[The writer of the following article was one of the ablest ministers of the South. He stood with Gilbert Beebe, J. F. Johnson, T. P. Dudley and others upon the great questions affecting the travel of the church in his day. We shall never forget our acquaintance with him during our first visit to Georgia, perhaps in 1876. Wm. Smoot]
The gospel is represented in the Scripters figures like the following: "But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby." Is. 33:21.
These broad rivers and streams forbid the idea of the use of means in the hands of men, or galleys and carrying them with oars, for these broad rivers and streams do not require, nor allow them.
Rivers of water literally cannot be obstructed go that they fail to return to the great ocean from whence they came; even so the glorious gospel with all its spiritual blessings, eternal life, and unchanging love, shall not fail to return to the unwasted fountain from whence they came, preparing, keeping, and eventually taking the redeemed to its glorious fountain in the image of Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of the gospel, and the fullness of the church of God, for he filleth all in all.
The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth”.
It is salvation from sin and all its consequences, and all of this is the effect growing out of the eternal love of God to his people in Christ Jesus, with the eternal, vital union or relation, in which Jesus stood to them before time began, and which is manifested in time by his taking part of the same flesh and blood the children are partakers of; by his righteous life, his bitter death upon the cross, his resurrection from the dead, with his intercession for them at the right hand of the Majesty on high. That He might redeem them from all iniquity, “and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," he has been made manifest unto and in his chosen people, as time has moved on; and will continue until time shall be no longer.
The gospel teaches and prepares its own subjects to know and enjoy its excellences. It also calls, qualifies, and carries its own ministers, directing their way just where he will have them to go, for it is the power of God working in them mightily, and every one preaches from necessity.
How vain and presumptuous it is for men to claim to carry or send the gospel of the Son of God, they might as well claim to control, send, or carry the power of God.
Many, conclude that the preaching must be heard first and then the Spirit must follow, this is putting things wrong end foremost. The Spirit must go before to prepare the hearer, and then the preaching of the Truth has an easy application.
This subject is beautifully illustrated in the case where Abraham called his servant, and swore him in the most solemn manner, to go in search of a bride for his young master, and not to take one who was not related to him, (keeping up the figure of the eternal relationship of Christ and his church).
This servant like many of God's ministers of today, was ready to conclude that his labors might prove a failure, and said, "..and what if she be not willing?"
That was not his business, for he was not sent to make any willing, nor does God send servants to make people, willing, but to do, as He directs them.
For the relief and encouragement of the servant on this occasion, his master said to him: “If she will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath.” But the Lord said the prophet will send his angel (ministering spirit), before thee (not behind).
The figure to which we are referring, shows the doctrine of God's election and predestination beyond all dispute. Even so the LORD of Abraham is with his ministers to this day, in Spirit and in power.
His spirit goes before them to prepare whom He will for the reception of gospel truth. Generally the services of his ministers are mostly blessed in their preaching when they feel most oppressed and gloomy.
And often under such preaching, saints are relieved in mind, and made to rejoice when they least expected it.
Yours in love, (Elder) D. W. Patman
Near Lexington, Georgia, September 29, 1878
The Sectarian, Vol. 12, No. 1
Occoquan, VA, January 1901