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CHRIST’S FULNESS.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I now feel impressed to drop a few lines for the MESSENGER, not because I feel calculated to instruct others, not that I feel spiritually minded or religiously animated, for it is and has been quite a dark and cold time with me, for a considerable time, having been providentially hindered from enjoying the company of the saints, being afflicted a portion of the time since Christmas, together with the abundance of rain, &c., have hindered me from going to meeting but few times. It has occurred to me that all the religion I have, has been received and enjoyed only as I have become acquainted with and associated with the people of God, and if deprived entirely of their company and conversation, that all my religion would soon disappear, and if that was the case of course, it is not of God; but I do know there was a time with me once when I hated the company and conversation of the very people I now love, and wish I could be more like them, and is it possible that I love the people of God, and have no love for him that begat them? Surely not; though I often fear and tremble, and feel ashamed of my parts in trying to pray with my own family, as well as trying to pray with and preach to the congregations I attend. Almost worn our with my poor self, and my feeble efforts to discharge duty; yet, I do believe God remains the same, and that his promises are sure, to all his chosen; and if I am not one, I wish I could be, and have prayed more than a thousand times that if I am deceived, God in mercy would undeceive me, and teach me the truth, as it is in Jesus.

I thought I would notice, in a short way, the following text: John 1:16, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

Here, John the Baptist speaks of the fullness there is, and was, in Christ Jesus, which he himself, with other believers had received, not as grace or merit, but grace for grace, or they had received grace, or unmerited favor, because it was given to them in Christ Jesus before the world began. II Tim.1:9, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Eph.1:3-6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” These quotations have their application alone to such as are already believers in Jesus Christ, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, and thus prove beyond all contradiction, that before they received divine life or vitality, love to God and his people, reconciliation to God, union or oneness with Christ – that all these excellent blessings did {not virtually, but actually,} exist in and with Christ, and there is no more of them after they receive them, than there was before, neither is God any better pleased with them after they believe than before, nor are they more united to Christ after they believe than before, but by revelation of the Holy Spirit, or by the operation of God they are taught to know and enjoy these spiritual blessings, which before they received them, actually were in Christ Jesus for them; therefore, of his fulness they receive them and grace for grace. The fullness in Christ, of salvation, in all its bearings, is the grand reason why these spiritual blessings are, in time, manifestly revealed in and to such as God in eternity did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, which will not be fully manifested and realized by the saints, till the resurrection of their bodies in the likeness of Jesus, for as long as they remain in this imperfect state, that which is born of the flesh {all of it} remains flesh, with all the evil propensities it ever had, which are only subdued, and kept under, by the reigning power of that which is born of the Spirit, or of God, of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. I cannot see how anyone can contend that the union of Christ and his people is only virtual and not actual until they believe on him, unless they contend for a remodeling or spiritualizing that which is born of the flesh, so that it becomes united to Christ because made spiritual, &c. If this is the case with others, I am sure it is not so with me, for verily I can unite with Paul, and say, in me – that is in my flesh – dwells no good thing. The law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? If there is anything about me that loves God and is united to Christ it is only what I have received of his fulness and grace for grace, for I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Therefore Christ formed in his people, the hope of glory, is no more united to, or a oneness of life in them than it was before they received it, and they receive and have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of them. These vessels were chosen to honor to be a tabernacle for the Lord to dwell in – all these vessels were chosen and given to Christ in the covenant of redemption, and in God’s book all of them {Christ’s members} were written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them; but the fullness of the time did come when God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, and under the law, to redeem them {his members} which were under the law – or buy them back again, because they were his before they fell under the law, being related to him in the covenant that was ordered in all things and sure, and related to him in that eternal life which was given them in him before the world began. God’s eternal and unchanging love was and is to them in the person of Jesus Christ their Life, Shepherd, Husband and Surety. But for this oneness of life or union of Christ and his Church before the transgression of the law, man must have been immediately banished down to eternal ruin; and moreover, if this relation and union of Christ and his Church did not exist before his people sinned in Adam, how could it be just for him to die for guilty sinners? It surely would be unlawful and unjust to put the innocent to death for the guilty, but the relation borne to his chosen before the transgression, is the reason why their sins are imputed to him upon the strictest principles of justice, and his righteousness imputed to them, and they receive it of his fullness and grace for grace. But some seem hard to understand the nature of the change effected in the sinner, in regeneration. This I confess is a very important subject, but the sure plan is to determine by the Scriptures. There we have the best model of christian experience. Paul nowhere claims that his sinful, fleshly nature had been changed, but always to the contrary; and yet the powerful effect of God’s grace in him was such that he was changed from a persecuting Saul, to a friend and lover of them he had before persecuted, while he suffered with them and preached to their comfort and edification, but still calls himself the chief of sinners, &c. But he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Again, “Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Peter gave evidences that his carnal nature which was born of the flesh, had undergone no change, but was kept in subjection, only by the mighty working of grace in him, and I verily believe that the daily experience of all God’s people might be brought in as testimony, that their evil nature remains the same, and that nothing but the power and grace of God can subdue and keep under those evil propensities which war against the spirit of the mind. I have often thought of the old servant woman, who, after telling her experience, being asked by one of the brethren if she loved God, replied; “No, No! Massa, me no love God, but God’s love in me love him back again.” In the resurrection, and not till then, shall our vile bodies be changed and fashioned into the image and likeness of his glorious body. Then the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and sighing and sorrow shall flee away. That will be enough, and the praise, and dominion be his forever.

Yours in love,
D.W. Patman.
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, Feb.22, 1858.