The communication herein replied to, was written with more of moderation than anything I had seen from Elder C's pen for a long time, besides containing strong professions of sincerity and honesty. Hence when a copy of the Primitive containing it was furnished me, some months since, by the kindness of a brother, I thought should its statements remain uncontradicted, some well meaning brethren on reading it, might, from the sincerity professed, conclude that I was the base heretic I am there represented to be. After much hesitancy, arising from an unwillingness to engage further in a publication of this kind, I therefore concluded to write this reply. But it was not simply with view of answering Elder C. that I came to this conclusion. Any person accustomed to discussion, knows how difficult it is for a person engaged in an exciting and excited discussion, so to be on his guard as not to use expressions, and even form sentences, that might be construed to convey ideas different from what he intended, or his general declarations would warrant. An uncandid opponent will be sure to catch at such slips, and make the most he can of them to our disadvantage. But even in a more calm discussion, in following the course of argument pursued, we do not always attend to giving all that explanation to our views, which would be requisite for their being clearly understood. It is no wonder then, that in a discussion so diversified, and of a subject so vast, as was that which we had through the Signs, some years back, I should at times have darkened counsel by words without knowledge. If Job with all his patience, was led by the false charges and misrepresentations of his three former friends, to utter expressions, which subjected him to the reproofs both of Elihu, and of his God; is it any wonder, when subjected to similar uncandor and uncharitableness, when every opportunity was seized to misrepresent my views, and to brand me with heresy, that, irritable and impatient as I am, I should in such cases, utter things which I ought not, and leave the important point of advocating and illustrating truth for the more selfish object of rebutting the attacks of those I had to deal with? Elder Clark has boasted somewhat of having passed through wars before. I have known something of contests before, and of being particularly blamed for them, but I have met with more uncandor and more malignancy in this, than in all I have before been engaged in. I then, probably, have, from all these circumstances, left some of my sentiments, and important ones, somewhat obscured and liable to be misunderstood. Hence the important object had in view, in making this reply, has been to give as clear an illustration of what I do believe, on those important points, concerning which I have been charged with heresy, as I could, as well as to sustain them by Scripture testimony.
Elder C.'s communication, together with other of his letters in connexion, has given me the opportunity to notice most of the points which have been in dispute: though in replying to his communication according to its order, I have had to notice those points in rather a disjointed manner, and to intermingle other remarks with them, more than I could wish.
The publishing of this reply, as has been the writing of it, may be somewhat delayed by circumstances. And the publishing of it will be rather an expensive concern, as from the unpopularity attached to my name, among the Baptists, as well as from not having much opportunity to make sale of the work, I shall probably not be able to dispose of it to any great extent. But still with these discouragements, I feel it duty to have it published, that I may leave it with the churches and brethren who have stood with me, and extended fellowship to my preaching; that they may be able to refer to it as a vindication of themselves, from the charge of having sustained one who had preached among them unscriptural sentiments. If this falls into the hands of any of those who have been led to believe me as a mischievous person, and a propagator of heresies, I would ask, as the only favor at their hands, that they would candidly examine my views and test them by the Scriptures. If they, according to that standard, find them erroneous, let them reject them; and in doing so, they will be able to show from the Scriptures a good reason for doing so. But if they do not find the Scriptures condemning them, or declaring that which is at variance with them, I pray God that for their own peace, they may not any longer denounce or reject them. And may my brethren be careful to know for themselves that they are holding the truth.
Fairfax, C.H., VA., Feb. 25th, 1854
Before coming to Elder Clark's communication, there are two or three passages, in his letter to the Editor of the Primitive, introductory to his communication, which I wish to notice. On page 113, of the Primitive for April 30th, 1853, he says:
"It is an eventful period, Old Arius has arisen from the dead, and we are fighting the battle of the 3d and 4th centuries again."
From the many gross misrepresentations amounting to a direct falsifying of my views, which have been apparent before and which I shall have to notice in this reply, I have been led to reflect on the subject, and not being willing to believe that a man, who has sustained the standing he has among the Baptists, could, in his senses, deliberately perpetrate such falsities, I have in charity concluded, that in some way, some one of his bumps has been injured, producing some disorders of his brain. In accordance with this idea, his hallucination has apparently, led him to think that he is an Athanasius of this age. Of course, in order to attain to the celebrity of his prototype, he must either find, or manufacture an Arius, to contend with this he thinks he has done out of me. He, in a communication published in the Primitive, some months previous to the one I am now replying to, quoted some arguments I had used, relative to the Sonship of Christ, to show that his Sonship could not consist in his existence as God, seeing that as a Son, his existence must be derivative, and posterior to that of his Father who begat him. These arguments he placed parallel with certain of Arius expressions, thus representing that I had applied those arguments as Arius was supposed to do his expressions – that is, to the original and essential being and person of the Son. Yet, Elder C. knew that I applied those arguments only to the Sonship of the Son, insisting at the same time, that in his essential existence, he was as truly and equally the unbegotten and self-existing God as was the Father; because he and the Father are one: while Arius is supposed to have held that the Son no otherwise existed, than as he was begotten of the Father. As, Elder C., you now have your Arius full in view, in your fancy, if you could only with the same dexterity make another Constantine, who, by his imperial edicts and sword, would enforce your decrees against me, what glorious fightings you would have. But I must object to engaging with you in anything like the Arian controversy, independenly of any doctrinal views. If you claim to belong to a Church that is descendant from the Church in which that controversy was waged, viz: the national establishment of Constantine, we do not belong to the same Church; for I claim for the Church with which I am connected, a descent through the Waldenses, from the Churches of the Novatians, which separated from what was called the Catholic Church years before the Athanasian scar. If it was otherwise – if I could acknowledge a descent from the Catholic Church, as established by Constantine, then I would admit the authority of the decrees of councils and edicts of Emperors, in establishing doctrine and order: as it is, I am not disposed to acknowledge such authority even of the Baptist Churches in doctrine, for they evidently have bowed too much to the decrees of councils, and the opinions of schooluren. Nothing but the Scriptures will answer me, for authority in religion. I though those who claimed to be O.S. Baptists were with me in this, when we took our stand: but in this I have been greatly disappointed, with regard to many.
Again, on page 114, Elder C., though he names no one in this letter, yet he evidently refers to those named in the accompanying communication, says:
"I have preached and written against their doctrine concerning the Son of God, and charged that it is Arianism – and I here repeat it."
In the foregoing paragraph, he speaks of being in readiness to prove upon us the sentiments with which he charges us: yes, just as he proved me an Arian, in the specimen I gave of his manner of proving it, on a preceding page. In that way of proving things, I could prove from the Scriptures that there is no God; for it stands in Psalms, 14:1 and 53: 1, if you throw away the connexion, "There is no God."
But we will come to the charge which Elder Clark boasts of having made against us. I entreat Elder C., and any others who unite with him in these charges, to follow me in the inquiry as to the truth of this charge, with candor. As to what Arius actually believed, I know not; but in speaking of Arianism, I speak of it as described by those who wrote of it. Elder C., and others with him, generally, will, I presume, admit that Athanasians, and Tri-personalists, generally, hold that the Son no otherwise exists as God, than as he is the Son of God, or than as he was begotten of the Father; that in his Godhead, therefore, as well as a person in the Godhead he was begotten of the Father; whilst they hold that he is of the same substance coequal and coeternal with the Father. They will, also, I think, admit that Arius occupied exactly the same starting ground with the other party, viz: that the Son no otherwise existed than as he was the Son of God, or begotten of the Father. But here they split in their conclusions from this common position. Arius drew the conclusion, that as the Son only existed in his Sonship, he, from the nature of that relation to the Father, and from the fact that his existence was a begotten existence, must necessarily be posterior in his individual existence to the Father who begat him, and hence was not coequal and coeternal with the Father. I must confess, if I had not the Scriptures for my guide, but had to take the same leading position which Athansius and Arius both occupied in the forming an opinion of the being of the Son of God, that I must take Arius' side of the question, as being far more consistent than the other. But I, and those with me, do not occupy the same original position with them, at all: hence, I have offered to prove, if any of those accusers would meet me in arguments on the point, that they are far more assimilated to Arianism than we are: but they have never consented to meet me on that point. The position which we occupy, and the ground on which we stand, is, that what God has revealed of himself in the Scriptures, we are safe in receiving as truth; what He has not revealed, it is presumption in mortals, and would be in angels, to attempt to inquire into; that God has revealed himself as three, as the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and that these three are one; that they are so three, that there are points of distinction by which they are severally declared in the Scripture; and so one, that to us there is but one God. Hence, when either of the three is spoken of as God, we understand it to be that one God in all his fullness of attributes and glory. Hence our conclusion is, that if God exists absolutely independent of any one, or of any act by which he is brought into existence, then each of the three must alike so exist as God: and as we find it not declared in the Scriptures that God exists as three distinct persons, or that one of these persons was begotten of the other, and that the third is breathed into existence, we reject the whole, as fabulous. Again: we find the Son of God declared in the Scriptures, and all those characteristics, or attributes of Sonship, so ascribed to him, that we feel bound to believe that he is actually the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father. We further find this Son of God so identified with the Word, that we believe that the Son is the Word, in all his fullness of the Godhead. Hence, as we believe the Godhead cannot be changed from its absolutely independent self-existence, so as truly to sustain the relation and characteristics of Sonship, we believe the Word has that in himself, and has had from the beginning, which enables him fully to sustain this relation of Sonship, and of being begotten of the Father, without diminishing, or changing the attributes of his essential Godhead, or ceasing to be the one God. In reference to what his characteristics of Sonship consist in, I shall have to speak more fully in another place. But I have more summed up, in as definite and clear words I can, my belief of God, as existing in Trinity, for I do believe in a Trinity, but not in tripersonality; and in the Son of God, as being in his person, truly, both God and the Son of God.
Now, Elder Clark, compare the sentiments I have here avowed as mine, with the Arian sentiments on this point, and see if you can find any similarity between them, taking each in its connexion. And if you will look back into the past volumes of the Signs, you will find that in substance, these have been my declared views concerning God, and concerning the Son of God, from the first of my writing on the subject. And I cannot help thinking you will have to acknowledge, if you have the candor to do it, that you have slandered, and willfully slandered me, and those with me, in preaching that we are Arians.
I now come to Elder Clark's communication. It is headed
"For the Signs of the Times.
"To the Churches of the Saints, and to the faithful brethren in Christ:
"As my name will cease to appear among the List of Agents for the Signs of the Times, from the date of the publication of the communication in that paper, it becomes me, and I feel it to be my duty, to present to you my reason for such decision.
"The first No. of the 1st Vol. of the Signs was issued on the 28th of Nov. 1832; just two months after the meeting at Black Rock, and the proceedings of that meeting, including the Address and Declaration of Principles, (which latter is preceded by a selected article upon justification, in which the date of justification is maintained to be eternal, which, of course, includes that view of the subject upon the 'Scriptural sentiments,' set forth in the declaration of principles,) dated 28th Sept., are published in that No."
It would seem, from Elder C.'s first sentence, that the design of this communication was to assign to the readers of the Signs his reasons for no longer allowing his name to stand as Agent for that paper, and to assign to Bro. Beebe the pleasant task of publishing his denunciation of his paper. But why so large a portion of his communication was written, with so direct a reference to me, and to my former writings in an article of this kind, he must hereafter reveal, or we must be left to guess.
In the latter paragraph of the above extract, he has included in a parenthesis, a most barefaced piece of sophistry, by which he would impress on his readers the conclusion, as legitimate, that because Bro. Beebe, as Editor of the Signs, published in the same No. of his paper in which he published the O. S. Address, and his declaration of principles, a borrowed article on the subject of eternal justification, the views in that article must therefore be considered, to use his expressions, Included upon the Scriptural sentiments set forth in the declaration of principles; and that this sentiment was, therefore, one of the points for which the O. S. Baptists contended in their first separation. Yet, he knows that not a work upon that point is to be found in the O. S. Address, nor uttered by Bro. Beebe in the declaration of principles, which he appended to the Signs. Besides, he knows that so far as I am concerned in this piece of sophistry, that I shortly followed the publication of that article on justification, taken from the World, with a communication over the signature of A. Waldensis, containing objections to the sentiments of that article, and inviting T. J. K., the author of it, to a discussion of the subject. See Signs, Vol. 1st, No. 5.
Elder C. goes on, in his communication thus:
"I became a subscriber for the paper in the beginning, and have continued so to this time; and have now in possession, I think, a copy of every Vol. that has been published. I did not sign the Black Rock Address, about which so much as said in the New School Journals, simply because I was not present at the meeting, but I approved of it then in the main, and do still, with the platform of principles accompanying it."
As there is nothing in the above worthy of a reply, I will give another extract:
"The cognomen of Old School was given us, and adopted by us; and the party advocating Benevolent Institutions, &c., were called New School. These epithets, Old and New were understood by us to be applicable on the one hand to those who adhered to the doctrine and order of the ancient school of Christ, who were seeking for the old paths, and were found walking therein; whilst on the other hand, the term New School was considered appropriate to all those of the Arminian tribe who were advocating new doctrine and measure, which had their origin in the wisdom of men. That this was the ground we then occupied in our original stand against new schemes and devices in religion, will appear abundantly clear to every one who (tho' he was not familiar with our stand and proceedings at that date,) will but consult the record of those proceedings and the correspondence through the Signs, as the following example will show for the present. See Eld. Trott's letter on the 17th page, Vol. 1st, introducing Eld. Leland's letter in the close of the letter he says: 'In these things it will be seen by the letter, Father Leland is with us: that indeed of considering new schemes, improvements, he considers them defection and apostacy. But the letter will speak for itself.' Now brethren, upon this ground I stood, and will stand."
The distinction here laid down by Elder C., between the Old and New School, is as we understood it at the first, and as we still understand it. Why, if he was so fully with us formerly, has he now left us and denounced us as heretics? Perhaps the solution of this query will be found in the fact that we have been found to have different views of the ancient school of Christ, and of the old paths. As the term old paths is quoted from Jeremiah, I have understood those old paths to be the paths pointed out in the law and the preceding prophets of the Lord. Certainly he did not mean the paths marked out by Jereboam, the son of Nebat, or by any of the false prophets.
So, in reference to the school of Christ, I believe the Scriptures to be the only standard according to which his disciples are taught. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them," is the rule by which to determine whether what is presented as doctrine, or practice, has been learned in the school of Christ, or not; whether they are old or new paths pointed out. Hence the decrees of the Council of Nice are esteemed, as also all that have emanated from men since, as too new for us. But it appears that Elder C., and those with him, place great confidence in the decrees of that Council, and the opinions of certain men as pointing out old paths. Hence things which are new to us, as originating in the wisdom of men, are esteemed old by them; and things which did not pass current with the Baptists fifty or a hundred years ago, are called new by them, however clearly taught by the Apostles. It was in the sense in which I now understand new paths, or new schemes, that I used the term in reference to Elder Leland's letter.
Elder Clark says, again:
"But, as still farther preliminary to what I have to say in this communication, I beg leave here to introduce an extract from a letter of Eld. Trott, on pages 174 and 5 of the 1st Vol. Signs, which not only clearly expresses my sentiments, but is fully expressive of my feelings in the present undertaking. (The extract is his) 'Indeed, I cannot conceive how a person can be brought experimentally to know and love the truth as it is in Jesus, and not so feel his heart bound to that truth, that the setting up of anything in opposition to it, would be like rending his own soul. There is in this truth as it is known and felt by the believers, every thing to enlist all the better feelings of the soul. The glory of the Three-one God is involved in it. The sovereignty, glory, wisdom, love and mercy of the Father: the love, faithfulness and power of the Son, and the efficacy and completion of his work; the sovereignty, faithfulness, and divine energies of the Holy Ghost, are all so contained in, and connected with the truth of the gospel, that there never has been a system of doctrine contrived by men, but what has struck directly at one or more of these divine attributes. Again the believer knows that the whole Godhead as is known as Father, Word and Holy Ghost, is necessary to secure the salvation of the sinner; hence as any of the divine attributes are left out, or thrown into the back ground by any system introduced, he must, feel that the foundation of his hope and comfort is struck at; and at the same time he knows that as such system is received and rested upon, so his fellow men are deceived into a confidence in that which will leave them to perish at last; and knowing all this, can the christian refrain from manifesting his abhorrence of such a system, and his opposition to it? That christian who can turn from such divine glory and excellency as is in the truth as it is in Jesus, or who can approbate or even wink at any attempt to deface it, and that, from the mean desire of thereby securing a little worldly case and worldly applause.'"
I have met with may rebuffs for my former publications in the Signs; have heard of brethren groaning over the Signs being filled with my long pieces, and been told of brethren who, when they saw my name appended to a communication, did not pretend to read it; together with a great many other things said, and hints thrown out, calculated to dampen all my ardor for writing, and which, if I had not felt some of that warm regard for what I believed to be the truth as revealed in the Scriptures, which I spoke of in the above quotation, which Elder C. was pleased to make from me, and an earnest desire to hold it forth in opposition to those false systems, which for so many ages had prevailed, would have driven me from the Signs sooner than they did. But from such opposition, I was at length led to think, that for the prosperity of the Signs, and therefore, to spare the feelings of the Editor, I ought to withdraw from its columns. Now, to find Elder C. hunting up my old writings and making extracts from them, with such declarations of approval, is quite calculated to cheer my drooping spirits; and, were it not that my judgment suggests that I ought not to place too much confidence in approvals coming, I will say, in that way, I might be led to draw the comfortable conclusion, that after all I have had to suffer in mind on this account, my labors in writing had not been altogether unprofitable.
Elder C. goes on to say, in reference to the extract just given from me:
"As the author of this, we might charitably hope, felt the full force of what he wrote; so did I feel in adopting it; and feel it as applicable in a good measure to him; and the conductors of the Signs, who have departed from the original ground assumed, as will appear from the following specifications: First on the doctrine of justification. This as I have shown, was viewed in the ancient creed as eternal; and as farther appears from the Nos. published in the 2d of the Signs, pages 163, 196 and 244, upon justification, with the Editorial sanction. But at a later date Eld. Trott introduced his new theory upon the subject, which after pretty full discussion, in which several participated, the subject was dropped, though the Editor was carried by the board, and came out a convert to the new theory. This I did not consider a sufficient cause to abandon the Signs and hence continued to patronize them."
Elder C. speaks of the conductors of the Signs; I know of but one. He speaks of the remarks in the last quotation he has given from me, as being applicable to me and to the conductor of the Signs. He has not said whether in a good or in a bad sense. I will say for myself, that I feel the importance of those remarks now, perhaps as strongly as when I wrote them originally. I find not a sentiment or idea therein that I wish to retract. I may not have the same energy of action as then, but still, with all my discouragements, I have enough, to undertake the publication of this pamphlet in defence of the same truths I there referred to.
Elder C. has, I think, wrongly charged us with departing from the original ground assumed. The ground assumed in our original stand, was, that the Scriptures were a perfect, and the only legitimate rule of faith and practice; and hence the only rule to be governed by in religion. So we professed to belong to the ancient school of Christ – of course, being still learners therein – not to have graduated therefrom. Hence, in accordance with that profession, whatever we learn in that school, as being laid down in that perfect rule, we do not hesitate to receive and to advocate as truth, on account of any former opinions of our own, or of other men's being different from it. When Elder C. can show from the Scriptures that our present views are not sustained thereby, then he may charge us with leaving original ground; this he has not attempted to do in this communication. I, several years since, found to my grief, that some who professed to be of the same Old School with us, instead thereof belonged to the Old School, which our opponents meant, when they named us Old School; that is, what may be termed the School of the old English Particular divines, in distinction from the Fullerites school, which they then called a new school: Elder Clark was one.
In reference to being still learners, I further say, that those who have learned in the schools and from the writings of men, are not, with few exceptions of independent minds, still learners. The system of men are soon fathomed and exhausted. Those who have studied the system, of what they call divinity, in the schools, when they graduate, come forth with all the knowledge they ever have of the system they are to preach. It has been said of some preachers, that they were like young wasps; the biggest when they were first hatched. So those who, though not having been educated in the divinity school, yet depend mostly on expositors and other human authors, for their doctrinal views and understanding of the Scriptures, are confined in their knowledge of these things to very narrow limits, even to the limits of man's mind. By just reading their favorite authors you will have their whole system, all the doctrine they will ever preach; and it will be all old; nothing new. The Scriptures are not so, they are an inexhaustible fund of knowledge; we can never reach the bottom of that revelation which God has made of himself and of His salvation. Hence he who obeys the Apostle's injunction to "Study to show himself approved of God, (not of men,) a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly diving the word of truth," that is, who maketh the Scriptures alone his rule and study, depending on God's teaching to understand them, will be like him, (as our Lord said,) "Who is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."
The sophistry by which Elder C. attempts to force the notion of eternal justification into what he calls our O. S. creed, has been already exposed. He certainly cannot be ignorant of the fact that Editors frequently insert communications in their papers, without holding themselves responsible for the sentiments. He says at a later date Elder Trott introduced his new theory, &c. This is in keeping with the rest he says on this point; I have already showed, what he might have known, that early in the 1st Vol. of the Signs, page 67, I introduced my objections to that sentiment. As to its being a new theory, it is entirely a mistake. The idea that the elect were justified in eternity, justified before they were under law at all; for they were actually not under law until they were created under it in Adam, is comparatively a modern idea. Elder C. must know, if ever he inquired into the subject, that he cannot show either from the Scriptures, or the writings of men, that this sentiment had ever been advanced more than two hundred, or two hundred and fifty years back. Hence in rejecting it, I was only asking for the old paths. If we admit of such union between Christ and his people as taught by the Apostle, such as of husband and wife, of the hand and body, we shall see the inconsistency of such sentiment. What, the wife considered as justified, while her husband stands liable to be arrested and imprisoned for her debts? The body cleared from all liability to the law, whilst its head has to suffer the penalty for transgression?
Elder C. next says:
"Next came the war upon creeds and confessions of faith, which resulted in wiping out the creed of the Warwick Ass.; and which was succeeded by a controversy between Eld. Beebe and the brethren of the Licking Ass. But to show how that accorded with first principles, I will give an extract from the letter of Eld. Trott from which the foregoing extract was made, page 275, Vol. 1st of Signs. 'I know that great exertions are making to put down all confessions of faith, by those who are afraid to have the principles see the light. I am surprised that any lover of the word should join them in the attempt. Let them succeed, and we shall see Unitarians and Trinitarians, Universalists and Methodiest, Presbyterians, Baptists, &c., all united in battle array against the truth. Let us separate ourselves from the whole mixed multitude.' He then advises to drop the name 'Philadelphia Confession,' because it has been abused, &c., but continues – 'Let us make an unequivocal declaration of what we believe to be the faith and practice taught in the word of God, as we have learned it in the school of Christ.' Comment upon this is unnecessary."
In reference to the quotation which Elder C. has here given from some of my early writings, I will remark that I recently read some remark made by Melancthon in reply to a charge made against him, of having changed his views on some points. In correspondence thereto, I will say, that I have lived, studied the Scriptures, and met the rebuffs, the cavils, and various complaints against my writings for these twenty years to very little profit, if I had not been corrected of one error, nor learned one new idea. I readily admit there are expressions in that extract which may be taken as conveying ideas which I cannot now approve. But still, that commingling of all sects together in one mass, by no one's insisting on any particular points of doctrine or order, as tests of fellowship, which had been much advocated, I as much disapprove of now as then. And I as fully approve now as then of churches and individuals making a full and candid declaration of what they receive as truth, and of what they reject as error.
Elder C.'s next paragraph reads thus:
"Next and last I shall notice is the doctrine of a created Son of God, and its concomitants as briefly touched on the Circular of the Corresponding Ass. of this year; and more at large in the Warwick Circular. The avowal of this doctrine – The life giving spirit of God is a created existence – was made by Eld. Trott in his controversy with the brethren about the Fort Mountain, though it must be admitted that he had on former occasion in letters to Bro. Barton and others, and his articles upon the Sonship of Christ, expressed himself in a way which now appears in harmony with the sentiment, 'such as the creature-ship of our Son in reference to his headship, &c.'"
In reference to this charge of holding a doctrine of a created Son of God, I will refer the reader to what I have already written in answer to the charge of Arianism, and to a further reply to this charge in noticing a following repetition of this charge. Elder C. has an avowal of this doctrine is in these words: The life giving spirit of God is a created existence. I would like to know how this is an avowal of the doctrine of created Son of God, unless it can be showed that this life giving spirit is the Son of God. The question asked by the brethren about the Fort Mountain was, "Is the quickening and life giving spirit of God a created existence?" See Signs, Vol. 17th, page 8. To this inquiry I answered, "Yes," and then gave some explanation showing that I intended the yes to be confined to the idea of a quickening spirit. But this is in keeping with all the rest of Elder C.'s representations of my views, to leave out the quickening and make me say the life giving spirit of God was a created existence. Elder C. must well know that I have two or three times given explanations concerning what my design was in answering that inquiry thus in the affirmative. In those explanations I have declared that I knew of no life giving spirit of God being revealed in the Scriptures, and therefore I could say nothing about it. But that the Second Adam was said to be made a quickening spirit as the first Adam was made a living soul; and if made, then created. See 1 Cor., 15:45. But there seems to be as great a propensity in Elder C. and his party to make a man an offender for a word as ever existed in the days of Isaiah. It was certainly an unguarded yes that I gave in answer. I did not properly regard the wise man's injunction, to "Answer not a fool according to his folly." For if those brethren acted the fool in the sense in which I understand the term to be here used, in asking a question about what the wisdom of God has never revealed, I should not have given any sanction to the inquiry. I know nothing of what Elder C. means by the expression, the creatureship of our Son. I, of course can say nothing about it.
Elder C. next adds:
"I need only add, in reference to the controversy which I had with him through the Signs, that after its close in the paper it was continued for a while privately, but with no better success than appeared upon the face of what was published."
I presume by the him in this paragraph he has reference to me; if so, this is as deceptive as the rest he has written. The points discussed through the Signs were not discussed by private correspondence. He wrote me and proposed a further discussion; I in answer to him accepted the proposition, and urged a calm investigation of the points of difference. The next was, I received from him a most abusive letter in reference to some correspondence I had had with Bro. Dudley, varying but little from an exact copy of the one I had received from Elder Buck, published in my appeal to the churches of Ketocton. I then dropped correspondence with him. If I am not correct, let him publish the correspondence.
His next statement is this:
"From all I can gather from what they have written upon this point, and with an ardent desire to know the truth, and not to be found fighting against it, the doctrine is this: That Christ in his person and character as the Son of God, is the first production of divine power, that is the first creature that God made; which is proven as they think by the expressions – 'The beginning of the creation of God,' – 'The first born of every creature – created in eternity and his people created in him. That he is as the Son of God, inferior to the Father, because the Father begat him."
As he has divided his sketch of our views into paragraphs, so I take the liberty of noticing this paragraph by itself, especially as it relates wholly to one subject, the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Elder C. professes a good deal of sincerity at the commencement. But I think he only wanted to know so much of the truth of our views as would suit his purpose. So far as it respects myself, he has in this paragraph given a more truthful description of my views than in any other part of his communication. But it is only divided parts of the truth, and hence is not a correct representation of the truth; for if the whole truth is not told, you are not correctly informed concerning it, he will not admit, it seems, that the person of our Lord Jesus Christ is a compound person; hence he will not admit of my believing it, but estimates my views according to his views of the person of Christ. This is as far from giving a correct representation of my views, as it would be in giving a description of my person and age by his own. In contemplating so vast and mysterious a subject as that of God manifest in the flesh, our minds are so limited, that what glimpses we get of it, has to be in parts. Hence in discussing the subject of his manhood, in describing that manhood, we should have to represent it in language that would present him to view as a creature of time, if the fact that he was God manifest in the flesh was not kept in view; so of that by which he is the actual head and life of his people. The part of candor would be to estimate our views of Emanuel as we represented him, as God and man in one person, and so in reference to his being the life of his people, as we have uniformly represented this life as existing in God, and as one with the Word, and not as though we had represented it as something existing as a person by itself. How much soever of candor Elder C. may have with others, he is far from manifesting any in his treatment of my views.
But to come to the subject of this paragraph, and to give my views, if possible, so as to be understood, I will consider: First, the compound person of the Son of God as presented to view in the Scriptures. I presume that it will be admitted that with God there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning; if so, it ought to be admitted that as God is sovereign, independent and self-sufficient in one of His acts and ways, so He must be in all of His acts and ways. Hence if we find the Scriptures at one time ascribe to Christ a oneness with the Father, and the Godhead in its fullness, and at another time a dependence and subordination to another as his Father and his God, surely, if governed by candor and reflection, we must admit that there is in his person some element distinct in its nature from his Godhead, in which he can sustain this subordinate relation; for the Godhead cannot vascillate thus from a state of sovereignty to a state of dependence. In Heb. 1st, 8:9, we find quoted from the 45th Psalm, and addressed personally to the Son, these two different declarations, 1st: "Thy throne O God is forever and ever"; 2nd: "Therefore God even thy God hath anointed thee," &c. So Christ sends to his Disciples this message: "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." Again he saith: "I and my Father are one," John 10:30, and in John 14:23 this very same person says: "For my Father is greater than I." Again in Rom. 9:5 Christ is declared to be, "Over all, God blessed for ever, Amen." Yet in 1 Cor., 15:24-28, "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all and in all." Thus in the one text Christ is declared to be over all, God; and in the other to reign by a delegated power, in a kingdom which he must give up to God, even the Father, and ultimately must himself as the Son be subject to Him that put all things under Him. I know that many try to do away with the force of those texts by ascribing this subordination to his mediatorial office; but he does not so speak in the one, neither is it so represented in the other, in both he is personally spoken of. My Father is greater than I, personally of course, if language can express it. In the other, Then shall the Son also himself be subject. What can be more personal than this in expression? Indeed no person can read the Scriptures with a desire to have their opinions regulated by the testimony of Scripture, without discovering many instances, in which the independent Godhead of Christ is presented to view as equal and one with the Father; and many other instances in which as Son he is represented as sustaining a subordinate relation to the Father. Some may suppose that these cases relate exclusively to his manhood. But even if it was admitted that only in his manhood, he could thus stand in a subordinate relation to the Father, yet as it is so manifest that he personally sustained this subordinate relation, it fully proves the correctness of our position that he exists in a compound person. That the manhood of Christ possessed all the requisites of a distinct person in itself, I admit; but as it was the Word that was made flesh, I must believe that his manhood only existed in personal union with the Word, and with the Word that life in him which is the light of men; so that in the same person he is God, is the Son of God and is man. Were it not so, we should have only a human sacrifice to rely upon. If he only suffered as man, then there was no God in the sacrifice, nor any representation of his people in it. The oneness of his people with him did not consist in his being made flesh, is evident because they were chosen in him, and therefore were in him, before the foundation of the world. And we have no authority for believing that his manhood existed before he was made of a woman, only as it might be considered as existing seminally in the seed of the woman or from Eve. But whatever some of our western brethren may thin, I cannot conceive that this seed of the woman can constitute a flesh and blood union of Christ and his people, for the very plain reason that they are of the seed of Adam, and therefore inherit from him depravity, but he being of the seed of the woman only, in his flesh, had no depravity, condemnation coming not through her. But that it was not of him, alone in his manhood that he is represented as sustaining a subordinate relation to the Father, appears from the following, among many texts of Scripture, - In John 3d, 16:17, we find Jesus himself testifying that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, &c.;" he adds, "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, &c." Does not this clearly relate to an existence the Son had before he came into the world, as it speaks of his being sent into the world? And is there not a subordination here expressed concerning the Son, that he was given, was sent into the world? Surely there is not that sovereignty and independence in this passive obedience of the Son which belongs to him as God. So in John 6th, 38:39, Jesus says, "For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me; And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, &c." Here he speaks of coming down from heaven, and therefore cannot speak of his manhood which was born of Mary, yet he speaks of being sent, and therefore in subordination to his Father's will. Again, in verse 51st of same chapter, he says, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: If any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread which I shall give is my flesh, &c." Here he shows that his flesh is the bread of life, and that which he gives for the life of the world, yet he so identifies it with his person, as to represent it as the bread which came down from heaven. But I will not multiply texts, though I might produce many more to the same effect.
Has Elder C. and those with him, such an idea of the sovereign and independent Jehovah, as to believe that in His Godhead He can lay aside His sovereignty so as to be subject to be given and sent, &c.? If they have, I will think them not to measure my views of God by their standard. I so believe in the unchanging sovereignty of God, that I, must believe that the Word took that in to personal union with himself when was not God, that in that distinct existence he could be subject to be sent and given by the Father, as he had to be made flesh in order to be subject to the law.
Will Elder C. now see that my views of the person of Emanuel is, that it is so compounded that he could be a Son given, and a child born, and yet be the mighty God; that he could be the beginning of the creation of God, and yet be the I AM THAT I AM. If so he will see that he has fallen as far short of giving my views of the person and character of Christ as the earth is bellow the heavens. If he will look back through the Signs; he will see that these in substance are the views I have held and published for these many years.
I will now pass to notice the idea of creatureship as applied to Christ in the Scriptures, in distinction from his being made flesh. It will, I presume, be admitted that in God's Son being made of a woman, the idea of creatureship is ascribed to him in person, and that without derogating from his Godhead or making him a "created God;" strange, then, that such a general alarm should be produced at the idea of creatureship being applied to him, as he is the life of his people. But surely, if men inspired of God have, without reserve, in giving their testimony of Jesus, attached this idea to him, I think I need not be afraid to do it, though opposed by friends and foes. But I have never represented that as the Son he is inferior to the Father because God created him, as Elder C. has stated. I have based his subordination to the Father upon his relation as Son, as well as upon the testimony of Scripture, showing that he sustained such inferior relation. Elder C. admits that we have such expressions as these: "The beginning of the creation of God," – "The first born of every creature," to sustain our views; but he appears not to admit them to be Scripture. They, however, will be found Rev. 3:14, and Col. 1:15. How is Christ The beginning of the creation of God, according to the proper import of the words, if he was not in some sense the first of God's creating? And how the first born of every creature, if not in some sense a creature? Some, in order to get rid of the idea of creatureship being applied to the Son, have suggested that the terms expressing that idea should be understood in some other sense; that of constitution, or institution, has been intimated. I should not know what sense to make of the sentence, The beginning of the institution of God, or of this, The first born of every constitution; because I should not know what was meant by the constitution or institution. So if Christ was instituted the Head and Life of his people instead of created, then Eph. 2:10 should read, For we are his appointment instituted in Christ Jesus, &c.; 2 Cor. 5:17, should read, if any be in Christ Jesus he is a new institution. And the new man is after God constituted in righteousness, &c. See Eph., 4:24. But unless there is something in the original or in the connexion which shows that a different translation would be more correct, I cannot sanction the idea of saying that the Scriptures do not mean what they say. If one may say that this word, and that, and the other are not to be understood according to their legitimate meanings, others may occupy the same ground, and all because the proper meaning does not suit their notions of things; so every man would be at liberty to construe the Scriptures according to his own opinion. Where, then, should we have any standard to test the truth of our various opinions? In the case under consideration, not only are the terms create, creature and creation decidedly a correct translation of the original words, but they also give a more definite sense to the texts in which they are used than the substitution of other words would; and what is more, in some instances at least, the connexion evidently calls for the very idea conveyed by these words. As in Eph., 2:10, the expression, "For we are his workmanship," evidently requires the idea of create, or make, to follow it, so that I think the text reads correctly. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, &c. Does not the expression, created in him, convey the idea of being created in him as a head, as the human family were created in Adam as a head? If so, he must have been created in that which constituted his headship. If in his headship he was self-existent, then his posterity as existing in him were self-existent, and therefore could not have been created; but if they were created in him, then he as their existence, as their life was created. So the new man which after God is created in righteousness, &c., (Eph. 4:24) can be no other than the Christ in you the hope of glory. If, then, the new man was created, then Christ as living in the believer was created. Hence, when we take into consideration the compound person of Christ, I can see nothing in the idea of Christ's being the beginning of the creation of God, that ought to alarm us.
But as some of my most esteemed brethren do not agree with me on this point, I wish to examine it still farther. And First, if Christ as the life of his people, is that spiritual life which lives in them, and that life is communicated to them personally, so that they are born of it, then Christ as their life becomes personally identified with them. And when we consider what God is, a perfect being of himself, a complete whole, a perfect unit, we cannot conceive that He can so communicate of Himself of His essence, to creatures, so as to be personally identified with them. Hence I conclude that He must have something in Himself distinct from His essence, which He could communicate to creatures so as to make them participants in it. This something, this communicable essence, I conclude is found in that life which is declared to have been in the Word. I think by carefully reading the 1st Chap. Of the Gospel according to John, a person will be convinced that John commences his Gospel without particular description of the person of Christ. He commences with the declaration that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God," and that "All things were made by Him, &c." Now, this being with God, which John is so particular to affirm, must imply, unless we consider Him as making so particular an assertion without any meaning, that there was in the Word a distinction from God, while at the same time the Word was God. In verse 4 he goes on to tell wherein that distinction was: "In Him was life and the life was the light of men." – not that the Word was the light of men, but the life was the light of men. Surely this life must be something, it must be a distinct existence to have such an affirmation made distinctively of it. This is not all, but he goes on to speak particularly of that Light which this Life is, speaks of it as a person uses the pronouns he and him in particular reference to it. See on the 13th verse. In the 14th verse he returns to speak again of the Word, which we shall have occasion to notice again. This Light which is the lift of which John affirms so much, must be an existence of itself. If an existence, it must either exist independently of its own pleasure in the Word, in God and with God, or it must so exist dependently by the will of God. The first of these, I think no one will believe. If then it exists in the Word of God's will, it is as much in its existence there the production the creature of God's will as the natural light was the production of God's word. So that this was, I believe, the beginning of the creation of God, and as it is the life of his people, the light of men, they in that life were thus and then created in him, or brought into existence in the Word, by the will of God.
But then in thus contending for the creatureship of this life that was in the Word, I do not wish to place it upon a footing with those creatures which God has created exterior from Himself, neither am I authorized by the Scriptures to do so, any more than I am authorized to place that "Holy thing" which was born of Mary on a level with Adam. That Holy thing had he existed only as the Son of Mary would no doubt have existed as a perfect man, that the Scriptures teach that from his conception he so existed as one or in personal union with the Godhead that he was no other than Emanuel, than the Word made flesh. So of the life that was in the Word, as being that Light which John bare witness to, had evidently personal qualities, so that had he existed separately he would have been a distinct person, but he existed only in the Word. Hence the Word through God, having this life in him possessed such a personal distinction from God, that he could be said to be with God, and could sustain the relation of Mediator between God and men. And thus whilst in his person he could stand as Mediator between God and men, he in his person was also one with the Father and with the Holy Ghost, as it is written, "These three are one." Thus this created existence which is included in the person of the Son, for the Son is the Word with that life in him, does not make him as the Son a creature any more than the assumption of manhood did. He remains identically the Word and God manifest in the flesh, whilst through the whole of his mediatorial office, he sustains a personal distinction from God, as abundantly testified in the Scriptures.
But as creation is in idea distinct from begetting, the inquiry arises, how is Christ the begotten Son of God? Before proceeding with the inquiry, it will be well to notice what it is to be a son, what its relation is. First: a son, according to the uniform usage of the term, is one who derives his existence as such from another who begat him, and whim he is therefore bound to honor as his father, according to the 5th command. "Honor thy father and thy mother, &c." Second: a begotten son, partakes of the nature of the father; and, Third: in consequence of his being the first or only begotten son, he is entitled to be the heir to his father's honors, relation, and possessions, &c. When Christ is declared to be God, we understand by it, that he is the self-existent, great First Cause of all things, the sovereign Majesty of the universe. When he is declared to be a servant, we understand that he sustained the relation of a servant, was in servitude under the law. Why not then, when he is so often spoken of as a begotten Son, understand that he sustains the relation indicated by those terms, to another as his Father?
In coming to the first characteristic of Sonship, that of being begotten, as manifested in the Son of God, I would remark, that in formerly treating of this subject, whilst I have uniformly contended that the Son of God, was God coequal with the Father, I have, in speaking of his Sonship, in itself considered, and in opposition to the absurd idea of a begotten God, used expressions which in themselves considered were perhaps calculated to convey the idea that his Sonship belonged only to that life that was in the Word. This was wrong, though I still maintain that he never could have sustained the relations of a begotten Son, had he only existed as God, because I cannot believe that God who is so emphatically declared to be one, could be so divided in his person, as in his Godhead alone, to be both the Father and a Son, the progenitor and the descendant, the bestower and the recipient of an inheritance; neither can I conceive that God can so divest himself of his independent, self-existence, as to exist in a derivative existence; or of his absolute sovereignty as to owe honor to another as his Father. Hence I consider that life which was in the Word was as the seed of which he was begotten. His headship, of a posterity who were to proceed from him, is in that life of which they are born, though in his person he is God. My mistake in speaking of the Sonship of Christ, arose from the want of a clear idea of what is to be understood by his being begotten. I had merely taken the term as it stood in the Scriptures without having been particularly led till recently to reflect on its import as spoken in reference to God, and the Son of God.
How Christ is the begotten Son of God, may, I conceive, be illustrated by his second begetting as the Son of God; for there are evidently two begettings spoken of in the Scripture to him. John says, speaking of the Word being made flesh, "We beheld (not shall behold,) his glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father, &c." And at the baptism of Jesus, and in his transfiguration on the mount, the voice from heaven was, "This is (not shall be,) my beloved Son, &c." Thus he was declared to be already the begotten Son of God. But the begetting of which I speak as a second begetting, was an after event to these. It is named in Psalms 2:7, "Thou art my Son this day have I begotten thee." This was spoken prophetically, and therefore though spoken in the present tense, had a future reference. So an inspired Apostle applied it (Acts 13:33,) when he said, "God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again, as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." The apostle makes this begetting to be the same with his being "The first begotten of the dead." Rev. 1:5. It is probable that it is from these texts, that persons have inferred that regeneration and resurrection are the same. Resurrection alone does not alter the standing of a person; if he dies under the law, he will be under it in his resurrection. As Christ died under the law, if there had been simply a resurrection of him from death, he would still have been under it. But according to Rom., 1:4, he was "Declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead." The Son in being made of a woman, was made under the law, and having by his death accomplished the object of his humiliation, the redemption of his people, by bearing the curse in their behalf, and thus exhausted the penalty death, as Peter said, "It was not possible that he should be holden of it," and therefore came out from under it in that nature in which he as the Life of his people had died, his own body, and brought out with him from under the law his spiritual body, the church. In being thus raised up, he was of God, in his manifest relation to his church invested with all the prerogatives of an only begotten Son; he was seated at the right hand of the Father, having all power given to him in heaven and in earth; was invested with the inheritance of all things, having all things put under his feet, Him only excepted who did put all things under him. Thus we see him of God brought into life from the womb of the grave, and invested with all the prerogatives of the Son of God, inheriting all things and sitting upon the throne and exercising all the power of God; Him only being excepted who did put all things under Him. He must thus be of the same nature of the Father, and is so recognized in that it is said to him, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, &c." See Heb., 1:8. None but God could sway the scepter of universal dominion, and yet as a Son it is in submission to the Father that he reigns, and hence the period is to come when he shall deliver up the kingdom unto God even the Father, and the Son himself be subject to Him that put all things under him. 1 Cor. 15:24-28. Thus it appears to me that the terms only begotten Son of God are according to their proper import, strictly descriptive of that relation which Christ as Mediator sustains to God. But as this exaltation of Christ was a being glorified with that glory which he as Son had with the Father before the world was, (See John, 17:1-5,) we may conclude that his relation as Son was the same before the world was. As there was nothing corresponding to a fleshly begetting in bringing forth the Son of God from under the law and its penalty, so we presume there was nothing like it, in his first being brought forth as the only begotten Son of God. If we look back to the beginning, we find the Word with that life in him which was the light of men. This Light, as we have showed from the connexion, is a distinct existence, and that from the nature of things must be a created existence; it is a something that is communicated to men; thus Jesus saith, "I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12. What is this light of life, but that life which is the light of men? Now this Life, though a created existence could never be involved in the relation of a servant; being in the Word, hid in God, no law could ever reach it, with its demands, but the glory and majesty of God must ever shine forth with, and around it. But still, this life being in the Word imparted to him a distinct and compound personality, as has been noticed. This complex person could not as noticed, be in the station of a servant under the law, without being made under it, in an additional nature, neither could he in his complex person, though in that person he was God, sustain the relation of the absolute God, but was exactly adapted to sustain the relation of a Son, and was therefore set up, and brought forth in the everlasting covenant as the Son of God; and the same mighty power of God was manifested in thus bringing him forth as the Son of God and Head of his church and people, and they in him in that Life which was embraced in his distinct personality, as was manifested in raising Christ from the dead. See Eph., 1:19,20. It is no wonder that John said of him, when he the Word with this life in him as described, was made flesh, so that he could be beheld of mortals, "And we beheld his glory the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Here is the difference between the Word's taking this life into personal union with him, and his being made flesh, though both created existences; the life was in him as God, was hid in God, but the manhood was taken upon him, the Godhead was veiled in his flesh. Hence the law could not reach his manhood with its demands, without being intercepted by the intervening Godhead; not so with the life. Hence I can conceive how the law could inflict its penalty upon the Word as being the life of his people, in his manhood, whilst it could not touch the life itself. Again, the manhood of Christ was made of the seed of the woman; but we are not warranted to believe that the life was made of any created substance. The account we have is, that the new man, which must be the life, or Christ, in us, was After God created in righteousness and true holiness. From the testimony of Scripture, I conclude that the Word as the Son, occupied the same exalted station at the right hand of the Father, having the immediate government in his own hands, before the foundation of the world as after his exaltation from the dead. Hence the glory which he now has is the same that he had with the Father before the world was; and the Word was with God. Hence it is declared, that "All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." Every declaration made of God whether under, or before the law, must have been made by him; for it is written, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." John 1:18. This must therefore embrace every manifestation made of God, to the fathers, and through the law and prophets. Hence he must be the God of Abraham, &c. But here as after his resurrection we see evidences, that whilst all things were put under him, He was excepted who put all things under him; that the Father retained the supremacy on the throne. Thus whilst all things were made by the Word, or Son, yet it is testified that "God made the worlds by him." Heb., 1:2 and that "God created all things by Jesus Christ." Eph., 3:9. And also in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son. &c. Thus showing the supremacy of the Father over him as the Son in all things, and his obedience to his Father's will.
Thus we see in Christ all the characteristics of a begotten Son. He is brought forth in that relation to God. Hence he acknowledges the obligation and willingness to honor and obey God as his Father. He says, John 8:49, "I honor my Father but ye do dishonor me," and he is represented as saying, "I delight to do thy will, O God, yea thy law is within my heart." See Psalms, 40:8, and Heb. 10:5-9. Again he is of the same nature with the Father; for the Word was God, and he was the express image of God's person. Again as the only begotten Son he is appointed heir of all things, and none others, none of the Angels does God recognize as Sons with Him, excepting that Christ's people are acknowledged as sons in him, and are therefore joint heirs with him.
This case of acknowledging one as a begotten Son distinct from the idea of a literal begetting, is not singular in the Scriptures. God directed Moses to say unto Pharaoh, "Israel is my son, even my first-born." Ex., 4:22. He evidently thus owns Israel as His son, because He had chosen him to be a peculiar people to himself, and had provided for him an inheritance. See Deut., 14:1, 2. Thus it is said of Abraham that he offered up his only begotten son. Heb., 11:17. Isaac could have been called his only begotten, only in the sense that he only was recognized as his heir.
I have thus given my views of the person, character and relation of the Son of God, as definitely as I can; however much Elder C., and those with him, may be opposed to these views, I do request him, no longer to so grossly misrepresent them. Let him present what argument against them, he can, but if he has any candor, let those arguments be against my views as they are.
Elder C. goes on with the catalogue of what he calls our views, thus:
"That God made the worlds by him (by the Son,) as Solomon made the Temple by Hiram, that is as his servant or instrument. That we are not quickened or regenerated by the Spirit of God or the Holy Ghost, and consequently are not the children of God in that sense, else we should be little Gods. But we are quickened by the infusion of this created spirit, and hence our life is not in God, or God is not the life of the church. That this life is not in the Divinity of Christ , or in him as the essential Word, but in this undefined existence, and which life and his people with him died, arose again and ascended to heaven, &c. This condensed formula contains, what I am well satisfied I can prove from the record whenever called to it, as their sentiment upon the vital and fundamental point of doctrine – the character of the Son of God."
Elder C. says he is well satisfied he can prove these things are our sentiments. So he can, according to his manner of proving things, by taking a word here, and a word there, from our writings, and patching them together by some additions of his own. But I as confidently deny that I have ever held or advanced one sentiment as he has presented it, in this formula. In some instances at least, I think he must have known that he entirely misrepresenting me. But I will proceed to notice the several items.
The first, is, That God made the worlds by the Son of Solomon made the Temple by Hiram, thus far is a correct representation of my language. But the addition, as his servant or instrument, is a gratuitous supply by Elder C. Any person, anywise acquainted with agencies, knows that the idea of agency is very different from that of servitude. I have, already, in speaking of Christ's sustaining fully the relation of Sonship, referred to Heb., 1:2, and Eph., 3:9, as fully sustaining the idea, that all things were made by the Son or Word, yet that God made them by him. Thus showing that whilst all things were the Son's and in subjection to him, God as the Father held the supremacy on the throne, similar to the case of Joseph and Pharaoh. I referred to the case of Solomon and Hiram, as I have formerly explained, because I considered the building of the temple typical, and because similar expression are used as in this case, in relation to Solomon and Hiram. That I was not correct in the idea conveyed thereby, of God's supremacy over the Son as such, Elder C. cannot show, unless he can show the incorrectness of those two texts above referred to.
His next item is, That we are not quickened or regenerated by the Holy Ghost, and consequently are not the children of God in that sense, else we would be little Gods.
I used the term little Gods in my controversy with Elder Buck in relation to some position of his, implying that the Godhead was imparted in regeneration, which I stated would constitute the subjects of such regeneration little Gods. I have never named that as a conclusion to be drawn from the idea of being regenerated by the Holy Ghost. Why Elder C. so represented it, he knows better than I, though it looks suspicious of some uncandid design. In reference to regeneration by the Holy Ghost, I have said that if regeneration is to be ascribed to either of the Three, exclusively, to the Father, to the Word or to the Holy Ghost. I should suppose it would be ascribed to the Word as the regenerated are represented as the seed of Christ. I have further said, there is no Scriptural authority, or that I know of none, for supposing that the Holy Ghost was exclusively the agent in regeneration, that he was particularly described as the Comforter, &c., but not as the Regenerator. The truth is, regeneration is ascribed to God in the Scriptures, without designating either the Father, the Word or the Holy Ghost, as in such texts as these: "Born, not of blood nor of the will of flesh; nor of the will of man, but of God." Again, "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, &c." Unless this text may be considered as confining it to the essential Word, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth, &c." This position may appear strange to those who may have been accustomed to hear regeneration ascribed to the Holy Ghost exclusively, without having considered for themselves whether the Scriptures thus ascribe it to him. But if Elder C. could have refuted my position by the testimony of Scripture, would he have resorted to such misrepresentations to evade it? In reference to Elder C.'s using the word regeneration and quickening as synonymous; he may view them as synonymous, but he knows that I do not. In candor, therefore, he should not have so used them in speaking of my views. I deny their being synonymous, because both in their common use among men, and in the Scriptures they are used to convey quite different ideas. Generation is used to convey the idea of begetting an individual that had not before existed excepting seminally in its progenitor. So regeneration implies the begetting another and a spiritual existence in one who already had a fleshly existence; as being born again is the experiencing by a person of a new and distinct birth from his former fleshly birth. Therefore the person born again, now exists in a new and distinct life from his natural life, is a new creature. But quickening conveys the idea of stirring up, reviving, exciting, &c., that which already exists; its strongest idea is that of reanimating the dead, as in John, 5:21, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." Adam's begetting a son in his own likeness, is a very different idea from that of his raising up or quickening Abel who was dead. So from Elisha's having brought again to life, or quickening the Shunamite's son, no one would infer that he had begotten a son. When David prays, as he does repeatedly in the 119th Psalm, "Quicken thou me;" none, I presume understands him to be praying to be regenerated. Is it not strange that men, and even christians, will suffer their minds to be so enslaved by certain hackneyed expositions, as not to regard the proper meaning of words, in their explaining of Scripture; but will, to suit certain imbibed notions, divert words from their legitimate meaning, and thus represent that the Scriptures do not mean what they say, and therefore that the Holy Ghost in indicting them, either did not know, or did not regard the meaning of words! No wonder that there is confusion among us, whilst such is the case; for we thereby deprive ourselves of any definite standard of truth. Men cry up the scriptures, and yet treat them as some of the heathen do their household gods, wherein they displease them, they repudiate them. If the regeneration of the Scriptures is nothing more than a quickening, then both the soul-regenerationists, or rather soul-quickenists, and the Arminians are right on this point: for both represent it as being only a bringing into religious action certain dead or dormant powers of man. The one class say that God only can quicken these dead powers of man; the other, that men can do it of themselves, or that the preacher can do it for them. I know not but the latter class are right, if a quickening of the powers or faculties which the natural man already possesses, is all that constitutes an experience of religion.
But is there not a quickening connected with the new birth? I answer, yes; corresponding spiritually, to that which belongs naturally to the natural birth. Persons knowing any thing about it, know that the quickening of the fetus, is a different thing from the conception. So I understand spiritual quickening to be a different thing from regeneration. But in this, as in many other points of comparison between natural and spiritual things, there is a correspondence, but not a parallel. In the natural world that which is implanted is the subject of the quickening; in reference to the spiritual birth, the receptacle or soul is that which is quickened. Hence while I have uniformly held and contended that regeneration is of God, that God alone implants in the soul or heart that life which is the light of men, or imparts to it that light of life; yet I do contend that it is through this light of the[*] life shining in the heart, the soul is quickened to any just conceptions of the spirituality of the law, and of that worship which is acceptable to God; and ultimately of those spiritual blessings which come through Christ. Thus the soul is quickened to the knowledge of sin, and to repentance, as also afterwards, to rejoice in the truth and consolations of the gospel. "For the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned;" and, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Thus while I contend that the soul is not changed from a natural to a spiritual soul, in regeneration, but remains after the new birth, with just the same faculties it had before, and reasons just in the same way as before; and that without the impartation in generation, of this life which is the light, without the new birth, or being born of a new life, or of the spirit of God's Son, the natural man could never know; nor relish spiritual things; yet that when this light of the life shines in him, he is made so to see the exceeding broadness and the spirituality of the law, and to know sin by it, that as a rational man, that is, with all his mind, he approves of the justice of his condemnation. So of salvation through Christ, when by faith he beholds it, it is no longer foolishness unto him, with every faculty of soul, he approves of it, as the wisdom and the power of God, and he is astonished at himself, that with all his reading of the Scriptures he never saw these things so, before. Yet the moment he is again left to reason upon the subject without the aid of this light, he concludes that because he is such a poor, guilty sinner, there can be no salvation for him; against when the light shines all is right. Brethren, is not this experience, and is it not consonant with Scripture? If so, is it not then manifest, that the soul of itself is not changed to a spiritual soul? and is it not equally manifest that the light of this life, when it shines does quicken the faculties of the soul, otherwise dead to spiritual things, to receive and rejoice in the things of the spirit of God? Thus Christ was made a quickening spirit; for this life is Christ in you. So in John, 6:63, Christ says, "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing, the words that I speak unto you are spirit, and are life." What words does our Lord here refer to? What he says to be sure, was true of most of his words; but there evidently is a reference in this declaration to the discourse he was holding with the people concerning his flesh being the true bread from heaven, and that his flesh was meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed, &c. We find the Jews reasoning on the subject , and saying How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Also some of his Disciples said, this is a hard saying, who can bear it, that is, understand it. It evidently was in reply to these murmurings that he said, It is the spirit that quickeneth, &c., and futher adds, There are some of you that believe not, and again, "Therefore said I unto you that no man can come unto me except it were given him of my Father." All this convinces me that he did not in that text break abruptly off from his discourse to teach what regeneration was, but was assigning the reasons in those several verses above quoted, why they could not receive or hear his words. First he lets them know that it was not of a literal eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood that he spake, that his words were spirit and were life, therefore the flesh profiteth nothing in this matter, whatever it may profit in natural things, no fleshly powers, or powers of the fleshly birth could comprehend him. They must believe, in order to believe or to trust in a crucified Jesus for life and acceptance with God, they must have that faith which God giveth. And this faith which is a fruit of the spirit, and belongs to the new man, is that, by which, as men we are enabled to trust in a crucified Jesus as the way of salvation. This being by faith on Christ crucified, is the eating his flesh and drinking his blood intended. It is this faith view, this light of life, that quickens the faculties of our souls to receive and relish the doctrine of Christ crucified, and to esteem his flesh as meat indeed and his blood as drink indeed. Thus I understand the spirit here, as contrasted with the flesh, to be Christ the quickening spirit, as contrasted with the fleshly Adam. The natural Adam has no power to quicken itself to the apprehension of spiritual things; but Christ, the spiritual life, can and does quicken the rational powers of the regenerate to receive and rest upon as truth, the doctrine imparted of spiritual things; if my experience does not deceive me.
There is another quickening spoken of in the Scriptures connected with salvation. That is, as they died representatively, or in Christ's dying, under the sentence of the law, so they were quickened together with him, and raised up together from under the penalty of the law. See Eph. 2:5, 6 and Col. 2:13. And again in experience, being killed by the law, they are again quickened to life, and raised up from under the sentence of the law, through faith in Christ.
I have been lengthy on this subject of quickening, and more so from having had to differ in my views from most of the brethren on this point. Whether or not I have said any thing that will convince any one of the correctness of my views; I think I have said enough, to show that Elder C. has done me great injustice in applying what I have formerly said of quickening, to regeneration.
Elder C., in connexion with the subject of quickening, further gives as my views, that the life is not in God, is not in the Divinity of Christ, is not in the essential Word, &c. Yet as in this pamphlet, so in all my discussions heretofore on this subject, I have repeatedly quoted John 1:1-4, and appealed to it as sustaining me in my belief, that there was in the Word who was God, and distinct in its nature from the Godhead, as being in the Word, that life which Christ is to his people, as he is their light, and therefore that life of theirs; which was hid with Christ in God. I have also contended that this life being in the Word, thus constituting the Son who is the Word with this life in him, both personally one with the Father, and personally one with his people as being their life, in a compound person, and thus making him a divinely fit person to stand as the Mediator between God and his people. Now I know that Elder C. knew that such in substance was my views, and has joined with others – not in trying to show by sound arguments and proofs that they were wrong – but in trying to ridicule the idea of there being in him before the foundation of the world, a nature distinct from the Godhead; yet in this publication he has made these positive assertions to the contrary. When I consider the standing Elder C. once had among us, I am disposed to look around for some excuse for his representing things so falsely, but really I find none more charitable than the one already hinted at. But of this, I will leave for those to decide, and to reconcile his course with the confidence they are placing in him, who have put him forward as their oracle.
As to the additional remark intermixed with the others, viz: that God is not the life of the Church, I will remark that I did not fully know they held that the Godhead was the life of the Church, that God was the life that was hid with Christ in God. I freely confess that I did not believe it.
Next following the paragraph which we have just noticed, are four or five paragraphs in Elder C.'s communication which relate wholly to the Editor of the Signs, which, of course, do not refer to me; I will therefore pass them over without copying them, or adding any remarks concerning them, as the Editor is fully able to take his own part.
The following paragraph to those omitted is this:
"I will now present in contrast what I understand to be the Scriptural doctrine upon these points. The most casual observer must have seen that this doctrine in relation to the character of Christ as the Son of God, is a denial of the equality of the Son with the Father, and is allied to the new theory of the life of the church dying and the church dying, rising, and ascending with that life, &c. The former branch of the scheme runs into Atheism and the latter into the grossest Arminianism, and is a denial of the substitution of Christ for or instead of his people, which I will show from the Signs is contrary to the doctrine formerly contended for by those who are now advocating it. First then, upon the first branch, and upon which I have now but little to say, I take this declaration as a fair statement of the doctrine – 'There is a priority of existence with the Father.' If this be true the Son cannot be equal to the Father, and it therefore would be robbery in him to claim that equality. Again, if this is true there was a period when the Son did not exist, and of course there could then have been no Father, for that is a relative term and cannot apply to God under such circumstances, and so we are into Atheism at once."
This, certainly, is a strange way of presenting in contrast the Scriptural doctrine, &c. I would like to know what Scriptural authority he has for the ideas he has advanced in this paragraph. However, we will notice some of the points he has taken. First he charges, to the representation he has given of our doctrine, a denial of the equality of the Son with the Father. He evidently means that we deny this equality, in any view of the person of the Son, and he bases the charge not upon any Scripture testimony, but upon the authority of the decrees of the Nicene Council, for that is the earliest authority he can produce for fixing the modus of God's existence as Three. According to that the Son no otherwise exists as God, than as he exists as the Son of God, and therefore in his Godhead, he is the begotten Son of God, and hence is, if God, upon this principle, a begotten God. But as showed in reply to his charge of Arianism, we reject this whole attempt to fix the modus of God's existing as Three, or in trinity, and we just receive the Scripture testimony that he does exist as Three; and as it is as God that he thus exists, we believe that with the same sovereign and absolute independence, that he exists at all, he exists as Father, as Word, and as Holy Ghost; that the Word is equally self-existent with the Father, and can no more have a begotten existence than the Father, for he is equally the Jehovah; and that the Word, with the life in him which is the light of men, in one person, is the Son. Hence he could say I and my Father are one. But as the Son, as I have abundantly showed, his Father is greater than he. And I have showed from 1 Cor. 15:24-28, as well as from other portions of Scripture, that in his present exaltation, as the Son of God with power, he is subordinate to the Father, and must ultimately deliver up the kingdom to Him. Elder C. admits that the term Father is a relative term; is no the term Son equally so? Several of the relations characteristic of a son I have before noticed. Is it not equally characteristic of the relation of a son that he has descended as such from him whose son he is, or that he is a son by the act of his father? That art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, says God of him, as before noticed in reference to his present exaltation as Son. Does not this imply priority of existence in the Father, to him as Son? If Christ sustains the name and relation of Son, why not the characteristics? Who, without the greatest presumption, dare say he does not, when God claims him as His Son, because he had begotten him, and that on a certain day?
But says Elder C., this leads to Atheism, that is, that the Son could only exist as he existed as a Son, so the Father could only exist as he existed as a Father. Elder C. speaks of out Heroding Herod, but with what point I know not; but surely he has here out Athanasiused Athanasius himself with all his audacity. Athanasius made only the existence of the Son as God, to depend on the begetting and yet self-existent God, being, to use their terms, unbegottenly begotten; an absurdity I should think sufficiently large for any sane man to swallow; yet Elder C., here makes the existence of both Father and Son, as God, to depend on the Father's begetting the Son begat himself into existence as God. How else does he make out the charge of Atheism? When shall we be done with such absurdities? Not till men will be satisfied with the simplicity of Bible testimony, and not blindly follow the dictations of the Dragon. I admit the correctness of Elder C.'s position, that Father and Son are relative terms, and I contend that we are bound to believe, that God in thus making use of these terms, in the revelation of himself, meant to convey the idea that the relation indicated by these terms, did exist between Him and His Son. And everybody knows what is involved in the relationship of father and son. My contending for this is just the thing laid hold of by Elder C. as an occasion for splitting his spite against me by representing me as an Arian. Will he condescend to inform us, as these are relative terms, why they are used, if not to show that such relation exists; and will he further tell us why he spoke of them as relative terms, if he did not admit of the existence of such relation?
But these relative terms by no means imply that God did not exist antecedent to his being a Father; yea, the very relation implies that the Father had an existence independent of his paternity. Christ said to Mary, "But go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." The language of Christ here, cannot be construed otherwise than as conveying the idea that the relationship which he acknowledges to God as a Father, is mutual, and the same with that of his Disciples, without doing violence to the order and language of the text. Will Elder C., or any other disciple of Athanasius say that God had no existence until these brethren of Christ existed? It may be said that Christ is the elder brother; but it is also said that he is the only begotten of the Father, they therefore as sons, must have been begotten in his being begotten; as Adam's posterity were created in his creation. God has revealed himself by different names, some descriptive of his being, and of his attributes, and some relative. He has declared himself as the "God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, &c." Did he not exist until these men existed?
So of the Son, when we take into consideration the character given of him in the Scriptures, we must believe that he existed as God independently of his Sonship. He is declared as the Mediator, as the Redeemer, as the Messiah or Anointed, as Jesus or Savior, these are all relative terms as well as Son. In reference to his name Redeemer and Savior, the name God is applied to him as such as well as to him as Son, yet I presume Elder C. would not say that he did not exist as God until he redeemed or saved. The fact is, the assumption of the adherents to the Nicene Creed, that the Godhead of the Father and of the Son depended on the paternity of the one, and the Sonship of the other, is altogether a begged question, for which they can produce no direct authority from the Scriptures. If they will assume to be wiser than the Scriptures, I am not required to follow them, but rather to look for the old paths. And they have no right to denounce me as an heretic or schismatic for thus doing.
Elder C. goes on thus:
"Secondly, as to the second branch – Christ the Head and life of the Church. The Scriptures reveal that life as existing in Christ the essential Word – the true God and eternal life. For we read – "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: in his was life, &c." that is, in God was life. John, 1st Chap. "If this life was in his humanity – that in which he suffered and died on the cross, then the church had no life until he took on him the seed of Abraham. But we read that, 'As the children were partakers of flesh and blood he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, &c.' They were children then anterior to his assumption of human nature – the children that the Father had given him, who were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, and predestinated to the adoption of sons, &c. As early as the existence of Christ which is without date – for, 'From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.' – so early his people existed in him, and had their life not only hid with him in God, but he was their life, for when Christ who was our life shall appear we shall appear with him in glory. This life the conclave of Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, and all the powers of earth and hell combined besides, could never reach nor destroy. These had their hour, when they came upon him to eat up his flesh, when his soul was made an offering for sin and when he cried out, my soul is troubled – my soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death. Here he suffered for sins the just for the unjust, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the spirit. Here he bare our sins in his own body on the tree, and suffered for us in the flesh. It was here that the declaration of God by the prophet was accomplished – 'Awake, O, sword against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts; smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.' Christ thus entered in with his own precious blood, which is the price of redemption, and in the sacrifice and offering we see the Priest, the Altar and the Lamb. But I cannot now enlarge upon the point without occupying too much space. It is enough to know that in the sufferings and death of Christ in which a full and complete atonement was made for his church; who stood related to him by an eternal and indissoluble tie; his divinity, though in union with his humanity, did not, it could not, either suffer or die; and that the atonement was vicarious, as Christ stood under the law as the substitute for his people."
In this lengthy extract, Elder C. has given us his views as in contrast with ours. There are in it some few expressions that I should object to, not more perhaps than I should formerly have found in his preaching, and as they do not materially affect the subject in dispute, I shall not stop to point them out. The doctrine expressed as far as it goes, is good, such as I approve of. The question arises, How can he in expressions advance the same sentiments which I hold and contend for, and yet condemn me for advocating them? So also the question has arisen, How was it that we so long got along and preached together in harmony each esteeming the other sound? I then preached the same sentiments I do now and he probably believed as he now does. The answer to these questions, so far as I can form an opinion from what has transpired in our discussions is this. When he and others preached that the people of God were the children of Christ, that from everlasting they existed in him, that their life was hid with in God, that he was their life, we supposed they spake of realities, that they meant what they said, we supposed that those who were his children seminally would be manifested as children in time, by existing personally in that very existence, that life in which they existed in Him before time, in their being actually born children, born of that life in a second birth. How else could any be known as ever having an existence in Him, but by being personally partakers of that life? And they preached about being born again. On the other hand when we preached in this way, they, I presume, thought that we used these expressions from general usage without intending to convey any definite, or at least any adequate meaning by them. Hence, when we came to contend that these several Scriptural expressions had a definite meaning according to their general use, and that we understood such meaning to be conveyed by them, they quarreled with us, and set up the cry against us of new things. Hence this dispute has been evidently different from some which have been said to be merely about words; for in this case both had used the same words, but it was the substance about which we differ.
But let us test the point, whether it is so or not. Elder C. has not directly said it in this communication, but he and those with him have been understood throughout this discussion to contend that the Son of God previous to his incarnation, existed only in his Godhead, and therefore existed only as God, and to us there is but one God; then as nothing but God existed before time, if the elect had then an actual existence in him they must of course have existed as God, must haven been God in their antemundane existence. Elder C. do not turn these conclusions off with contempt, for I am so weak minded, and some others perhaps are like me, that I cannot understand how it can otherwise be than, that if nothing but God existed before time, then all that did exist at that period, was God. If you can explain the matter otherwise, do so. But again, if this life, this existence of the children of Christ which God has given him, is ever communicated to the sons and daughters of men, so as to make them manifest as these children, they must be made personally participants of it, in being born of it, and if it was God in the head, it must be God in the members, in the children, for God changes not, he says "I am the Lord I change not." Matt. 3:6. What then can they be in the new man the new creature, but God manifested in the flesh. But as Elder Buck discarded this idea of his being personally God, as he was a son of God; and as the idea is so inconsistent with all that is revealed of God, or of the experience of the children of God, this surely cannot be the idea. What else then can he mean by his declarations of a life and existence in Christ, in God, from everlasting, but that they existed only in the purpose and grace of God; that is, that God had purposed to display his grace toward them, in making them live, and in giving them an existence in union with Christ? But the text reads "According to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." But that which is only a purpose to give life, is not the life; the purpose of God is sure, but the life itself till it is brought into actual being, in the subject of it, is a nonentity. So the existence which is only purposed to be hereafter, is not now, it is not an actual existence. Hence as before intimated, there is no reality in the existence in Christ, and the union with Christ, in the life in God, which they preach as being from everlasting. But Christ is their life; if then the life did not actually exist, Christ did not actually exist before time, and if not before time, then not till he existed in the flesh, or was conceived of Mary. Where then was there any Mediator, before Jesus was born? Were the Old Testament Saints saved at first by their own intercession, and afterwards by the mediation of Moses? Or were they not saved at all? Here then is Elder C.'s dilemma of denying the existence of any thing but the Godhead in the Son of God before time; and I have showed its two horns. He may hang to which of them he pleases; only it will be nothing but candid for him to inform us which horn he takes, that we may know in future how to understand him, and to meet him in argument. But certainly it must be more consistent with the Scriptures, and sound reason to believe that the life which is the light of men, and which was in the Word, was in the beginning a reality, and something which in the nature of its existence was distinct from God, as it is said to be in the Word, his us in God, &c. but never said to be God, or the Word, than to take either horn of Elder C's dilemma. The Psalmist says "LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place, in all generations; Before the Mountains were brought forth, &c." If the Psalmist was correct, the people of God must have had, as a people, an existence in the LORD, not as existing in his existence, but as existing in him, as their dwelling place, having a distinction from him, such as is indicated, by the distinction between the inhabitant and his dwelling.
Elder C. again says:
"And here I wish to present another extract from a letter of Eld. Trott, page 239, Vol. 1st Signs, which is well worth the labor of transcribing and republishing. Speaking of some sentiments advanced by Eld. Raymond, he says, 'He speaks of substitution as involving a separation between Christ and his people.' Do not the Scriptures teach a manifest separation in this respect? Was Christ created with his people in Adam? If so he is but a creature and a branch of a fallen stock. Or was he as the Head of his people set up under the law? If so the inheritance coming through him must fail. On the other hand, Christ being the Elder brother of his people in the everlasting covenant, it was his province to interpose himself as their Redeemer, that the law might not remain a barrier to their being put in possession of the inheritance bequeathed in the better Testament. Hence it said he was made sin – or rather a sin offering for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. See 2 Cor., 5th:21, and Gal., 3d:13. If I know any thing of the use of words, the doctrine of these texts, is the doctrine of substitution, and the word for is used in them, in the sense of instead of. He being made a curse for us, for what purpose? to deliver us from the curse of the law. Did he not then endure that curse which he would deliver his people from? And would they not have suffered the curse if he had born it? What is this but his bearing it in their stead? and what can that be but substitution? Again we are told that Christ laid down his life for the sheep. Now if he did not lay down his life in the place of his sheep, how will we find an atonement in the death of Christ? and how will we find a ransom in it? If he laid down his for us in any other sense than as suffering that punishment which was due to our transgressions: I repeat it, there was no ransom price in the death of Christ; for a ransom is an equivalent rendered for the demand against those to be ransomed, and consequently involves substitution? The Editorial endorsation of this is in the following note: 'The letter of our Bro. Trott in reply to Bro. Raymond on the subject of substitution is in accordance with our views on the subject.' Thus it appears that what was sound Old School doctrine 20 years ago, is not Old School now! Then it was for his people, or in their stead, now, it is with them."
Had Elder C. been so complaisant as to have transcribed the whole of my letter from which he made the above extract, he would have showed his readers that I at that period contended for the same life union, the same oneness of Christ and his people, as I now do. I will give an extract or two. On page 237, after quoting Heb. 2:11, "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one," I go on to say, "And so I believe I cannot conceive how the spotless Lamb of God could be made to bleed, or bleeding, how his blood could sanctify or cleans from their sins any of the family of Adam unless such a union previously existed between him and them as made their sins chargeable to him, and his suffering of death and enduring of the curse accounted as done by them." Again I say in that letter, "Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, &c." This life which is "one in the Head and in the body, was in the only begotten of the Father from the beginning &c." Again on page 238, in speaking of Christ as the antitype of Adam, I say, "He must have been brought forth a perfect Christ, head and body, he and his bride in him. Hence his people were chosen in him (not into him) before the foundation of the world, and they were created in Christ Jesus unto good works; and as Christ – not as the essential Word – he is the "Beginning of the creation of God." Now this was then all good doctrine to Elder C. and even now he could refer to that letter as something good. But when I advance the same sentiments now, it is heresy, Arianism. But I also in that letter noticed the relation of the people of God to Adam, and showed the distinction in their relations to the two Adams, to be the same a that between the two Adams, and that it was in their relation to the earthy Adam, that they were under the law and needed redemption, and upon this ground I contended then and do so now, for a substitution in the death of Christ. Does this puzzle Elder C. more now than it did when he first read that letter, that the elect should suffer the penalty of the law in Christ's suffering it; and yet that he suffered it as a substitute for them as the children of Adam? If it does how can he reconcile the 38th and 39th verse of Acts, Chap. 13th? "Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. And by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." Forgiveness, and justification are as opposite in idea, as are substitution and participation in the death of Christ. Forgiveness presupposes guilt in the person forgiven; on the contrary, justification is a legal clearance from all charge of guilt. How could these meet in the same persons and in reference to the same demands of the same law, except in their distinct relation to the two Heads? In their relation to their natural head, Adam, they were transgressors and needed forgiveness, which comes only through the blood of Christ being shed for them. In Christ their spiritual Head, they had magnified the law made it honorable, and were therefore made the righteousness of God in him, and justified by him from all things." &c. So as showed in that letter, in their relation to Adam he was not one with them, he being, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, was the spotless Lamb of God, he was therefore substituted as an offering for their sins. But in their spiritual life they were so one with Christ, that he could be held amenable for their transgressions, and the sword of justice be commanded to awake against him; and their life was so in him, that it could be reached but through him. Their life being hid in God, how could they die but as he their life died? Hence as he was so one with them as to be made to bear their sins in his own body, they must have been so one with him, as to have borne the penalty of the law in his bearing it. This is just in accordance with what I then wrote, and preached, and now believe and preach. Hence, if Elder C. had transcribed that whole letter, he would have saved me the trouble of this explanation; and have saved himself from the charge in this instance, of giving, and that knowingly, a one sided view of my sentiments, as a just representation of them. For he evidently had the letter before him when he made that extract.
Elder C. now comes forward with an argument, for a rarity, he says:
"If in the death of Christ there was a ransom price, and if a ransom is an equivalent rendered for the demand against those to be ransomed, and the church or sinners died with Christ, &c. Then they aided in the payment of that ransom, and in rendering the equivalent for the demand against them. Nothing is clearer than this, unless to get out of the difficulty, we contend that Christ died for one object and his people in him for another, which would be a greater absurdity and also inconsistent with the idea that they are one. Talk of Arminianism! Why this scheme out Herods Herod! Old Arminius, the Wesleys, Adam Clark and all the host of Arminian authors must surrender the palm. For none of them ever contended that the sinner could do any thing in making the atonement. They gave Christ the honor of that achievement without their cooperation, but that after the atonement was made, the sinner could help along a little by his effort, prayers, &c. Perhaps that poet who sung of Mingling his tears with Jesus' blood might have believed in this theory. It is strange that the passages of Scripture that represent the believers as suffering, dying, as crucified, &c., with Christ, all of which is accomplished under the reign of divine grace in them, should be carried to Calvary and made to apply to his death there. Paul said, I am – not, was – crucified with Christ, and I die daily. The believer is dead to the law by the body of Christ – dead to sin – crucified unto the world, and the world unto him."
I might pass Elder C's mares-nest which he has found and chuckles over so much, as he has done with some of my arguments; but I prefer calmly investigating his positions. His conclusions from his position in the argument, are, Then they aided in the payment of that ransom, &c. Not so fast, Sir. Let us notice some of the positions of Scripture before we fall before your logic. It is written, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Again, it is written, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." In this latter text it is declared, That death passed upon all, for that all have sinned; yet in the former text it is laid down as an undeniable proposition, that In Adam all died, then of course all must have sinned in Adam, for all to die in him. How else could they have died in him but by being in him, and therefore being accounted as having transgressed and incurred the penalty death in his transgressing the command. Even so, in the same way, shall all be made alive in Christ, that is, of course by being in him, their Life, when by his obedience unto death, he exhausted the penalty death due his people, and thus conquered it. And they thus conquered it, in his conquering it. If, then all men in the first part of the text were in Adam, when he died under the penalty, they must have been with him. So if the other all were in Christ, they must have been with him in exhausting the penalty of death. Elder C. will not contend that, because Adam's all were in him, and therefore with him when he transgressed, they aided him in the transgression. If not, his argument falls to the ground, that because Christ's people were in him, and therefore with him in bearing the curse, yea, even bore the curse in his bearing it, that therefore they aided him personally in bearing it. If Christ is the life of his people, and they are by that, identified as the sons of God, are they not personally one with him as such, being even his body, and members in particular and the fullness of him, &c. did they not then in him the Head, do what he did in making the atonement, and yet he the Head did it alone? If by a member of my head I swallow a pill, did not I do it, and is not my body affected by it? If it said my hand put the pill to my mouth, what put the bitter pill of the curse to Christ but the transgression of the members of his body? Elder C. certainly does not hold to an actual union of Christ and his people, such as exist between the head and body, or he could not have formed such an argument. As to the charge of Arminianism, when he finds us denying the actual union of Christ and his people, then he may expect to find us secretly, if not openly, looking for something in our Adamic natures, something to be done by us, or in us, that will make us participants of the benefits of Christ's death. And then, and not till then, may he charge us with Arminianism in our doctrine.
Elder C's criticism upon Gal. 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ," &c. is as inconsistent as his charge of Arminianism. It is true, Paul there speaks of himself experimentally. But does experience produce a salvation; or is it a being brought experimentally to the knowledge of that salvation which is in Christ Jesus, and which he is? Faith brings nothing into existence, any more than common belief does. It leads us to know spiritual things, to know the truth as it is in Jesus Christ in being crucified was made a curse for us. Is repentance a bearing the curse or being crucified with Christ? Take the other text which Elder C. quotes in connexion, "I am dead to the law by the body of Christ." Does repentance produce a death to the law? Paul speaks of dying when sin revived, and again speaks of sins slaying him by the commandment. Children of God, in this, when you was thus slain, lying destitute of all hope of ever becoming any better, or of doing any thing to recommend you to the mercy of God, did you feel that you was dead to the law, that its demands against you had ceased? Or rather were you not more alive to its demands, so that you could see now way how God could be just and save you from its curse? And was not its demands so personal against you, that you saw that whosoever also might be saved, God would be just in assigning you over to everlasting punishment? How then have you since become dead to the law? Why as Paul did, not by repentance, faith, or any other exercise, but by the body of Christ. God gave you faith to behold his body as slain, and him as being made a curse, to redeem guilty sinners like you from the curse, and all the demands of the law. You may not all the time have inquired, or understood how this could be, but the substance of Christ's actually representing his people on the cross you felt; yea, as personal as the curse had stood against you, now you felt it exhausted and therefore as though you had borne it, in Christ's bearing it; and hence you was from this time so dead to it, that its thunders could no more alarm you. Elder C. may think as he pleased about our carrying these texts back to Calvary; but rest assured faith will carry the believer directly back there, for all his hope, and all his participation in the benefits of Christ's death, yea, he is made to now that if he was not with Christ there, and his sins personally were not expiated, he cannot be saved. We shall se now who comes the highest to Arminianism, our accuser or we. If he can tell the people of any other way of being delivered from the curse of the law, short of honoring the law, through Christ's honoring it, and therefore as being crucified with him, the Wesleyans would be as much pleased with his preaching, as they are of late with the preaching of his coadjutor in the war against us, Wm. Gilmore.
Elder C. once more:
"And now dear brethren shall this war about the prepositions with and for, with the opinion of a created life and Head of the church, be allowed to rend asunder and break the peace and fellowship of Zion? If this is to be done well may we take up the lamentation of David. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Arkelen, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph."
If Elder C. has reference in naming these fors and withs to the doctrine whether the elect were one with Christ, so as their sins were legally accounted his, and his obedience to the law accounted theirs, or that their sins were charged to him and he made to suffer for them, by an arbitrary substitution of him in their law place, without any legal claim against him, such as was against them in consequence of their union with Adam, then I think the fors and withs of vast importance, involving no less a consequence, than the purity of violation of God's justice and truth. God said to Adam, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Again he hath said, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Hence the sinner must either suffer the penalty in his own person, or be so one with Christ as to suffer it in him, or the truth of God fails. And where is God's justice in making an innocent person a substitute for the guilty, if there is not such a union of the parties as to make them legally one; and if legally and truly one, where he is, they are with him, as being one. Elder C. seems to have no other idea of the union of Christ and his people, than that of a combination of persons bound together by the ties of love. In that case, to be with him, they would have to be personally with him as man. But that is not the union we speak of. Those who have a conception of a spiritual man in the believer, can conceive of that spiritual existence being Christ in them; and not Adam reformed. Hence they can believe in the idea of having ever been with Christ, and of his Godhead having ever been their dwelling place. But with what kind of grace does Elder C. talk about breaking the peace of Zion. Did we ever make our views a test of fellowship with them, or show a disposition to sever from them, until they drove us from them, by their slanderous misrepresentations of our sentiments, and denunciations of us as heretics, in a way that it would be understood who they meant, though they had not the candor either to name us, or to state truly our sentiments. If the difference were of so trivial importance as Elder C. here represents it to be, why all this persecution of us in their associations and from their pulpits, preaching us heretics, instead of preaching Christ and him crucified? I presume the point is, he thought we ought to yield our views, however conscientious we might be in holding them, and believing them to be according to the Scriptures, to accommodate ourselves to their feelings. But because we would dare to think and search for ourselves, and preach as we had learned from the Bible, and not from Doct. Gill, no denunciations of us can be too severe. But what will all this avail them. If they should blast my name, it will be but a short triumph; I shall soon be out of their way, and it may be I shall be at rest. Besides God has others in the field whom he has nerved, naturally, and spiritually, for engaging in any contest they may meet for the truth's sake. You may enlist in your behalf your Gilmores, your Pitchers and Mansers, but will God own such as advocates for his cause? God will assuredly in the end, vindicate the integrity and honor of his revelation, against all the decrees of councils and systems of men that may be arrayed against us. "The word," says Christ, "that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:48.
Elder C.'s concluding paragraph:
"Well would it have been for those who have been mainly instrumental in introducing these new doctrines and opinions and thereby causing divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine we have learned, if they had observed their own precepts, and followed the wise counsels which they gave in years past. See Signs, 1st Vol., page 255, where Eld. Trott says: - 'I think we have enough to do to face the opposers of the purpose and grace of God as revealed in his sacred word, with an unbroken front, without suffering ourselves to be divided into parties, by disputes about our individual peculiar notions concerning certain points. I could also bring forward peculiar notions of my own relative to certain minor points, and most of us could probably do the same, and thus introduce a continued sense of disputes, but what would it profit? If there ever was a time that called for unanimity among the willing subjects of Zion's King and a united firm stand in opposition to the encroachments of will worship and anti-christian delusions, that time is now.' Yes that time is still now – as much so as it was 20 years ago. But I will now close. I have no unkind feelings towards any and would cheerfully aid in any way consistent with the truth as it is in Jesus to effect a reconciliation. It has not been my design to try to place any one in a false position or to misrepresent their views. What the record shows I am willing to abide by whether that will sustain what I have set down or not, and I want my testimony against these doctrines to go into history in a tangible form, and will cheerfully abide the issue that may ensue from the church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth.
"Nov. 8th, 1852."
Thus closes Elder C.'s communication. He has given in this paragraph another extract from my former writings with his communication. I think myself that the extract he has made contains wholesome advice. I will not say that I have in all instances lived up to it. I think in several instances I have erred from it. I am an erring mortal. I need daily forgiveness from God, and forbearance from my brethren. The advice therein contained is as important now, as when written, to the willing subjects of Zion's King; though the warfare is somewhat changed. Elder C., I presume, knows enough of war, to know that when the attack of the enemy is made from a new quarter, it is necessary to change our front. Then the combat was with the New Schoolism; now it is with nominalism, if I may be allowed to coin a word, in distinction from realities, as also with a servile submission to the opinions of certain fathers, and decisions of councils, as opposed to the integrity of the Scriptures as they stand.
What Elder C. says in conclusion, about having no unkind feelings, and about not having designed to try to place any in a false position, &c., I leave as it stands. I wish I could believe in the sincerity of his declarations, that his misrepresentations were from an error of judgment, an undersigned misconception of our views; for I would rather think favorably of him than unfavorably. What he has written and said on the point, has, according to his wishes, gone into history. What I have formerly written has been read by some, and what I now write may fall into the hands of some who will, with candor, judge of the correctness or incorrectness of his representations of my views, and of the error or soundness of my views according to the true standard, the Scriptures.
I have thus replied, I think calmly, to Elder C.'s communication. I have used some expressions harsher, than I wish to use towards one, who has a standing as a Baptist preacher, but not harsher than the occasion seemed to me to require.
In conclusion I will say, it cannot be expected but that Elder C. will reply in some measure to this; indeed I have called on him for a reply to some points; I would request that if he undertakes any further to give my views, he will give them in their connexion, candidly as I have declared them. I do not claim for them an exemption from error, and I am willing that they should be candidly examined and tested by the Scriptures, the only standard I admit. In my reply, so far as his attacks on me have brought them to notice, I have given my views on the points of difference between us, in a pretty full, and as far as I was able, in a candid and plain manner. It is not for me to say what course Elder C. shall pursue toward my views, but I will venture to give it as my opinion that it will in the end be more for his credit, if he will attack my views, to state them honestly, as I have declared them, then to carefully investigate them, and if he can, by sound argument and the testimony of the Scriptures show them to be heresy; than arbitrarily to denounce them as such, because they differ from certain creeds, and then to give countenance to his denunciations, falsify my views. But God will take care of his truth, and with this I would wish to be satisfied. Though I would desire that, if it is consistent to his will, he would soon make his truth manifest, whether Elder C. or myself fall before it.
* So it reads in the original, John 8:12
CONTAINING SOME REMARKS ON THE EDITORIAL IN "ZION'S PILGRIM," FOR MARCH, 1853, IN RESPONSE TO A LETTER OF ELDER CLARK, PUBLISHED IN THE SAME NUMBER. ALSO, REMARKS ON A LETTER OF ELDER LOUTHAN'S.
The part of Mr. Manser's Editorial which I shall notice, will be found on page 78th Zion's Pilgrim for 1853. It is this:
"We do not hesitate nor fear to declare, that men who from the pulpit or otherwise can treat with ridicule and can pour contempt upon such expressions as a Triune God, a Three-one God, &c., used by the servants of Christ and fully warranted by the Scriptures, are rotten at the core, with all their show of religion and pretended soundness, and are to be shunned by the children of God as enemies to the cross of Christ, and secret emissaries of Satan though coming in the garbs of professed friendship to the cause of truth.
"The church of the living God from the Apostles' days to the present time have embraced the doctrine of three divine persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, having plain Scriptures to support it, and being led into it by a blessed and heartfelt experience; while those who have denied and caviled at this, have just been regarded as lacking that holy unction and anointing which teacheth all things, &c.!"
Thus this Editor, catching the fire from Elder C.'s letter, which was of a piece with it, goes on with what would appear a holy zeal to denounce all who do not receive every expression which he holds sacred. Yet he himself can treat with contempt the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, as King in Zion, by trampling under foot, what he has acknowledged to be the appointed ordinances of Christ, by publicly approving of extending fellowship to, and communion with those who pervert the ordinance of baptism by substituting sprinkling for immersion, and infants for believers. Yet is he hailed as a brother by Eld. C., and he with other characters are among those I presume whom he terms in his letter to this Editor, The living in Jerusalem. But for what has he denounced certain persons rotten to the core, and as deserving to be shunned by the children of God? For ridiculing, as he says, certain names by which those whom he calls the servants of Christ choose to designate God. As though the all-wise God did not know by what names to reveal Himself, without men's inventing names for Him. It is this spirit which I wish to point out in this paragraph; a spirit which rejects persons from christian fellowship, because they will not reverence such names as men may invent for God, however religious and sound they may otherwise appear to be.
But who are they to whom Mr. Manser refers? Elder C., in his letter to which this is a response, names only myself, but speaks in connexion of the Editor of the Signs. It is therefore probably Mr. M. has reference to us, or to others with us. It is possible that some among us may have spoken slightly of the term Triune as being too pedantic for plain O.S. Baptists, though I have not heard them. But I know that Bro. Beebe, as well as myself, have repeatedly declared our belief in the sentiment intended to be conveyed by that name, that is, that God exists as three and one. I know of none among us who do not so believe. As to the term in English, the Three-One God, I have myself frequently used it for brevity's sake. I have often had occasion to speak of God as existing as Three and yet as being but one, in distinction from the tri-personal notion. For whilst I believe that God exists as three in unity, I cannot believe that there are three divine persons in the Godhead. The legitimate idea conveyed by the term person, and especially where the term persons in the plural is used, is that if individual beings. Hence three divine persons, would be three divine individuals, and what would that be but three Gods? I believe in the incomprehensibility of God, but I cannot believe in His being an absurdity, and to speak of three individuals, as one being, is to my apprehension an absurdity.
In his next paragraph, he goes on in the same spirit to unchristianite all who deny the doctrine of three divine persons in the Godhead, or who cavil at it. As this strikes directly at me, it becomes me to inquire particularly into the authorities he gives to this doctrine. I will take his authorities given inversely.
He speaks of the Church having been led into this doctrine by a blessed and heartfelt experience. I have read and heard related many experiences, and those of numbers of persons who were tri-personalists, but I have never known one to name this things as any part of what they were led into the knowledge of, in their experience. I have known those who have been led into their experience, to a heartfelt sense of the Godhead of Christ Jesus, as they had not known it before. But I have not known of any being led to the knowledge of three persons in the Godhead by any such experience as that by which they were led to the knowledge of salvation. So that Mr. M., I think, was indulging in the imagination of the poet, when he wrote this. It was just that kind of speculation which many have mistaken for christian experience.
His next point is that the church has plain Scripture to support this doctrine. I find plain Scripture for believing that God has revealed himself as three, as Father, as Word or Son, and as Holy Ghost, and that these three are one, so one that whenever God is named, we are bound to believe it to be that God in His whole person or being, who hath said, "I am the LORD (or Jehovah,) and there is none else, no God beside me." Isa. 45:5. But plain Scripture to support the idea of three divine persons in the Godhead, I have not seen, neither do I think it can be showed. The Son is said to be the express image of God's person. Heb. 1:1,2. He is such, in that, all that hath been declared of God or reflected of Him, has been by the Son. "No man hath seen God at any time, &c." Again, that God who in time past spake unto the Father by the Prophets (Heb. 1:1) can be no other than the who by the Prophets said, "I even I am the LORD and besides me there is no Savior." But the Son is the only Savior, therefore the Son as God, must be the same with him who spake by the Prophets. Hence I cannot think the expression person, here has any reference to different persons in the Godhead. But the declaration, the express image of his person, conveys to me the idea that God in all His attributes and fullness is represented by the Son, as Christ said to Philip, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Again, it has been supposed that tri-personality in the Godhead, is proved from the distinctive use of the personal pronouns in reference to the Father and Son, &c. But it must be borne in mind, that the Son as he is manifested, is the one Mediator between God and men. Paul says, "A mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one," thus showing that a mediator must be personally distinct from God, as well as from men. Consequently the Son in order to be a Mediator must possess a personality distinct from God, as well as one of the parties to be mediated between. A distinct personality in the Godhead, unless it made him distinct from God, would not meet the case. Hence says Paul again, "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men," – and who is he? God the Son? No; but "The Man Christ Jesus." If the Life that was in the Word from the beginning does not constitute the Son personally distinct from the Father and the Holy Ghost, in the estimation of others, yet surely if the Word in being made flesh, was made a perfect man, then in that manhood he possessed all the qualities of a distinct person; Jesus in Pilate's view was a person; then of course the Word or Son possessed in consequence of his assumption of manhood a distinct personality from the Father and Holy Ghost, who were not made flesh. But as the second man, or the man Christ Jesus, was the Lord from Heaven, so I believe he actually existed as the one Mediator from before the foundation of the world. But as I have above showed that no personal distinction in the Godhead would capacitate him for acting as Mediator between God and men, he must be personally distinct from God to stand in the relation of one. I think I find requisite personal distinction in the Word from his having in him that life which was the light of men. If that life was the life of Christ's people as I think no candid man can deny after considering what is said of it as the light of men, from the 4th to the 13th verse John, 1st Chap., then he was one with his people, being their life or existence, as he was one with God, being God, and at the same time had a personal distinction from each. He was thus distinct from his people because he was God, and distinct from the Father and the Holy Ghost because he was the life of his people. What a glorious person for a Mediator? One with God and one with his people, therefore securing the glory of the one and blessedness of the other; a Mediator in which both parties meet, and who is the antitype of the mercy seat which covered the Ark and the tables of the Law, and from which God communed with Moses and Israel, so in the Mediator God communes with His people and they behold His face in peace. Elder C. and his brother Manser, may pronounce the idea of such a Mediator, blindness and heresy; but with all their orthodoxy they cannot present to view a person so suitable to stand as Mediator between God and men, as is the man Jesus Christ in his compound person. Hence as we contemplate him as a Mediator it is no wonder the Scriptures present him to view in all the characteristics of a distinct person; so that we need not undertake to disturb the unity of the Godhead to find a solution of the use of the personal pronouns as found in the Scriptures from Gen. 1:26, and on.
Mr. Manser's first-named authority for three divine persons in the Godhead, and the last in our notice, is that the church from the Apostles' days to the present time have embraced that doctrine. If he could have showed us that the Apostles themselves taught this doctrine of three divine persons in the Godhead, there would have been no need of reference to the opinions of the church in after ages. If this doctrine of three persons were true, it is unaccountable that the Apostles should not have taught it in direct terms; especially if it be so important a point, that the believing, or not believing it constitutes the distinction between those who have been anointed with the holy unction and those who have not.
However, as Mr. M.'s assertion involves an important point in history, we will examine it. Our appeal will of course be to history for proof on the point. Mosheim's testimony, speaking of the introduction of the Arian controversy, in the early part of the 4th century, is this: "The subject of this fatal controversy which kindled such deplorable divisions throughout the christian world, was the doctrine of three persons in the Godhead, a doctrine which in the three preceeding centuries had happily escaped the vain curiosity of human researches and been left undefined and undetermined by any particular set of ideas. The church, indeed, had frequently decided against Savellians and others, that there was a real difference between the Father and the Son, and that the Holy Ghost was distinct from both; or, as we commonly speak, that three distinct persons exist in the Deity; but the mutual relation of these persons to each other, and the nature of that distinction that subsists between them are matters that hitherto were neither disputed nor explained, and with respect to which the church had, consequently observed a profound silence. Nothing was dictated to the faith of christian doctors entertained different sentiments upon this subject without giving the least offence, and discoursed variously concerning the distinctions between Father, Son and Holy Ghost; each one following his respective opinions with the utmost liberty." Well would it be if the church was brought to that ancient simplicity concerning the modus of God's existing as three. Notice that this learned historian, though himself a tri-personalist, does not represent the church at this time, as having adopted the idea of three distinct persons in the Godhead, but the reverse, only that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost were distinct; that is, they held to a trinity in the Godhead, as myself and others with me have held it. It is true he attempts to define their notions of the distinction existing between the three as corresponding with, to use his words, "As we commonly speak, that three distinct persons exist in Deity." And yet he fully shows that the christian doctors (or teachers) discoursed variously concerning the distinction between Father, Son and Holy Ghost. That Mosheim in the above extract, meant to convey the idea that the notion of the Three, being a trinity of persons in the Godhead was not a defined or generally received idea is further evident from what he says relative to the Macedonian sect which arose in the latter part of this (the 4th) century. He says the council assembled by Theodosius (the Emperor) in A.D. 381, "Put a stop by its authority to the growing evil and crushed this rising sect before it had arrived at its full maturity. An hundred and fifty Bishops who were present at this council gave the finishing touch to what the Council of Nice had left imperfect, and fixed in a full and determinate manner, the doctrine of three persons in one God." Thus history assures us, that the doctrine of three persons in one God was not fixed as the orthodox doctrine until the year 381, fifty years after the great Council of Nice, assembled by the decrees of Constantine the Great. If we examine Jones' history of the Waldenses it will be found, that whilst he speaks of the doctrine of a trinity being held, that as, that God exists as three, yet he in no instance mentions the doctrine of three persons in the Godhead as being held up to the Council of Nice in the year 325. Neither in the Creed adopted by that Council, as given by him, from Eusebius, is there any mention of three persons in the Godhead. In some excellent remarks of this historian the presumption of mortals in attempting to define the modus of the Divine existence, or how God exists as three and one, he quotes even Athanasius as saying upon this point, and as he thinks correctly, "The Father cannot be the Son, nor the Son the Father, and the Holy Ghost is never called by the name of the Son, but is called the spirit of the Father and of the Son. The Holy Trinity is but one divine nature and one God. This is sufficient for the faithful, human knowledge goes no farther. The cherubims veil the rest with their wings." Thus, notwithstanding the presumption of Athanasius and the Council in defining the Trinity in which God exists, to be three in the modus of their existence, as he that begets, he that is begotten, and he that is breathed forth, they then had not pried so far under the wings of the cherubims, or into that which God has not revealed, as even to see that their own prescribing to men what they must believe, as to how God exists as three, would lead others in like presumption to constitute the three into three persons in one God. Thus Mr. Manser's historical assertion that the doctrine of three persons in the Godhead has been held by the church from the Apostles' days, and his candor, or intelligence, in making the assertion, are alike dissolved into air by coming in contact with history. But the arrogance of him, and others in making tri-personality a test of regeneration, and of fellowship, is more fully developed by the following circumstances: The Novatians separated from what was considered the Catholic or general church, A.D. 251, seventy-four years before the Council of Nice, wherein Athanasius' notion of the Sonship of the Son of God was established. The Donatists in Africa in like manner and for like cause had also separated from the Catholic church some years' before the Nicene Council. There was no charge against these separatists on account of doctrine. The complaints against them were that they were too rigid in discipline, especially in receiving members, that they had made a great split in the church, and that they would receive none from the Catholic church without rebaptizing them, on account of the corruptions in that church. They thus occupied then the same ground towards the Catholic church that the O. School Baptists do now towards the New School. These, though much persecuted by the Catholic church or the christian Emperors, as Heads of the church, were numerous for one or two centuries, but being ultimately driven from their homes by the Emperor Honorius, were lost sight of, until the Waldenses were discovered in the vallies of Piedmont. These being a people holding a like separation from the Catholic church with the Novatians and Donatists, are supposed to be a continuation of those ancient churches, thus hid from the Dragon and the Beats in the place which God prepared for the woman. So that if the Waldenses be considered the true church in distinction from the Catholic, then the Donatists and Novatians, the only separatists from the Catholic church, from which they could be likely to have descended, must have been the true church before the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son, as God, and that of three persons in the Godhead, were brought in and established as the doctrine of that church. Hence we find no mention of these doctrines in the Confessions of Faith of the Waldenses. Again, as the Dragon is said to have given to the Beast that arose out of the sea, his power, his seat, and great authority, imperial Rome as christian, must have been intended by the Dragon, and not Rome pagan as I formerly thought. The Emperor's presuming to connect the kingdom of Christ with their State government, taking the control of its affairs and enforcing such doctrines and ceremonies as the Council called by their command decided on, and that by cruel persecutions, was certainly a monster deserving the name of Dragon, as the power which arose after him, is called a Beast in distinction. The distinction between the two being this, the Dragon based his ecclesiastical powers upon his imperial authority over State governments by virtue of his ecclesiastical authority. Rome pagan was nothing but a kingdom of this world, but the Dragon was first seen as a wonder in heaven, Rev. 12:3; and besides is represented as continuing, as he does in all the religious establishments of every age and country. See Rev. 12:17; which cannot with propriety be said of Rome pagan. Thus as Constantine by his imperial authority called the Council of Nice and presided on it, and afterwards enforced its decisions by the sword, whilst he also persecuted the Novatians and Donatists for separating from the Catholic church. And as the Council of Constantinople was called by the Emperor Theodosius, and its decisions, that there existed three persons in the Godhead, were enforced by his persecuting edicts. It is therefore evident from history that the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son of God, and that of tri-personality in the Godhead had their origin as established doctrines of the church, from the Dragon. Yet strange to tell, these very doctrines having such origin, are made, not only by Mr. Manser and the popular, so called evangelical churches, but also by professed O.S. Baptists, as tests of soundness in the faith, and of christian fellowship. And they are still attempted to be enforced in the same spirit from which they originated. That is, demanding arbitrarily implicit faith in them as they had been handed down. Whenever a person manifests a disposition to examine the divine testimony for himself, and declares his dissent from the decisions of those Councils, instead of attempting to explain and prove those points and to clear away the objections the enquirer may bring against them, he is at once denounced as a heretic, or as a disturber of the peace of the churches, by bringing in NEW THINGS.
Here I leave Elder Clark and his brother Manser to pay my respects to Elder Louthan.
In the pamphlet I published entitled "An Appeal to the churches of the Ketocton Ass., I had accasion to present Elder Louthan to view, in some of his movements. He afterwards wrote me a lengthy letter on the subject, which I concluded not to answer. Since that, I have understood that he furnished a copy or copies of his letter to some of the Lauck and Clark party, that they have been feasting on its abusive contents, until they are so excited with it, that one of them, a Baptist, has said Burning is too good for me. But this is only a letting off a little of the spirit of the Dragon.
In consequence of this, I have thought it best to notice some few sentences of his letter in which our veracities stand in opposition; leaving his abusive expressions and denunciations of me unmolested, for the further enjoyment of those who delight in such things, the first point in his letter I shall notice, is the following: Speaking concerning my notice of his course at the Corresponding Meeting of 1850, in a letter to Bro. Dudley, he says:
"Why were you not candid enough to tell all the truth and inform Bro. Dudley that the Doct. Klipstein had preached his D.'s views on the stand on Friday, and as Louthan preached on Saturday he felt constrained to notice them and to give Bro. D. as the author of them, as they originated with him. Would this have been too much truth to have answered your purpose?"
To this my reply is, that Bro. Klipstein, in preaching on Friday, preached his own views, that he knew he was at a meeting and among brethren who in general agreed with him in sentiment, and that he therefore had no just ground to suppose in preaching thus, he would provoke any dispute; that you, previous to that meeting, had been with Elder Buck and among his churches, where you had undoubtedly learned our agreement in most points with Bro. Dudley in the views advanced in his Circular, that on Friday night, you and Bro. Beebe with other brethren staid at brother Leachman's; that you there made your attack upon brother D. and his Circular, and that the whole matter was gone over two or three times that night, brother Beebe meeting your charges, and refuting them, and exculpating Bro. D. from all blame in having the Circular brought to public notice, assuring you that he was attending the Licking Ass. at the time, and that it was through his proposition it was brought before the Association, and yet when your charges were once exhausted and refuted, you would fly back and reiterate them, and again Bro. Beebe would drive you from them. Yet the next day when you came to occupy the stand instead of preaching the gospel, you entertained your audience with a repetition of the same charges against Bro. Dudley and his Circular from which you had been thrice driven the night before. From all this I think I was warranted in the conclusion that you came to the Cor. Meeting determined to make this attack upon Bro. D. and through him, upon our sentiments, hoping there were some elements among us on which you might operate to foment a division. It was on this account that I represented you as coming on a mission for making a division. I have now perhaps given you more truth on the point than you want. But as you have drawn it out, it must stand, and as truth too with those acquainted with the affair. The next portion of Elder L's letter which I shall notice is this:
"Our first meeting was at Bailtimore Ass. in May, 18, 1850. You urged me to preach the introductory sermon, and after you heard me preach three sermons at that meeting unsolicited on my part you took me by the hand and with tears in your eyes, you observed, Bro. Louthan I wish you to know that I have fellowship for your doctrine, to which I made but little reply, for I then believed your friendship was not worth much."
After several other lines of like stamp with the last but increasing in vulgarity of abuse, he goes on to say:
"At that meeting you prevailed on me to let you make an appointment for preaching at the City of Washington, and insisted on my attending the Corresponding Meeting."
I appeal to the candid reader, Was there any thing uncivil or unchristian-like in my treatment to Elder Louthan at this interview taking his own statement of the matter? Any thing calculated to provoke him to make such a rough attack upon our sentiments through his attack upon our sentiments through his attack on Bro. Dudley, at the Cor. Meeting? He was at the Balt. Ass. rather as a stranger, and as it was my province to invite one to preach the Introductory, I invited him. Knowing that he had a regular standing among the O.S. Baptists, I was willing to treat him as a brother, though I presume from what I had seen through the Signs, that he had some prejudices against me, and against some of my views. He twice afterwards preached during the meeting, and I was generally pleased with his preaching; there was nothing particularly objectionable in his doctrine, and he appeared to aim at peace, as he touched on no points, on which we were known to disagree. When I am pleased I am quite as apt to give a token of it a when I am displeased. Elder L. is not the first person who has for a time preached in conformity to the known views of those he was among till he gained their confidence. Neither am I the first that has been deceived in a person's preaching. I will relate an anecdote. Our aged brother Abraham Cole, who, while living was a member of the Black Rock Baptist church, and was pretty extensively known as a correct, firm and discerning O.S. Baptist, was once traveling out west, and chanced to spend a Lordsday in the vicinity of a Presbyterian meeting which he attended, and being pleased with the soundness of the discourse, he concluded the preacher was one taught of God; going up to the preacher to express his approbation, he said to him "I perceive Sir, you have had a good teacher." Yes, replied the preacher, I studied under a good teacher, but he has been dead several years. Poor Bro. Cole, was taken all aback. So was I, when I heard Elder L's philippie at the Cor. Meeting.
The next portion of Elder L's letter which requires notice reads thus:
"As you know it was after Bro. Beebe had preached and placed me as I thought in an improper light before the people, I spoke a few words in reply, in which I stated a large portion of God's word on the subject of regeneration implied a change, that this was their meaning. At that time I looked at you and you shook your head and said I was mistaken. I then quoted the language of Paul who says, it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. I stated that if that passage did not imply a change I did not know the meaning of language."
There is Elder L's statement, but I still feel confident that the statement I formerly made is correct although differing so materially from his. It is true that he had labored in discourse to prove that regeneration was a change of the soul. But when he arose to reply to Bro. Beebe, after blaming him for attacking his discourse, &c. He remarked, "Much has been said on the subject of regeneration, What is it? It is a washing, (or cleansing) that is its import in the Scriptures." He looked round to me as he spake those words, and as he says, I shook my head at him, and said with some emphasis, and loud, My brother, you are mistaken. And as he turned from me he quoted Tit. 3:5, as he mentions in the above extract, and probably added, "If this does not imply a change, &c." I feel confident that in this statement I am in substance correct; not only from the recollection I have of the matter, but also from the connecting circumstances. Elder L. ought to recollect that when he arose that second time, he was much excited, and hence was not as sensible of what he said as though he had been calm. As to representing regeneration as a change, instead of a washing or cleansing whichever word be used, if he had so represented it, it would not have so surprised me as to lead me to interrupt him as I did, for I had often heard it so represented, and I do myself believe there is a change connected with regeneration both in the soul and life. In the soul in that it is quickened from its dormant state to a sense of its relation to God, &c. Here are the two versions of the matter; and there I leave it. If I am incorrect in the statement, it is from a wrong impression made on my mind at the time.
The last extract which I shall make from his letter, is this:
"In reference to the charge of the Ketocton Ass. It is true I laid down the position that faith was the result of testimony, and you must know my course of argument on that occasion. I spoke of a historical faith and the faith of miracles, as being entirely insufficient to make a man acquainted with Christ as his Savior; that a man in this respect might have all faith so that he could remove mountains, and without charity which could only flow from one who had been made alive from the dead it was nothing. You know that I contended in that sermon that faith was the gift of God and the fruit of the spirit; that I believed it to be one thing for a man to be born again, and another for him to have the evidence, &c."
Elder L. has once or twice stated in this extract that I know this and that, but I prefer stating for myself what I know. I know he is so far honest, as to confess that he laid down the position, That faith is the result of testimony. I know that being surprised at such a position from him my attention was fully aroused to see how he would carry it out, whether he would make faith out a mere natural belief or whether he would give it a turn so as to conform it more to what is generally received by O.S. Baptists. I know he went on to sustain his position at some length by a reference to our belief of natural things as being produced by evidence; and that whatever he may have said about historical faith, he said nothing to show that he meant any thing else than what the literal construction of his position implied. I know that at length he made these remarks; "It will be said that faith is the gift of God. So it is, because God gives the evidence by which it is produced." Or to that effect. Finding him thus wresting this text to suit his position, I turned to Bro. Beebe, who was sitting by the side of me, and said, If they are going to make a split, I care not how soon they do it, if such Campbellism as this is to be preached and received among them. After this I paid but little attention while I staid at the stand to what he said, so that if he mentioned faith's being a fruit of the spirit I know not what he said concerning it. But I think he is a man of sufficient sense to know that if he had quoted either of those texts and left them to stand as he has, in the above quotation from his letter, they would have stood in direct contradiction to his position. What, Faith absolutely the gift of God, and the fruit of the spirit, and yet like common belief, the result of testimony!!
I have thus given my statements on the several points on which the veracity of Elder Louthan and myself are in contact. I would have preferred, could I have been convinced that my impressions concerning his declarations were wrong, to have recalled what I had written; after receiving his letter, I wrote to several brethren who were present at the meetings requesting them to state what were their recollections on the points, but found that neither of them had a sufficiently clear recollection of the matter to state any thing decisive, two yeas having then elapsed; if any thing their impressions seemed to favor mine. Hence I must leave the matter as it is, until I can be convinced that I have not made a correct statement. Those who are pleased with the abusive parts of his letter will of course believe his statements correct and mine false. Others will probably conclude that there is some undersigned mistake on the one side, or the other. And this I would hope a correct view of the subject.
I am including the original letter from John Clark entitled "Exposures of Heresies". This will be the only link available from my site.