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BROTHER WILLIAM: - I see by number two of the MESSENGER that brother William Fisher of Florida wishes an explanation of the text, Heb. 11:40, “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” If I believed with brother Fisher that the prophets and saints of the Old Testament were not born again, not born of a spiritual birth, I should think that this text contained a mystery that never could be explained in accordance with New Testament testimony. For as brother Fisher admits, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” – “he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Not being born again, could Abraham ever enter into heaven? If not they never could be made perfect. The natural or first man is of the earth, earthy, not heavenly, and therefore never could enjoy anything higher than an earthly paradise. Brother Fisher says they were saved by faith as was Abraham. Abraham have faith? The faith of God’s elect, and not have spiritual life, or be born again? For “that which is born of the flesh, is flesh.” It is that which is born of the spirit, that is spirit. Paul does not include faith in the works of the flesh, but names it as a fruit of the spirit. Gal.5:19-23. If I believed that faith was an act of the natural man, I should think our Arminian preachers were correct in telling their hearers that they can believe at any time, and they are bound by the law to believe, and therefore are condemned for not believing. Did not Abraham rejoice to see Christ’s day? {John 8:56.} In seeing it, did he not see the kingdom of God? See that which is spiritual? How could he have seen that, if not born again? Did not Abraham and other Old Testament saints worship God in truth? But how could they do it if not spiritual or born again? “God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.” As 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 to receive or believe in Christ is to receive the things of the Spirit of God, I must believe that Abraham and Abel and others were born again, though brother Fisher thinks it absurd. Thus we are told, John 1:12,13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name, which were born, not of blood, but of God.” Here are two or three things to be noted, 1st, from this text we are showed that to receive Christ, is the same as to believe on his name. 2nd, that it does not say, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, by being born, not of blood, &c., but of God. But it simply affirms that he gave them power, and afterwards it affirms of them that they were born of God; that is that they had already been born of God. Hence the difference between them and others in their receiving him, or believing on his name, whilst the body of the Jews did not receive him. How he gave to these who were thus born of God, power to become the sons of God, will be showed in showing how the ancient subjects of faith were made perfect; that is, by being redeemed from under the law. Paul explains the whole matter of brother Fisher’s inquiry, in chapter 4, of his letter to the Galatians. He commences with saying, “Now I say brethren, that the heir so long as he is a child differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father. Even so we, when we were children were in bondage under the elements of the world,” verses 1-3. In noticing the Apostle’s position here, we must remember that, “the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith,” it is added, “For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void,” &c. Rom.4:13,14. Hence the Apostle does not mean to represent by the heir in his position, those which are of the law; that is, those who are only the natural seed, and therefore resting only upon the law, but those which are of faith. These he calls children. In a word he is speaking not of the Jews nationally, but of the church of believers as it existed previous to the redemption by Christ, when he says, “even so we brethren when we were children were in bondage under the elements of the world;” that is, under the Sinai covenant or law. Thus showing that although the saints under the Old Testament were believers and heirs, yet they were in bondage under the law, and therefore knew not the privilege of sons, had not the Spirit of adoption. Yet they were children, and of course I judge that they must have been born children, and of course born again. Paul goes on to show that in the fulness of time God sent forth his Son to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and adds, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father; wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son,” &c., verses 6,7. Thus we see that though the children of God under the law, obtained a good report on the revealed promise of the Seed, the Christ, and rested on that promise for their righteousness, yet they did not receive the promise, or that which was promised, or in other words were not actually justified from the law, and could not be until Christ being delivered for their offences, was raised again for their justification. Until then the righteousness of God for the remission of sins that were past, was not declared, neither was it known how he could be just and the “justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” Rom.3:25,26. Hence the Apostle says, “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” That is, we are permitted to witness and to bear testimony to the resurrection of Christ for the justification of all them that have believed or shall believe in Christ. Thus the manifestation of the justification of the Old Testament saints and of the justice of God in their justification was made perfect, as it was not to them while on earth, at least, even if it was to them in heaven, until the everlasting doors were opened and the King of glory, or Christ triumphant, first entered, then they no doubt entered in with him. Hence, Lazarus instead of being represented as being with Christ, is said to have been in Abraham’s bosom; that is, resting for the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. Hence also says the Apostle, “The Holy Ghost thus signifying that the way into the holiest of all, was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” Heb.9:8. But in chapter tenth, 19th & 20th verses, he speaks of entering into the holiest by a new and living way; that is, by the blood of Jesus.

I have very strong objections to brother Fisher’s idea that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the new birth. A baptism and a birth are very different things, a birth is a bringing into existence that which had not individually existed before, or a person being brought to exist in a life in which he had not before existed personally. Baptism is a representation of the burial and resurrection of the same person. That extraordinary communication which occurred on the day of Pentecost is uniformly in the Scriptures called a baptism, never a birth. Besides, it uniformly had an external effect upon those who were subjects of it. Cloven tongues as of fire were seen upon them, and they all spake with tongues, so that persons of different languages could hear their speech as in their own tongue. I know of no authority other than the Quakers for saying that a person has not been baptized of the Holy Ghost unless he has the miraculous power of speaking externally with tongues. Neither do I know of any authority in the Scriptures for saying that believers are born of the Holy Ghost. They are born as the seed of Christ and of the Spirit of Christ, and therefore have the Spirit of Christ, or Christ in them. But no more at present.

Affectionately yours,
Fairfax C.H., Va., Jan.28, 1856.