REPLY TO BROTHER E.H., OF CINCINNATI.

That sinners may and can receive remission of sins through faith in the name of Christ, is not only a gospel truth recorded in the scriptures, but that truth is also clearly demonstrated in the experience of every sinner saved by grace. Faith is that fruit of the Spirit which receives and appropriates to the heirs of God the spiritual blessings which were given them in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. It is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. No sinner can obtain this faith by any effort or work of his own, for an inspired apostle has told us that faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph.2:8. And as it is a fruit of the Spirit, we must first be born of the Spirit before we can possess it. If we could produce it from ourselves in our unquickened state, it would then be a fruit of the flesh, and not of the Spirit. When therefore we admit that a sinner may and can receive remission of sins through faith in the name of Christ, we mean the sinner unto whom God has given faith for that purpose; but none other may or can. Let us also observe that the faith and remission of which we speak are both from God; that faith is not the originator of remission, but the gift by which we receive experimentally that forgiveness which God for Christ’s sake bestows; that unspeakable gift is revealed to and perceived by faith, and hence it is through faith, in the name of the Lord Jesus. If this be the meaning of brother E.H., and we presume it is, we hesitate not to answer his first interrogative affirmatively. He is right. To the six questions clustered together in a subsequent part of his letter, we also answer, Yes. Deciding according to the evidences stated of his experience, however he may be at times harassed with doubts and fears; God has himself settled this important point, and informed us in his word, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” I John 5:1. Our friend says, “I thought I believed.” We hope he did truly so believe; we see no cause to doubt that he did; and if in the true sense of this text he really did believe, then he is and was undoubtedly born of God; for God has so declared in his word. “No man can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” None but they who are born of God can know the Son; and all who know him as the Christ, have this knowledge, because the Father has revealed him in them; for flesh and blood cannot reveal this, but our Father which is in heaven. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3. If faith has ever entered your heart to believe that Jesus is the Christ, then that spirit of life and immortality of which faith is the fruit, has preceded it in your heart. The spirit and life are the cause, faith in Christ is the effect, or as the scriptures teach, faith is the fruit. When this faith was given to you, it gave demonstrative evidence from that hour that you were a child of grace; that you had passed from death unto life, had been regenerated, and quickened, and then, from that moment, you had a birthright among the sons of God and heirs of glory; was manifestly an heir of God, and a joint heir of Jesus Christ. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Rom. 8:4. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” Rom. 8:17.

You say, “I have often said in my heart, that I love the brethren; can I therefore, dear brother, claim an interest in the new birth?” Most assuredly, to love the brethren is the most scriptural, and therefore the most reliable evidence we possibly can have that we are born of God.

Again you say, “I think I believe and love, and I feel that I am a sinner. Am I born again?” Again we reply, we know of no more infallible evidences that you are born again than those which you have expressed. Your love and faith are indisputable evidences, and so is your feeling sense of being a sinner; for you are yet in the flesh; you still have an earthly, carnal, depraved nature, which is born of the flesh, and which warreth against the spirit, and which sometimes brings you into captivity to the law of sin which is still in your members. None can so well feel the sinfulness of their nature, none can with so much sincerity and contrition of heart confess the sinfulness of that earthly nature which makes them groan, as do the quickened saints of God. Others may fancy that their earthly natures are changed and have become spiritual, but the heaven born, and heaven bound, do groan within themselves, after they have received the first fruits of the Spirit, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. Waiting till their change shall come, when God shall change their vile body, and fashion it like the glorious body of their risen and exalted Savior. Then shall mortality be swallowed up of life. Then, but not till then, shall this mortal put on immortality, be raised a spiritual, immortal, and incorruptible body, no more to feel and lament the indwelling of inbred depravity and sin.

“Or,” you say, “in other words, has not the sinner, that man who was dead in trespasses and sins, passed from death unto life, and been regenerated, been born again, renewed and quickened, when these signs are manifested?” We answer, in our understanding of this subject, it is the very identical man that was chosen of God in Christ, predestinated to the adoption of a child, created an fell in the earthly Adam, was condemned by the law, was dead in trespasses and sins, was by nature a child of wrath even as others, was redeemed by the blood of Christ, and in him regenerated when Christ arose from the dead; that is in due time personally and experimentally called with a holy calling, quickened by the Second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven, and the quickening, or life giving Spirit, by which he passes from death unto life, born of God, made heir according to the hope of eternal life. For if all this grace was bestowed on somebody else, or not on us, it would not effect us. It is the sinner that is saved by grace. Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief, and he came to save none but sinners, and they only whom he came to redeem and save are the subjects of the new birth. But what is the new birth? A birth is the bringing forth into manifestation something previously begotten; and in a birth, that which is born or brought forth is passive, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. And that which is born of God is something we are told in the word that cannot commit sin; because his seed abideth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God. Brother E.H. feels that he is a sinner, and so feels the writer of this reply. Will any one claim that our sinful nature is born of God? If so, what are we to put off when this tabernacle of the flesh shall be dissolved, and what are we to but on, when we awake with Christ’s likeness? If that which is born of God cannot sin, and we feel as does our brother E.H. that sin dwelleth in us, and that in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing, does it not prove that we as christians, while here in the flesh, have a holy nature which is born of God, and therefore cannot sin, which is called the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness; and that we still have also a carnal sinful nature, full of depravity, and always warring against the spirit, which is not born of God, but is born, just as our Redeemer told Nicodemus, of the flesh. And if in the apostle Peal’s flesh there was no good thing, and only sin was dwelling, where shall we find the christian who is so far in advance of Paul that he can say, In my flesh I find the spirit of holiness? No war against the spirit of grace; no lusting against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law or power of sin that is in my members? Now if we are like Paul, {and if we are apostolic Baptists we are} then we have in us the law of sin, and the law of the spirit of rife. Are both those laws born of God? Or is not the one bore of the flesh, and the other born of God? Should we consider the figure presented by our brother, in the creation, formation, and animation of Adam. When God had formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, did that dust cease to be dust, and become breath, or life, or animation? It certainly passed from an inanimate to an animated state; for man became a living soul. But in the death of Adam the body of dust was separated from that breath with which he had been animated, and the dust returned to dust, and the spirit to God who gave it. The Lord Jesus Christ dwells in all his members as their life; but they have still while here a natural or earthly life, which is mortal, and must die. But they have also a life in them which is born of incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which is imperishable, as he says, I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish. The christian is identified in both these natures; for it takes both to constitute a christian. A christian is a person who has been born of the flesh, and afterwards born of the Spirit, who bears the yoke of Christ, and follows him, and that person is called a christian only so long as these two natures dwell together in the same individual; when in our anticipated glory we shall no more need the appellation, for we shall have no more carnal or earthly propensities to war against our spirits. The christian, now identified with both the flesh and the spirit, uses the personal pronouns as did the apostle. “With my mind I serve the law of God; but with my flesh the law of sin.” “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin; for that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Rom. 7:14-21. To deny the two distinct and antagonistic natures which exist in every christian while here in the flesh, would make the apostle’s words paradoxical and contradictory. But in allowing the apostle to interpret his own use of words, his language becomes to us clear and intelligible. “With my mind I serve the law of God;” that is, with his spiritual mind; for he had the mind of Christ; not with his carnal mind, for that is not, nor can it be subject to the law of God. And “I serve the law of sin,” he explains his meaning, with my flesh I serve the law of sin. He was identified personally with both these opposite natures, and speaks of them in the sense in which our Lord defined them. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The one is from heaven, the other is of the earth; one is holy, the other is sold under sin. And the one lusts against the other, and that is what causes the christian warfare. The one is immutable, but the other shall be changed. That life or nature which is born of incorruptible seed by the word of God, liveth and abideth forever; but that life which is born of the flesh is mortal, shall die, and in the resurrection shall be changed, and raised a spiritual body, immortal, heavenly, and glorious.

If then by a spiritual man, our brother means a man who has been quickened by the Spirit, born of the Spirit, and who is led by the Spirit, and in whom the Spirit dwells, we do not object; but if he should apply the terms to our old carnal nature which is born of the flesh, and which is flesh, we can find it no where so called in the scriptures. “That was not spiritual which was first, but natural; and afterwards that which is spiritual.” If it be already spiritual, why does the apostle say it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body?

True. “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.” It was in the bright prospect of this, Paul said, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Middletown, N.Y.
February 15, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe