BROTHER BEEBE: - Will you permit me to propose an answer for the consideration of brethren a little differing from yours on page 113 of the SIGNS for Aug.1, 1848 – to the first of Elder Goldsmith’s queries on page 115, same number. To your answer to the second query I have no objections.
This first query is, “Is it certain that natural and carnal are synonymous terms as used in the Scriptures? You give an answer according to the import of the two words as found in lexicons, but the query was in reference to the use of the terms in the Scriptures. There is this difference in this, as in some other cases. Lexicons speak of men and things as they are manifested in the world to the natural eye, or human reason, the Scriptures speak of them by the revelation of God. I understand, and so I presume you do, the term carnal in its application to man as designating him as depraved. This is what I understand God as charging him with, when he says, “For that he also is flesh.” Gen.6:3. As man universally is flesh or depraved we cannot contemplate the natural man as he exists in the world but as carnal. But the term natural is not, I think, in the scriptures confined to man as carnal or depraved. My recent experience on the point is this; in preaching a short time since, I had occasion to quote I Cor.2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, &c.,” and in quoting it the idea was presented with considerable force to my mind that the Apostle did not design to convey the idea only, that man in consequence of his fallen state, “receiveth not the things,” but, that man as made a living soul, being of the earth, earthy, had no faculty, either in his original upright, or present fallen state, capable of receiving the things of the Spirit of God, and I so explained the passage. In reviewing the subject since, I have been confirmed in the correctness of that idea, both from the connection of that text, and from the use of the term natural in I Cor.15:44-46, where it is evidently used to denote man in his original creation as distinguished by his peculiar formation, faculties, &c., from the second man who is the Lord from heaven; without its having any special bearing as to the state of man, either as upright or fallen. Hence whilst the word is here used in relation to man in his original creation, and therefore whilst in his upright state, it is just before, in verse 44, used in relation to the human body as mortal and therefore as subject to the consequences of sin. So that neither uprightness, nor carnality are essential to man as natural. If I am correct in these views, the terms natural and carnal or flesh as found in the Scriptures are not strictly synonymous. The difference is about this; the carnal man is the natural man as he exists in consequence of the disobedience of Adam, a depraved creature; the natural man, is the same man, as he exists in his distinct formation and powers as a creature of God, whether in his original upright or present carnal state. From what I have said, it will be seen that one expression of mine found in the queries I proposed, published in SIGNS for July 15, 1848, page 106, is according to my present views incorrect. It is this, “Is the mind which by nature is earthly and fleshly &c.?” The mind of man is by nature earthly being so formed of God as adapted to man’s earthly residence. But man’s mind is fleshly or carnal, by the offence of one, Adam. This makes the idea involved in the query still more formable, for the mind of man in order to become spiritual and heavenly must be changed both from its carnal state and its earthly nature. Excuse me, Brother Beebe, for introducing my views in answer to a query addressed to you and differing from yours. I thought perhaps the query was induced by my expressions above referred to, though not meeting them exactly. Besides as the query was introduced, I wished it to receive an answer through the SIGNS, such as the scriptures will fully justify. If you and I have both failed in giving a correct answer, some other brother may be induced to set the thing right.
Centreville, Fairfax County, Va., Aug. 4, 1848.