessings became a curse ; for me he hung with streaming veins upon the cross ; for me his bones were dislocated and his flesh was torn. O, may I in my little sphere, and amidst the scanty circle of my acquaintance, at least whisper these glad, transporting tidings”.
And almost 250 years later that “antiquated… doctrine of the atonement” is still preached by many, and I feel immensely privileged to be among those who continue in the line of Rev. Campbell in proclaiming this marvelous truth of reconciliation, pardon and everlasting life in “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And indeed, Jesus really did suffer the wrath of God, but it was so that I and other believers would be spared, for “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).