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II TIMOTHY 2:24-26.

DEAR BRETHREN EDITORS: - Being so extremely glad to read the communications of the many brethren and sisters writing for the MESSENGER, I conclude that likely they would be pleased to read from me occasionally. Two or three reasons however, make me backward to write for the public. One is a sense of my incompetency, having but a limited education, and a even more limited knowledge in the mysteries contained in the Scriptures of divine revelation. Another reason is, I fear that when I have used words or phrases the best I can, to express such views as I have of God, and the truth of his word, that some scrutinizing brother or sister may take exceptions, not so much, because the words or sentiments are contrary to truth, but because the identical words in their immediate connections are not in the Scriptures. I do believe it best to use, as near as possible, the language of the Scriptures, but if some other words are used to convey truth, entirely consistent with the doctrine of divine revelation, it strikes me that brethren should “strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” II Tim.2:14. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” II Tim.2:24-26. The servant of the Lord is restricted and not at liberty to preach anything that comes in contact with the doctrine of the gospel, to please the reasonings of his own carnal nature, nor that of his hearers, for if he yet please men, he is no longer the servant of Christ, but becomes a transgressor. The doctrine of the cross of Christ, is always contrary to the reasonings of depraved human nature, which the saints as well as all unregenerate men have; therefore I conclude it is not impossible for the saints under the influence of the flesh to let human nature exercise its judgment in opposition to the doctrine of the cross, when the truth is, if human nature with all its reasonings and glorying, is not crucified and brought to silence by the doctrine advanced, it cannot be the doctrine of the CROSS, which always exalts God, and crowns him Lord of all, and debases poor mortal worms in the dust. With this the saints are always pleased after the new man created after God in true righteousness and holiness; while the old man, created and born after the flesh, is forever complaining against it, if speaking at all. To this last nature, belongs strife, and every evil propensity. Therefore every saint or servant of the Lord should be careful not to strive against his God, or the doctrine of the cross; for if they do, it proves that they are ensnared by the devil, and taken captive by him at his will. And particularly ministers of the gospel, the servants of the Lord, and of his church, should take care that they, under the influence of the flesh, do not strive against their Lord, the doctrine of the cross, and against the best interest of the church; but keep under their bodies, and be gentle unto all, not harsh and rigorous, as lords over God’s heritage, but as servants of his church, gentle even to such as cannot, for want of age and experience, use strong meat, but use milk rather. By meat I mean deep and mysterious points in the doctrine, while by milk I mean the points of doctrine pertaining to christian experience, the precious promises of the gospel, and their application to poor, weak, doubting, trembling saints during their first exercises. If the servant of the Lord strives to make all eat strong meat alike, some might be confused and distracted in mind, not being able to digest it, while others could truly suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock. The servant of the Lord, apt to teach both those who are of full age, and those who are not much experienced, must necessarily expect that all will not be so well pleased with his services at all times. How important that he should have patience, and not hastily strive for conformity on every point of doctrine, but if some even oppose the doctrine of the cross in some of its deep points, and by so doing oppose themselves and their own spiritual interest, instruct them in meekness, with the confident hope that God will give them repentance, {or turning from their opposition to the truth,} to the acknowledging of the truth. There is a great difference in opposing the truth for want of age and experience, and opposing it from fleshly natural reasonings, desiring something more popular and congenial with human nature. Those in this situation, if they have sufficient age and experience, should be prayed for, and patiently borne with, and instructed by the servant of the Lord, that they may deliver themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. I am aware that some think this text alludes to sinners dead in trespasses and sins; but I think not, because sin is the element of natural men and women, and darkness the place of their choice, while if one who has been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, through the workings of the flesh and the devil, becomes so ensnared as to deny any, or all of the points contained in the doctrine of the cross, or turn to dissipation or to walking disorderly, such a one is truly a captive, or taken by the devil at his will; and the evidence that they are a captive, is that all enjoyment is gone from them, they realize the buffetings of Satan, no enjoyment with the wicked, and none with the saints. Such need to be delivered from the snare of the devil, and repentance, or turning again to the place of their spiritual enjoyment, and the acknowledging of the truth, or they may be delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the servant of the Lord gets to striving from selfish or fleshly motives, he cannot please himself, nor his brethren, and he has no forbearance towards such as differ with him in sentiment, not easy to be entreated, self-willed, not backward to find fault with, and denounce others, and well pleased with everything that seems to give him praise, while if he or his sentiments are spoken against, the flesh with its strivings may be discovered. Now if Timothy and God’s servants all, while in the flesh, were not subject to these selfish evil strivings, why say to them, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive.” I feel it in my poor sinful nature every day that I live, and try to pray that I may be actuated from proper motives.

May God deliver all his servants from fleshly strivings against him, or the doctrine of the cross, or the safety and peace of his people, and give them earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints, that speaking the truth in love, the saints may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working, in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love.

Your unworthy brother in love,
D.W. Patman.
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, March 28, 1860.