REPLY TO BRETHREN: THE NEW BIRTH.

PART I

BROTHER BEEBE: - I wish to connect these brethren together in a reply, because in some instances an answer to one, is a reply to another.

1. BROTHER CLARK on I Cor.15:45 – Brother Cark commences with some remarks relative to the words, was made, being a supply, to which I should have no objection, were it not for his saying, “These supplied words are very convenient things, as they can be cashiered or retained, as it suits the fancy or according to the use we wish to make of the passage,” thus insinuating that I made such use of these words without due regard to the sense of the text. He seems however not to have found any iniquity in me in the cases referred to, until he had found me using such words to wrest the meaning of the Scriptures, he might have spared himself the trouble, and me the pain, of such an unkind insinuation.

Brother Clark’s first argument on the text is to sustain him in denying the correctness of my former assertion, that to be made is equivalent to being created. I admit what he takes considerable trouble to prove; namely, that the Greek word here used is of very general import, but one of its primary meanings is, to be made. I also admit that to create in its strict sense differs from to make; thus, man can make, but not create. Still these words are frequently used in the Scriptures as of the same import. In Gen.1:26, it reads, “Let us make man,” and in verse 27, “So God created man.” The same idea is intended to be conveyed in both verses. In verse 31, made is used as meaning the same as created. See also Gen.5:1 & 2. What I said was, “To be made is equivalent to being created.” Is it not so? Has brother Clark proved anything else by his many references to the use of the Greek word? Is not the thing made the production of him that made it, and therefore the creature in the common acceptation of the word? Is the thing that is created anything more? But let us come to the text itself. Brother Clark admits that the words, was made, in the latter part of the text is a supply; I am glad he does; for otherwise we might have had some more criticism to show they did not mean the same, as do the same words in the former part. As it is, he must admit that the words, quickening spirit, stand in the same grammatical construction with the one verb, was made, as do the words – living soul. Hence the was made has the same bearing on the one as on the other. He also admits the former part is a quotation from Gen.2:7, which reads, “And man became a living soul.” The Hebrew word here used is of the same general import as the Greek word used by the Apostle, and like it having for one of its primary meanings, to make, and to be made. The question is, was Adam’s becoming a living soul the result of his own will, was he self-existent as such? Or was it the result of God’s breathing into his nostrils the breath of life? If the latter is the case, as I presume all will admit, then Adam in becoming a living soul was as much the creature of God as in being formed of the dust of the ground; and the expression, was made, is correct in the text I Cor.15:45. And as both parts of the text are in the same grammatical construction; that is, the Apostle makes exactly the same affirmation concerning the last Adam’s being a quickening spirit, as he does concerning the first’s being a living soul, the legitimate conclusion is that the last Adam was made a quickening spirit, and as such is as much the production or creature of God, as was the former in being a living soul. And brother Clark’s many references to show the various uses of the Greek word amount to nothing.

Brother Clark uses a more plausible argument against the conclusion I have before drawn from this text, in assuming that it only has reference to the resurrection. But his position, “That if therefore it means a creature, Christ was not created until after Adam was, because he is declared to be the second Adam,” will not stand. In the 47th verse, where the Apostle is not speaking of their being made, but of their distinct natures, he calls the earthy man the first man, and the Lord from heaven, the second man; he might therefore just as well conclude that from the terms first and second in this verse, that the earthy man existed before the Lord from heaven did, as to infer from the other text that Adam was made first. Paul is not here saying when they were made, but what they were made; and he uses the terms, first and last, and first and second, to designate them one from the other, having reference by these terms, not to the commencement of their existence, but to their manifestations in the world.

Neither will his other position, that the Apostle in this and the following verses had reference only to the resurrection, stand any better; for in that case Adam in being made a living soul would be, and only be the contrast to Christ as the resurrection. But not so, for the Apostle had before shown in verse 21 & 22 wherein Adam was the contrast to Christ as the resurrection, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Here then is the contrast in reference to the resurrection, death is the counterpart to it. Paul having pursued the subject of the resurrection on to verse 44, where making the assertion that, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body,” he proceeds in verse 45-49 to show whence these different bodies come; namely, “from two distinct Adams or Heads, and draws the contrast between them as such, showing their different natures, the one made a living soul, the other a quickening spirit; the one natural, the other spiritual; the one, of the earth earthy, the other, the Lord from heaven. He then shows that the distinguishing characteristics of this second Head or Adam are to be carried out even to the bodies of his posterity in the resurrection. This appears to me as the only consistent view of this passage. So that I think brother Clark will have to let my former inference from it still stand, unless he can bring something more weighty against it.

Brother Clark, on this text has passed over the idea of being made a quickening spirit, but I will notice it, and notice it in connection with some remarks of his in his preceding communication on this subject. He said, “To quicken is to give life to the dead and this is conceded to be equivalent to regeneration or the new birth.” It may be so conceded by many, and I may have so conceded, but I cannot now. I conclude that to quicken is to restore life to the dead, and in some instances that it means a reviving of a person who is in a lifeless or stupid state. I understand the word to be used in this last sense in Psal.80:18 & 119:25, and other verses. In the other sense to quicken the dead, that it is a restoring to life to that which has died is evident from Paul’s declaration, speaking in reference to the resurrection, he says, I Cor.15:36, “Thou fool; that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.” Hence according to Paul, a quickening implies a previous dying. Again, I admit that there is a quickening connected with regeneration, and the new birth, but it is as distinct from regeneration, as sowing the seed is from its vegetating. I think there is an analogy between all natural seeds; I will therefore say the sower sows the seed, but he does not quicken it, that is another process; so in a natural birth, and of course so in regeneration. Of all the texts which brother Clark quotes on this subject, there are but three or four which I supposed anybody thought had reference to regeneration. John 6:63 is considered as having that reference; but this I have disputed and still do, on what ground is known. Eph.2:1 & 5, and Col.2:13, have been explained as referring to regeneration. But in Ephesians there is a raising connected with the quickening, just as in John 5:21, and both in Ephesians and Colossians they are said to be quickened together with him, that is Christ. It is therefore something in which Christ participated with his people and they with him. Will brethren persist in an opinion which so fully involves the idea, that Christ participates with his people in regeneration. As they were quickened together with him, this must imply that they were quickened when he was quickened. Peter tells us when that was, when he says, “For Christ was once offered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit.” I Pet.3:18. In being offered the just for the unjust, were not the unjust offered with him, and did he in being offered and put to death in the flesh leave them in the grave; or were they not quickened together with him, and raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus? Not earthly places, not again under the Sinai covenant, but in heavenly places, under the provisions and protection of the heavenly covenant which would secure their being preserved and called, as the other could not. Our Lord uses the same figure of seed sown, in reference to his own death and resurrection, as above quoted from I Cor.15:36. He says, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24. Here a quickening is evidently implied. When a corn of wheat first vegetates or is quickened and sprouts, is there not in the sprout the germ of all the fruit it will afterwards mature? So Christ in being quickened and raised, brought up with him under the requisitions of the law, all the fruit or people represented by him. Well therefore does the Apostle say in reference to this, quickened together with him and raised up together, &c. “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Jesus Christ.” Eph.2:7. That is, the all of the us being quickened and raised up together with Christ from under the demands of the law, God might in every after age be showing his grace and kindness toward us as born into the world in calling us to the knowledge of salvation, &c. Thus we see there is a harmony and beauty in thus applying these texts in Ephesians and Colossians which cannot be in the other application.

Something more in reference to this quickening spirit as illustrated in Christ and in the experience of the believer, for the subject of grace has a fellowship in experience, as well as in fact, in the death and quickening of Jesus Christ. Peter says of Christ, “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit;” but not quickened until after he was put to death, though he evidently had the spirit before, thus showing as in grain sown, death must precede the quickening, and that as in grain there must be a quickening principle not involved in the death. I have before spoken of the quickening as commencing with the first influence of the implanted spirit in regeneration upon the soul, but I was wrong, as brother Thompson says, death must first come before quickening, as illustrated by the seed sown and illustrated in Christ Jesus. Now we see how the quickening spirit worked in Christ, for it is to that, which I understand Peter to refer. This spirit, this life constituted him the actual Head of his people, as they were in this life in him. Hence as the Head and Husband of the church, he was involved in the demands of the law against them and must therefore come under the law to meet those demands. Now it was just so far as he was made under the law, and no further, that he died and that was as made flesh or man, {for his soul participated in the sufferings.} Now however perfect were his sufferings, if Christ had only existed in this fleshly relation to his people, and therefore as under the law, I do not know that there could have been any security of his release from death, for the law knows nothing about release. But standing in this spiritual relation to them and under a covenant ordered in all things and sure, established before the law came into existence, which while it involved him in the demands of the law, secured his not being left alone and that his soul should not be left in hell, nor be suffered as the Holy One to see corruption, this could secure his release. Hence Peter said, “It was not possible he should be holden of it;” that is, death. Acts 2:24-28. Now Peter does not ground this impossibility upon the Godhead of Christ, but upon those promises through David made to him. I hope brethren will not hereby infer that I deny his Godhead. If his being God would admit of his being made under the law, it would, I should think, admit of his being made the Head of his people, and as such under covenant and promise. Hence we find promises made to him. See Psalms 89, and Isaiah 42. These same things were typified by the promises to Abraham and the Sinai law. See Gal.3:16-18. Thus this life was in Christ a quickening spirit. So in his people. In its first implantation it brings them experimentally under the law. This life being the light of men, it enlightens the soul to see and know the law as spiritual, and thereby to know sin. Hence by it he is slain. Now the soul being in this situation, could reason ever quicken itself, as in the case of grain sown? No, because reason of itself never could comprehend or receive the idea of acceptance with God in any other way than by the law. For God has “hid these things from the wise and prudent,” Matt.11:25; and, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God … neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor.2:14. This then establishes this point. Here then this life is manifested as a quickening spirit; it can and does by faith hear the voice of the Son of God, and receive the tidings of salvation through Christ, and thus quickens the soul to newness of hope of acceptance with God. Paul says of the seed sown, “Thou sowest not that body which shall be, &c.” I Cor.15:37. So Christ in dying died as a Servant under the law, but in being quickened, he arose as the Son of God and above the law. See Rom.1:4. So the believer is not quickened to the legal life in which he died, but is quickened and raised to a life of justification, to be no more a servant, but a son, and an heir of God. Gal.4:7. Of all seeds in the vegetable kingdom, I know of but one that does not in its sprouting leave the old body dead in the ground. The bean is an exception, in this the sprout brings the old grain up with it on its top. This completes the figure found in the vegetable world of spiritual things. Christ’s soul and body were quickened, his soul not left in hell, nor his body to see corruption. So in experience, in the quickening, the whole person is brought forth with the new life in the new birth, into a state of liberty; and the person now exists as standing in a new relation to God as his Father through Christ Jesus; and to the saints as brethren.

The balance of brother Clark’s communication, I will leave to stand with the ‘thousand and one things’ which have been spoken and written for an effect. He must know, that in taking my positions in their connection, he can draw from them no such idea as he conveys by the expression, a created Son of God. Though by taking detached positions and expressions he might do it, and lead others to do it; just as by taking detached texts I might represent Christ as altogether inferior to the Father. If the scriptures can thus be distorted, no wonder my feeble writings can. I speak thus with plainness because I think the occasion justifies it. The terms creature, created and made are used in the Scriptures in relation to Christ; and I dare not alter their plain meaning and application to please brother Clark or any other brother.

S.TROTT.

P.S. – Brother Beebe, after having mailed my letter, containing the reply to brother Clark, &c., I recollected that I had left myself liable to be charged, from it, with representing the quickening spirit as raising Christ from the dead, &c., that is, according to the manner in which my communications have of late, been construed, and I see no more convenient way to remedy it than to send you this postscript to be inserted with the reply. Brother Clark it seems, does not understand that my representing wherein both yourself and he had misapprehended my intended meaning concerning the text, “It is the spirit that quickeneth,” though my carelessness, implied, of course, an intimation that he had misrepresented my views. Hence, his twice repeated declaration that I had not charged him with misrepresenting my views. I am not now disposed so to charge him, as it would imply a willful misconstruction, but as a fair specimen of the manner in which he has throughout represented my views, I would request of brethren and of him to turn to the 2nd number, present volume of the SIGNS, and read what I say, concerning God’s regenerating persons; and then notice his declaration in his letter in number 9, same volume, in which he says of me, that “He says he knows of no authority in the scriptures to believe that it is the province of the Holy Ghost or God to quicken or first regenerate dead sinners?” Those who do thus read the two passages will I think be satisfied, that let me be guarded as I may in expression, I may be wrongly represented. Still I wish to use due precaution. My mind is quite defective, more so than it once was, so that when I have one subject or point anywise intensely in view, I am apt to lose sight too much of other circumstances connected with it. Thus in the above reply to brother Clark, in endeavoring to illustrate how that Christ as the life of his people was the quickening spirit, even in his own case, in that the promise, as that “his soul should not be left in hell, &c.,” were made to him as the Head of this life, rather than to his manhood, which was made under the law, and the law strictly knows neither promises or release, I omitted distinctly to say, that he was raised by the power of God in conformity with those promises made to him, though it was implied in referring to them. But to prevent misapprehension, I now say, that Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God; and not only that, but that it was “according to the exceeding greatness of his power,” as Paul speaks, Eph.1:19 & 20. So in speaking of regeneration, as a distinct operation from the quickening of the soul, having so recently declared my belief, that it was God who regenerates, I omitted distinctly to repeat it in this case, I therefore now say as then, that it is God who regenerates and none other, though I still doubt the authority for confining the work of regeneration to the Holy Ghost distinctively from the Father and the Word. Again, in speaking of the soul’s being quickened from its death and condemnation under the law, to a state of justification, &c., by faith as an exercise of Christ in us, or of the life which he is, and also of the necessity of a revelation being made to this faith of Christ as the end of the law for righteousness, I may have omitted to say by whom this revelation is made. I therefore now say that the idea of a revelation is that it is a direct communication from God, and further that I understand it to be peculiarly the province of the Holy Ghost, to make this first revelation of Christ to faith and all after revelations made to it of God’s truth, as being the Comforter and Teacher, and he who shall take of the things of Christ and show them unto his people.

There is one thing more, though it is swelling this postscript unreasonably, I wish to notice. In my remarks on brother Clark’s chapter, I used this expression, “Let them receive in heart this third existence of our Lord, &c.” When I first saw it as published I was convinced that many brethren would understand me as having reference to an experimental receiving of this truth by faith. As that was not at all my meaning, {I was not speaking of experience, but of theory,} I determined I would embrace the first opportunity to correct it. But in brother Clark’s answer it was not noticed in that way, and at the same time there appeared such a determination on his part to force a split, I thought I would let him have what capital he could make from it. But on second thought I have concluded to explain and say that I had no disposition to call in question the genuineness of their faith in Christ; but at the same time I cannot comprehend how in theory they can heartily and truly, {and this is what I meant by the expression in heart,} believe two such opposite positions, as that Christ as God is absolutely self existent, and yet in reference to the same identical existence as God he is the begotten Son of God. Brother Clark says in his last letter, that he was satisfied there would be too many scriptures. Quite too many; they prove that Jesus is God, is the Son of God, and is man. Just my position. Can he now prove that three are only two?

S.T.
April 21, 1850.