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THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS.

DEAR BRETHREN: – Having learned lately that you were scarce of communications for the MESSENGER, I have concluded again to write, and as I think of no subject of more importance at present, I will offer a few thoughts in connection with the following words found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, 5th chapter and 11th verse. “And I brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased.”

The impression upon my mind is that the term circumcision in the text, includes the whole system of works enjoined upon national Israel by the ceremonial law, as well as every conditional system of salvation that is preached and believed in to this day. The salvation that I refer to is the delivery of sinners from under the law and its curse justly incurred by the disobedience of Adam which equally involved all his posterity. Surely every reasonable person will admit at once, that since condemnation has fallen alike upon us all by the disobedience of one man {Adam} that it is utterly impossible for any or all of us to set ourselves right in the sight of God by works of obedience to his law which we have violated already, and as to the law given by Moses, it never was intended that by rendering obedience to it any should prepare or help prepare themselves for heaven. This law entered that the offence might abound, and by it was the knowledge of sin, and by the deeds of this law shall no flesh be justified. It was not given to the world of mankind at large, but was confined to the nation of Israel alone, and was conditional, while the blessings promised to and realized by the obedient, and the curses threatened to and realized by the disobedient were all confined to this world, and not to eternal spiritual blessings, nor eternal punishment beyond this world. The priests, the altars, the offerings, and the benefits derived from such offerings, were all confined to this world and to that peculiar nation, and never could purge the conscience from dead works, being outward in the flesh, and typical in its operation. Israel received the law immediately from God by Moses, written on tables of stone, representing the gospel church or spiritual Israel of God, who received the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, individually and collectively, immediately from God written in the fleshly tables of the heart, and made known by revelation of the Holy Spirit, as to one, even so to all, his elect or chosen ones, for whom alone, Jesus Christ offered himself once in the end for all offerings, and by this one offering hath perfected forever them that are sanctified or set apart. While Paul was so zealous in the Jews’ religion, confiding in his own righteousness which was of the law, and glorying in that conditional system, he escaped persecution entirely, but when he experienced the un-conditional salvation of the new covenant, and began to preach it, those who had before been his warmest friends now show themselves his bitterest enemies, not because he had done them any harm in person or property, but because he believed and preached a doctrine that cut off all human boasting or glorying, and debased sinful mortals to the lowest degree, but exalted the Author of eternal un-conditional salvation to the highest degree. This constituted it the doctrine of the cross, so contrary to their proud fleshly notions of God and religion, their ambition was excited and acted out against Paul, or rather against God, and Paul had, while in Damascus, to be let down from a window in a basket to make his escape from those who before had been his friends. From that time on to the time of his departure from this present evil world, he continued to suffer persecution, because he constantly, before small and great, preached unconditional salvation by grace through faith, and that not of themselves, but the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. The independent sovereignty of God, saying, so then, “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy;” therefore, “hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth,” proud nature is so crossed at, that it replies, “Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” But the doctrine of the cross replies, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” Many claim that they are persecuted for righteousness sake, who are preaching a system of salvation by works, telling their hearers that Jesus has suffered and died for them, but all that will do them no good unless they comply with certain conditions, such as coming to Jesus, and exercising faith and repentance. If this was true, salvation would depend not upon sovereign grace, but upon the sinner’s works, and when the doctrine of the cross exposes such false doctrines, they cry out persecution, yet such realize no loss of friends, worldly pleasure or profit by their preaching. Let us see how it was with Paul, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Phil.3:7-9. Jesus said to his disciples in reference to sorrows and afflictions that should come upon them for his name’s sake, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake; and then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another; and many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Matt.24:9-11. These, with many other portions of the Holy Writ, go to show plainly that whosoever believes, and contends earnestly for the doctrine of the cross, cannot fail to suffer persecution, because worldly, fleshly, religionists with their different names and orders, are, and ever have been vastly in the majority in numbers, and worldly popularity, and while such as make no pretension to religion have never persecuted the church of God. The most zealous, popular religionists have been the most bitter opponents of the doctrine of the cross, persecuting and injuring to the uttermost of their power, such as have continued to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. This is not to be wondered at when rightly considered, because the more spurious religion a man has, the worse off he is; for just in proportion to the quantity he has, just in the same proportion will prejudice, hatred and opposition to the doctrine of Christ, or the cross, swell in his bosom. In days past, one in this situation was exceedingly mad against the advocates of the doctrine of the cross, and verily thought he ought to do what he could contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, which he also did, but God stopped him, and showed him how great things he should suffer for his name’s sake.

May his mercy be extended to such in this day.
Yours in love,
D.W. Patman.
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, June 26, 1860.