BROTHER JEWETT: - Your remarks in the March number of the ADVOCATE {1845} touching the propensity of many to bring in the aid of human philosophy in the investigation of religious subjects, reminded me of Paul’s appeal to the churches in Galatia. “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Gal. 3:3. The Apostle evidently had reference to their going back to the works and rites of the law for the perfecting of their salvation; but a little attention to what is implied in a beginning in the spirit, will show that it cuts off every consistent idea of being helped on in furtherance either of the knowledge or the experience of salvation, by the flesh in any sense. In the experience of the child of grace, the Spirit begins in him previous to his beginning in the Spirit. The Spirit must implant spiritual life, and consequently light before there can be spiritual action or discernment in any child of the earthly Adam. In some instances the effect of this light being shed abroad in the heart, is to lead the person at once so to view God’s eternal power and Godhead, as to lead him to feel his entire guilt and condemnation, and view, as a sinner in having lived without God in the world; and therefore strips him of all creaturely hope; as were the multitude who were pricked in their hearts, on the day of Pentecost, on being convinced that that Jesus whom they had rejected and crucified was the Christ, the long expected Messiah. Others again are at first, only led to see their need of a better righteousness than they have, to expect acceptance with God. This leads them to fleshly exertions of mind and body to obtain a righteousness. They resort to reading and hearing of preaching, and to obtain a natural understanding of the way of acceptance with God; and to bodily labor, &c., to bring themselves more into conformity to what they think God requires of them. The final result is; that after their utmost exertions of mind and body to become good, they find that they can bring forth no act which the law does not condemn, and which is not turned to corruption and loathing in their sight; and what is more, they find themselves ignorant of God, and utterly unable to comprehend him, or any way of acceptance with him. All appears as a hopeless case with them. “So foolish was I and ignorant, I was as a beast before thee.” Psal.73:22. They are now as little children, as dependent to be taught and led, as to be pardoned. But when the Spirit is pleased to give them a view of Christ crucified, as the way of salvation, and that for lost sinners like themselves, then the gospel declarations appear plain to them, and they see the sovereign act of God in giving them an understanding of these things, as much as in laying help on Christ; for such worthless sinners. They adore God for what they now know, as well as for what they hope, of salvation. They are alike cut off from leaning to their own understanding, and from trusting to their own works. Their hope is in God; to him they look with childlike simplicity, to teach them what he would have them to do, to guide them into the truth; and to keep them from falling. These have now begun in the spirit; and is it possible that such, after the lessons they have learned of the deceitfulness of their own hearts, of the blindness of their minds, and the entire weakness of the flesh, should again lean to their own understanding, to find out revealed Truth, or to their own arm to get them the victory over sin? O the presumption, folly, and unbelief of poor human nature! How again, and again, will the child of grace try his own strength for relief in the times of temptations and difficulties, till bruised, and wounded by his falls; he is again glad to sink into his own weakness and dependency at the footstool of mercy. And how often does he undertake by the powers of his mind to clear what appears mysterious in the doctrine of the gospel and make it appear consistent with reason; and to bring to light what God has not revealed, to the bringing in of hurtful errors, and the causing of contentions and divisions in the churches! Happy would it be, if such wise ones, could become fools that they might be wise. By the term flesh in the text under consideration, it will be seen that I understand the whole natural man, in distinction from the spirit of Christ, in the believer. And so the term is abundantly used in the Scriptures. This is a day of philosophy, of human investigation, and of absurdities, wherein God has made foolish the wisdom of this world. Not only do we see it among the popular religionists, but also among those who, we would hope, are the children of God. Reason has undertaken to investigate the origin of sin, the nature of angels, and the existence of God as Father, Word and Holy Ghost, and alas; what confounding, and what dividing of God into parts they produce by their philosophy and the figures they employ to make a likeness of him. The doctrine of the resurrection also is reasoned away to be no resurrection, but only a disencumbering of a supposed spiritual bodily existence, from these bodies of dust or flesh in which they are thought to dwell, or according to others, it is a clothing of the soul with a new spiritual body. I see by the religious papers, that a new champion for a non-resurrection of the body has come forth, who by his elegance as a writer, and his philosophical acumen is delighting the polite world. From what sketches I have seen of his system, I think he differs not much from Drew on the resurrection. He, in the estimation of his admirers, demonstrates fully the folly of supposing that the identity of the person can in any measure consist in these external bodies with which we are clothed; the philosophical conclusion that the body at no two given periods is the same, owing to its constant changes through the passing off of the particles of matter of which it is composed, and their place being supplied from the food we take, &c., so that if the identity consisted to the body, the person who died in impenitency at fifty years old, could not be punished for the sins he committed in youth, because it would not be the same person. What astonishing discoveries philosophy makes in religion. I am confident there are persons who have not seen me for twenty years, who on seeing me now would instantly recognize me, and yet who make no pretensions to a gift, either for seeing or discerning spirits. Hence there must be some bodily identity by which I should be known. The birth of Isaac, I presume will be admitted to have been from the bodies of Abraham and Sarah; if so, according to this wonderful discovery in philosophy, the promise to Abraham recorded in Gen.15:4, “He that come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir;” was not verified, because those bodies of Abraham and Sarah of which this was spoken, were not the same they had fifteen or twenty years after, when Isaac was born. Besides the peculiar miracle of Isaac’s birth is destroyed, by this calculation, for if Abraham and Sarah were old, their bodies were not, having become new, and young, not by miracle, but by natural principles. Another objection to the resurrection of the body, is that after its death and decomposition, the particles of dust may become scattered and incorporated in other bodies, &c. If the particles of dust could get beyond the reach of God’s control this would be a serious objection, but from the belief I have in both the universal and special government of God, over all things he has made, even to the chemical gasses, I cannot apprehend it to be impossible with God. The truth is, the birth of Isaac was presented to Abraham in the promise as an object of faith, and not as matter of philosophical research; and so is the resurrection of the body declared in the Scriptures. So much is this the case in reference to the resurrection, that the apostle fully identifies the faith of the gospel with a belief in the future resurrection of the body; hence he says of Hymeneus and Philetus, not that they had overthrown a part of the faith, or the faith on any particular point, but absolutely, that they overthrow the faith of some. II Tim.2:18. And this broad position he establishes in his epistle to the Corinthians by showing that the resurrection of Christ is involved in a denial of the resurrection of the body, and in this also is involved the efficacy of Christ’s atonement. I Cor.15:12-18. And with propriety is the doctrine of the resurrection thus made a criterion of gospel faith, seeing that it has been a subject of scorn and mockery from the wise men of this world, from the learned Greeks of Athens, Acts 17:32, down to the present day. Those who by their philosophy would explain away the entire dependence of those things which are matter of revelation, upon the absolute and sovereign will of God, and to make them the results of certain general laws, as is more or less the case with most of the systems of men, are trying to give us a mere natural or fleshly religion for a revealed one. May we not then say to any of our brethren who may be advocating or receiving these systems; Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, having once learned your own weakness and ignorance, and dependence on the teaching of God, are ye now made perfect by the flesh; by putting forth the force of reason and imagination? May we, as also our brethren, be more enabled to sit as humble learners at the feet of Jesus.

Yours in love,
April 25, 1845.