The substance of a discourse preached at a funeral of our aged sister, Rebecca Dorman, in the city of New York, November 29, 1868, by the editor, prepared and published by special request of the family and relatives of the deceased.
Text: – “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, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (II Timothy 1:9,10).”
We wish it understood that we do not attempt to give a literal or verbatim copy of the discourse alluded to, as that would be impossible, as we never use notes, or anything of the kind in preaching; we only design to present such views as we hold on the text, as they may occur to our mind. Much that we said in preaching may, without any design on our part, be now omitted, and some views may now be written which were not then uttered.
It may be remembered that in our first number for 1863 we published the substance of a discourse from part of the same text, preached at the funeral of Mr. William Sands, at Walikill, November 27, 1862. But while we trust that our present views will not conflict with what we then published, we hope to show that the text contains far more than we are able to present in one, or in one thousand, such discourses as we are able to preach.
But, to proceed. The apostle, in the context, has admonished Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but (he says) be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God. While the gospel of Christ is in itself a fountain of pure consolation, it is addressed only to that “poor and afflicted people who trust in the Lord,” and all who participate in its divine consolation must of necessity suffer afflictions, reproaches, and persecution. Jesus says, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as lam not of the world (John 17:14).” And we are also told, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12).” But neither reproach nor persecution for the gospel’s sake should ever tinge the face of the ministers of Jesus, nor deter them from faithfully proclaiming his truth, however unpopular, in the face of cherished and popular errors; for the gospel, though opposed to human power and human agency in the work of salvation, is according to the power and omnipotence of God, who hath already accomplished the eternal salvation of his people, including all that will ever be saved. For, “Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9).” The God to whom the apostle ascribes not only the power of the gospel, but also the power to succor and sustain his children under all their afflictions, is the God “Who hath saved us;” not made some provisions or efforts to do so, or offered terms, overtures and conditions on which he may be induced to undertake the work; for the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (See Hebrews 4:3.) Although men in blind infatuation may prate about saving themselves and one another, God from his awful throne proclaims, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm (Jeremiah 17:5).”
This perfect and complete salvation of all his chosen people was securely held in the purpose and grace of God, together with their holy calling, and given to them in and with the purpose and grace in Christ Jesus before the world began. In the fullness of the dispensation of times, all to whom salvation was provided and bestowed, in Christ, according to the eternal purpose and eternal grace of God, are by God’s own arm made bare for their salvation, rescued from sin, death, condemnation and wrath, according to but one standard, and that standard is not their works; but according to his own purpose and grace; not according to the purpose of somebody else suggested by men and adopted by God; but mark it is his own purpose and his own grace, and not a single one of all the sinful race of man shall ever be saved by any other rule or standard. To execute this eternal and immutable purpose and grace, which was wholly his own, purposed exclusively in himself before the world began, Christ made his advent to the world, and from heaven an angel from God came down to declare his name, and the reason of his name. “And thou shalt call his name JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).” The angel of the Lord declares, “He shall;” the apostle in our text avers, “He hath;” while from the cross the Son of God proclaims, “It is finished.” Not only has he accomplished the salvation of his people from their sins, but he has also called, and is still calling, them with an holy calling, according to the purpose and grace given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. The nature of the calling is here explicitly declared, “An holy calling.” Not because it is a calling from sin to holiness, from death to life, and from darkness to light, but, first, because it proceeds from God himself, “saying to the North, Give up; and to the South, Keep not back. Bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, even every one that is called by my name; for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Isaiah 43:6,7).” It is holy also being consecrated in Christ Jesus. And, thirdly, it is holy because it is efficient to secure the accomplishment of the purpose and grace of God; “For whom he did foreknow, them he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Romans 8:29,30).” Surely an inefficient call which may fail to secure obedience must be defective and not holy, or perfect. Should one of us call our son, or our servant, our effort may be vain and abortive from a lack of power to make it availing. Should we call on the dead to rise, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, we would lack the power to make ours an holy calling. But our God speaks the word and it stands fast; he commands and it is done! He said, let there be light, and there was light. He called the world from emptiness, and the world obeyed and came. He calls the slumbering nations of the dead, and at his call they shall all come forth. But knowing the strong propensity of men to cavil, and to claim that the calling and salvation of men, in some way, or to some extent, depends upon the purpose, will or works of the called, the apostle meets, refutes, and forever vetoes all their cavils, both negatively and affirmatively. “Not according to our works!” Can language be more plain or positive? “Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:9).” “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand.” Stand how? “Not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her [Rebecca], the elder shall serve the younger, as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Romans 9:11-13).” The dispute is clearly between men and God. God has frequently declared most emphatically, “It is not of works.” But man, infidel man, profanely and persistently affirms that it is of works nevertheless.
“But is now made man fest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ.” Although God’s own purpose and grace were as eternal as their divine Author, yet for long ages the secret was locked up in the cabinet of the Holy One, and the scrutiny of man, with all his boasted light, could not pry into the secret, nor even now can any man by searching find it out. Still it is hidden from the wise and prudent of this world, and can only be known by immediate revelation from God himself. All the schools in New York, in Christendom, or in the world, including Sabbath Schools, Bible Classes, or Theological Seminaries, can impart to man no light upon the subject. Flesh and blood cannot reveal it: none but God can reveal, or make it manifest, as he did to the saints at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus, in the apostles’ day. The sovereign God who has hidden it from the wise and prudent reveals it unto babes; for so it seemeth good in his sight. But let it be remembered that it is never manifested in but one way, and that is by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ. The Galatian churches never comprehended the glorious mystery until after “Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth crucified among them (Galatians 3:1).” The writer of our text, although a profound scholar, and graduate from Gamaliel’s Theological School, was totally ignorant of the purpose and grace of God, until God, who gave him being and called him by his grace, revealed his Son in him, that he should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. This proposition is clearly exemplified in the individual experience of every child of God. Why does the quickened, called subject of this surprising grace go mourning through many tedious days and wearisome nights despairing? It is because he cannot see how God can sustain his justice and truth, and save one so vile. But the very moment God is pleased to reveal, or manifest, Jesus Christ to and in him, that very moment all is clear. Mercy and truth in him have met together, and in him have righteousness and peace kissed each other (Psalm 85:10). But what is true of every individual member of Christ is equally true of the whole church as a body. From the creation of the world to the advent of our Savior Jesus Christ, this mystery was hidden in types and shadows. Darkness lay upon the world, and gross darkness upon the people. Involved in darkness and clouds, he rode upon the heavens in the help of his people, and admidst the smoke and flames of Sinai, God spake in thunder tones to Israel, that under the ministration of wrath and death, they might know their need of a Mediator, or Days Man, to stand between them and God. God had a people in all these lingering ages, and though he met and communed with them from time to time, through their high priest, from between the cherubim of glory which shadowed the mercy seat which covered the Ark of the Testimony, yet their eyes were never blessed with a clear and open vision of the things which the disciples of Christ saw. “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages, and from generations, but now is made manifest to the saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26,27).” “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (I Timothy 3:16).”
The great purpose and grace, embracing the salvation and calling of all the people of God, both Jew and Gentile, having been given us, not in Adam, but in Christ, could not be revealed by any possible development of the earthly Adam, for it was not there. It was and is in Christ, and therefore its manifestation is confined to those, and only those, unto whom Christ is revealed.
Let it be understood that a revelation of Christ does not mean an exhibition of him in the flesh to the natural sight of men, for if that were so, none but those who lived in the days of his incarnation could receive the manifestation. So far from this being the case, there were but comparatively very few who saw him as a man, to whom he was manifested as the Son of God, and Mediatorial head of his body, the church. “The world was made by him, yet the world knew him not.” “None of the princes of this world knew him; for had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (I Corinthians 2:8).” “And no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him (Matthew 11:27).” “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).” A manifestation of him as the Son of God and repository of spiritual blessings given to his people in him can only be received by immediate revelation of God. And the manifestation of God’s own purpose and grace which holds and secures the salvation and holy calling of all the saints can be made to none who have not that knowledge of Christ, which is eternal life. All who thus savingly know him know that he, not we, hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Let us now enquire, What death is abolished, and what life and immortality is brought to light through the gospel? The cherished form of our dear departed sister, prostate and cold in death before us, demonstrates to us the sad reality that the mortality which, by an irrevocable decree of God, has passed upon all the posterity of Adam, is not abolished; nor does the gospel flatter us with any prospect that it ever will be so abolished as to exempt any of us from the stern decree which says, Dust we are, and unto dust we must return.
The death which our Savior Jesus Christ has abolished is the opposite of the life and immortality which he has brought to light through the gospel. An inspired illustration of it, and of the immortality which he has manifested, is found in the first and second chapters of the epistle to the Ephesians. The death of which he speaks is a death in trespasses and sins. Not an extinction of our natural vitality, for while dead in sins, we were still active in all the elements of this world. “Wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” To be dead in sins is to be dead in a legal sense, or in a law sense. For, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” Why our deeds are sinful is because they are unlawful; for “sin is the transgression of the law.” If there were no law, there could be no transgression; and if there were no transgressions and sins, we could not be dead in them. In discriminating between law and gospel, the apostle says that the former is the ministration of death; but the latter is the ministration of life. But, says he, “If the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones [as was the decalogue] was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious (II Corinthians 3:7,8)?” In this state of death all the chosen people of God were involved. Death had passed upon all men, because all had sinned. Thus were all the members of Christ’s mystical body dead in the sense expressed, Ephesians 2:1,5, for in these chapters he is speaking to the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, who had been thus dead, and were quickened. For these he ceased not to give thanks, and pray that the Father of glory might give to them the spirit of revelation in the knowledge of him; “the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, to know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places; far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” To the church, whose members were dead in trespasses and sins. To the church which is quickened by him, who is risen thus by the glory of the Father. Quickened together with Christ, and raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ, he is given to be the head. Should the eyes of our understanding be so enlightened according to the apostle’s prayer, we shall also see in the hope of his calling, that just as Christ in taking on him the seed of Abraham, took on him their sins, and put them away, by the sacrifice of himself, so he took on him the inevitable consequence or penalty of the law for our transgressions, and in his death as the legal identification and embodiment of all the seed of Abraham, all that seed legally went down with him into the deep waters, and were buried with him by baptism into his death, sojourned with him in the grave, were quickened with him, and raised up together with him, and are with him quickened with the Spirit and immortality of his resurrection life. In these heavenly, or gospel places in Christ (in his body, as the seed of Abraham), they are made to believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he (God) wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. Thus embodying in himself all the seed of Abraham, he was delivered up for our (the seed of Abraham’s) transgressions, and raised again for our justification. Sin, which is the sting of death, is destroyed; the law which is the strength of sin, is honored and satisfied. It asked for blood, and blood was shed; it demanded life, and life was laid down. It demanded a perfect law righteousness, and every jot and tittle of its rigorous demands were fulfilled; its claims upon the seed of Abraham were all canceled, and the law could impart to death no more power, the sting was taken away, death was abolished by him who destroyed death and him who had the power of death. The doors of death, and the gates of the grave for all the seed of Abraham, are unbarred. And he that went forth weeping, bearing precious seed [the seed of Abraham] returned again rejoicing, bearing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126).
Death is abolished. Life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel, which proclaims the risen, exalted, glorious and glorified Redeemer. “Father,” he says, “I have glorified thee on earth; I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world (John 17:4,24).”
As the seed of Abraham, embracing all his people (“If ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise”), Christ was delivered to bear their sins, and consequently their death in his own body (which is the church, or seed of Abraham) on the cross. That death then, of which sin is the sting, and of which the law was the strength, was executed to its utmost extent upon Christ as the lawful embodiment of all his people, and rising from the dead, not like Lazarus, or the widow’s son, by the mere resumption of suspended mortal life, but being now quickened by the glory, or immortality of the Father, death is swallowed up in his perfect victory, and is forever abolished; for now having risen from the dead by the power of an endless or immortal life, he dieth no more. Death hath no more dominion over him; and as his seed, the seed of Abraham, are raised up from sin, death, and the dominion of the law, being lawfully identified with him, so they are partakers of his resurrection life and immortality, and because he lives, they shall live also. Death is abolished in him, and they are in him; he is therefore their Resurrection and their Life. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the law [or controlling power] of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me [them] free from the law [or controlling power] of sin and death.”
All this is brought to light through the gospel. The gospel is distinct from the law; for the law made nothing perfect; but a better hope is brought in; that better hope to which all the people of God are begotten by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The theme, and substance, and power of the gospel is Christ, and him crucified; Christ and the resurrection. The preaching of the gospel by the apostles and primitive ministers of Jesus was a proclamation of Christ, his death, resurrection, exaltation, and dominion over all his redeemed subjects, in his spiritual kingdom. The gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe, brings life and immortality to light. The life and immortality of all the seed of Abraham, the church of God, was hid with Christ in God, from everlasting, or it could not be eternal life. John testifies that it was with the Father, and was manifested (I John 1:2). “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son (I John 5:2).” “Which in his times he shall shew who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, or can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.” This life was hidden in God. It could only be manifested by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, for he is our life; it cannot be separated from him. He that hath the Son hath life, for the Son is the life. He that hath not the Son of God hath not life (I John 5:12). The eternal life of all the church of God was manifested in the person of Christ, by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, rising in immortal life from the dead. The gospel brought this life and immortality to light to the faith of all the Old Testament saints, so that they all had the same clear perception of it in Christ as those to whom the gospel brings it to light now. To the saints individually and experimentally, the gospel brings life and immortality to light by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, when he is manifested to them in the new birth. And when the Savior Jesus Christ shall appear to raise the dead, and judge the world in the last day, then all who sleep in Jesus shall God [Jesus] bring with him; then the saints shall be raised up in spiritual, incorruptible and immortal bodies, changed from the image of the earthly, and fashioned like the resurrected and glorious body of the First Born from the dead. Their mortality shall then, as it is written, put on immortality, and death shall be swallowed up of life. Then shall our dear departed sister, whose slumbering relics we are now about to commit to a peaceful grave to rest in hope of a glorious resurrection and immortality beyond the grave, put on that immortal life which she received in her heavenly birth more than half a century ago. It is not dead. Neither death nor life can separate it from Christ. Her disencumbered spirit is now before the throne of God and the Lamb, and in all the pleasures of God’s right hand in full participation. Departed saints are not waiting - they have passed from a time to their eternal state. No days nor years are there to intervene. All is present; so differs time from eternity.
Weeping friends, bereaved kindred, with loving brethren and sisters of her church connection, will feel the stroke, and grieve that they shall see her no more in the flesh; but her tears have forever ceased to flow, her conflicts are over; she beholds her Savior in righteousness, and is satisfied. May we bow in submission to our Lord, and be still and know that he is God. Let us look to him for consolation, for support and comfort in this and every trying hour. Amen.
In the foregoing we have not attempted to rehearse what we said at the funeral, for that we could not possibly do; we have only, in compliance with the desire of dear friends of the deceased, written on the same text, and in doing so have simply followed the leadings of our mind while writing. Such as it is we submit it, in hope that some, at least, of our numerous readers may be edified.
January 1, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 322 – 331