The Elders and Messengers composing the Licking Association of Particular Baptists now in session with the Elk Lick Church, near Sadieville, Scott County, Ky. To the Saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are abroad, sendeth greetings:
Dear Brethren and Sisters: As we have been permitted by Divine Providence to assemble together once more in an associated capacity, we again endeavor to address you, hoping that the Lord will enable us to so word our epistle that it may prove a blessing to all the household of faith, and especially to you, for whom it was more directly penned. And as the subject of the Union of Christ and His Church bears on our minds at present, we feel to say a few words thereon.
While we regret that our feeble pen cannot portray the beauties of so grand a subject in such colors and minuteness as we could wish, yet we hope that from the hints we may give, in connection with the Scriptures, you will be able to draw consolation from the idea of the Church of Christ being truly and essentially united to Him from all eternity, not only virtually, but actually, not only in purpose, but also in fact and in deed. Now, we wish to be understood that when we speak, we mean in a spiritual point of view. "There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body." – 1st. Cor. 15:44. Again: "The first man, Adam, was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. Howbeit that was not first (having reference to their development in time) which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from Heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy, and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." – 1st Cor. 15:45-48). As we said before, there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. The natural body is derived through Adam, while the spiritual body is of Christ. Thus the two headships are brought to view, and their seed in them. We can readily understand the union of relationship existing between Adam and his posterity, and that such union has existed ever since the time Adam was formed out of the dust of the earth, because that union is natural, and we being natural, can see and understand the development thereof with our natural faculties. So in like manner when the eyes of our understanding are enlightened by divine grace, we can behold that this natural figure illustrates the spiritual headship, and Christ and His seed in Him, and ever since He has existed as the great Head of the Church, as her Mediator, her High Priest and King, and as Husband she has stood in Him, united to Him and one with Him, as Eve was to Adam. And as Eve had her standing in Adam before she was taken from his side, having been created in him, for "in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them," and after she was taken from his side and formed into a semi-separate existence, Adam could say; "This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man" – Genesis 2:23. So the antitype is brought to view by the figure, for as Eve was created in Adam, so the Church is said to be "created in Christ Jesus." – Ephesians 2:10. And Christ as fully recognized His Bride, where He says, "I pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them Thou hast given Me, for Thine they were. And all mine are Thine, and Thine are mine, and I am glorified in them." – John 17:9-10.
Thus you see that Adam was indeed a "figure" of Christ, for the Scripture saith, "Who is the figure of Him that was to come." – Romans 5:14. How then can any one who has an understanding of divine things, deny the eternal union of Christ and His children? Adam being a time-being, the relation between him and his seed is such, that their existence is coeval with his existence. So with Christ; He being from eternity, the relation between Him and His seed must necessarily be eternal.
The figure is brought to view again by the example of a corn of wheat; Jesus saith, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." – John 12:24. Christ spoke this of Himself that He must necessarily die to bring forth fruit, and that His fruit should remain, and Paul saith, "Thou fool, that which thou soweth is not quickened except it die, and that which thou soweth, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bear grain, it may chance of wheat, or some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body." So that every seed produceth its like kind, and the seed or grain must spring from its parent germ; so there is a continuation of the same relation to every plant springing from one another. So Christ's seed was manifested or brought forth in consequence of His laying down His Life, not to make them His seed, but to manifest them, as such.
Again, national Israel is represented as a typical people; and their going down into Egypt into bondage under the Assyrian Pharaoh, is figurative of the bondage of spiritual Israel under sin, the land of darkness and the shadow of death. Now recollect that this people came out of Canaan before going down into Egypt, and their going back is spoken of as "a return;" so likewise this spiritual people do return from whence they came; "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." – Isaiah 35:10. Does not this signify that the redeemed had been in Zion before? "I will say to the North, give up; and to the South; keep not back; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth." – Isaiah 43:6. They are here recognized as sons and daughters prior to their coming – prior to regeneration. Again, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father." – Galatians 4:6. They are then called sons before they are made to cry "Father;" they can then own with thankfulness the relation, while Christ claims them as sons before, "Forasmuch, then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." etc. – Hebrew 2:14. This is plain: the children being put forth in Adam in their natural state of existence, became sinners, strangers and foreigners; still they are recognized as children, and by grace are brought nigh, and made fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." – Colossians 3:3. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." – Romans 8:17. "For both He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." – Hebrews 2:11. For that life which was given us in Him was never defiled with sin, being preserved in Him. They then had a pre-existence in Christ prior to being in Him by calling. They then had an existence in Christ prior to being put forth in Adam, which constitutes that eternal relation; their being consistent with Him.
Thus we see the necessity of His taking part of the nature of His Bride, that He might redeem her from under the curse of the law. This He could judicially do, being the near Kinsman, He had the right according to law to redeem her, as Boaz did Ruth, the Moabitess. The term "redeem" signifies the prior right of inheritance, and divine Justice fully recognizes Him as being the Head, the Husband, the Shepherd. "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." – Luke 24:46. "Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren", etc. – Hebrews 2:17. So in consequence of His being her Head, He must needs suffer, and in no other way could divine Justice have accepted the sacrifice; in no other way could her sins have been imputed to Him. And in consequence of this imputation, we hear it said, "Awake O sword against My Shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of Host; smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn Mine hands upon the little ones." – Zech. 13:7.
The children are called the sheep. "All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." – Isaiah 53:6. Again it is said, " The Lord hath appeared of old unto me saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." – Jer. 31:3. Again, "I was set up from everlasting from the beginning, or ever the earth was, &c. Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth, and My delights were with the sons of men." – Prov. 8:23-31. If they were so early beloved as this, being His delights before time, before they were actually brought into visibility, have you, doubting Christian, any reason to fear but that He will remember you yet? Well may you sing with the poet:
"Rest, doubting Saint, assured of this,
For God hath pledged His Holiness."
Remember, when He brought Israel out of Egypt or bondage, He would not suffer a hoof to be left behind. Nor will He now: Do you ponder the resurrection of the body? His word and His oath is confirmation enough; His love brought Him down from heaven for you; it caused Him to suffer, bleed and die that you might live; He is gone to prepare a place for you, and He will come again and take you unto Himself. Again, we would say that in consequence of this eternal union, God saw proper to reveal Himself under the character of Love to His elect children. Think you that He would thus have revealed Himself to poor fallen sinners had not this union existed? Have we not more reason to conclude that He would have revealed Himself as a Just God, and not as a Savior? But thanks be to His name, He loved us, and had provided every means necessary to complete our redemption from under the curse of the law. Again, it is written: "My substance was not hid from Thee (having direct reference to His body, the Church) when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see My substance, yet being unperfect, and in Thy book all My members were written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them." – Psalm 139:15. Again, Christ says, when speaking of this people, "They are not of the world even as I am not of the world." – John 17:14. How beautifully they are identified then; they are with Christ; they then have a heavenly origin. The Scripture saith, "And we know that we are of God," &c. – 1st John 5:19. For it is said again, "They which are the children of the flesh (Adam's posterity), these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." – Romans 9:8. They are a peculiar people, and it is said that "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel. The Lord His God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them." – Numbers 23:21. How unchangeable then is His Love? Now, dear brethren, this people is loved equally and co-eternally with Christ, joint heirs with Him, and we hear Him representing them to the Father, and pleading their cause, and saying, "I pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine." And they will all be sanctified and cleansed, that He might present them to Himself, a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.
Dear Brethren, rejoice and give honor to His name. You will discover that we have said nothing about the opposite character – that people of whom it is said, "But ye believe not because ye are not of My sheep, as I said unto you." – John 10:26. The command of the angel to John was to "Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein, but the court which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not."&c. – Rev. 11:1-2. Now may "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen."
Elder C. C. Moore, Moderator
A. M. Bradley, Jr., Clerk
W. V. Mulberry, Assistant Clerk.