Alexandria, VA.,July 3, 1871.
DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I have thought much of Paul’s words to the churches of Galatia: “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased.” If Paul had pursued a compromising course with Judaizing teachers on circumcision, and admitted that they were at least half right, or that they meant right, he could have escaped persecution, or as much of it at least as he did experience, and the offence of the cross would have been taken away, or ceased. But in preaching the doctrine of the cross, he was uncompromising, and cut down and tore up by the roots the whole system of Judaism in all its branches, which in principle is the system of works in point of merit and justification, setting forth in after ages, and in our day, that in preaching the doctrine of the cross the whole system of works passing under the name of free will, free agency, use of means, getting religion, getting up revivals, protracted meetings, schools for teaching religion, and many other plans and schemes too numerous to mention, all branches of the corrupt tree of self-righteousness and human policy, having its foundation and root in the bottomless depravity of mankind. I say, in preaching the gospel of the Son of God, as Paul did, so we have to lay all these things low, in the use of the gospel axe in cutting down, and the gospel mattock in plucking up by the roots all cause for creaturely boasting and vain glorying, and to present the adorable character of our exalted Redeemer in his fulness and glory, as the way, the truth, and the life. Also in hewing down the modern Agags by the sword of truth, or the Spirit, and overthrowing the vaunting Goliath’s by slinging the stones of God’s discriminating doctrine into the armies of the aliens. This is offensive to the carnal mind now, as in Paul’s time, for truth cuts it down and lays it low, but exalts and honors the Creator, the Lord God of salvation. In defending the gospel of Christ, humility, meekness and holy boldness should be the accompaniments of the gospel ministry. Paul was set for the defense of the gospel. As in apostolic times, so now, persecution will follow, and the offence of the cross will continue.
Some who profess to believe in election, predestination, and the sovereignty of Jehovah, say the doctrine is not profitable to preach, is not productive of good, is calculated to drive away a congregation, and to fetter and cramp young believers in Christ, and therefore not encouraging to them in the way of obedience to the law of Christ. Therefore it is best, say they, to withhold those principles of doctrine, and use what they call milk, and preach religious duties, as they are termed. The milk they use is a spurious article, and their religious duties are the commandments of men. This method of teaching brings into the professed church a class of persons who are enemies to the cross of Christ. Much suffering and distress has sometimes attended the church of God by the pernicious course of such men.
It is not grievous to the ministers of Christ to preach election, predestination, and all and every principle of the glorious doctrine of the Most High God our Savior, and most assuredly it is safe for the church and people of God to receive, believe and practice. It is marrow and fatness to those who are born of God. A sound church and a sound ministry is in accordance with sound doctrine, and is of vital importance in this blasphemous age. Not sound like a dead tree which has not begun to decay, but sound like a living tree in the full development of its innate powers, like the tree of life, bearing precious fruit, or to speak in the plural number, trees of righteousness which the Lord has planted, and not man. The spiritual origin, germination, growth, and full development of these trees of righteousness, or righteous trees, are in heavenly soil, through a creation in Christ Jesus unto good works, having their manifestation in the vessels of mercy, who are by nature children of wrath even as others. Christ and his people are one, as he is one with the Father. In the full manifestation of the church of God in her calling, justification and glorification, our blessed Lord in his memorable prayer to his Father, which is properly the Lord’s prayer, says, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” John 17:22,23.
Yours in gospel fellowship,
Joseph L. Purington.