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BROTHER BEEBE: - A friend of mine, who is halting between two opinions, wishes to read your views on these words: “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” Gen. 6:3. Also, who is the son of perdition, spoken of in John 17:12? If you are not already taxed above that you are able to perform, please let us hear from you.

Your unworthy sister,
Mary Chambless.

REPLY. Justice to the memory of our dear departed brother Barton, requires that we should correct any wrong impression which has been made, unintentionally we presume in regard to his manner in the ministry. From our personal and intimate acquaintance with him for almost fifty years, we can testify that he was uniformly as faithful and bold In exposing error, and in warning the saints to beware of seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, as he was gentle and mild, in feeding, comforting and instructing the flock and in all the other duties of his sacred calling. His arguments were strong, lucid and conclusive, and his manner of presenting them, while pointed and telling, was never violent nor abusive. He was truly a Boanerges, in contending earnestly for the faith, and a Son of Consolation, in comforting the saints. Mark 3:17.

The passage in Gen. 6:3, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years;” is often referred to by the advocates of what is called free agency and human ability, and so misapplied by them as to make the impression that the Eternal God is vainly striving to convert men, and that men are able to successfully resist his omnipotent power. That the Holy Ghost strives to quicken, to persuade, and induce all sinners of the human family, to allow the Lord Almighty to save them from everlasting perdition, but in far the greater number of cases he woos, entreats, and strives in vain. If they could establish their blasphemous theory, what would they gain? Would it be pleasant to believe that God himself has not power to save sinners, or that sinners are stronger than God? The establishing of that doctrine would be to wrest the throne of power from the God of glory, and place the crown upon the head of guilty sinners. Did it ever occur to the Arminians, that if God has tried and striven to save men, and was unable to accomplish it, that should he attempt to damn them he might be equally unsuccessful? Is it not possible man might be quite as unwilling to be sent to hell, as to heaven? But the passage is frequently urged that “God’s Spirit shall not always strive with man,” &c, with an air of triumph, as though it were unanswerable proof that man is able to prevent the accomplishment of the counsel and pleasure of God. If this text in reality will bear the construction which they give, then we are bound to admit that they are right; and if it will not, then the question may be urged, What does it mean?

On the first proposition we are prepared to prove by the most positive and irrefragable testimony, that our God is never thwarted, hindered, or frustrated in the accomplishment of any thing he undertakes; for he doeth his pleasure in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth. He is of one mind, and none can turn him. He has declared the end from the beginning, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” “As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son also quickeneth whom be will.”

In reply to the second proposition, we stand prepared to prove that the resistance of the Spirit of God by the ante-deluvians in this text, related to the opposition of the spirit of delusion in those Arminian giants, a mongrel race, and offspring of a wicked amalgamation, who became mighty men and men of renown in the earth, who resisted the spirit of truth which was in Noah, by opposing the truth and righteousness which Noah preached; just as do now all ungodly work-mongers resist the truth as preached by prophets, apostles, and by all the ministers of Christ. The spirit of Christ, which is the Spirit of God, was in Noah, was in all the prophets of the Lord, who sought to know what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand of his coming, and of the glory that should follow. I Pet. 1:10. The apostle Peter identifies the spirit as that by which Christ was quickened and raised from the dead, and by which he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient. Christ by his spirit was in Noah, and in all the prophets, preaching righteousness, which preaching, and which spirit of righteousness, was resisted by the world. He makes a special reference to this very case, as one of the instances in which Christ, by this Spirit, went and preached, “When once the long-suffering of God waited {an hundred and twenty years} in the days Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” And our Lord also refers to this time of Noah, when the spirit in him preached righteousness, the spirit of error and delusion predominated in those who resisted, by eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them away. Matt. 24:37-39. The nature of this strife is clearly set forth by Stephen in his memorable discourse recorded Acts chapter seven. In the sixth chapter we are told that Stephen was full of faith and power, and did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose of the synagogue of the Libertines, &c, and disputed with Stephen, and they were not able to resist {successfully} the wisdom and spirit by which he snake. As they could not resist the force of his arguments, they resorted to bribery to resist, and they suborned men to sware falsely against him. And in the conclusion of his discourse he charged home upon them the wickedness of their resistance. “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” The Holy Ghost whom they resisted was not in them trying to convert them, but the spirit of the devil was in them to oppose, blaspheme, and murder. The spirit of truth and holiness was in Stephen, and he spake as the spirit of truth directed; but the spirit of delusion and opposition to the truth in them, hurried them on to put him to death. Stephen told them plainly in what manner they and their fathers did always resist the Holy Ghost, by trying to suppress the truth. He demanded of them, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.”

From all this it is very clearly demonstrated that neither in the days of Noah, nor at any other time, has the Spirit of God, of truth, of Christ, been resisted in its attempt to operate in the hearts of men. Our Savior declares that the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But the spirit of error and of opposition to the truth they have, and therefore they strive against all that is holy. When the wicked cometh in like a flood, then shall the Spirit of the Lord lift up a standard against him. The Spirit of God which dwells in the hearts of all who are born of that Spirit, strives against sin, in themselves, in their own carnal natures, which war against the spirit, and against all iniquity every where. But it shall not always strive, for the saints shall soon be delivered from the bondage of corruption. And the conflict between the saints and the ungodly, and between truth and error, between the church of God and the synagogue of Satan, shall not always last; for we are told that it shall be as it was in the days of Noah, there was a limited time, just while the ark was a preparing, and then the opposition to the preaching of righteousness by Noah was suddenly silenced.

And just so certainly the time is limited in which the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence from her enemies, and the day is fixed when all those advocates of error, who array themselves against the truth of God, and who pervert the scriptures, and resist the spirit of truth by persecuting its advocates, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. We will now pass to consider the last question:

Who is the Son of Perdition, spoken of in John 17:12? The scriptures call our attention to the contemplation of two grand mysteries, neither of which can be comprehended by finite minds. The first is called the Mystery of Godliness, and the other is the Mystery of Iniquity. In the first is embraced the Son of God, in the other, the Son of Perdition. In the one the Man Christ Jesus, and in the other the Man of Sin. In the Mystery of Godliness, God is manifest in the flesh, in his Mediatorial headship of the church, which is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Infinite lengths beyond the utmost stretch of human thought or reason's mightiest research, the amazing wonder rises, that God should dwell with men; that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Found in fashion as a man, and bowing in obedience to the law which his people, his members, had transgressed, he became obedient even unto death. But justified by the Spirit of the Lord God which was upon him, and which raised up his crucified body from the dead, and exalted him far above all principalities and power, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. In being made flesh, he took on him the seed of Abraham, not the seed of Abraham after the flesh, for the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; for in Isaac, {the promised child} should the seed be called. And as by the eternal Spirit in his resurrection he was declared to be the Son of God with power, so all the members of his mystical body are also made manifest by the same quickening Spirit, when born of the Spirit, as his body, his flesh, and his bones, and one with him even as he is one with the Father. As the Mediatorial Head of the church, the life, the righteousness, the justification, the sonship and heirship of all his members is in him. He is the Only Begotten of the Father, and therefore no man can come unto the Father but by him; all who are sons of God are sons in his Sonship; for there can be no such relationship out of him. Of his fullness all his members participate, and because he lives they shall live also. We can only glance at this sublime and glorious mystery at this time, and pass to consider the opposite mystery of iniquity.

As in the spiritual relation of Christ and his members, “There is one body and one Spirit, even as they are all called in one hope of their calling,” so the prince of the power of the air is leader, head and progenitor of all the children of perdition. Not as the children of men, for the creation of all the race of mankind, as children of the flesh, was alike in the earthly Adam. But as many as are born of the Spirit of God, and are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And so also they who are of their father the devil, are they who possess his spirit and are led by it; for the works of their father they will do; he was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth; for there is no truth in him; and when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of lies. As Christ embodies all the children of God, so the man of sin, the son of perdition, embodies all the children of the devil; and the scriptures could no more be fulfilled without the destruction of this wicked, this son of perdition, than they could be without the perfect and complete salvation of all the children of God in Christ.

Judas Iscarot was identified, nominally, at least, with the apostles, and for an important purpose in fulfilling the scriptures, he had been particularly prophesied of, and the work he was to do, and the end which was written of him. And we do not doubt that our Lord alluded specially to him in our text; for he must go to his own place, as it was written of him. But as he was numbered with the apostles of the Lamb, and took part of their ministry, and yet was a devil, as such he was a fit personification of the man of sin, and son of perdition, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. Of all the apostles he was the only apostate, and his apostasy was, that the scriptures should be fulfilled, and not because Christ was in any wise deficient in power to give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him. Whatever allusion our Lord had to Judas, it is certain that the apostle Paul, by the spirit of inspiration applied the same name and relationship to anti-christ, in II Thess. 2:3-12. Here he is called, “That man of sin, the son of perdition,” and he also calls him, “that wicked,” which should be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. He is described as bearing all the marks and characteristics of anti-christ, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

This could not have been applied personally to Judas, for he had gone to his own place, nor could it be applicable to any single individual; for it is not only spoken of the Son of perdition, in the singular number, but it is also applied to the same man of sin in the plural number. This man of sin and son of perdition comes after the working of Satan, &c., in them that perish; even as the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive comes after the working of God in all who are saved.

There is a sense in which all are given to Christ. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Psa. 2:8,9. He shall gather out from among them his sheep with his arms, and carry them in his bosom. He shall gather the wheat into his garner, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire, he has power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him. He shall set his sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. To those whom be has set at his right hand he shall say, Come, ye blessed; and to those on his left, Depart, ye cursed. His saints shall reign with him in glory; but the wicked shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God. Yet none shall be lost, but the Son of Perdition, that the scriptures may be fulfilled.

Middletown, N.Y.
July 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe