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BROTHER BEEBE: - A brother in Ohio, some three or four months since, requested by letter that I should give through the SIGNS, my views of Heb.8:11, latter part, “For all shall know me from the least to the greatest.”

This declaration is embraced in that new covenant which God said by the prophet Jeremiah, {Jer.31:31-34,} he would make, in the days which shall come, with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; and which the Apostle quotes in the connection as the better covenant, which was established upon better promises, and of which the man Christ Jesus, the Son, is Mediator. See Eph.7:28, and 8:3, 6-8, and I Tim.2:5. Hence from the Apostle’s representing this covenant, as that of which Christ is Mediator, it is evident that the days which should come, are the days of the Messiah, or the gospel day, and therefore that the house of Israel and of Judah with which it should be made are the spiritual Israel and Judah. Christ with his people in him, being in national Israel and Judah as their substance and their Holy One, the affirmation that it should be made with them, terminates in him and in his people, as brought out from that type. The making this covenant with them spoken of, is the making it manifest as the distinct covenant or dispensation under which they stand, and through the provisions of which they approach unto God. It is a new covenant, in that it is new to them, when manifested, and is manifested only to the new man, or to them as born again. It is new, in that it is a new dispensation which was to be set up in the world. Not new as established with Christ, nor as the purpose and grace or the substance of it were given to his people in him before the world began.

Among the provisions of this covenant, is this, “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother saying; Know the Lord, for all shall know me from the least to the greatest.” Hence the knowledge of the Lord as possessed by spiritual Israel as such, shall not be that rational knowledge such as national Israel learned of their parents and teachers; but it shall be a knowledge not received of men, nor obtained by any natural or fleshly powers of the mind; 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.” I Cor.2:14. How then, say you, Do they know the Lord and the things of the Lord or of the Spirit of God? The answer is provided, “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” I Cor.2:10. Or as our Lord referring unto the promise made unto Zion or the gospel church, Isa.54:13, says, “They shall be all taught of God.” John 6:45. From what we have said, it is manifest that the all who shall know the Lord, are the all of spiritual Israel and Judah, and that all of them shall know him, without exception, from the least to the greatest, and that by God’s teaching or revelation. Hence he who knows the Lord only as he has learned of men or by the force of his natural reason, has never been manifested as one of the Israel of God. Hence also, surprising as may be the remark, all that the child of grace knows of the Lord and of the things of the Lord, only as he has obtained it from men or by study, is of no spiritual benefit to him.

The enquiry arises whether this revelation is made to the natural reason or mind of man. Not so; for whatever we can comprehend by our natural reason, we can communicate to others of like rational faculties. Hence we could and should teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying know the Lord, in contradiction to the express declaration of this new covenant. So the Apostle shows that as no man “knoweth the things of a man {things peculiar to man,} save the spirit of man which is in him; even so the things of God knoweth no man but the spirit of God.” And adds, “Now we {we believers} have received, not the spirit of the world {in our regeneration} but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” And these are things which “God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit.” See I Cor.2:11 & 12, compared with 9 & 10. Thus we see that in order to know the things of God, it is not only necessary that God should reveal them unto us by his Spirit; but that we should also first receive the Spirit which is of God, of God as its Father, and of God as he who alone communicates it in regeneration. Thus God has purposed and provided that the spiritual Israel and Judah shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest of them. If we understand by the least and greatest here, those who are so naturally; the least shall know the Lord; for as human reason has no part either in the communication or reception of this knowledge, neither infancy, idiocy, nor derangement of mind can prevent them from being made to know the Lord. On the other hand, the greatest intellect with the most intensive knowledge of science, and the self-pride consequent thereto cannot prevent any of the elect Israel from being brought to know the Lord; for he will convert them to become as little children, as babes, and to enter the kingdom of God as such, and to account all their wisdom and learning as foolishness in this case. If by the least and greatest we are to understand such in a spiritual sense; the apostles who were the greatest among the saints and therefore most eminently their minister according to Mat.20:26, evidently knew and preached the doctrine of the Lord; whilst the least lamb in the flock could receive and judge of that doctrine, not by the written creeds, systems or expositions of men, but by the inward teachings of the Spirit of God. “He that is spiritual judgeth all things.” I Cor.2:15.

Is it true that God hath said of his spiritual Israel, They shall all know the Lord, from the least to the greatest? And is his shall, absolute, almighty, and irreversible? How presumptuous then is it, to set up Articles of Faith and other uninspired writings as standards of faith or truth, which christians must come up to in their belief, as though the Holy Ghost would not be faithful to teach the truth to all the elect, or teach all the truth necessary for them; or as though we would bring the teachings of the Lord to our notions of systematic divinity. It may be said that these Articles of Faith, and other standard books are such as we believe were written by persons who had been taught of the Lord; and that they seem necessary to test the pretensions of those who profess to be believers. The latter of these excuses for such standards would appear plausible, if God had not given us the Scriptures written by inspiration as a standard, and to his people the spirit of judgment in their own experience. As it is, the excuse is vain. The other, that they were written by men who had been taught of the Lord, is very fallacious. If we admit that in truth these writers were all subjects of grace, who does not know, or from reflection might not know how universally prone we are to speculate on, and to bring every thing to the test of reason, which is presented to our minds even as religion, and to mix our own reflections and preconceived ideas with what has been revealed in us? How seldom do we ever hear a person relate his experience who does not mix some of his own thoughts or traditional notions with what the Lord has taught him, and which in themselves are of no avail in giving us an evidence that he is a subject of grace? How difficult it is truly and fully to become fools that we may be wise? What constitutes the difference between the writings of the Bible and the writings of uninspired men, as to infallibility, other than this: That the inspired writers wrote only as they were guided by the Holy Ghost to write, and therefore wrote only what he revealed to them or assured them was the truth; though they {uninspired writers} may write what the Lord has taught them and which therefore in itself is equally true with the Scriptures and supported by them, yet in writing mix more or less of their own thoughts, and conclusions from reason, and perhaps wild speculations with what they write? It is true that the writings of christians may often be useful in counteracting the errors one of another and of others, and may be for edification and comfort as they show the dealings of God with his people, and as the Holy Ghost may thereby lead persons to an understanding of the Scriptures; but when he does this, he gives them a witness of its truth from the Scriptures and their own experience. But whenever we do not read human writings as the Bereans heard Paul preach, “searching the Scriptures whether those things are so;” whenever we read uninspired writings as true because they are so held by persons in whom we have confidence, or when we receive indiscriminately as true the opinions of any man or set of men, because they appear rational, and not because we have the witness from the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures or in our experience of their truth; if we get any truth we are sure to get error mixed with it, and our views become either contradictory, or erroneous in the whole. Hence the dissensions and divisions, I do not say among professors, but among the saints and which we cannot expect to see healed, until they learn more fully not to put confidence in man as to any part of their salvation, as well as to what they believe, as to what they are to feel and do.

What the Lord teaches is true, and it is the same truth in all who are taught of him, and when the saints become satisfied to receive as truth only what he teaches them, then, and not till then, shall we have the satisfaction of seeing again the multitude of them that believe of one heart and one soul.

Centreville, Fairfax County, Va., June 23, 1848.

P.S. BROTHER BEEBE: - As Paul did not think the enquiry of the Athenians, “May we know what this new doctrine whereof thou speakest, is,” unworthy of a reply, I presume we may take the same liberty in reference to certain strange things brought to our ears, or eyes, in the SIGNS. I will therefore venture to pronounce some queries on two or three points for the consideration and reply of yourself or of some one of your correspondents.

1. In reference to the believer’s mind. Paul says, Rom.8:7, “The carnal {or fleshly} mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” I ask, Was that mind which “cannot be subject to the law of God,” the same which he had reference to, when he said, {chap.7:25,} “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God”? If so, is nature changed in regeneration, is the mind which by nature is earthly and fleshly changed to that which is heavenly and spiritual? If so, I ask, Can that which is heavenly and spiritual be involved in the cares of earth; and could the believer with only a heavenly mind engage himself in the business of the world? If the carnal mind is not changed, what becomes of it when the new birth is experienced, unless it remains as ever in its relation with the old man?

2. In reference to believers, sinning and being wretched. Was not David, though not living under the gospel dispensation, a child of God, a believer? Did he not in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah sin against the Lord, as he said he did, II Sam.12:13? Was there no mind in exercise, no reasoning upon the subject in his desires first to deceive Uriah and then to kill him? So in the case of numbering Israel, was there no sin, no mind or reasoning powers involved in it? Did David feel no wretchedness or distress, when convicted through Nathan of his sin concerning Uriah, or when concerning numbering Israel he cried out, “Lo, I have sinned and I have done wickedly; but these sheep what have they done,” &c.? In the case of Peter, was there no sin in his denying Christ, and in his cursing and swearing, no mind in it, no wretchedness when he went out and wept bitterly? Are not believers subjects of repentance? Does not that repentance produced by godly sorrow imply a sense of having sinned? Does not godly sorrow such as produced in the saints at Corinth, {II Cor.7:9-11,} indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal, revenge, &c., involve wretchedness or distress of mind?

3. Concerning believers, complaining of the depravity and wickedness of their hearts. Is not the spirit of God’s Son in the believer a spirit of holiness, and therefore of opposition to sin? Is it not therefore consistent with a believer that he loathe sin, as much in himself as in others? Does not a sense from time to time of God’s love and goodness to him make his own sinfulness and depravity appear more loathsome to him? Can he when he speaks of himself, speak of anything but of his poverty, wretchedness, and guilt? May he not with propriety so speak of himself as an illustration of the riches and freeness of that grace which brings pardon to his guilty soul, as well as for the encouragement of others who know the plague of their own hearts? I will in addition propose one or two queries in reference to the 7th chapter of Romans. 1. Is it consistent to suppose that Paul in personating a person as under the law would speak of himself, as distinct from sin dwelling in him, as though he had been delivered from his sense of accountability to the law; and of the inward man in distinction from the flesh as though he had been born again? 2. Is it supposable that Paul would declare his own experience under the law and his being slain by it, as in the past tense, as he does from verse 7 to 13 and then turn round and in the following verses represent himself in the present tense still as under the law? I hope the forthcoming exposition may clear up the point embraced in these two latter queries.