Westville, OH., April 19, 1864.
Elder Beebe: I have been a reader of your paper, the "Signs of the Times," for some months past, and have been well entertained with many precious truths therein presented. Some ideas, however, I have been unable to comprehend, owing perhaps to a dull understanding on my part. Nevertheless, my desire is to have a current knowledge of the teaching of God's word. And as I noticed in a recent editorial that any scriptural subject upon which brethren desire to be enlightened, is deemed worthy of your notice; therefore, I thought it might be of profit to myself, and others perhaps, who are also young in the cause, to solicit information through the "Signs of the Times" on those points of doctrine that are obscure to my mind. I profess to be a regular Predestinarian Baptist, and have a hope that a few years since I learned by experience that I was a lost sinner, helpless and undone, justly condemned by reason of disobedience to the law of God; at which time I felt that what was said by the mouth of God's prophet of ancient Israel was true respecting my case: "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself;" but am now permitted to indulge a hope (though sometimes very faint), that I have the same Almighty Savior that Israel had for his. However incredulus I may be respecting other things, and however much I groan under a sense of this, yet it is a sad reality which I daily feel, I am unholy. I think sometimes that I can very pertinently adopt the language of Paul, and say, "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (a) My hope is that when the morn of eternity dawns, I will awake fully with the likeness of Christ, and join in the choir above, to be forever employed in repeating his praise, and recounting the wonders of his grace, that a sinner condemned to die should be raised to a crown of glory on high. This hope is based on the belief that God did, in the Counsel of Eternity, make choice in his Son of a people, of whom Paul says, "They were by nature the children of wrath, even as others (Ephesians 2:3)." (b) And further he informs us that the design of this choice was that they should be holy and without blame before him in love; and in accordance therewith, they are made the happy recipients of all spiritual blessings, to be enjoyed in heavenly places in Christ, having predestinated them unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself. O glorious hope of eternal blessedness! Surely none who are sighing for deliverance from sin, and are longing for that which is perfect to come, can harbor thoughts of disrespect towards God's distinguishing love. Here is the Eternal Source, from whence the ungodly and the profane are made holy and conformed to the image of Christ. Here, by the sovereign act of Heaven's King, untold millions of Adam's polluted and sin-plagued posterity are secured for the enjoyment of life and immortality. Here is it fixed by immutable decree that the fetters of sin shall be broken and the tyranny of Satan overthrown. Here it is emblazoned in glittering letters, which are unmistakable, that the stranger and the alien, the apostate foreigner and the child of wrath are constituted children of God and heirs of the Eternal inheritance. (Galatians 4:5-7)(c)
Among those invaluable blessings of the Spirit which the elect of God enjoy as a part of their patrimony here, an evidence of their justification stands of infinite importance. How shall a man be just with God? is a question which must have baffled forever the reason of man, and remained eternally unknown to angels. But the God of angels and of men is brought to view in the sacred oracles, as the Judge who justified the ungodly (Romans 4:5), (d) In consequence of which Paul could with defiance challenge all intelligences to lay anything to the charge of God's elect; and when interrogated as to how he could be so defiant in throwing out a challenge so broad, knowing that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, his reply is, "It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is ever at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Here the spotless righteousness of the adorable Redeemer is presented as a dress for the naked sinner. Here the purple fountain, filled with Immanuel's blood, is brought to view to wash away his guilt and cleanse his leprous soul. And here his glorious name, who bled and died on Calvary's tree, is proclaimed as the Lord our Righteousness. All glory be to him who took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, and thus whilst vailed in flesh did bear the law's tremendous curse, and endure the dread stroke of incentive justice, that his people might be freed therefrom. This righteousness is to all and upon all them that believe, without regard to their former condition, or respect to their parentage or genealogy whatever; no previous excellency can be admitted as a plea; for there is no difference, as in Romans 3:22, (e) well may David say, and Paul, with all the saints in every age with acclamation loud and long did repeat it, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness, without works." That man can say with Mr. Toplady:
"The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior's obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view."
But as my design is to solicit information from those who are older and wiser than myself, it will not be considered presumptuous, I trust, if I refer to those ideas which I have been unwilling to receive, or of which perhaps I have had a misunderstanding. I dislike very much to see among Baptists a manifest spirit of unfriendly criticism, but what would appear to be infinitely worse and presumptuous in the extreme would be for a boy to assail with a view to demolish the views of an old father in the ministry; at least, it would be showing a disrespect to the opinions of those whom we would venerate. I trust I shall not appear guilty of either. The first to which I shall refer I find in Volume Thirty-two, No. 5, p. 37. In your reply to a request on the fifth chapter of Romans, you say that the whole human family were a unit in the first Adam, that they all acted in him, sinned in him, and were made sinners by his transgression. Again on page 46, No. 6, you say, "Being in him from his creation, we sinned in him before any of us were brought into personal manifestation; hence, when death passed upon him it passed on all that he was, as the embodiment of his entire race." Now, if I apprehend the meaning of your words, the conclusion is this: that all of Adam's posterity were created in and simultaneous with him, were all embodied in and had an actual existence with him, and in consequence of what they did in him in the first transgression, death is passed upon all. Thus far we agree, or rather thus far light has been given. But in the 14th verse it is said, "Adam is a figure of him that was to come, which is Christ," of which you say, page 37, No. 5, "The second Adam, the spiritual progenitive Head of the spiritual family, or posterity or seed, embodied them all in himself before the world began, and as sin, condemnation and death came by the one earthly Adam, so justification unto life and immortality came by the second, or anti-typical Adam, to all his seed." Again you say on page 46, No. 6, "As it was totally impossible for any who were in the loins of the earthly Adam to escape the guilt and consequences of his disobedience, so it is also and equally impossible that any who were created in Christ Jesus, chosen and embodied in him before the foundation of the world should fail to participate in his righteousness, and the free gift by it unto justification of life." Now, my understanding of your views is this: That judgment unto condemnation and death is passed upon all the seed of the first Adam, in effect, of their participating in his transgression. (Like as it is said by Paul of Levi, who paid tithes in Abraham; for he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. Hebrews 7:9.) Likewise after the same similitude, righteousness is imputed to all those who were created and embodied in the second Adam, by virtue of their being participants in the one great transaction that brought justification unto life, for, in effect of what they did in him. (f) This would seem to conflict with what I regard as a Christian experience. (g) The sinner who feels his just condemnation does not think for a moment of throwing the responsibility for his guilt upon the first Adam, or any one else; but, as he vents his plaintive sigh, it is with bitter remorse he cries, "I have ruined my soul." But now suppose the Savior comes to calm his troubled breast, and speaks his sins forgiven, how changed the scene becomes! At once he quits his mournful cry to ask from whence this heavenly message came; but ere the wasting moment is gone, his tongue begins the heavenly theme, "Salvation, and glory to God!" In Christ he views his all. But now we will present our similitude to him, and tell him that like as he involved himself in guilt by participating in the act of the first Adam, in like manner has he freed himself from condemnation by acting a part in the work of the second Adam. (h) Such a thought would be repulsed with utter abhorrence; for he says, "When I was yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly." This will not do; but I cannot arrive at any other conclusion, if justification be based on the supposition of being created and embodied in Christ before the world began. (i) You say that when death passed upon the first Adam, it passed upon all that he was, his entire embodiment. (j) Shall we say the same respecting the seed of the second Adam? Were they all embodied in him when he was delivered for their offences and rose again for their justification? Were the patriarchs and prophets there, with all the train of saints who fell asleep before the Holy Child was born? Were they all embodied in him when on Calvary he cried, "It is finished!" If not, I can't see how justification could be based on the supposition of an actual embodiment. None could have been held amenable for the act of the first Adam, but those who composed a part of himself when the deed was done. (1) And could such a thing have been that any of his posterity were separated from him prior to his fall? I presume they had not been involved in his guilt. (m) It appears from scripture that his wife, though formerly taken from his own side, acted separately in incurring the guilt of sin upon herself; and had either of the first conjugal pair abstained from the indulgence of sin, they had not been involved by the guilt of the other. (n) Hence it appears evident to me that if justification comes in the manner afore prescribed, then all the elect, or those that will ever be in heaven, must have been actually embodied in Jesus when the atonement was made, and they considered as sinners; for none others would need its benefits.
These, brother Beebe, are some of the thoughts that rushed into my head as I read your comments on the fifth of Romans. I hope, therefore, you will not think it impudence that I have written them out in order that you may set me right wherever I have misapprehended your meaning. A few queries for information, and I am done. Was Christ brought into being as a creature, simultaneous with his elect? Was the spiritual family of God ever corrupted in sin? Hoping to receive information, and pardon for imperfections, I will leave it for your disposal.
W. T. Pence.
Reply to Brother W. T. Pence:
It would afford us pleasure to be able to relieve the mind of our young brother, and of all others of all their perplexities and difficulties in understanding the testimony of the scriptures on the profound mystery of Godliness; but we freely confess, although we have been, as we hope, in the school of Christ more than fifty years, we still stand in need ourself to be instructed in the first principles of the gospel of Christ. Young as our brother may be in his Christian experience and profession, he probably has, or soon will have learned, that it is easier to ask questions in relation to the deep things of God than to give a satisfactory solution of every question that may arise. If the two queries at the conclusion of our brother's letter are intended to comprise the whole matter of his inquiry, we might come directly to the points designed for discussion. But if it be necessary to review the whole of his communication, and compare it with our own views, as expressed in all that we have written and published for the past thirty-two years on the subject of the eternal vital union of Christ and his church, and the union and identity of the earthly Adam and his posterity in the flesh, or even what we wrote on Romans 5, and published in No. 5 of the current volume, then indeed the field before us is very large.
As the queries referred to, if we understand their design and import, have a direct bearing, at least, on all the points wherein our brother asks for further light of us, we propose to attend first to them, and then we will review the entire letter, and remark on such passages as we have indicated by letters of the alphabet in their order. In doing this we shall require to be as brief as we can and make ourself understood, lest we swell our article to too great a length.
Query First. - "Was Christ brought into being as a creature simultaneous with his elect?"
Here our brother takes us beyond our depth; for we know nothing of Christ being brought into being as a creature at all. It is true, as an apostle has said, we have known Christ after the flesh; but henceforth know we him no more. If by creatureship, brother Pence means manifestation in his mediatorial character, or when the Word was made flesh, or was made under the law, made of a woman, to redeem them that were under the law, we hold that his elect were in him as the Christ of God, long anterior to his incarnation; as long anterior as his existence was to that of Abraham. See John 8:58. The scripture that speaks of him as the first-begotten from the dead, and the first-born of every creature, we understand as applicable only to his resurrection from the dead, as the first-fruits of them that slept. As the Son of God, we can attribute to him neither beginning of days nor end of life. All we can learn of his unexampled pedigree is that He was and is in the Father, and the Father is in Him: He and the Father are one. This is the true God and Eternal Life. And as Christ is the embodiment of the fullness of the Godhead, so the church of God is the embodiment of Christ. The Head of the church is Christ, and the Head of Christ is God. In this mystery of godliness, we only know Him as the brightness of his Father's glory and express image of his person, and all we know of the Father is revealed to us by and through him. Matthew 11:27. Luke 10:22. Neither do we understand that the "incorruptible seed" or Spirit of immortality in the saints of God is a created seed or life; for it is Christ in them the hope of glory, and it is called Eternal Life. An inspired apostle testifies that this Eternal Life 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 5:11)." That which is eternal we understand to be without beginning or end. We can conceive of no period in time or in eternity when the Eternal Life and immortality of the church was not hidden with Christ in God. Christ is himself the Life. He only hath immortality dwelling in the Light. "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true; even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (I John 5:19-20)." This eternal life God has given to his children, not in the earthly Adam, who is of the earth earthy; but in the second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven. If this eternal life were not the life of God, how could its impartation to us make us or manifest us as the sons of God? Can we be vitally the sons of a parent in whom we had no life or being before we were born? If so, what definite idea can we form of the relationship of parent and son? Are we indeed begotten and born of God? Is the life which we receive in the new birth a life that was with the Father and given to us in Christ, and called Eternal Life? Is it Christ? Is it the life of God in Christ? Or is it only an improvement of the life of the earthly Adam, which we have received by our first or natural birth of the flesh? If it be but an improvement made on the life developed by our fleshly birth, why is it so emphatically declared by both prophets and apostles, that all flesh is grass. But the incorruptible seed is by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever (I Peter 1:24-25). "That which is born of the flesh [or is the production of a fleshly birth] is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6)." And this spirit, which is born of the Spirit, is the Spirit of Christ, and it is Christ. "For to me to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21)." "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (Galatians 2:20)." This Christ living in the Christian is what is called the new man, which after God, (not after man) is created in righteousness and true holiness. It is the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Colossians 3:10). This creation is not natural, but spiritual a creation in Christ Jesus; not the making of something from nothing; but the gift of that Eternal Life, which John says was eternal and was with the Father. This Eternal Life was given to the saints in his Son. It is this identity of life and immortality which creates or constitutes their vital union with Christ as their spiritual Head, and seminal progenitor. This life being given to the saints in the Son makes them one with Christ even as Christ is one with the Father; and in this manifestation (for John says the life was manifested) is presented to us the mediatorial relationship of Christ, both to the Eternal Father and to the church, which is his body and the fullness of him that filleth all in all. We can conceive of no period when Christ did not exist as the mediatorial Head of his church; nor can we conceive of the existence of the Head without the body of Christ. We now speak of his spiritual or mystical body. If it be admitted that they are one with Christ, even as is Christ one with God the Father, we can no more deny the eternal vital union of Christ and his members than we can deny the eternal identity of the Father and the Son in the Godhead.
As we know of no beginning of the existence of Christ, we will take the liberty to so change the form of the enquiry as to substitute the word manifestation for that of existence, and then we hesitate not to answer the question affirmatively. As the second Adam, his church - his bride - was always in him, as Eve was originally in the earthly Adam, or as the human race was all in Adam from his creation. But as we are extending our article too far for our limited space, we will now pass to consider the other question of brother Pence, viz.: "Was the spiritual family of God ever corrupted in sin?"
Answer: The spiritual family of God are terms which are used to denote the church of God in distinction from the world at large; and that family or church, as we have labored to show, sustain a two-fold relationship; that is, the constituents of the church or family of God sustain a relationship both to the flesh and the Spirit - both to the first and the second Adam. In the one relationship, the members of that family were children of wrath even as others. They were corrupted in sin, sank down in depravity and death and ruin, in the first Adam; from which they are redeemed, washed, cleansed and made pure by the blood and righteousness of the second Adam. But their life in Christ Jesus, which is hid with him in God, was never corrupted, for the scriptures affirm that it is incorruptible. It being the life of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, given to us in him before the world began, secured or preserved in him, how could it be contaminated? Christ is himself that life, and he is holy, harmless, undefiled, and higher than the heavens. And further, this life, when developed in us by the new birth, still retains its immaculate purity; for there is no possibility of its being corrupted. We are born again, not of a corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever; and that which is absolutely incorruptible, never has, nor ever can be corrupted. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him." And that seed is, as we have proved, incorruptible. "And he cannot sin, because he is born of God (I John 3:9)." But we also have a nature which is born of a corruptible seed. The production of the fleshly birth is so completely corrupt that it is called corruption itself. In this bondage of corruption all the family of God are held as long as they remain in the flesh; as well after the new birth as before; and so much so that with their flesh (which is born of the flesh, of corruptible seed), they serve the law of sin; even when with the mind (for they have the mind and Spirit of Christ, which is born of an incorruptible seed), they serve the law of God. This corruption of the Adamic nature is of long standing, and is deep rooted, and will continue to develop its pollution until it shall ultimately be raised a spiritual body; "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Why? Because "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Hence the necessity. "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." These vile bodies are not yet changed; they are still Adam; for "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy." But they shall be changed, for Christ shall change them, and fashion them like unto his resurrected and glorified body. "For if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Now they are mortal and corruptible, but when quickened by the Spirit that raised up Christ, and which dwells as the new man in all who are born of the Spirit, they shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Having dwelt perhaps too lengthily on the questions proposed, we, in conclusion, will briefly notice a few things marked by italics interspersed by us throughout the letter of brother Pence, for convenience of reference.
(a) This mind with which our brother serves the law of God is the mind of Christ, which Paul says we (his children) have; with it, he says, "I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin." Are not these the two natures or principles which Paul says are contrary one to the other, and which he designates as the flesh which is born of the flesh, and of corruptible seed, and in which he could find no good thing; and the other the Spirit, which is born of the Spirit? Does he not denominate the one the old man the outer man and the natural man - and the other the new man - the inner man and the spiritual man, which is born of God? By each and both of these he identifies himself. "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." (Galatians 2:2 compared with Romans 7:20-23.) "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind," etc. Why does Paul use the personal pronoun I in a two-fold application to himself, saying, I live, yet not I, and the law of sin, yet it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me? Does he not here clearly define the living I to be the inward man, in distinction from the body of this death, from which he groaned to be delivered? Brother Pence has the same two natures or opposite identities in him; he feels the conflict raging. Can he tell us whether these were both born of God, or were they both born of the flesh? Or will he not rather say that this outward man is born of the flesh, and descended from the earthly Adam, and is the earthly Adam; and that the other, the new man, is born of God, and is a development in him of that spiritual eternal life which was with the Father, and was given him in Christ before the world began, and implanted in him by the new birth? We are mistaken if he will not say that all that is earthly, sensual and devilish in him he has derived from the world, the flesh and the devil; and all that is spiritual, holy and heavenly in him has come from God.
(b) It is important that we should read these scriptures very carefully, lest we should become confused by an unwarrantable mingling of passages which should be considered distinctly. True, Paul says to the saints which were at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus, that "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings." But where? Not in earthly, but "in heavenly places." Not in the earthly Adam, but "in Christ Jesus." As in the earthly Adam God blessed us with all earthly blessings, including every green herb, and all the productions of the earth, the light and atmosphere of the heavens, and all the gifts of nature, so all spiritual blessings of life, holiness and happiness, all the provisions of grace, mercy and peace, were given us in Christ Jesus. These gifts were not given according as we should earn or merit them, but "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." Now, what was in Christ Jesus, as set apart by God the Father, preserved in Christ Jesus? Was it our earthly or spiritual life? Were we, when chosen and blessed in him before the foundation of the world, dead in trespasses and sins? Had we then walked according to the course of this world, were we then children of wrath even as others? It appears to us that the children of God always were perfect in Christ, but no where else. This spiritual and blessed people, which thus stood in Christ as the children of God, by his divine purpose and decree, were ordained of God to a first and a second birth, to bring them into manifestation in their twofold character, in which Paul, and brother Pence, and every other Christian, find themselves, as Christians, while here in the flesh. Our relationship as children of God was not predicated upon our becoming "partakers of flesh and blood;" for the relationship was complete before Adam's dust was fashioned into a man. But for his own glory God ordained that his children should become in time partakers of flesh and blood, share in the apostasy of that flesh and blood, and in that condemnation consequent thereon, and from that condemnation and wrath be redeemed, and these bodies washed, cleansed, purified and adopted in due time into the fellowship and liberty of the children of God. Our life of God in Christ required no adoption; for it is born of God. As the children of God they have a glorious birthright; but as the children of Adam, we were predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. That this adoption relates to the resurrection and immortality of our now mortal bodies is clear from the arguments of Paul in Romans 8:11-25. In our fleshly nature we have all sinned, and in Adam we all die. Death has passed on all men; and those who are redeemed, freely justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, were by nature children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.
As we were sinners in the flesh, it behooved Christ to be made flesh for our redemption. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." To legally represent his children who had sinned in the flesh, he was made of a woman, made under the law, for it was under the law we stood guilty and condemned. He was therefore made under the law to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye the children of Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. We conclude that it was as indispensable for Christ to be born of the flesh, and take on him the seed of Abraham, in order to stand in our law place and bear our sins in his own body, and expiate our guilt, as it was that we should be born of his Spirit, and by the life brought forth in us by that birth become partakers of the divine nature, in order that we may reign with him in glory.
(c) As aliens and strangers we are brought nigh by the blood of Christ, together with the impartation to us of the spirit of adoption, while our vital relation to God is far more ancient and eternal, based upon a life given us in Christ which was never alien to God, but forever hid with Christ in him, and this sonship is developed by a spiritual birth. The word constituted may embrace the idea, but we prefer the scripture word adopted in its application to the redemption of the purchased possession.
(d) Justification, as a legal act, is not effected by a mere arbitrary judicial decree of the Judge. God is not only the Judge, from whose decisions there is no appeal, but he is the Righteous Judge, and as such his decisions are in harmony with his eternal justice. And justice could not clear the guilty without an adequate atonement. Hence the apostle adds, "It is Christ that died; yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
(e) There certainly is no difference in regard to the depth of depravity and ruin into which all mankind are fallen, nor any creature excellence to commend one more than another to the saving favor of God, for salvation is by grace; but if our brother means that there was no difference of relationship to God; no special relation to Christ, or in other words, that the saints did not possess a sonship in Christ Jesus before the world began, we shall not be able to agree with him, for if a vital relationship to God through Christ is a spiritual blessing, all the saints at Ephesus, and all the faithful in Christ Jesus were blessed with it by God the Father, in Christ before the foundation of the world. As to their parentage in the flesh, there is no distinction, for they are all Adam; but in their spiritual relation they are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people," and it is because they are sons that God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son in their hearts, crying "Abba, Father."
(f) The apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15, draws the parallel between the first and second Adam, and shows that as the first was made a living soul, the second was made a quickening Spirit; that the first is of the earth earthy, the second is the Lord from heaven. And then he adds that as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy, and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly, and this he applies to the death and resurrection of the saints. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "In Adam they die or are sown in corruption; in Christ they are raised in incorruption." And in his elucidation of this subject in Romans 5, he says that Adam is the figure of him that was to come, and thus illustrates the figure in its application to Christ as the anti-type: "As by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. But not as the offence so also is the free gift; for if through the offence of one man many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift, for the judgment was of one to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification; for if by one man's offence death reigned by one," etc. "Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation. For as by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners," etc. Now, if these scriptures do not prove the position which we assumed in the article referred to by brother Pence, we must be even more dull of comprehension even than we had supposed. If our brother can tell us how it were possible for us to have been in Adam, as Levi was in Abraham, and not have sinned in him, or how Levi could have been in the loins of Abraham at the time referred to, and not have paid tithes to Melchisedec, we will also ask him to explain upon what principle we could be involved in condemnation, and under the reign of death, for Adam's offence. Has any decree consigning the children of men to die and return to the dust been subsequently made or published? We have said in our former article that all the human race were a unit, in the person of Adam, when that unit transgressed, and when sin entered, and death by sin, and when death passed upon all men for that all have sinned. As none of Adam's posterity were born when sin and death entered, and as some of that posterity are probably not yet born, upon what other ground can we understand that "all have sinned," and as sinners, judgment has come upon all men to condemnation? But the apostle in showing in what sense Adam is the figure of Christ, represents him as such in his seminal and federal character, and that Christ, the second Adam or progenitive head of all the children of God, embodies them in vital union with himself, so as to make them partakers of his divine nature, as Adam's earthly children are partakers of his corrupt, depraved and fallen nature. No production or offspring of the fallen Adam can as such be holy or free from the pollution and mortality of his fallen nature, so nothing existing in or proceeding from Christ, the second Adam, can be unholy. A corrupt fountain cannot send forth pure streams, nor can a pure fountain send forth impure waters.
(g) This does not conflict with what we have understood Christian experience to be. It is true every quickened sinner is made to feel the dreadful corruption of his own heart, and his own personal transgressions rise like mountains before him with crushing weight, but this is not all. So far as his present acts are concerned, he hopes to find relief by reformation; he resolves to do better and to sin no more; but alas! he soon finds that there is a deep fountain of corruption within; that his whole nature is depraved; that he inherits a wicked nature from his earthly parent. It was so with the psalmist when he confessed that he was conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity, and from that cause he had gone astray from the womb speaking lies, and the words of the poet become appropriate to his case:
"Lord I am vile, conceived in sin,
And born unholy and unclean;
Sprung from the man whose guilty fall,
Corrupts the race, and taints us all."
Not to extenuate his own vileness, but from a deep conviction of his sinfulness, both by nature and by practice; not to throw the blame off from himself, for what is he himself but Adam developed or multiplied?
(h) The views which we have expressed are justly liable to no such construction. The work of redemption, as we have tried to show, was performed by Christ in his incarnation. Himself bear our sins, not in his spiritual or mystical body, but in his own body which hung upon the tree. He suffered for us in the flesh, not in the spirit. He suffered for us in the flesh; his spirit did not die. When he yielded up the Ghost he committed his spirit into the hands of his Father. The revelation made by the Spirit to the heaven-born child of God is that the life which is communicated to him in his new birth by no means inflates him with pride or boasting, but rather leads him in amazement to exclaim, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God!" As Christ is "The only begotten of the Father," our sonship is in his sonship, as our life is in his life, for John says, this life which God has given us is in his Son, and Christ says it is eternal. This vital union, or union of life and immortality, which makes Christ and his members one, even as Christ and the Father are one, is that life wherein the saints, as chosen in him, were blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ, before the foundation of the world. The work of redemption is quite another thing. That work, as we have shown, required that Christ should take our nature on him, and come under the law which we in our own, not in his divine nature, have transgressed. So that as we from his fullness receive, and grace for grace, so he from our nature received our sins, and bore them in his own body on the tree. He received our sorrows, bore our griefs, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. But such is the nature and reciprocity of the union. We in him, and he in us, that eternal justice could hold him responsible for our sins, and aquit us from all the demands of the law for his righteousness sake. If we are Christ's, then we are Abraham's seed. Christ took on him the seed of Abraham, and in that incarnation suffered in the body of his flesh for us and in us. For such was the oneness and identity of Christ and his members, that when he died for them all then were they all dead, legally dead, for the law had exacted and received its utmost demands at his hand; hence we sing:
"With him his members on the tree
Fulfilled the laws demands;
'Tis I in them and they in me,
For thus the union stands.
"Since Jesus slept among the dead
His saints have nought to fear,
For with their glorious suffering Head,
His members sojourned there."
(i) The justification of the ungodly is based upon the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. He was delivered up for our offences, and raised again for our justification. We are not aware of having ever represented that our having been in Christ, before the world begun, superseded or rendered unnecessary the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet his death and sufferings would no more have justified the guilty, in the absence of this union, than the punishment of an innocent person would remove the guilt of a criminal. How could Christ's death and resurrection have any more effect in taking away the sins of the elect than the sins of the non-elect, or the devils, if the elect had not stood in this vital and indissoluble union and relationship with him which we have described? Would my paying a ransom price for a property on which I never had any previous claim make the property my own? The right of redemption under the law belonged to the nearest of kin, and if our relation to Christ had not been anterior to our relation to Adam, and consequently prior to the claims of the law, Christ would not have been our nearest of kin; so in this view of the subject, though our justification required the incarnation, sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ, yet the relationship of eternal vital union was and is the principal on which his mediatorial work is available to us, and in that sense we think no understanding Christian will regard the doctrine as repulsive or abhorrent.
(j) If we said too much in saying that death passed upon all that Adam embodied, will brother Pence be kind enough to tell us what part of Adam or his posterity death did not pass upon? We felt some confidence in reiterating the declaration of an inspired apostle: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12)." And how? If we can understand the meaning, it is this: As sin entered by one man, so death entered by one man, so death passed upon all men by one man; for that all have sinned in that one man.
(k) To all these interrogatives we answer yes. Most assuredly they were all there. The patriarchs and prophets, and all the Old Testament saints, and all the New Testament saints, all the election of grace, all that shall ever reign with him in glory, and we sometimes even hope that the writer of this article, though the chief of sinners and the least of saints, was there; for if they were not in him, be it remembered there is no salvation out of him. They were all buried with him by baptism into death; were all crucified with him, and they all arose with him to newness of life. God hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together.
(l) Very true; but was any part of his posterity out of him when he transgressed? If so, who, or where are they?
(m) If things had not been just as they were, we do not pretend to know how they would have been.
(n) As Adam is the figure of Christ, so Eve, to our view, is the figure of the bride, the Lamb's wife. And there was a union of life between them before her formation or manifestation as his bride. That relation was not annulled by her distinct formation, for she was still the bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and she was called woman, because she was taken out of the man, and her name was called Eve because she was the mother of all living, and that too before any of her children were born. Even as Jerusalem, which is above and is free, is the mother of all who, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise. Now Paul says: "For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression." Were we to suppose that when Eve had transgressed, Adam had refused to follow her into the transgression, must they not have been forever separated from each other? But Adam said she was given to be with him, and she gave him of the forbidden fruit, and he did eat. Apply the figure to Christ and his church; for Paul says he is speaking of Christ and the church. The church was created in Christ; she is still the bone of his bones; she is his body, his flesh, and his bones. The church in her separate formation was beguiled by the serpent, deceived, betrayed, and was in the transgression. She had no power to return to Christ, though she was no less his wife - no less the bone of his bones; for the relationship could not be dissolved, but he could go to her. Christ could and did bow his heavens and come down. He was made of a woman, made under the law. He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. His Bride was previously given to be with him; for God had said it was not good for man to be alone; so, neither was it good in the sight of God that Christ should be alone. He had power to follow his Bride, by receiving the fruit at her hand, and by having her iniquities laid on him and to forever cancel them. But when Adam had followed Eve into the transgression, there with her he remained; for he had no power to redeem her. So here the figure ends. But Christ had power to lay down his life and to take it again, according to the commandment of his Father, and in his triumphant resurrection quickened his church with resurrection life and immortality.
We submit what we have written to the consideration of brother Pence, and to our readers generally. Long as the article is, we have not allowed ourself a full range of the subject, but hope we may be understood, and that some at least may be edified; and if our readers will forgive us for the tedious length of this, we will try to avoid the infliction of so severe a punishment on them next time.
June 15, 1864.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6