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PREMATURE JUDGMENT.

DEAR BROTHER WILLIAM: - I discover the views of myself or of brother W.M. Mitchell are desired by brother Edmund Dumas, on the following verse, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.” I Cor.4:5. As I have been disposed to wait for brother Mitchell’s views, and if he should be disposed to wait for mine, our brother’s request might not be attended to, therefore I have concluded to write something in connection with the subject, and if brother Mitchell writes too, I hope the Lord will direct us, to write to the edification and comfort of our brethren. I am of opinion that the time of judgment, and of the coming of the Lord, referred to in the text, is not alone the great day of judgment when Jesus shall come the second time without sin unto salvation, when God’s children shall realize to the greatest extent their justification or praise which is of God, but to His coming with the rod of chastisement. “Some men’s sins are open beforement, going before to judgment,” &c. I Tim.5:24. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” I Pet.4:17. And when He does come with his chastening rod he never fails to bring to light, to his disobedient children, the hidden things which they could not see while walking in darkness and having no light, living after the flesh; and moreover he makes manifest to them the counsels of their hearts, which never fails to bring them down in the valley of humility, where they, without reserve, acknowledge Jesus, the sole Judge of the quick and dead. In this condition every man has praise of God, because they are justified in that righteousness which is of faith. Not that the Lord praises them for what they have done, or for being submissive to him, but that praise or justification which is of God is given them freely, because it was given to them before the world began, in Jesus {with whom they are considered as one} who has died to redeem them, risen again for their justification, and now lives to intercede for them; under whose feet God hath put all things, and given him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Eph.1:22,23. Though the term every man is used by the Apostle, it applies alone to the saints, or his elect, many members, yet but one body, making up those who are of the circumcision which is of the heart in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise {or justification} is not of men, but of God. Rom.2:29. Then I contend that God’s chosen inherit that praise {or justification} which is of God, because of their identity with Jesus. Heirs of God, and joint {or equal} heirs with Christ – saved by grace, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. Therefore the praise is of God, and he will not give it to graven images, nor his glory to another. In charging the church at Corinth to judge nothing before the time, the Apostle, no doubt, referred to the manner in which they had acted in judging of him and others, giving evidences that they gloried in men and not in the Lord, for in the fore part of this letter he uses the following language, “Now this I say that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.” “For ye are yet carnal, for whereas there is among you, envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal?” In closing the chapter preceding our text he says, “Therefore let no man glory in men, for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” From the foregoing it appears that they had been judging before the time, and differed too, very much in their judgment, some attributing what they were as saints or church members to have been of Paul, others of Apollos, others of Cephas, and others of Christ. In this deplorable condition, no wonder they were envying, and striving against each other, some glorying in Paul, some in Apollos, and some in Cephas – these were all wrong, judging and determining about the greatness of their several preachers before the time, while they all should have united with that portion who gloried in Christ the Lord, and gave him all the praise for such faithful ministers and stewards of the mysteries of God. Will any one conclude the church is now less subject to such carnality, than the church at Corinth was? For we yet see evidences that many are disposed to judge before the time, thinking and speaking too highly of men, particularly of preachers, and such glorying is vain, and always results in division and distress in the church wherever it is the case. Others, or the same, may take the other extreme, and think and speak evil of men or of preachers, for whenever we glory in one man or more, we are sure to abhor others; one extreme is as bad as the other, for both are wrong. It is far preferable to be like Paul, Judge no man; and he says further, “Yea, I judge not mine own self.” The saints need be at no trouble in getting up a rule by which to judge one another, for the rule that judges and determines every man’s case is plainly laid down in the New Testament. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. Gal.6:16. In this rule the children of God individually should be careful to walk, for when they do, there is peace in the Israel of God collectively, but when any depart from this rule the whole church differs. The same infallible rule directs precisely how the church should proceed in the execution of gospel discipline, so that the saints should judge nothing before the time, remembering that Jesus has said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Yours in love,
D.W. Patman.
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, March 10, 1853.