Richmond, Maine, 1857.
DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - A few days since, I observed in the 13th Number of the MESSENGER, a request from brother D.F.P. Montgomery, for my views on Acts 13:36. “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.”
I am ever willing to give such views as I may have on any portion of Scripture, whenever I am requested, but a sense of my weakness, nothingness, and unworthiness vastly preponderates in my own mind, to that extent at times, that I can scarcely muster sufficient energy to speak or write concerning the things of the kingdom of God. Should the Spirit of the Lord indite matter for me to communicate, most joyfully I can speak or write in the great name of the blessed Redeemer. I very much desire the blessed operation of the Holy Spirit which comforts and consoles the saints of the Most High God.
In relation to the passage referred to by our brother, I can simply remark in the first place that it is one of those Scriptures, including the subject in its connection, which clearly establish the great truth, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, was of the seed of David, according to the flesh. And Paul boldly affirmed in the synagogue of the Jews at Antioch, that while Christ was raised from the dead and saw no corruption, it was a fulfillment of what the prophets had foretold in the Holy Scriptures, and that also the wicked Jews had fulfilled the Scriptures in condemning him. The Jews were looking for a temporal king to restore the kingdom to Israel, and expected he would come of the seed of David, but had no knowledge of the glorious character of the promised Redeemer of spiritual Israel. David in his day saw the vision of the Holy One, and spoke of his coming in the flesh, and the glory of the gospel kingdom. Christ existed before David in his heavenly character as the Son of God, yet he condescended to become the offspring of David in his incarnation when made of a woman, made under the law, to endure the penalty of the law for our transgressions. He suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God.
David by ordinary generation was a sinner of Adam’s race. In no respect did he differ from others in that particular. Being called of God, and made a subject of rich and reigning grace, he was enabled to bear testimony to revealed truth. He was in the providence of God raised to be king over Israel. By the will of God he served his own generation, referring probably to Israel, and that by the will of God, he served that nation, or people the day in which he lived. And also he fulfilled his part as king over Israel, and as a lively type of our spiritual David he served his day and generation, and fell on sleep, or in other words fell asleep in Jesus. He died in the sense we speak of the death of the natural body. As a subject of grace, having spiritual life in him, he only fell asleep when disrobed of the earthly house of this tabernacle. He was not separated from Christ when he fell asleep. The never-dying soul or spirit, when set free from its prison, was absorbed or swallowed up in its union to Christ, and ascended on high to the realms of immortal day. But his body, like his ancestors, saw corruption, being laid unto his fathers, or buried with them.
It is a Scriptural Truth in relation to all of the heirs of immortal glory, that by nature they are children of wrath even as others. When called by grace and quickened into spiritual life, they realize sensibly that they are in a state of death or separation from God. When set free from the law of sin and death, by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, they are made to sing of matchless love and mercy. As the disciples of Christ, the followers of the Lamb, they serve their day and generation by the will of God, in doing what the God of heaven has commanded them. Each of them show their love and regard to the chosen generation of the Lord’s people, by a steadfast adherence to the doctrine, laws, and ordinances of God our Savior. They fall asleep, and are laid unto their fathers, or buried with all those who loved the truth and are fallen asleep. Their dying ejaculation is like Stephen, when about to fall asleep, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” They are not dead, or separated from Christ, but sleep in Jesus their living Head and Savior.
But hark! A voice from on High speaks with emphasis, the Holy One of Israel saw no corruption. He was raised from the dead by the power of God. He that was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens, is the resurrection and the life. Corruption, earth, and worms may destroy the bodies of the saints, and they return to the dust, yet it is declared in holy writ by the inspired apostle to his brethren, “But 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.” At the redemption of the body the slumbering millions of the redeemed of all nations, shall awake from their long sleep with the likeness of Christ, and ascend to the climax of all glory in the world of unsullied and unspeakable excellency.
For finite worms to comprehend the resurrection of the body, and the ecstatic joy of the glorified saints upon the principle of human reason and speculation, is as impossible as to comprehend the Infinity of God. Even the saints can only know in part while time endures. This Scripture is attended with a blessedness when applied by the Spirit, and is calculated to silence all speculation to the believing saint. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Whether my views on the foregoing Scripture with the connection of the subject so far as I have expressed, will be satisfactory to brother Montgomery I know not.
My wife and myself are now at the house of my father, in the State of Maine, the land of my birth and place of my nativity. We expect ere long to return to Georgia, if the Lord will. May the Lord prosper us on our way.
Yours as ever,