I hope you will not think I am intruding on you in requesting room in the Signs, etc., for this reply, even should it pass through the Western Predestinarian Baptist, should that paper be in progress. A much shattered memory and mind, by reason of age, and about forty years heavy labor, both in body and mind in the gospel field, calls for the charity of my brethren, in passing over my blunders, and for them to try to understand the subject matter, intended to be brought to view.
Brother Trott’s candor, his close attention to, and for, what he thinks is bible truth, his soundness in the faith once delivered to the saints, with the Christian spirit manifested in him, brings him so near to my feelings as one of the members of the body of Christ, that I am loath to hurt his feelings, and hope that I shall not, by my differing from him, in understanding the scriptures. My plain manner, nor my rough way of writing, as I have never been qualified, by worldly wisdom to smoother things. No doubt, with me, but that the existing differences between us, are honest ones, and, perhaps, by a candid investigation of things, one, or both of us may be corrected in some of our errors, (for we are both liable to err), while others may be instructed into the truth, and I can assure brother Trott, that it is not for argumentative sake concerning the matter (except over error) that causes me to reply, and I am as willing to be corrected, as I am to correct; for error will do me no good. I would freely give all I have (which no doubt are many) for one single truth.
All argument to sustain false doctrines and erroneous views of things are predicated upon false premises from which false or improper conclusions are drawn, and scriptures of truth brought in to support the position taken, are wrongly applied. This is what I have done no doubt in points wherein I may have erred, and no doubt, what Elder Trott has done, if in error, and as I think he is, it places a difference between us, on other points besides that of the example of washing feet, and so widens the field of investigation that by being cramped lest I exceed the bounds, common, for a periodical, I shall neglect many interesting points, and leave room for criticism, but the honest hearted will try to know the truth. A word of a sort must now do me.
I shall first, notice some of brother Trott’s objections to my views of things. He criticizes very closely on the example given by the Saviour in washing his disciple’s feet, not being an ordinance. I thought I had made my understanding of the difference between an example and an ordinance, in my former remarks on this subject plain. The one, an example, which the Saviour had set by his own performance, to be practiced amongst them, or his disciples, one to the other, by washing one another’s feet; not requiring the regular order of a church capacity, or form of worship, nor ordained authorities to lead the way, or officiate therein. The other, an ordinance, requiring a regular order with ordained authorities to officiate. But, brother Trott seems to think strange that I should consider this example figurative, and yet, call it a ‘duty’ in place of ‘worship’, while he thinks the ‘act’ being ‘figurative’ as I have represented, ‘can only apply to instituted forms of worship, and such as imply in their right observance, an embracing by faith of the reality so represented’. I (?) refrain, but this looks to me, to be striving about ‘words’, to no profit. I had as soon use the word ‘worship’ as the word ‘duty’, for to do our duty in religious acts, is but to do that which God has commanded, and to worship God, but to do what he has directed, and as to the instituted form of, etc., to authorize us to view it figuratively. Christ the King of Zion, the proper authority, instituted and laid it down. Thus I consider it a duty and act of worship, whether figurative or not, Elder Trott pursues the figurative view I have taken of the Saviour’s preparing for the performance of this example, until he thinks it ‘strange that a figure designed to represent such great leading truths of the gospel, should point to the resurrection of Christ as first preceding his coming into the world’. What he means by these remarks I know not, except he intends to say, that such figures after Christ has come into the world, are inconsistent, or absurd. If so, I will remind him that Christ had not yet died and rose again, nor has all the bodies of the saints, hence the figure may be consistent and right, and further, according to my view, the Church in part, is yet, under the shadow of the Beloved as represented by the Apple tree, while his fruit is sweet to her taste, S.S. 2:3. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, I view as shadows, and so I think, is the acts of the Saviour in the example of washing his disciple’s feet; each one representing the thing intended, as I have before brought to view. Brother Trott, passes over my incongruity, (as he calls it), respecting my former remarks, pursuing the figurative point I have brought to view with some criticisms, that I have not room to notice, until he thinks it very strange indeed, that a practice taught by Christ, to be observed in the letter of it, and designed to represent their faith in such important Gospel truths, should not be a gospel ordinance, or a constituted part of divine worship; and if a constituted part of worship he cannot conceive why it should not be observed by the church, in church relation. ‘Strange that an institution belonging to the Kingdom of Christ should not be observed by that Kingdom in its visible form.’ Why does brother Trott, try so hard to get this example to be an ordinance and a constituted part of worship, but, to get the subject in a shape that he can manage it better to suit his views of opposition, and according to my view, (not his), to take it from the place the divine Master has pleased to place the example. I have long since learned that on Scripture grounds, is the only safe place to stand. I have no where objected to the example being performed in a church capacity in the visible form of Christ’s Kingdom, but I do object to its being considered as an ordinance, etc., for the reasons heretofore set forth, and believing as I do, that the head of the church, by this example, set by his own act, while his disciples acknowledged him their ‘Lord and Master’, was intended to be practiced by each individual disciple in washing one another’s feet, not under the regulation of an ordinance, which requires the authority of the church with her ordained authorities, but amongst themselves in a church capacity, or being otherwise situated, by which example, the exalted marks of distinction, too often manifested between the proposed followers of Christ, are humbled and brought down to that equality and oneness that makes them appear as all one in Christ Jesus. Now, let some of the masters, or rich brethren in Virginia, or elsewhere, come to the black rusty feet of their Negro, or poor brother, (who perhaps are equally pious and beloved in Christ as themselves) and wash their feet as a disciple of the Saviour, in a true spirit of the example. This they surely dare not refuse to do, as him whom they acknowledge to be their Master and Lord has done the same, or like, and bid them to follow the example. This I think looks more like the way the humble Saviour intended this example to be understood, in showing humility and washing one another’s feet, than the course pointed out by brother Trott. Try it my brethren, and see what effect this external act may have, in mortifying the flesh. It will stir up your pure minds (if you have any) by way of remembrance.
Surely, brother Trott had forgotten the weighty causes which appear in the three first verses of this 13th chapter of John, which seems to have given rise to the acts and doings of the Saviour, and the particularity of the Apostle, in reading them, when he forms the conclusion, that by following his imagination he might bring equality as much gospel illustration out of the circumstance of the man, bearing the pitcher of water, and the largest upper room furnished, etc., as I have brought from the Lord, washing the disciple’s feet, when every reflecting mind must know, that was but directions given, how to find the place, and how to know it, where to make ready, etc. True, I may be wrong in part, or all of the figurative views, I have taken of the subject, yet, Christ spoke, or taught by parables, or figures, which stands strong in favor of my views, that he acted so, at least in these extraordinary acts and doings. But I cannot be wrong in viewing this example enjoined by the King of Zion, both by example and precept, agreeably, if not more absolute and binding, than that of baptism, or the Lord’s Supper to be a duty, or, part of religious worship, (which ever term brother Trott may choose), enjoined on the disciples, whether ever they attended to it or not, and, if on them I think it equally binding on all who acknowledge Jesus Christ to be their ‘Saviour and Master’ for I know not where to begin to draw the line between injunctions, duties, parts or points of worship, enjoined on the disciples, then with the Saviour, and those, who now profess to be his followers, and though, like the daily sacrifice, it may have been long subjected; yet, I think it high time, that the love of Jesus be roused up into action; I deny being a pope, and have no pretentions of being ‘one of such Peters’; yet, I believe that the Holy Ghost guides God’s children into all ‘truth’ and takes of Christ, and shows it unto them, therefore, as brother Trott, brother Crafton, and myself, proposes to be taught by that ‘spirit of truth’. We should acknowledge the express order, or command of the divine Master to his disciples to be binding on us. Lest I be too guilty, I must pass over many important points in brother Trott’s remarks, and come to the one that widens the field of difference between us: that is, the Apostles being the judges to establish the pattern of the gospel church or Kingdom of God set up in the world. If brother Trott be in an error here, as I think he is, as it appears to be his main basis upon which he predicates his great objections to considering the example of feet washing to be now binding on us. This error is the cause of all his wrong, and erroneous conclusions on the subject, and we can account for his wild meanderings (as I view them) on the subject; because he was in the dark on false bases, which produced false conclusions. Before I take up this main point, I shall take a short notice of some few things in which I view, he has erred, and sustained the grounds for false doctrines and practices, which I think if rightly considered is calculated to show he is wrong in the position he has taken, although, brother Trott charges me with the lack of candor in the way I have treated his view of things. I may have lacked understanding, but not candor; I now have to say, that after a close investigation of the subject, I feel strengthened in my former treatment of the subject, I then understood him as I now do. Yet, I have no doubt but brother Trott is sound in the faith, but, being in the dark, as I view he is, sustained that which he does not intend, which we are all sure to do, if left to ourselves, etc. This is one reason why the Lord’s children should pray for his ministers. The people must read brother Trott’s remarks for themselves. I can notice but few particulars, and them in a very short way. To my understanding, brother Trott gives the Apostles to the amount of legislative powers, not that they could enact any law, but could destroy the force of the King’s law, or decree, failing to give it force or power by not sanctioning it, this amounts to being a law giver, for although the act is passed, it has no power, until the judges acts upon it. This view is contrary to the nature of facts, for it is the law that gives the judges power, and not the judges’ strength to the law, etc. The safeguard against any fallibility on the part of the Apostles in not sanctioning the law of their King, by reason of the Holy Ghost being faithful to lead them into all truth, (which is gospel truth and sound doctrine, when and where rightly applied), makes the thing but little better, for the fact still exists, that the law had no power, (therefore no law), but by their act or sanction, and is it not a view of things upon which the pope stands and claims infallibility, and upon which the charges amongst most of the anti-Christian sects claims the right of government in their societies. (In this I may be mistaken.) Brother Trott concludes, ‘If my view be correct, that the Apostles only exercised their office as Judges in such cases of difficulty as occasionally arose in churches, and that only such of their decisions as were given in writing, because they were distant from the church have been transmitted down to us’. That I have laid plausible grounds for the popes, I would ask brother Trott, where have we any account of their decisions, but, such as is handed down to us in writings or print, and how could they, and where did they act as judges, but in cases of difficulty or error. I, here have called the Apostles ‘judges’ not because they were officiating in order to give power or force to the law of their King, but because they were in the kingdom appointed them, Luke 22:29, where the law was in force, judging of cases where the law was neglected, or violated. Before we are done with the particular point, we shall perhaps know more of the correctness of this view of things.
The remarks of brother Trott respecting of, and connected with my remarks, that according to his view of the subject, we have no right to claim either doctrine or order in the church, except what little we might gather from the acts of the Apostles, (I here mean all their acts, writings and doings that we have, and as these were their acts I thought the word acts sufficient, but perhaps I was mistaken), confirm any views and former remarks on this subject, that we have no right with any degree or certainty to receive, their doctrine or practice, even if the Holy Ghost was to lead our minds into such doctrine, but such as has passed the decision of the Apostles. This surely leaves us, but a narrow bound for certain information, and but little use for the Holy Ghost, or Old Testament, except what is in the Apostles, or confirmed by something said or done by them, as every thing must pass their inspection to make it certain to us. In my view, here lies, or proves the error. This looks so much like the doctrine that is telling us, we have no use for the Old Testament. The spirit and word is one. The Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles, but receive their words and you receive the Spirit with it, etc., etc. I feel confident brother Trott protests against such doctrine, yet, I think his view of things, here runs into it.
We will now turn to the main point in hand, and try to set things right. This subject of investigation between brother Trott and myself, having called my attention, particularly to the subject of the Apostles ‘sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’. I have become fully convinced that it has no allusion (as to their judging) to their giving the pattern, laying the foundation or regulating the order of the gospel church, but alone, to the twelve tribes, of the national Israel. If we now be correct, and can bring this matter plain, we shall correct brother Trott’s errors and bring his views, and arguments respecting the all-important use, or work of the Apostles, and their infallibility in composing a part of the foundation of the gospel church, and regulating the order therein, both in faith and practice in their proper place where with some few exceptions, they will be correct, weighty and powerful. My beloved brethren, let us lay open for conviction, always willing to let truth speak for itself, no odds how strong it may run afoul of our former views of things. First, We will try to understand the business, power and authority of judges, which I view, not to have any thing to do in giving the law coming from the law giver; life and power, but in a legal manner upon proper testimony, judging and deciding between right and wrong, the innocent and the guilty, that the penalty of the law, of the law giver, might justly be executed upon the transgressor, to securing the innocent and their rights. The law was not made for a good man, but for the lawless and disobedient, and the strength of sin is the law. To this view of things, when we enter upon that part of the subject, I think we shall find the scriptures to fully agree.
Second, The twelve tribes of Israel were under a covenant that could not make the comers thereunto perfect, Hebrews 10:1, and the Apostles under the covenant of grace, yet, the Jews claimed all the inheritance God had given, and themselves the rightful possessors of the Kingdom of God, and yet rejected Christ the King of Zion, while their ignorance and wicked religion (it being built upon works), led them to persecute Christ, his truth and followers, which render them guilty, and fit subjects of God’s wrath and justice. The twelve stones taken out of the midst of Jordan where the priest’s feet stood firm, and the twelve stones set up in the midst of Jordan in the place where the feet of the priests which bear the ark of the covenant stood, Joshua 4:3, 9, brings to my view the division between the law and gospel, and between the twelve tribes of Israel, and the twelve Apostles, with their doctrine; the sealing of the twelve thousand out of each of the twelve tribes of Israel, and one of the tribes being left out; the twelve gates, and the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem, and the twenty four Elders would be worth notice here, but we lack room. This is enough to show some distinction between the twelve national tribes, and the twelve spiritual tribes of Israel, and as both were claiming and contending for the same rights and things; the one innocent, the other guilty. Judgment must be exercised between them, the guilty dispossessed and punished, and the innocent protected, and secured in their rights; hence, the King of Zion ‘upon whose shoulder the government rest’, qualifies, prepares and authorizes judges to sit and act in the case while he himself executes justice.
Third, The principle and spirit of works, which so characterized the national Israel, and ripened them for their overthrow; and is yet in the world to the distress of Zion, which is, or must be judged, condemned and executed. Here, Jesus said, “for judgment I am come into the world”, John 9:39. “ Zion shall be redeemed, with judgment”, Isaiah 2:27. “Of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged”, John 16:17. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world”, 1 Cor. 6:2. I make these references, that my brethren may examine into the nature, and authority of acting as judges, and what is done in and thereby. We will now turn to the Apostles as judges. “That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel “, Matthew 19:28; and Luke 22:28-30, records the same subject: “Ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” I think all will agree that Christ intends us to understand that when he had taken his seat in the kingdom of glory, that these twelve apostles should fill royal seats in his church or kingdom set up in this world to do the work appointed unto them. The national Israel being composed of twelve tribes, so the spiritual Israel is composed of twelve tribes. James 1:1, no doubt directs his epistle to these twelve tribes of the spiritual Israel, so it appears that God prefers the twelve heads or foundations, of the spiritual Israel, or New Jerusalem to judge the twelve tribes of the national Israel, and to regulate the affairs of his kingdom on earth. Thus they are called, set apart, and qualified for that purpose, and it is, or was, as impossible for them to err, or fail in the work appointed them, as for God’s purpose to fail. They had followed Christ in the regeneration, they were with him in his temptations, eye and ear witnesses to his miracles, and doctrine. They were to be witnesses of these things for the establishment of gospel truth in the name of Jesus, Luke 24:46-48. Yet they were not fully qualified and fitted for the great work, it was a spiritual work. The Holy Ghost had something to do: “Acts 1:8 – But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth”. The time comes that the national Israel must be deprived of their unjust claims and the kingdom given to Christ’s “little flock”. The Holy Ghost is poured out, and comes upon the apostles. They receive power and mount their thrones, begins their work, declares and confirms the truth of the prophecy, calls the attention of the men of Israel which charges home their guilt upon them, Acts 2:22-23. Thus describing the line of distinction between the guilty and innocent. St. Paul bore testimony of “record” against the ignorance and wickedness of Israel, Romans 10:2. We have not room for further consideration or remarks; further than to say, in this way, (?) view the twelve Apostles judges of the twelve tribes of Israel, and prepared them for their just overthrow. (How will it do), thereby, the apostles seated as judges in the Redeemer’s kingdom. But I must forbear drawing the line of distinction between acting and regulating the affairs, in the kingdom given them, and that of defending the right of that kingdom against intruders, and preparing them for the penalty of the law of rights.
By this view of things, we understand the apostles to be prepared as witnesses to confirm the truth of prophecy, types and shadows pointing to Christ; the gospel church and dispensation united in the prophets, as the foundation in which the church is built, with Christ the chief corner stone, making her the pillar and ground of the truth, all done by God’s two faithful witnesses which never err, his spirit and word spoken by his prophets, types, Christ or his apostles, and though they could not err in the work given to them; yet we are dependant on the Holy Ghost to guide us into all the truth we do or can know, in the spirituality of the gospel church or religion revealed from heaven, and the word is the criterion by which we try the spirits. And now, I view the Holy Ghost and word spoken by any divine authority it may be, apostles or not, to be the standard by which the church of God, the pillar and ground of the truth, should settle every question, either relating to the faith or order. Hence, whenever we find, thus saith the word of the Lord, whether noticed by the Apostles or not, we should consider it belongs to, and is binding on us. Thus we should obey the commands of our divine Master, take up our cross and follow him, in all his precepts and examples laid down for us, and not stop at, nor jump over the example of washing one another’s feet, in which external act, the internal humility taught by divine grace, is so clearly set forth, to the humbling ourselves or pride, and bringing us to the feet of our brethren. Come brother Trott, will you go with me? If ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them, John 13:17. I must stop (though I leave much interesting matter behind), by just saying in order to be clearly understood: That I view the true pattern of the gospel church in her form, order and doctrine in the coming of Christ and the glory that should follow, set forth, or given by prophecy, considering types and shadows a part; that Christ was governed by what was written to the fulfillment of the scriptures, being the minister of circumcision for the truth of God, that the Apostles were, and are, witnesses that Christ is the true character predicted of, yet all in the dark, not understood, until the coming of the Holy Ghost, and then, the Apostles strictly adheres to what was written in the Old Testament, and now, as all saints in the church are made ‘kings and priests unto God’, while Christ is KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS, Rev. 5:10, and 19:16, they fill, or sit in a royal seat in the church or Kingdom of God, to sit as judges in the affairs pertaining to that kingdom, wholly dependent on him for instructions, and rightly entitled to every sentence pertaining to the case in hand, written by divine inspiration, (noticed by the Apostles or not), and upon the Holy Ghost, for a right understanding in the word of truth, and guidance therein; thus they should pray without ceasing, that the diversity of gifts, given by the same spirit, should be roused up to the instruction and edification of the church, the Body of Christ, ‘Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ Ephesians 4:13.
My love to brother Trott and all the dear brethren.
Your brother in tribulation and hope of a blessed immortality.
Burnett County, Republic of Texas,
February 1, 1842
THE WESTERN PREDESTINARIAN BAPTIST
Vol. #1, No. 3,
March 15, 1842