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MATTHEW 16:18 – THIS ROCK.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - Having been specially requested to write out a sermon as I preached it at the Little River Association, the second Sunday in August last, and feeling it out of my power to write verbatim as I then preached, I have determined to try and write out some of the leading points dwelt upon in said sermon, which will be for your disposal. The text was, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt.16:18. In some of the preceding verses the Savior inquires who men said he the Lord was, and they replied that some said John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias or one of the prophets. He then inquired who they said he was, and Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God; Jesus then informed him that flesh and blood had not revealed it unto him, but his Father which is in heaven. Here Peter is represented as one to whom Christ had been revealed, {the Anointed of God – the one Mediator between God and men, the Son of God,} not by flesh and blood, but by his Father which is in heaven. Then it is evident that all Peter knew of Him was taught him by revelation of God, and flesh and blood had nothing to do with it, which is certainly the case with all God’s children, for their God is one and his way is one. Some are of opinion that Peter is the rock upon which Jesus said he would build his church; but I think Jesus referred to himself, the Rock upon which his church is built. Peter, in his first general epistle, second chapter, speaks of Jesus as the chief corner stone, and a living stone, and the saints also as lively stones, built up a spiritual house, &c., showing the identity or oneness of Christ, and his church, he himself the foundation stone; and they, including Peter, as lively stones, were built up a spiritual house. This is the rock or foundation spoken of Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious stone, a sure foundation.” This is the foundation upon which the apostles and prophets are built, together with all the ransomed of the Lord; “And other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I Cor.3:11. In this permanent foundation stone the eternal life of every material or member of the whole building or church of God has and will eternally exist, for Jesus is no more the life of his chosen bride now, than he was before the foundation of the world, and he is now no less the life of his church, than he will be when the last one of his redeemed is taken home to glory, and the whole kingdom delivered up to his Father, that God may be all in all. Then the mediatorial work will be completed.

As we have surely given sufficient proof that Jesus himself is the rock upon which he says he will build his church, we will notice the character of the builder, the materials, and how they are prepared by the builder himself. While Jesus in his mediatorial character is the foundation laid in Zion, He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace – has all power both in heaven and earth, infinite in wisdom and will do all his pleasure, Isa.46:10, at the same time he fills immensity and measures out eternity. This being the case, who that has confidence in him can doubt his carrying out his will until the last capstone of this spiritual building shall be brought with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it? I have no doubts, nor fears, but the hands of this same Zerubbabel who has laid the foundation of this house, shall also finish it, Zech.4:9, independent of men, and in spite of the gates of hell, for they shall not prevail against it. The materials, as related to Adam by nature, were all children of wrath even as others, in the wild forest of sin without hope and without God in the world, dead in trespasses and in sins; but God, for the great love wherewith He loved them, even when they were dead in sins, quickens them together with Christ; and because they are sons, God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying Abba Father. The same Spirit leads the poor sinner, who was blind, in ways he knew not, and in paths he had not seen, and the poor sinner is no more disposed to give up his works or hopes of salvation by the law and help the Lord to save himself upon gospel principles, than the tree of the forest would be inclined to help the workman cut it down and prepare it for a place in a nice building, because it is a work performed by the Spirit and power of God that is entirely contrary to every calculation the sinner had made, for instead of getting better as he thought he must, behold he gets worse, as he verily believes. Thus the Lord leads the poor sinner until sovereign and conquering grace brings him down where his hold of the law, or hopes of salvation by works utterly fails, and just then unexpectedly Jesus, the foundation stone, is revealed, by the Spirit, to the sinking soul, and by faith the lively stone is united to the living stone by the cords of love, which is stronger than death, which love draws the sinner saved by grace to unite with the church militant, in which there is a place where that material will fit without the sound of an iron tool, or doubtful disputation in the church. In this way the Lord has been and yet is carrying up this glorious building, and the gates of hell have not, nor shall not prevail against it. The gates of hell referred to in the text no doubt includes not only the powers of hell, but all the avenues or instruments through which things pass from and to hell. The term hell is intended to represent all the powers of darkness, distress and misery, from which all manner of evil proceeds, and is arrayed with all its forces against the church of Jesus, and the doctrine of sovereign grace. The openly wicked, though under the influence and power of darkness, have never been half as ambitious against the church and the doctrine of the cross, as the church of anti-christ, with all her pretended love to God and the children of men. The gates of hell were many while Jesus was here in the flesh and during the apostolic age, and through these gates false doctrines were poured forth in opposition to the doctrine of Jesus, taught by himself and his apostles, but they did not prevail against his church. Since that time the gates of hell have been many, through which false doctrines have been hurled in opposition to the truth of the gospel of the Son of God, but they have not yet prevailed against the church of Christ. When that dreadful beast rose up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, which was spotted like a leopard, and his feet as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a loin, to whom the dragon gave his power, and to whom was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies against God and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven or in the church. To this beast power was given by the dragon, {or law,} to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, {or deprive them of the liberty of conscience,} he had power over all kindreds, tongues, and nations, and they all worshipped him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Rev.13:8. These, though overcome, and many of them put to death, and many others such as the despised Waldenses and Albigenses {about the 12th century,} who, because they refused to wander after and worship the beast, or bow to the Pope, were treated with great cruelty and with the uttermost contempt, by the worshipers of the beast, or gates of hell, who professedly were very zealous for God and his cause, but they did not prevail against or destroy the church of Jesus Christ. And since the second beast {as I verily believe,} has rose up out of the earth, with two horns like a lamb, and speaks as a dragon, whose winning watch words are charity, benevolence, money and means to effect the salvation of the world, very lamb-like indeed, and well calculated to deceive the hearts of the simple, and the gates of hell are numerous now through which false doctrines are promulgated abundantly. Every false doctrine comes from hell, and whosoever preaches it is the gate through which it passes, with all the powers it has against the doctrine of sovereign grace as taught by Jesus and his apostles. Through these gates of hell it is proclaimed in these last days that God now designs the salvation of the world, and to accomplish which he requires Theological Schools to educate preachers, and money enough to pay them, and that he requires us to send them to heathen lands; and we are taught further, that if we will diligently attend to these things the world can be christianized and saved, and if we neglect it they must be lost, and their blood required at our hands; and further, we are taught through some of these gates that the price as a means to accomplish the salvation of the whole world will not exceed eleven or twelve cents to each soul, and as such, men, women, children, and even servants are urged upon to contribute their money. Let such doctrines come through what gate they may, from the American Tract Society down to the foot colporteur, they are from hell, or the kingdom of darkness, and are directly at war with the doctrine of the gospel, and leveled in malice against those who are contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; but Jesus, including all the gates, says, “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

But lest some might think me too severe in saying all such doctrines as the above comes from hell, and as there are but the two places, I will give you some of the sayings of Jesus and his apostles, who taught the doctrine which is from heaven, and let you compare it. As regards the salvation of the world, Jesus says, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd.” Paul says, the gospel is not yea and nay, but yea and amen. “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace to the end, the promise might be sure to all the seed. Isaiah says, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed – he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands; he shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” When all this is accomplished, the will of God will be carried out, for Jesus said, “This is the will of him that sent me, that of all he has given me I should lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day,” and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

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