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THE NEW BIRTH

Brother Beebe: If one so unworthy as I may call you brother, I have examined your reply in No. 16, on 2 Cor. v. 17. The questions were, Is any part of the Adamic man born again? If so, what part is born again? Now, if I understand you, it is the whole man, or that which is born of God, is the life which came from God, and that life is the new man, which keeps this Adamic man in subjection to some extent. Now, the question that I want you to answer is this. Is man composed of soul, spirit, and body in his Adamic nature? And do the soul and spirit partake of the divine nature of God in the new or second birth? Do the soul and spirit die when the body dies? And if so, what do you do with these passages? viz: “Fear not him that killeth the body, but hath not power to kill the soul; but fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. x. 28. “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” John x. 28, and Rev. vi. 9, “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held,” and xx. 4, “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, And they lived and reigned with Christ,” etc. 1 John iii. 19, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot commit sin, because he is born of God.” 1 Peter i. 23. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.”

This does clearly show two births; the first a corruptible, the second an incorruptible; and that which was born first was born second - not something else born again. Again. Luke xxiii. 43, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” And Luke xvi. 22,23, “And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom; the rich man died also, and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.” Now, if some part of the Adamic man does not live when the body is dead, what do these passages mean? Again, Luke xxiv. 27, “But they were terrified and afrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit;” but Jesus said, “Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Again, Phil. i. 23, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.” 2 Cor. v. 8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Now, from these passages, I do understand that man has a soul or spirit that does live when this body dies, and that the soul or spirit is that which is born again. And from your editorial and brother T. P. Dudley’s communications, I understand you to deny that man has a soul or spirit that lives when this body dies. And I do desire your views on these points, and you will oblige many dear brethren by giving them so plainly that all may understand how you hold these passages, as there seems to be some misunderstanding here among the brethren in regard to your views. We ought to have no secrets in the plan of salvation, and we ought always to make our views as plain as our sense will allow. And now, my dear brother, if any part of the Adamic man is quickened into life, tell us what you think it is. Paul said, “If the Spirit 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 if the wicked have no souls or spirits, how are they raised from their graves?

Now, my brother, I have been a member of the Baptist church over forty years, and have been trying to preach Jesus, and him crucified, for the last twenty years, and I have not followed the opinions of men. I was a member when the Campbellite doctrine, the mission doctrine, and the Parkerite doctrine, and the non-resurrection doctrine arose and I have not followed them. Jesus is all my hope for salvation. If grace was not given me in Christ Jesus before the world began, I am lost forever. The doctrine of Election and Predestination is a glorious theme.

Now, brother Beebe, I hope the good Lord is gathering his sheep and lambs into the fold. Since February I have baptized eight willing converts in Elk Fork church, and there are three other churches in this county, and there have been several additions in them. We have five ordained ministers in this county, and one more to be ordained in October; then we shall have six ordained and one licensed minister, and five churches in this county. This Association is called Deep Water Association. I will send you a Minute when printed, I have been taking the Signs, more or less, for fifteen years. A sincere enquirer after truth, and yours with respect.

MARTIN WHITE

Reply to Elder Martin White on the New Birth: Composition of Man, Resurrection of the Dead - Born Saints and Sinners, etc. We regret exceedingly the want of ability to make our communications intelligible to all our brethren; and after laboring from time to time, when called on, to express our views on the subject of the new and spiritual birth, that any of our readers should require to be informed that we believe man in his natural and also in his regenerate state possesses a soul, spirit, and body, and that the bodies of all the race of Adam shall be raised up out of the graves according to the scriptures, and we should utterly despair of ever being able to make ourself understood, if it were not that we have the assurance that our brethren in Christ do generally understand our position, with but few exceptions, and those few, so far as we can learn, are harrassed by those who make it their business to pervert what we say, and so confuse the minds of all who are to any extent under their influence. The primitive disciples, and even the holy apostles with all their heavenly inspiration, had to encounter the same influences, and their writings were so construed by pretended friends, but inveterate enemies, as to represent them as saying, “Let us sin that grace may abound,” or teach that the resurrection of the dead were already past. We do not impugn the motives of our brother White, for he seems to present his enquiries in a brotherly and christian spirit; but still we are truly astonished at some of the conclusions he has drawn from our former essays on the subject of the new birth; and more than all that he should infer from anything we have published during the fifteen years in which he has read our paper that we differ in regard to the natural organization of the Adamic man, as embracing soul, spirit, and body, and that the souls or spirits of all men must survive the dissolution of the body, and exist in happiness or misery forever.

Were we to express our views fully on every question and passage of scripture presented by brother White, we should require a large volume to contain them, in the most condensed form in which it is possible for us to present them. But this we presume he does not wish nor expect. We will attend to the most prominent of them, in the order in which he has stated them.

First - Is man composed of soul, spirit, and body in his Adamic nature?

Answer – Yes.

Second - Do the soul and spirit of man partake of the divine nature of God in the new or second birth?

Answer - Yes; and so does the body or flesh; but neither the soul, spirit or body of the Adamic man, becomes the divine nature, nor ceases to be the Adamic nature, until the death of the body. Peter says: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” etc. 2 Peter i. 2, 3. All the nature we have developed in us before the new birth is human nature - earthly, corrupt, depraved, and in which we were children of wrath, even as others. - Eph. ii. 3. In the natural, earthly body, soul and spirit, God implants the spirit of his Son; but this implantation does not make our human, earthly and depraved soul, body and spirit, the spirit of the Son of God; or we should no longer be mortal; for “Christ dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” But inasmuch as we receive that life and spirit which is Christ, we are partakers of Christ, or, in other words, of the divine nature. We understand that it takes the body, soul and spirit to constitute the man; but we have neither space nor ability to define any of these component and indispensible elements of which man is composed. But that all three are named as participants of what we understand the divine nature to be, is fully expressed in the following scriptures: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who hath loved me, and given himself for me.” - Gal. ii. 20. This text proves that the body or flesh of Paul, and of the saints, was and are recipients and participants of the divine nature of Christ, and, beyond all controversy, not until we are subjects of the new birth, but at and from the time of the new birth. That the soul and spirit also participates in this divine nature appears, from the exclamation of Mary, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” - Luke i. 46, 47. “The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” - Romans viii. 16.

Third - Do the soul and spirit die when the body dies?

Answer - “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.” - Eccl. xii. 7. The soul or spirit of man, according to our understanding of the scripture, cannot cease to exist; when the body dies, the soul or spirit is separated from the body, and as the body goes to the earth, so the soul goeth to God who gave it, to be disposed of in happiness or woe, according to the destiny by him appointed. Nor do we believe there is any suspension of the existence or vitality of the soul and spirit. The spirits of just men are made perfect, and immediately after they leave the body are with God, and enjoy his presence. God is the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; yet he is not the God of the dead, but of the living. - Matt. xxii. 32. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” - Luke xxiii. 43.

Fourth - If so, what do you do with these passages? We could not reconcile the doctrine of the non-existence of souls and spirits with the passages referred to by our brother; and it is highly probable that, as far as we understand their sacred import, we use them the same as brother White does. We have not time to consider them separately, nor is it necessary in this place, as we both evidently regard them as proof that the spirits, or souls of men, continue to live when the fleshly bodies are in their graves.

Fifth - Brother White quotes 1 Peter i. 23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.” And then adds, “This does clearly show two births; the first a corruptible, the second an incorruptible, and that which was born first, was born second; not something else born again.

Answer - This conclusion is not quite so clear to our dull comprehension. That two births are implied, the one of a corruptible and the other of incorruptible seed, and that the saints are the subjects of both, we fully believe; but that that which was born first is born second, does not accord with our reading of the scriptures. First, because it is not so stated by Peter in the text, for he is evidently contrasting the two births. The one which is of corruptible seed is of the flesh, and goes to corruption, as he illustrates, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord (by which the incorruptible birth is effected) endureth forever.” Now if that which is born of corruptible seed is afterward born of incorruptible seed, how could it then go to corruption like the grass or, like the flower of grass? Second, to our mind it conflicts with the words of Jesus to Nicodemus, John iii. 6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” What is a birth? It is evidently a bringing forth something which had a prior existence in a seminal head or progenitor. What was brought forth from our earthly progenitor is of a corruptible seed, is earthly, and, like grass, must wither and go back to the earth. But that which is born of the Spirit is not flesh, but it is spirit. And although the man who is born of the flesh, and is redeemed from the earth, is the recipient of that life which is born of God, and of that spirit, which is born of the Spirit, yet the one is not a reproduction of the other, nor is the spirit which is born of the Spirit of God made out of the flesh that was born of the flesh. Otherwise Nicodemus was right in supposing that the production of the fleshly birth must go again into the womb and be born. A fleshly birth does not bring forth spirit, nor does a spiritual birth bring forth flesh. The one is born of God, the other of the flesh. Every Christian has in his own experience all that we contend for on this subject. His fleshly corruptible nature which was conceived in sin, shapen in iniquity and going astray from the womb, speaking lies, which now makes him groan, being burdened, and in which (unless his differs widely from what Paul was) there dwelleth no good thing; and the implantation of life and immortality, which, after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, which is called the new man. This new or inner man, is born of God, but the old or outward man, is born of the flesh. In the latter we serve the law of sin; but in the former we delight in the law of God. That which is born of the flesh, and is flesh, contains no good thing. That which is born of God, cannot commit sin, “because his seed (which is incorruptible by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever) remaineth in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” - 1 John iii. 9. We appeal to brother White, and to every saint on earth. Are your soul, body and spirit so born over again that in them you cannot, do not, commit sin? If they are really born of God, they cannot, neither can anything that is born of incorruptible seed be corrupted, or that which is born of the spirit die. Every Christian knows that there is a nature in him which is sinful, vile, and polluted. Each has a vile body which is to be changed and fashioned like the glorious body of our risen and glorious Redeemer: but every saint on earth knows that that change has not yet taken place in him; but like Job he can sometimes say in the spirit, “All the days of my appointed time I will wait till my change come.” If all that was born of the flesh is born over again, of incorruptible seed by the word of the Lord which liveth and abideth forever, no part of us can die, nor sin, nor see corruption. Where or whence would there be any warfare in the Christian, if our whole nature were regenerated and born of God. What conflict could there be “Twixt reigning grace, and striving sin?” Let those who see and feel, and mourn no sinful passions, no vile affections, no doubts or fears, or unbelief, no wanderings from the pathway of holiness - those who are as holy and spiritual as they ever expect or desire to be, claim that their bodies, souls, and spirits are already born of incorruptible seed; but such poor wandering sinful and sinning souls as the writer of this article, must, like Cowper’s stricken deer, withdraw from the whole herd of such righteous ones, and seek society with those who are of broken hearts and contrite spirits; and standing afar off from all such, smite upon his breast and cry, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Sixth - “And from your, and brother T. P. Dudley’s communications, I understand you to deny that man has a soul or spirit that lives when this body dies.”

Answer - Elder T. P. Dudley is of age, he can speak for himself. If he holds any such sentiments, we have never inferred it from any communication of his, nor anything like it. We presume this is a misapprehension of his views altogether. But as for ourself, if by any fair rule of construction, our language in any communication we have ever made, publicly or privately, in the pulpit or through the press, a denial of the continued existence of the soul and spirit of both saint and sinner, after the decease of the body, can be justly inferred, we will confess that we have not sense enough to write intelligibly, or to make ourself understood on this important subject; for we certainly have never designed to convey any such idea in any communication we have ever made. But we candidly believe if brother White will review our files for the number of years he has been a reader of them, he will find us frequently avowing our full conviction that the soul and spirit lives on when the body dies, and that the bodies also shall all be raised from the dead at the appointed hour, and in their resurrection, but not before, the bodies of the saints shall be clothed with incorruption and immortality. The conflict between sin and holiness will attend us only to the end of our mortal pilgrimage; the warfare of the flesh and spirit will cease when the body dies. The soul or spirit, or angel of every saint, will instantly bask in the fulness of eternal glory in the unclouded presence of the unveiled glory of God and the Lamb, as soon as the body dies. And the wicked also will instantly feel the weight of their awful doom as soon as their mortal bodies die. The life given us in Christ Jesus, and implanted in us by the new birth, is eternal life and cannot die; the soul and spirit of the saints in possession of it will go immediately to heaven. All that was earthly, sensual or vile in them will die with the body; all that does not die with the body, as we understand the subject, will be fully qualified to enjoy the unsullied glory of the supreme God, and mingle in the rapturous melody of glorified spirits in heaven.

As to the doctrines of the Campbellites, the Parkerites, the non-resurrectionists, or the modern missionists, we have no connection with nor fellowship for them. With brother White we can truly say that Christ and him crucified is enough for us. With our Bible in hand, the Holy Spirit to open its sacred treasures to our heart, - let these be ours, and we will cheerfully renounce all things else. We are glad to hear of the stately doings of our dear Redeemer in the churches in the vicinity of our dear brother White; and may it be his happy lot to lead many more of the precious lambs of Christ into the baptismal waters, if it be the pleasure of the Lord.

Middletown, N.Y.
October 15, 1860.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 413 - 421