A Sweet Savor Contact Miscellaneous Audio Messages Penmen

I JOHN 2:2 & HEB. 2:8.

Covington, GA., Oct.29, 1868.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - Having just returned from the cotton-field, I seize the first favorable opportunity that has presented itself in several weeks of writing to you, and though I now attempt it, the circumstances in my physical and mental condition are not altogether so desirable as I might wish them to be. But as a brother in Tennessee requested by private correspondence my views on two passages of scripture which pester his mind, I feel rather constrained to comply with his request, as he desires my views through the SIGNS. The scriptures which trouble him have been written upon by yourself, and perhaps by others, yet his mind is perplexed. I do not expect to relieve his mind by anything I can write, but simply to comply with his request, hoping it may benefit some inquiring mind.

I trust the brother will understand me as addressing him, and not brother Beebe, when I say that the difficulties which pester you in relation to those scriptures are not strange or irreconcilable to predestination, election and other principles of doctrine. This you admit, but cannot understand them to your satisfaction. Well, my brother, supposing we converse upon the subject as though we were face to face.

The first scripture you refer to is I John 2:2, which reads, “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Here are believing Jews and Gentiles presented in full view in the atoning sacrifice of the dear Redeemer when he died for the sins of his people, according to the scriptures. Believing Jews at first did not properly understand how the atonement embraced the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The apostles labored to establish believing Jews and believing Gentiles in this great truth when their own minds were enlightened to understand it. National Israel was environed by a wall of partition, called the hand-writing of ordinances, for centuries, but when Christ, the Mediator, came in the flesh, he abolished it, or blotted it out, as it was against us, and contrary to us, nailing it to his cross. This being the case, Paul says in his letter to the church at Ephesus, composed of believing Gentiles, “But now in Christ Jesus, ye who some time were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both {Jews & Gentiles} one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain {two} one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby, and came and preached peace to you {Gentiles} which were afar off, and to them {Jews} that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one spirit unto the Father.” God said to Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Gen. 22:18. The same was repeated to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob. The promise was made to them, and the law was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made. The promise was not to seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And through Jesus Christ, who was made of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, and who is the only begotten of the Father, the seminal head of the church, the blessing of Abraham came to the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. This embraces believing Gentiles as well as believing Jews. And this is the gist of John’s argument that the Lord Jesus is not only our Advocate with the Father, but is the propitiation for the sins of the Gentiles as well as Jews, of all those who believe on his name every where, for the promise is unto all those whom the Lord our God shall call. The truth is, my brother, there is no other atonement, no other reconciliation for the sins of Jews and Gentiles, but Jesus Christ. He is the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice, and without him there is no propitiation. And all the means, works, money, and things which a self-righteous and fanatical world may bring into requisition to make the atoning blood of Christ effectual to save sinners, is contrary to the revealed truth of the gospel, and condemned by holy writ.

In a further presentation of the subject, it is well for us to notice that in the typical offerings and sacrifices under the law, the nation of Israel, Abraham’s natural, or fleshly posterity, were the only people that were benefited by them. The atonement was alone for that nation under the old covenant system, and their typical sacrifices and offerings were constantly repeated.

When we come to the substance of those offerings and sacrifices under the law, we behold Jesus, our great High Priest, appeared, in the end of the world, {the Jewish system with its covenant, rites and ceremonies, is here called the world} to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. For whom did he appear, suffer and die? For the Israel of God with whom the new covenant is made, and is spoken of by Jeremiah, in the thirty-first chapter of his prophecy, and repeated in the eight chapter to the Hebrews, and is applied to the gospel church and kingdom. And the Holy Ghost is a witness to us of this blessed truth, when he says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” Heb. 10:16-18. This same Israel is spoken of by Hosea 1:10, and quoted by Paul in Romans 9:25,26, and applied to the gospel church among the Gentiles in all lands. And the Lord Jesus is exalted a Prince and Savior to give repentance and the remission of sins to Israel, the people redeemed by his precious blood. And it is by one offering he hath forever perfected them that are sanctified, and there remaineth therefore no more offering for sin. He remaineth our Advocate, and our propitiation continually.

The expression in the text, “the whole world,” has difficultied many inquirers after the truth. To arrive at the primary meaning and application of a subject, my brother, we should follow the subject in its connection when discoursed upon, and be sure not to mix up other considerations with the subject that is under investigation, or elucidation. In the general view presented by John respecting the atonement he is speaking of believers only, and therefore refers to the Gentiles in contra-distinction from the Jews, from the fact that the Gentiles were fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and includes no other class but believers. I understand the world spoken of in John 3:16, has reference to the Gentiles, and has a corresponding application to “the whole world” in the text, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Whosoever believeth in him, is the accepted character interested in the atonement. To believe in Jesus is not the act of the creature, but the work of God. It points out the manifest condition of him for whom Christ died.

The world of sinners is already condemned, and the wrath of God abideth upon them. His predestinated purpose to save sinners is manifest in the gift of his Son. Hence the popular idea of gospel condemnation is altogether a mistake, and an egregious error, for he sent not his Son into the world to condemn it, for it was already condemned; a salvation was ordained, or appointed of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. That salvation is now revealed to the heirs of promise. In view of the same subject, Paul says: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us,” &c. I might transcribe a large portion of Holy Writ to sustain this point, but I presume it is not necessary, and I hope my brother sees this point.

During the patriarchal and law dispensations, God suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. The nations, and the inhabitants of those cities are not embraced among those for whom Christ died. Jesus said to the Jews, “But ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you; my sheep hear my voice,” &c. Jesus also says, “I pray not for the world.” John writing to the saints says: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” David says, “The wicked shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God.” Paul speaks of the man of sin, that wicked, the son of perdition, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming. And Mystery, Babylon, the mother of harlots, and the abomination of the earth, with all her daughters, shall be utterly destroyed; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. And what more shall I say in relation to those who are not embraced in the propitiation for the sins of the chosen family of God? Enough has been said on that point to show conclusively that the atonement does not extend to all the posterity of Adam, and that “the whole world” in the text is to be understood in a limited sense.

Some suppose that the atonement is general in its application upon the principle that temporal, or providential blessings are bestowed upon all the human family through the atonement. This is a great mistake. Only spiritual blessings are bestowed upon a spiritual people upon the principle that people are reconciled to God by the atonement, or death of Jesus Christ and are made to live unto God. The character of the atonement in the remission of sins forbids that idea, as I understand it. To sustain that idea, or notion, the text is sometimes referred to, also the other scripture which my Tennessee brother desires my views upon. In Heb. 2:8, last clause of the verse, it reads, “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” The parable of the treasure hid in a field, which a man bought for the sake of the treasure, is construed in the same manner.

Without discussing that point any further, I will state to my brother in Madison County, Tenn., that the text in Heb. 2:9, is explained by the apostle in the verses immediately following. It is certainly proper, my brother, in the understanding of a subject to follow the subject in its immediate connection. Jesus in his Mediatorial exaltation as the life of his body, the church, was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. A spiritual family existed in his sonship as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. For the fleshly or earthly existence of that family, is in Adam, and they are manifested by natural generation, and are called men. They sustain a covenant relation to him as their living Head. For he is Head over all things to the church &c. Paul says, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” Therefore he, by the grace of God tasted death for every man, for every one of them, or each one of them. “For {because} it became him,” says Paul, “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory; to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering. For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Hence every man whom God the Father will bring into glory is a son in the sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ, and receives the spirit of adoption whereby he cries Abba Father, and they all are the brethren of Christ, and he is their elder brother. God spared not his own Son in the redemption of sinners upon the principles of grace abounding through Jesus Christ in the salvation of every man, every son brought to glory. He tasted death, or in other language, which expresses the same idea, he experienced death for every man. He is, therefore, the propitiation for the sins of this people in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the isles of the sea. And why? Because he tasted death for each one of them.

By keeping in view constantly the fullness of the atonement for the church and the people of God, in reading the scriptures much difficulty may be obviated. And it should always be remembered by every inquirer after truth, that when the people of God are spoken of, as existing among all nations, and the words all, every, and such distinctive terms are used in the connection, they apply only to the chosen people of God. In this way, seeming incongruities may be removed, and the mind become clear and settled, or established in the truth in this day when workmongers and will-worshippers are perverting the gospel of Christ in every conceivable form and shape. Erroneous ideas respecting the atonement, abound in every direction, and are calculated to eclipse sometimes the spiritual vision of the saints. Mystifying arguments, sophistical reasonings, and theological teachings of religious schools, and institutions of men, destitute of a knowledge of revealed truth, are having a controlling influence in this deluded and wicked world. Difficultied as many of the saints may be, in an understanding of the truth, when the Lord enlightens their minds everything is clear and plain. Predestination, the atonement, and other principles of doctrine are in perfect harmony; and when God is pleased to remove by the illumination of the spirit, the fog, mist, and darkness from our minds, we are able to reconcile all apparent discrepancies which have existed in our understanding of them; the truth being made plain to us. The mistaken ideas and notions which occupied our deluded minds, are now dispelled, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Amidst the heart-rending, soul-wearying troubles, trials, distresses, afflictions, and sorrows which beset the saints in this present world, the sweet assurance remains that Jesus is the propitiation for their sins, and that he careth for them. When through the weakness and infirmity of the flesh they sin, Jesus is manifest to take away their sins. Though they sin, they repent and confess their sins, and God is gracious and merciful to forgive their sins for Jesus sake.

And now, dear brother, whose Post Office address is Pinson Station, Tenn., I have presented my views on the scriptures you requested, in as clear a manner as I could meeting the difficulties in your mind, and I hope they may be profitable to you; but whether that may be the case or not I have endeavored to comply with your request. Please let me hear from you again.

Brother Beebe, since my return from the North in July, I have had the privilege of attending four yearly meetings, two general meetings, and several other meetings, besides the Ocmulgee, Yellow River, Primitive Western, and Oconee Associations in this state, and the Beulah Association in Alabama. At those meetings and Associations I think I saw as much brotherly love and fellowship manifested, as I have witnessed in several years.

In conclusion I will say; may grace, mercy, and peace abound to the “strangers scattered abroad,” for Jesus sake.

Yours sincerely,
Joseph L. Purington.