Lawrenceburg, Ky., July 31, 1869.
BROTHER BEEBE: - Some time ago I received a letter from a brother in Indiana, objecting to my views as given on the parable found in Mat. xiii. 44, in the fourth number, present volume of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES. He gave me liberty to send the letter with my reply to it for publication in your paper. While writing the reply my wife had a severe attack of illness, which caused me to leave the papers, and they were mislaid or lost, and I have been unable to find them. As the brother wishes his name withheld I shall not use it. He asks what I mean by the Adamic man? Answer. I mean the man that is born of the flesh, and is flesh. The amount of his objection was that I had contended that there was nothing done for the natural man; that the spirit that was born of God returned to God, and that the natural man returned to a state of nonentity. Now, I want him, and others that can have access to the communication, to turn to and overlook it. If they can find there anything like the idea that there is "nothing done for the natural man," or that he "returns to a state of nonentity," the fault is mine; if not, it must rest on those who thus charge me. Is it found in the fact that I said the natural man answers to the "field," and was the subject of purchase; and that Christ "gave himself," or "all that he had," for that field? That "he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity?" Or was it because I quoted the text, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death?" Or was it because I said, Until our vile body is changed and fashioned like unto his glorious body, the warfare must go on, the battle rage between the flesh and the spirit? Or was it because I said further, Then, and not till then, shall we realize fully "the redemption of the purchased possession," "the redemption of our body," for which we must "wait?" Or, finally, was it because I said in the conclusion, The treasure is hid, the field purchased, he will have his own? Is it not strange, passing strange, that any one, after reading the closing part of that communication, should arrive at the conclusion that I contended that there was nothing done for the natural man, that he went back into a state of nonentity? What strange influence can be at work here? My mind has underwent no change since writing that composition, notwithstanding the friendly notice that brother D. Bartley has taken of it in a late number of the SIGNS. I do not yet believe that Christ "gave himself," or "all that he had," for the Jews as a nation, nor that they constituted "the kingdom of heaven" spoken of in the parable. But I am not at all disposed to pursue the argument further, as it has already been suggested that the further investigation of subjects that I have been somewhat engaged in, and perhaps originated, would injure the circulation of the SIGNS, and I certainly do not wish to bear any part in doing that. I firmly and honestly believe that what I have written on the subjects alluded to is fully sustained by the Bible, or I should not have written as I did; and I feel thankful, first to my God and then to my brethren, whom I esteem abler than my humble self, for the confirmation afforded me as I trust by his Spirit and the revelation given in the scriptures, and their communications through the SIGNS, through private letters and verbally. Never while my memory lasts can I forget the able and forcible manner in which our once dear and now departed and much lamented brother R. C. Leachman treated those subjects at the Baltimore Association, in the city of Baltimore, in May, 1868. His and brother P. Hartwell's preaching there was very consoling and encouraging to me. But in brother Leachman we have lost a faithful and able minister of the New Testament, a dear friend and an agreeable companion. May God abundantly bless his sorely bereft widow, brethren and sisters, among whom he so faithfully labored. I sensibly feel the loss of such labors. God only can repair it. The co-operation of such as above mentioned, with many others, have afforded me great encouragement while feebly opposing the few opposers to the truth that have risen up among our own selves; for there have been some few even of the writers and readers of the SIGNS, (and I regret to have it to say, but the fact has already been made public,) who seem slow to learn that in them, that is, in their flesh, (for all that is born of the flesh is flesh,) dwells no good thing; but that the whole, or some part of it, is born of God, and consequently must be good. Such, however, will never be the settled sentiment of the church of Christ while she has the Spirit of God in her heart and his revelation in her hand to guide her. Now, rather than throw the smallest obstruction in the way of the widest circulation of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, I intend this to be my last communication for its columns, unless I am called to write an obituary notice, or something of that kind. Of course I dare not make any rash promises, for I am in the hand of the Lord, and what he, or even Satan himself, (for he is too strong for me without the Lord's arm beneath me,) may induce me to do is unknown to me. I speak of my present, and, I think, lasting intention. Let it not be understood from these remarks that I can think of giving up the SIGNS as a reader, for I very highly appreciate its contents. I want it understood, however, that I have no disposition to back down, or refrain from defending the principles I have contended for; for while the Lord enables me I expect fully, fearlessly and faithfully to contend for them privately and publicly; but I do not wish to injure the SIGNS OF THE TIMES in doing so.
I am but a bungling writer at best, and cannot think that the paper will suffer any loss whatever in the withholding Of my name.
There have been one or two requests made in the SIGNS, and several through private letters, from my dear brethren and sisters in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Texas and other places, for my views through the SIGNS on different texts of scripture. I hope they will take the foregoing remarks, together with a free acknowledgement and feeling sense of my insufficiency, as a reasonable apology, and not conclude that I lightly esteem them or disregard their friendly requests.
If I know myself, I do desire to "follow after the things which make for peace and things wherewith one may edify another;" and am willing to deny myself privileges that I might otherwise enjoy for the sake of keeping "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," when that unity and peace can be had without suppressing or bartering the truth for either, or crying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." This, brother Beebe, brethren and sisters, is my prayer for Jesus' sake. Brethren, farewell.
Your friend and brother,
J. F. JOHNSON.