Warwick, Orange Co., N. Y., April 15,1857.
BROTHER BEEBE: - After so long a time, I will endeavor to comply with the request of Eld. J. W. Thomas, of Indiana, found in No. 3, of the present volume of the SIGNS, but will first say that after writing the request, brother T., in a private letter, requested my views on the 27th, as well as the 28th verse of the 1st chapter of the epistle to the church at Colosse. There is a mystery named in the connection, but said to be made known to the saints among the Gentiles. Whatever may be my claim to that endearing name, I must confess that if the mystery is made known to me in any degree, it is "only in part."
Elder T., however, is too well acquainted with me to suppose that I can comprehend and explain all the hows and wherefores of that sublime mystery. This epistle, like all the rest, is directed to, and designed for the special and exclusive benefit of "the saints," to whom only, the mystery is made known. It is a hidden mystery "which God ordained before the world, unto our glory." 1 Cor. iii. 6. And that we may know the secret place of its concealment, the apostle informs us that it is one, which, from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, beyond the scan of mortal vision, outside of the range of the science of men, and far, far beyond the reach of the profoundest wisdom of this world. Christ Jesus, to raise a rich revenue of glory to his adorable name, has reserved the revelation of this mystery to himself, and therefore says, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight." And further, he has declared that, "No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
The destiny of God has assigned to all beings and things the spheres in which his creative and controlling power has placed them; and as easily could we cause the aqueous tribes to live without water, and the aerial ones without air; as soon could the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots, as man could raise himself from the natural sphere in which God's creative power has placed him to fill, and move in a spiritual or higher order of the existence of God, and perform the work which he has reserved to his own omnipotent self, for the exhibition of his own glory. What audacity, then, and what barefaced presumption is daily developed in the new theological schools and synagogues, which are so eagerly engaged in trying to fill every corner of the earth with bantlings of anti-christ, who are industriously endeavoring to wrest the diadem from the "Head of the church," and crown arrogant mortals as the instruments, and their money and measures as the efficient means by which men are to be raised to spiritual life, a knowledge of God, and the use and enjoyment of heavenly or spiritual things. But the apostle says, "To whom (the saints) God would make known." Unlike the graceless work-mongers, rag-baby peddlers, grab-bag gamblers, filthy lucre changers, and soul-dealing traffickers of our day, the apostle ascribes to God the work of making known this mystery. Not to a god who would if he could, but has to wait for the use of human means, but one who speaks and it is done; who commands and it stands fast; at whose sovereign mandate the heavens above must bow, and the earth beneath tremble, and "cast out the dead;" he speaks, and the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and live; and the love-touched heart shall leap and rejoice, and the penitent believe. By this gift of eternal life, or being made partakers of the divine nature, we are raised to a higher or spiritual order of existence, and the consequences, faculties or senses, corresponding with that life, follow in their train; such as (spiritual) sensations to feel, eyes to see, ears to hear, and capacities to understand, and therefore prepared to appreciate in a degree, "What is the riches of the glory of this mystery." It is now suggested to my mind whether I should not lay aside my pen and sit in silent wonder, rather than to attempt to delineate the riches of the all-glorious mystery; for well I know that my poor, feeble capacities, with the best language that I can command, are too imbecile to do half justice to the divine theme. Herein is manifested the never-to-be-broken bond of union that seats up our destiny with that of him "who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature;" and here is revealed within us the mighty power by which we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
The Savior, in giving us a portrait of the mutuality and reciprocity of this glory of his with his chosen, has said to his Father, "And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one as we are one." The whole glory of the celestial world is here revealed within, and guaranteed to us.
"Here's love and joy that will not waste,
Here's treasures that endure;
Here's pleasures that will always last,
When time shall be no more."
O the depth of the riches of that glory! How heart-thrilling the hope, that "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly," as sure as God is competent to execute his will and sustain his counsel. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." "We shall be satisfied when we awake with his likeness." And this wondrous work is to take place "among the Gentiles," too. Unlike the typical and transient glory of the first covenant, which was done away in Christ, and which was confined to the fleshly descendants of Abraham, or the patterns of things in the heavens, and restricted to the limited boundaries of Palestine, these heavenly things themselves are enriched and glorified with the glory the all-glorious Mediator had with the Father before the world was; purified and redeemed with the blood of the everlasting covenant, the wide-spread riches and glory of which are unbounded by mountains, seas, or territorial limits, from the northern to the southern pole, the eastern and the western hemispheres must yield up the purchase of his blood, at the mandate of him who says to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons, from far, and my daughters from the ends of the world." Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and laud him, all ye people."
The apostle next proceeds to divulge the glorious mystery, "Which is Christ in you the hope of glory."
"A scheme too profound for a seraph to pry,
And all for the lifting of Jesus on high."
Here, too, our feeble powers must fail to express the heights and depths of this amazing mystery. O wonder of wonders! That the pure, spotless and unsullied Son of God, whose celestial glory gleams throughout, and gilds all heaven, shedding its supernatural brilliancy o'er all the glorified myriads who bow before and pay reverence there, should stoop down here to this polluted world, and take his residence in this loathsome and sin-defiled temple; and although he walks in us and dwells in us continually, amid this sink of sin, and the incessant din of war, waged by the world, the flesh and the devil, he remains unadulterated by the former and unscathed by the latter. The former is made to vanish at the touch of his precious and efficacious blood, and the enemies to quail beneath his victorious two-edged sword. Having been purified with his blood, we are kept by his mighty power; our place of defense is the munition of rocks. The impregnable walls of salvation defend us, and thus is secured to us "everlasting consolation and good hope through grace." A hope of glory resting upon the best of bases. An offering and a sacrifice acceptable to God; a righteousness adequate to the utmost requisitions of the law; a life, sufferings and death commensurate with the broadest demands of justice; a victory complete, secured by a triumphant resurrection over the allied powers of earth and hell combined; and an entrance into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God as our ever-prevalent Advocate; all contribute to the establishment of the christian's hope, which form a sufficient anchorage for every one who believes on, and trusts in Christ.
“Whom we preach.” While all others are preaching themselves, in some shape or other, as vicegerents, helpers, co-workers, or instruments to aid their feeble and dependent gods in the salvation of such as they would save if they could, we [the Old School Baptists] alone, preach Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves the servants of his children for his sake. What a disparity between the way we preach Christ, and that which the land-and-sea compassers profess to preach him! While we preach Christ to sinners, and in them the hope of glory, they vainly endeavor to preach sinners to him, whom they represent as being outside, knocking for admittance, and would get in if the sinner would open his heart and let him. While they preach the "free will" of the "free agent," as the great binge, upon which hangs his salvation, we preach Christ the power and wisdom of God, who is fully competent to accomplish all his Father's will, and save all that he gave him with an everlasting salvation. This is the Christ whom we preach.
"Warning every man." When we have "Christ in us," we are blessed with new sensations, desires and faculties; new powers of comprehension and discrimination; in short, a new religion, requiring new and different services from our old religion and its services. The implantation of this new man, with his new faculties, services, &c., however, does not destroy, nor remodel the old man, which is still corrupt, nor his religion and religious services, which are all antagonistical to the religion and exercises of the new. Every man possessing the new, therefore, is to be warned against the deleterious workings of the old. This old man is a deceitful old fellow, and it is not the easiest matter for us at all times to discriminate between his counterfeit religion and works, and those of the new man. He can put on a voluntary humility, and groan, and snivel, and cry, and whine, and mourn over sinners, and beg money to build theological seminaries, and labor, and travel, compassing land and sea, ostensibly for the purpose of helping God to save sinners, but really for his own aggrandizement, and gathering into his drag his ill-gotten earthly treasures, filched alike from the unsuspecting rich, the poor, the widow and the orphan; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men; having a form of godliness, but denying the power. We are then to warn the Lord's spiritual family, every man of them against every approximation to that workmongrel will-worship that would debase the Lord to the humble position of a beggar, and stay his work until year after year passes by, while they are preparing themselves (the wire-workers of that religion) for the ministry, and while, they say, thousands are perishing for want of a preached gospel. From such, turn away; for their coming is after the working of Satan, with power, signs, lying wonders, and deceivableness of unrighteousness; whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things; are ever trying to wield the helm of earthly governments, and exalt themselves above God, and sit in his seat. Against such, Christ and his apostles have given us many specimens of faithful warning. See Mat. xxii. 12-15; Acts xx. 20-31; Phil. iii. 2; 2 Tim. iv. 1-4; 1 John iv. 1-3; 3 John 9th and 10th verses.
"Teaching every man." The teaching, like the warning, is to be extended and restricted to every man of the spiritual family, as it is the inculcation of spiritual knowledge; and the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them. Every one, then, who has spiritual life to actuate, ears to hear, eyes to see, and capacities to receive and appreciate spiritual things, is to be taught to observe, all things whatsoever Christ has commanded his disciples. The scriptures are replete with all things profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. With that thorough furnishing before us, we are to oppose every intruder who comes with a doctrine or practice for which there is not a "thus saith the Lord." The observances of this rule has "cut the cable" between us and every new school innovation, and must continue to do so in all ages to come. The disciples, therefore, are to be taught this doctrine and practice, so clearly exhibited in the scriptures.
"In all wisdom." The all wisdom here spoken of is evidently to be understood as embracing that wisdom, and that only, "which is from above." For we are taught in the 2nd chapter of the 1st epistle, to the Corinthians, that it is not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. We are to speak wisdom among them that are perfect, (in Christ,) yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, which comes to naught; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. If any of us lack wisdom, then let us keep away from the New School synagogues, and ask it of God. From that heavenly source we will get it pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without that partial intolerance, or that politico-religious, hypocritical, pharisaic, would-be-wise bigotry, that is so rife in the latter-day synagogues of Satan, and so laboriously inculcated by that wisdom which "descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish." May we then, while blessed with the privilege, ever be found engaged in the practice of lying at the feet of Jesus, and asking that heavenly wisdom of him.
"That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." The apostle has not required us to make them perfect in Christ Jesus, nor to present them perfect in themselves. He had been taught of God to know that we could make them neither more nor less, better nor worse in Christ, than they had ever been. See Col. ii. 10: And ye are complete in Him, &c. He has taught us that they were chosen in Christ Jesus before this world or the sin of it could pollute them; and Jude informs us that they are "preserved " there lest it should. And, that we may present them to each other for their comfort, and the mutual enjoyment of that faith which is the gift of God, that love which is shed abroad in their hearts, that fellowship which the Lord has blessed them with, and that everlasting consolation and good hope through grace which is also given them, we are faithfully to teach them the necessity of their daily presenting to each other the testimonials of their calling and election, to prove that they are the recipients of that grace that teaches us, "that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and PURIFY UNTO HIMSELF A PECULIAR PEOPLE, ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS. As we are assured by the apostle, that Christ, by one offering, perfected them that are sanctified, we hazard nothing when we present every man belonging to the spiritual household, perfect in Christ Jesus. Yes, every man, for our faithful covenant-keeping Savior cheers us with heaven's own dialect, saying, "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Falling finally from grace does not apply to this family. The gates of hell shall never prevail against, nor receive one of them. The chains of darkness are reserved for those whose "spot is not the spot of his (Christ's) children," and over whom the second death has power. Over his it hath none.
"Though twice ten thousand sinners go,
Down to the shades of endless woe,
His love from all mutation free,
The guard of his elect shall be.
From Jesus neither fire nor flood,
Shall rend the purchase of his blood;
Whom he redeemed with him shall rise,
To fill a mansion in the skies."
Brother Thomas, the foregoing are my views on the subject, imperfectly sketched as they are, and, if yourself or any others of the household of faith should receive either comfort or instruction there from, I shall be fully compensated.
Respectfully submitted first, to the consideration and disposition of Elder Beebe, and if he pleases, to all who may feel interested in reading them.
Your brother, truly,
J. F. JOHNSON.