Knightstown, Ind., May 10, 1880
DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: – On several accounts I feel called upon to write again for the SIGNS. It is due to you that I notice your comment upon my last letter. Many of the saints south past me to write some account of my visit there for the SIGNS and other Baptist papers, and it is due to them that I explain why and now ask them to excuse me.
My last appointment in the south, as made and published, was at Mt. Olive, the house-church of Elder W. M. Mitchell, in east Alabama, for the fourth Sunday in May, after which I expected to make and feel other appointments on their return trip, as the weak state of my lungs made it seem advisable for me to remain south to June. But the deeply afflicting word reached me, by the slow course of mail, (a telegram having failed to reach me,) that my youngest child, a noble boy, almost twenty-one, was dead, and my wife was very sick, and I returned in great sorrow and painful suspense, to find that she had died three days before the sad letter of my other son reached me. This sudden and sorrowful termination of my otherwise very comforting visit among our dear brethren south, is so afflicting to me that I cannot write an account of this visit, for in heart and spirit and crushed under affliction and sorrow. Yet let me assure all the dear brotherhood south of my love and fellowship for them and gratitude to them, and ask them to pray for me and my remaining lovely daughter and worthy son, both of whom are children of God, as I believe. And the comforts me in my sorrow to learn from my children and brethren that my wife and son left consoling assurances that they died in the Lord, and shall awake and be satisfied with his likeness. The blessed resurrection of the dead seems more precious to me now than ever.
And now, brother Beebe, if the Lord will and Abel me, I will try to make the meaning of my last letter more plain, so that you and all the brethren will understand and accept it. The scriptures show that the church and all the children of God have a two-fold relationship, namely, to Adam in the flesh, and to the Lord Jesus in the Spirit; and that these two are manifested by a first and the second birth, the one of the flesh, the other of the Spirit. In the first birth they receive the life of Adam, and are made partakers of his nature; but in the second birth they receive the life of Jesus, and are made partakers of the divine or spiritual nature of the Son of God. In the life of Adam, as developed in them by the first and natural birth, they are the creatures of God; but in the life of Jesus, has manifested in them by the second for spiritual and supernatural birth, they are the children of God. Both these relations and births are necessary to manifest the children or sons of God; for “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John iii. 3. And that man who was born again is himself a child or son of God, and he is a new creature in Christ; but his sonship to God is not through Adam, but through Christ – not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. For “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that WE are the children of God.” – Rom. viii. 16. Therefore as many as are born again, born of God, they are the sons of God, but no others are his children. “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” On the other hand, Paul says, “Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” – Rom. viii. 9. Then it is in the spirit of Christ that his people are owned as his, and before it was received by them they were “without Christ,” and bore the image of Adam only; but now in Christ Jesus they are the children of God, “being born again,” and born of God. And in the righteous life of the Son of God all the children of God are in unity and identity with Christ, as the many branches of the one true and living Vine. But the children of God, that is, those that are born again, are also in unity and identity with Adam in their flesh, even as they are with Christ and their spirit. Moreover, although the children of God have two different and opposite natures, as born again, yet these two, the flesh in the spirit, are in personal identity in them, even as the man Christ Jesus was but one man, though he was the Son of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness. And the imputation of the sins of his people to Christ, and of his righteousness to them, is in virtue of his relationship to them and their flesh, as the Son of man, and of their relationship to him in his spirit, as the sons or children of God. Therefore Christ suffered for their sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring them two God, and he was put to death in the flesh, the quickened by the spirit. – 1 Peter iii. In all this they must follow him, and be made like him; for they shall drink of his cup of suffering, and be baptized with his baptism into death, and then they shall also know the power of his resurrection, and the glory of his ascension into heaven. “For since by man came death, by MAN came also the resurrection of the dead.” Now this last MAN, who died for his brethren, and rose again, was the Son of God, the yet he was and is a MAN. Clearly, then, it is man that must die, and that shall be resurrected; but yet it is evident that those who shall be resurrected unto life and immortality shall be called the sons of God, even as the man Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” – Rom. i. 4.
And now to sum up. The people of God as related to Adam in the flesh, and is manifested by their first birth, Are one with Adam and his natural life, disobedience and death; but as related to the Son of God in the spirit, and is manifested by their second birth, they are likewise one with the Son of God in his eternal life, obedience and resurrection. Because Adam send and died, they sin and die in him; but because Christ obey the law of God in his fleshly relationship to them, and rose from the dead, they should we made righteous by his obedience, and shall be made alive in him. For in the tree and all its many branches there’s only one life. So it is in Adam; and so it is in Christ. All this is scriptural, and will not be denied by any of the brotherhood, I think. Now the life of every branch in the tree is as old as the tree itself; they yet there was a period when the branches, as such, had no individual existence, but were all embodied in the life of the parent tree, of which they are the outgrowth. This is true of the children of God, both and there standing in Adam naturally, and in Christ spiritually. The word children is a relative term, and relates to those who are begotten and born of a parentage, and it has no other actual meaning. Yet without such previous vital for life relationship between parent and offspring, no child could ever be born, either once were again – of man or of God. This needs no argument for proof.
Has borne wants, we are the children of Adam, and must die in him; but as born again, we are the children of God, and shall be made alive in Christ, in whom we have redemption. As the dying children of Adam, we must put off his image, and be adopted into the eternal home of “our Father in heaven.” This is according to the purpose and predestination of God, and it shall surely be performed. But as born again, we have received the spirit of adoption, which seals us as the children and heirs of God, and gives us to know that our home is not here, but in heaven; therefore we now wait “for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body.” This will be in our resurrection from the dead, when we shall be completely manifested as the sons of God, and shall bear the perfect and glorious image of the heavenly Man, the reason and glorified Son of God. We shall then be with and like the beloved Son of God, and behold his glory. And quickened, raised up been saved by his life, and perfected in his image, we who are now sinner’s shall be righteous and holy, and “shall be called the children of the living God.” In this good hope, farewell.
Signs of the Times
Volume 48, No. 12
June 15, 1880.