REMARKS ON ELDER WILLIAMS’ LETTER & QUERIES.

BROTHER BEEBE: - It may appear superfluous for me to attempt any reply to brother Williams’ letter, after the able answer you have given to his queries, {SIGNS for June 15th.} But, first, I only am responsible for spreading the extract from Elder Dudley’s pamphlet before the readers of the SIGNS, to which brother Williams objects; I therefore feel bound to defend it, and this I feel a willingness to do, from being satisfied of the truth of its sentiment. Secondly, There are apparently certain sentiments intimated in brother Williams’ queries and remarks, upon which I feel a wish to reason a little with him. I may have misapprehended his intended meaning, I hope I have, and that he will correct me by answering the enquiries I beg leave to make of him. The queries direct, I do not intend replying to, unless it be, I may offer some remarks to the first.

1st. I would ask brother Williams whether by exhorting the brethren to “be willing to be little christians” he intended to exhort them to be satisfied with knowing but little of the doctrine of Christ, to be ignorant christians? The connecting remarks tend to convey that idea. If so, I would ask him, whether, when he was young and little in experience and in the doctrine, he felt the same humbling sense of his own vileness and insufficiency to any good thing, as now? Or whether as he has grown in the knowledge of Christ, he has become bigger in his own estimation and more self-confident? I know there are other brethren besides brother Williams, who charge those who would know for themselves, what is the meaning of the Holy Spirit in the different parts of the scriptures, instead of being satisfied with what others have said is the gospel doctrine, with aiming to be big and to dig so deep as to get out of sight of others, &c. My understanding of the matter, so far as I do understand, is that every part of gospel doctrine has a relation to Christ, and tends to exalt him; and the more therefore we know of doctrine, in its relation to experience, the more we shall see of the glory of Christ, and the more abased in our own estimation. What kind of a spirit can that be, which would lead us to say, “We know that Christ is the Savior of sinners, and that we have pardon through his blood, but we do not wish to trouble ourselves with any further knowledge of him or of his doctrine? Brother Williams, if I have rightly apprehended the import of your remarks, do they not tend to cultivate just such a spirit among the brethren? Bear with me, my brother, in being plain. If a knowledge of doctrine is of so little amount, or perhaps injurious, why are the brethren reproved for their “unskillfulness in the word of righteousness,” &c. Heb.5:2-14? Why did Paul pray that the love of the brethren “might abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment,” {Phil.1:9,} and that the brethren at Colosse, “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” &c. Col.1:9.

2nd. From the general current of brother Williams’ queries and remarks I should infer that with him, the “new creature” is a mere change in the natural man, in that they imply that there is nothing in the new creature that was not through Adam dead in sins, and needed salvation. This change in the natural man can of course be nothing more than a change of views concerning God and his relation to him, and a consequent change of desires, affections, and pursuits, occasioned by being taught, and receiving the declarations of Scripture. If this be his ground, then he occupies the very position from whence originates all the difference between Old School Baptists and most popular religionists in reference to experience. For although brother Williams may hold in distinction from the Reformers or Campbellites that the natural man cannot arrive at the knowledge of spiritual religion only as he is taught by the Holy Spirit, yet the moment he assumes that no new faculty is imparted to the man, that it is a mere enlightening of his natural or rational faculties to understand spiritual things, he places this knowledge within the scope of human reason; and I have a right to challenge him to show according to the principles of reason why a man cannot impart to others, of like rational faculties, any knowledge which he has himself received by the powers of his natural mind. Let me be discipled to this belief that the natural mind is capable of receiving the things of the Spirit of God, and I shall be an advocate for the popular course of religious instruction by Sunday Schools, &c. If this be the ground really occupied by our brother, {which by the way, I still hope is not the case;} he has evidently overlooked the true import of what the Scriptures deny to the natural powers of man. It is not merely that they deny man’s capability of teaching, they deny also his capability of receiving the knowledge of spiritual things, by the exercise of any natural powers of his mind. See I Cor.1:21. “For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God,” &c. What is human wisdom, other than the highest attainments of which the natural mind is capable? Yet by this God is not known, but God has made foolish this wisdom, in things of religion, as is manifest in the religions of the world, and in the experience of the children of God, when all their attained knowledge was turned into ignorance and confusion. Christ thanked his Father that he had “hid these things from the wise and prudent,” {Matt.11:25,} from these who have made the highest attainments in knowledge of which the natural mind is capable. But see the full denial of the capability of the natural or Adamic man of receiving the things of the Spirit of God in I Cor.2:14. “But 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.” The natural man embraces all that belongs to man as he was originally created in Adam. As to the idea that the new birth is a production in the soul of a spiritual existence or life by immediate creation, instead of the being produced by regeneration from an original creation in Christ as a Head, as brother Williams’ queries and remarks do not involve it, I will not now notice.

3rd. In reference to brother Williams’ first query; namely, “Did any of the Apostles and Prophets ever write anything about the bond of union?” I must take somewhat different ground from you, brother Beebe. I agree with you that not only the Apostles and Prophets, but that all the sacred writers from Moses on, wrote about the union of Christ and his people. In Moses, the substitution of the animal for a sin offering in the place of the Israelite who had sinned; the high priest’s bearing on his breast plate and on his shoulders the names of the twelve tribes of Israel when he officiated in his office, and the right of redemption being in one who was near akin, all typified a union of Christ and his people in that great work of redemption. It is true these were only shadows of a real union, but shall we find in the anti-type that to which we look for in the substance, no more reality, than in the shadow? It may be said there was a foreordained union between Christ and the elect; but there was a foreordained union also between the sinning Israelite and the sin offering; hence when the animal was offered and his blood sprinkled, &c., it was as though the sinner himself had suffered the penalty of the law of Moses. But it was the individual’s bringing the animal to the priest for sacrifice that made him actually interested in the efficacy of the offering. So if there is only a foreordained union between Christ and his people, it is their believing in him as their sin offering, that makes them actually interested in his death; and therefore according to this view, faith would be the bond of union. But as to the term, “bond of union,” I do not find it in the scriptures; I cannot discover the idea in those texts which you quote, that is as that which binds Christ and his church together in a union. It is an old term consecrated by its use among religionists. And many persons I have no doubt use it from custom, when they mean only the union itself. Others again, need and mean the very idea of a bond of union, or that which binds together, in a nominal or acknowledged union, parts which before or otherwise had separate existences. As for instance, those who believe christians to be no other than reformed Adamites, or natural persons changed, must have to connect them with Christ, something to bind them to him, and faith as before remarked, according to their view, appears the proper bond. Again, those who hold that the quickening of the soul with spiritual life, is not the imparting to that soul this life by regeneration from Christ, but actually a distinct creation of this life direct in them, as some of our brethren appear to hold, if I can understand them, of course need also, in order to connect this new creation to Christ, something to bind it to him. And perhaps love is as good a bond as they can have. But those of us who hold that Christ himself, as such, is the quickening spirit, that the new life, or new creature, or new man, is the spirit of Christ, or is Christ in us, imparted not by a new creation, but in regeneration; as says John, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” I John 5:11,12. And says Peter, “Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.” I Pet.1:28. I say those of us who thus believe, do not need any bond of union, the union itself is a being all of one; it is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Heb.2:11, Col.1:27. Adam and Eve did not need any bond of union to make them one flesh, they were already such in their creation. As natural persons, we had a distinct existence in Adam, as such we needed something to constitute us members of the body of Christ; this something is found in the one spirit, {“there is one body and one spirit,”} being quickened with that one spirit, the spirit of Christ, we stand manifest as members of the one body, knit together by it. This spirit thus animating us individually, is as joints and bands, giving individual action in our union with the body, as moved by the same spirit, as is the case with the members of the natural body. And all the nourishment by which this body increaseth manifestively, according to the increase of God, that is according to his purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus, is from Christ the Head.

4th. The quotation from Elder Dudley, I will now notice. Whether brother Williams intended to dress the sentiment borrowed from Elder Dudley, in false colors I will not say. I trust he did not; but certainly there is nothing in the quotation, nor in Elder Dudley’s pamphlet, neither in any thing I wrote on the subject, which warrants such constructions as he puts upon the extract, by confounding that which is derived from Christ the Quickening Spirit, with that which is derived from Adam, so as to represent the persons quickened as not having been dead in sins and as not needing salvation. The terms Quickened Spirits as found in the extract, used instead of Quickening Spirit, which on reflection, I think I should prefer, might occasion some obscurity in the sentence, were it not that the connection shows so clearly that by these expressions is intended that spiritual life which is derived from Christ, and is contrasted with the living souls which we derive from Adam. As it stands I can see no obscurity in the meaning. But if it is the sentiment conveyed in the quotation, that brother Williams thereby aims to deride, let us look at the Scriptures referred to, and see if the doctrine does not stand on too strong ground to be shaken by anything which men may bring against it, whether scoffs or philosophy. The Scripture to which Elder Dudley referred is found in I Cor.15:45-49. In this passage the two Adams are spoken of and contrasted. And is it not too manifest to be denied by any candid enquirer after truth, that they are presented to view as two Heads, having each a distinct posterity or seed like unto himself, the one earthy as is the earthy, the other heavenly as is the heavenly? If the first Adam was an actual head having an actual seed; was not the last Adam an actual Head having an actual seed? If the posterity of the first were created and received a being in him, when he was made a living soul, were not the posterity of the last Adam, in like manner created in him, when he was made a Quickening Spirit? Again, does not verse 49, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly,” clearly show that the same we who bear the image of the heavenly, and are thereby manifested as his seed, also bear the image of the earthy, and are thereby manifested as his seed; first manifested as the seed of the natural, and afterwards as the seed of the spiritual? How are any manifested in the image of the earthy as to his nature, and in his likeness as to his depravity? We are told {Gen.5:3} that Adam, “begat a son in his own likeness and after his image.” There then is the answer. May we not then safely conclude that the seed of Christ are manifested in his image as spiritual, by being born of the Spirit, and in his likeness as the glorified Jesus, by their resurrection or being born from the dead, according to the two begettings ascribed to their Head, Christ Jesus? He was manifested as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, when in the flesh. John 1:14. And he was the first born from the dead, Col.1:18, and said to be begotten in his resurrection, Psa.2:7, compared with Acts 13:33. And further, as the saints are brought to view as the seed of Christ, Psa.22:30, and Isa.53:10 and as his children, {Isa.8:18, compared with Heb.2:13,} will not brother Williams be constrained to acknowledge this comparison between the two Adams and their seeds as holding good? If so, all ground is taken from him to infer that, because we have been quickened by the spirit of Christ and therefore existed in him, as his seed before the foundation of the world, we therefore never existed in Adam, were not dead as his seed in sin, and did not need salvation. Indeed I cannot conceive how he could ever draw such an inference, if he admits that those who have been born of the flesh may actually be born again of the Spirit. As to the new man, the spiritual life of the believer, as Christ is that life, I am free to admit, that it was not created in Adam, did not fall in him, and never needed salvation any more than did Christ personally. But to draw the conclusion from this, that the persons quickened with this life, were never in a lost state needing salvation, is to me strange logic, and stranger divinity.

5th. As to eternal justification, I see not that it is involved in the subject of his queries. Besides, brother Williams probably was not aware that the first complaining among the readers of the SIGNS about doctrinal controversies, arose from our opposing the idea of the saints being justified from eternity, as he has in his communications.

6th. Brother Williams in speaking of the time when the saints first tasted that the Lord was gracious says, “You did not then think of an eternal actual existence with Christ, &c.” I have sometimes described the proper act of faith to be an embracing of Jesus Christ as the Savior of lost sinners, such as the individual felt himself to be without any special reference to his own being represented by Christ. I was wrong. A few nights since as I was reflecting on this point, my own experience when faith was first given me came forcibly to my mind. And I recollected that I then saw, that Christ as substituted to endure the penalty of the law due to condemned sinners was so exactly suited to my case that the conclusion was manifested to me that I once had in view when he was provided as a substitute, and therefore that he bore my sins. So that my faith embraced in substance a union with Christ as far back as his death; and I think, I was led to contemplate the provision as made in eternity. And I am now confident, I never could have hoped for salvation from a mere view of him as suffering the penalty due to sinners. For I then viewed my case an aggravated one, as I still do, and myself worse than any other, and therefore without having faith to view him as standing between me personally, and the law, I could not have had confidence to trust in him as my salvation. I think the same in substance must be the experience of all who are brought into liberty. They must view him as suffering in their stead, and therefore in effect view their union with him. They probably did not at the time have a clear view of all the details of that glorious union with Christ as their Head and Husband, by which he of right stood between them and all the demands of law. If they had, they would since have experienced no growth in the knowledge of Christ. But it is very strange to me that christians should be exhorted to make their first exercise of faith their exclusive standard of the doctrine of Christ, to the overlooking of all the enlargement of their understanding in that doctrine which they have since experienced. I hope brother Williams will reflect on these things and let us know where he stands. I have used plainness; I was not offended at his communication, but I have been impressed with the idea that it called for great plainness of speech. If he is a child of God and minister of Christ, as I hope he is, this will not hurt him; though he and others may be offended at me for it. May he be disposed to leave the a,b,c, of the doctrine of Christ, and go on unto perfection. If I have erred and thereby dealt wrongfully with his communication, may he feel to forgive me.

S.TROTT.
Centreville, Fairfax County, Va., July 18, 1849.