We are pleased with the general sentiment of the letter of our esteemed brother, which will be found in this number, on the subject of the ancient glories of the Son of God. His independent and eternal Deity, his Sonship, his Mediatorial identity, &c. And his arguments in refutation of the notion of his fleshly or corporeal body having existed as such, before he was made of a woman, we think are unanswerable, but that the soul of him did exist with the Father before the world began, does not so clearly appear. The first account given in divine revelation of the existence of soul, or souls, is given of the earthly Adam―God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. And Paul in discriminating between the first and second Adam, in 1 Cor. xv., says, “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.” All men descending from the first progenitor, Adam, are generated like him, soul and body. And so all who are regenerated as the seed of Christ, receive from Christ, not souls, but spiritual, immortal, eternal life, which John says was with the Father, and was manifested, and which he also says was given us in Christ; so that he that hath the Son of God hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. But he does not say, that he that hath not the Son of God hath not a soul, for they all have souls in their relation to the first Adam.
We think brother Armstrong had fully established the preexistence of the Sonship of the Redeemer, in proving by the record which God has given of him, that he was set up from everlasting in his Mediatorial Headship of his church, as the life and immortality of his body, which is the church. That which constitutes him the Son of God, must have its existence originally in the Father. And that Life, which Christ is, was with the Father, proceeded from the Father, and was given to the church in Christ as spiritual Adam, or spiritual Progenitor, or the quickening Spirit.
In his assumption of a fleshly body, he was made flesh, made of a woman, and made under the law. What law? The law that said, “The SOUL that sinneth, it shall die.” Had his soul, which on Calvary was poured out unto death, preexisted his being made of a woman, why was it necessary that he should be made of a woman, that he might be made under the law? And again, man without a soul was but dust of the ground; but when animated by the breath of life, he became - that is, man became - a living soul. God’s children, being partakers of flesh and blood, partake of flesh and blood in its animated state, as comprising soul and body, So Christ in “likewise also taking part of the same” must have taken on him a body, and that body, like the bodies of his members, must be in possession of a soul that could suffer the penalty of the law. How else could he have been found in the fashion of man? A corporeal body without a soul is not called man, it is the soul which distinguishes man from a mere animal.
The term man is applied to Christ, we think, in a two-fold application. First, as the Lord from heaven; not the soul from heaven. And as the Man of God’s right hand, made strong for himself, as the Mediatorial Head in vital union with his members which are his body; the fullness of him that filleth all in all. These members being many, all the election of grace are one body, so also is Christ. And when all shall be brought experimentally into the unity of the faith, the measurement of the body of which Christ is the Head will be full, complete and perfect as that body existed with the Father before the world began. There was the perfect man, as standing at the right hand of the Godhead, to which the church shall be conformed when “We all come in the unity of the faith, and knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” - Eph. iv. 13. Again, the term is applicable to him in his incarnation. Thus, “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,” &c. - Phil. ii. 6-8. In this last sense of the word, he became a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief; carried our sorrows, bore our griefs, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. In being put to death in the flesh, he poured out his soul, as well as his blood, unto death. His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death, and his soul was made, with his body and blood, an offering for sin, when he saw his seed, prolonged his days, and the pleasure of the Lord prospered in his hands.
Our dear brother Armstrong, we are sure, will take no offence at our remarks on this one point in his letter, as we fully indorse his views generally, in the able and unanswerable article which he has written against the extravagant, but unscriptural notions of the non-resurrectionists, who, if we have correctly apprehended their position, affirm that nothing will ever go to heaven that did not come from that place. On their hypothesis, the creatures of this mundane sphere could have no interest in the provisions of grace and mercy. As Paul has declared, that if the dead rise not, then Christ is not risen; and if he be not risen, we are yet in our sins, &c., they, in order to evade the direct force of Paul’s testimony, endeavor to establish the notion that the fleshly body in which Christ suffered, did exist as such, and that he brought it down to earth with him, and then took it back to heaven in his ascension. But even if this theory could be established, would it not prove too much for their purpose? seeing Christ arose from the dead and became the first fruits of them that slept, giving assurance as the first fruits so shall the whole harvest be; it would unavoidably involve the monstrous conclusion that the fleshly bodies of all the saints also came down from a pre-existing state in heaven, whereas God has said they were made of the dust of the ground.
We regret to learn that such speculations exist in some of our western states, and has created much distress among those who preach Christ and the resurrection. May God deliver all those who love and fear him from this and all other perversions of the sacred Scriptures, and save us from the snares of the devil, and give us more fully to know him and the power of his resurrection, and conform us more and more to the heavenly image, for his name’s sake.
Middletown, N. Y.
July 1, 1860.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 364 - 367