Dear Brother Beebe: I reckon you scarcely remember my face; but I remember yours well. I had no idea of ever seeing you in the flesh, and when I met you and brother Leachman at the Pig River Association, I anticipated that I should hear something good from you: and I thank the Lord, I was not disappointed. You had come so far, and had contended for the same faith which was once delivered to the saints. And, “Did not my heart burn within me”? and I could not refrain from shedding tears, when you and brother Leachman were unfolding the rich fullness of the gospel. It was a feast of fat things. I was so feasted that I thought surely I should not hunger again soon. I firmly believe it was the gospel in its purity. It grieved me that I could not become personally acquainted with you. I have frequently felt, since that time, that I would write to you; but I feel that I am weak and incompetent. Brother Beebe, we little folks hate to expose our ignorance. But I hope we have been taught by the same Spirit.
If you will bear with me, and it will not be intruding, I wish to ask a few questions: First. I would like to have your views on the dying with Christ, lying in the grave with him, arising and ascending with him to glory, as there seems to be some contention on those points. See the number of the Signs of July 1, 1855 your reply to brother Howard, in which some brethren seem to think you glory as much in the death of the sinner as in the death of the saint. I understand you, that in the purpose and will of God, Christ is as much glorified in the one as in the other; if I am wrong, please correct me. Second. Your views also, whether Christ is a created being. I believe you are able to give your views satisfactorily. Please do so. Contention and strife among brethren, I abhor. We have been taking your paper several years, and I admit there are some things which are mysterious to me, but according to my weak judgment your editorials are as sound, and unshaken, and firm, in accordance with the testimony as the Scriptures, as ever come from the lips of man. You always admit that you are liable to err, and you seem to evince the spirit of meekness, and a willingness to forgive. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” “Let brotherly love continue.” I desire that you may keep nothing back that is profitable to the saints. May the Lord be with you and bless your labors, grant you all the comforts of this life, support you in death, and finally receive you up to glory, is the sincere prayer of your
P. S. - I will send you a few extracts, copied from the Signs of the Times, by brother Dyer, and sent to another brother, requesting his views on the subject. We have the fourth number for 1856, but have not the other two. I take the liberty of sending the copy to you, and hope you will pardon me, for I do it in friendship. I thought as I was writing, and it is concerning the questions I have asked you, I would send it. There seems to be some contention among brethren about it. My way is, if a brother or sister expresses anything which I cannot see through, to go to them, not to some one else for an explanation. I fear some brethren are trying to take unfair grounds with your doctrine. As the brethren did not authorize me to send this to you, I hope you will not use my name. Brother Beebe, I believe there are many who would rejoice at your downfall. I am sorry to so inform you; but it is truth. May you long stand as a watchman on the walls of Zion, ever ready to obey your Master’s will.
A WELL WISHER.
“In the 17th volume of the Signs, for 1849, number 11, and page 87, he says: ‘Christ, as the life and seminal head of his own church or body, dwelt in the bosom of the Father; was the begotten and the only begotten of the Father; and the begetting and setting up of the body of the head, was the begetting and setting of the body of which he is the head and life. And when that head was put to death in the flesh, the life of the body or church was taken away, and all her members were dead, so long as he lay in the grave, but when he was raised up, together with his dead body did all his members arise from death, and were quickened together with him.’
“In the same year, and in the same volume, number 16, page 121, he says: ‘Though they have dealt so summarily with that portion of God’s word, I will in candor answer the questions they put to me. The first is, whether the quickening and life-giving Spirit of God is a created existence? I answer, decidedly, Yes.’
“In the 4th number for the year 1856, he says: ‘We do not believe that the Son of God is a created being, nor have we ever expressed an idea implying such belief.”’
Reply: Among the hundreds of dear brethren and sisters whom we had the pleasure of meeting for the first time, at the Pig River Association, in August last, it would not be expected that we could distinctly recollect but few, but this one thing we shall not soon forget, that we were most affectionately greeted in love and christian fellowship by the whole assembly of the saints who all appeared to be truly of one heart and one spirit, joyfully mingling in the worship of our God and Savior. Of the multitude assembled, there was not a face that we had ever before to our knowledge seen, except that of brother Leachman, who accompanied us in our journey to visit them. Our preaching, imperfect as it certainly was, seemed to be warmly received, and heartily indorsed by all the brethren and sisters, without one dissenting voice, and the preaching of the brethren of that vicinity was as cordially received and indorsed by us.
But we were admonished by faithful brethren, that the enemy was close upon our heels to scatter arrows, fire-brand and death, insinuating that we were abolitionists, arians, non-regenerationists, non-resurrectionists, and almost anything but what we profess to be. Being thus advised we were the more explicit in avowing our sentiments on all subjects on which we were assailed, and were happy to learn that our views on every point were in perfect harmony with the doctrine constantly proclaimed by the brethren of that section of the country, as well as in harmony with what has always distinguished the Old School Baptists from the days of John the Baptist.
Soon after our return, we were informed by a beloved brother, and highly esteemed minister of the Pig River Association, that we had been assailed by one of Zion’s adversaries, and a rehash of the stereotyped slanders which had been so frequently made by our enemy, met, denied, and refuted by us, for years past, were reiterated and as boldly reaffirmed, as though they had never been contradicted by us, and garbled sentences collected from the files of the Signs, to fasten the base slanders upon us. Although we have so frequently replied to substantially the same questions many times within the last few years, we cheerfully re-assert our views on the subjects embraced in the inquiries of our correspondent, in the order in which they are stated:
First. “On the dying with Christ, lying in the grave with him, arising and ascending with him to glory.” Or in other words, our views of the vital, or life union of Christ as the spiritual Head, and his church as the mystical body of our Redeemer. That such was the indentity of spiritual, immortal and eternal life of the Head and body, that when the members of the body of Christ had in their earthly nature transgressed the law of God, under which we were created in the earthly Adam, and the law of God demanded that we should die. Christ, who is the second Adam, and the Lord from heaven, came into this world, and took on him the seed of Abraham; was made of a woman, made under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and in his own person laid down that life which the law required for our transgressions, suffered the very death which was due to his people, was delivered up to death for our offences, and raised from the dead for our justification. And thus were all his people “buried with him, by baptism into death,” including as many and all who were baptized into Jesus Christ, they were baptized into his death. (Rom. vi. 3-4.) Also Col. ii. 11-14, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; buried WITH HIM in baptism, wherein also ye are risen WITH HIM, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he QUICKENED TOGETHER WITH HIM, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances,” &c. “For the love of God constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” - 2 Cor. v. 14. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved,) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” - Eph. ii. 4-6. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” - Col. iii. 1. These passages embrace all that we know, all that we believe, and all that we contend for, upon the subject of the first question proposed by our correspondent. If this amounts to heresy, we cannot see how the apostles of the Lamb can escape the charge, or what defence the Old Baptists can make for singing,
“One in the tomb, one when he rose,
One when he triumphed o’er his foes,
One when in heaven he took his seat,
While seraphs sung all hell’s defeat.”
If there ever was a period in time or eternity when Christ was not the Life of his church, when the church was not one with him, even as he is one with the Father, we desire that some one more enlightened than we, should tell us when and where it was. We have thought it safe to believe just what the Bible says on the subject. But if Paul must be denounced as an heretic for what he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to write, it will not be the first time he has been so charged. See Acts xxiv. 14.
Second. The second point suggested, is an article written by us on the doctrine of predestination, in answer to questions proposed by a brother Howard. We have reviewed the article, and can see nothing in it to recall. We certainly now believe, as we did in 1855, that the power, government and decrees of God extend to all beings, all things, and all events, and think we should feel quite miserable, were we compelled to believe otherwise. If to believe that God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, be heresy, then Paul, as well as the humble editor of this paper, must lie under the imputation, for Paul has asserted it, Eph. i. 11. And with all our heart we do believe it.
Third. We are called on to say whether we believe that Christ is a created being. We answer, as we have often answered the same interrogatory before, most emphatically, We do not. We never have either believed or asserted any such thing. We have often made the same protestation, but still there are some who persist in charging us with that belief, and without paying the least regard to our disavowal, have labored with indefatigable zeal to garble something from the past volumes of the Signs to prove either that they know better than we do what we believe, or that we are insincere and false in our protestations. We envy not the disposition of those who can make it their business from year to year to vainly endeavor to elevate themselves by scandalizing those who can find better business.
Fourth. Next comes the extracts, said to be copied from the past files of the Signs. The design of which seems to be to show that we have both affirmed and denied that we hold that Christ is a created being. Take the extracts as we wrote and published them, (and not as they have garbled and misquoted them,) and take them in their connection with the articles in which they are found, and we still indorse each of those which are copied from our own writings. But the one which charges us with saying in number 16 of volume 17, and page 121, that “the life-giving Spirit of God is a created existence,” we positively deny that we ever wrote, published or indorsed that sentence, as our own. The words are contained in an article written by Elder Trott, in the volume, number and page referred to, and were written by him, in a controversy upon the precise meaning of the word made as applied to the “last Adam being made a quickening Spirit.” It was not said by brother Trott that Christ was a created existence, for brother Trott has always contended, if we have understood him, that Christ is the self-existent God, one with the eternal Father. But in these passages, in which it is said, He is of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit, that as such he is the beginning of the creation of God, and firstborn among many brethren, whether the words created and made are in those and other passages synonymous was the point in controversy, as we understood it. But we have no recollection that we have ever even expressed an opinion in the affirmative, but upon mature deliberation we have repeatedly said in our published articles on the subject that we do not believe the term created is admissible in that place, especially if by creation we mean the origination of something that did not before exist, as in the creation of the world.
Is it not strange that the brother, in searching the old files of the Signs should entirely overlook, should find but one disclaimer, and then put the words of another writer into our mouth, in order to give it the appearance of a contradiction of ours? In all the other extracts he copies from us, (but not correctly in the first,) and then, in the second extract, writes, “He says, I will in all candor answer the question they put to me; the first is, whether the life-giving Spirit of God is a created existence? I answer decidedly, Yes.” Did not the brother who copied these extracts know that in his use of the pronoun he, in “He says,” that the writer of the other extracts would, according to the rules of our language, be the antecedent, and implicated as saying what he never said? Was this done through ignorance of the rules of our language, or was it done to convey the idea that the editor, who is charged with saying the other things, also said what is contained in that extract? Whatever caused him to make the misrepresentation, it is no less a misrepresentation and an untruth, for we never said it, we never thought it, and we have not been slow to disclaim it from time to time.
The extract purporting to be from volume 17, page 87, should read, if copied correctly, “Christ as the Life and seminal Head of his own church or body, dwelt in the bosom of the Father, was the begotten, and the only begotten of the Father, and the begetting and setting up of that Head was the begetting and setting up of the body of which he is the Head and Life.” Is there anything wrong in this? If he is not the seminal Head of his church, how are they his seed? (Psa. xxu. 30; Isa. liii. 10; Gal. iii. 29, and 1 Cor. xv. 4549.) Does he not dwell in the bosom of the Father? Read John i. 18. Was he the begotten and only begotten of the Father? See John i. 14. Was the Head and body both born of God? Read Heb. ii. 11. Or is it more scriptural to believe that the Head was set up without the body? When Christ died for his members, were they buried with him by baptism into death? if not, when were they so baptized? Were they, his members, quickened together with Christ, and raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places, or not? If they were, what is wrong in the extract? And if they were not, why did the inspired Paul say they were? (Eph. ii. 6, and Col. iii. 1.) But we will copy the rest of the extract: “And when that Head was put to death in the flesh, the life of the body or church was taken away.” We hope this is not heresy, seeing that it is Bible doctrine. “For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if Christ died for all, then were all dead.” - 2 Cor. v. 14. And all her members were dead, so long as he remained in the grave, but when he was raised up, together with his dead body did they arise from death, and were quickened together with him.
Now we have given the whole of the first extract; it is nearly all of it in Bible language, and all that is not in the very words of Scripture may be wrong, as it is only the view entertained by one who is, to say the least, quite as likely to err in his judgment as any of his brethren are. Of course we do not intend to be understood that the children of God were literally dead while Christ was in the grave, for many of them were not born, but all who were redeemed by his blood were legally dead, the death to which they were sentenced was met and canceled, and when he arose from the dead he raised up his church from sin, and death, and hell, so as to justify the express declaration, that “God hath us raised up with him.”
In conclusion, we hope our brethren will examine our views, and take what we have written as we have written it, and not run over the volume of the Signs for twenty-eight years to garble and detach passages, and by unfair, uncandid and unchristian constructions of our words, labor to make us an offender for a word, or even without a word by us, uttered to justify them.
We have been hunted like a partridge in the wilderness, for years, and we have been charged with the most awful heresies, but when our volumes are searched for years, we are glad that so little can be found to justify the charges, and we submit to our brethren whether anything has been found that when fairly construed can be refuted by the Scriptures.
Middletown, N. Y.
November 15, 1860.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 424 - 432