Lexington, Ky., Oct.3, 1877.
MY DEAR SISTER IN CHRIST: - I am gratified to learn you reached home in safety on Thursday evening after leaving us. I retain a very vivid recollection of the delightful season we enjoyed with the brethren and sisters from the north, south, east and west, at my house, the association, and with the dear saints in that vicinity. A moment’s sadness came over me at the thought that perhaps from my advanced age, no such season is held in reservation for me during my sojourn in this care-worn world. Immediately, however, the scene brightens, with the reflection that soon our Father will call, “Child, your Father calls, come home.” Then parting will be no more. When we remember the decree has gone forth from on high. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” and that the source of all the ills we encounter on our pilgrimage is found in the antagonism of flesh and spirit, and that no power below the heavens can “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,” we begin to cast around for the source of deliverance. That deliverance is found alone in the life and death, the resurrection, ascension and intercession, which is the crowning glory of the Son of God.
“Whose work was great, ‘twas to redeem,
And bring to glory all,
The chosen seed, beloved in him,
Selected ere the fall.”
The law must be maintained; justice must be satisfied.
“And who but the Redeemer, say,
Was able to endure,
The weight of sin that on him lay,
And make salvation sure.”
“Wherefore it was needful that this man should have somewhat to offer.” “And gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject unto bondage.” All that he did and suffered was for “his body’s sake, which is the church.” Did he accomplish his undertaking? When the Head met the claims of the law, the members, in their oneness with the Head, met those claims. When the Head suffered, the members suffered. When the Head died, the members died. When the Head rose, the members rose. And thus was the law magnified and made honorable, and justice fully maintained. “If we be dead with Christ, we shall also live with him, if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”
“He for the sins of all the elect,
Hath complete atonement made;
And justice never can demand,
That the same debt should twice be paid.”
Hence Paul said, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who also maketh intercession for us.” He pleads for the members of his body, and says, he knows his Father always hears him. “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,” set apart to a holy use.
“I’m rich, my Lord hath made me so,
Nor greater riches would I know.”
I conceive it impossible to reconcile the justice of God with inflicting the penalty of the law on his Son, “who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” if you shall separate him from those members of his body that had gone into transgression; and equally impossible to justify the withholding of the blessings of redemption from those for whom Christ has obtained “eternal redemption;” and yet equally impossible to account, scripturally, for the continued conflict or war in which the christian is engaged, if we deny that he is composed of antagonistic natures, which the apostle characterizes thus: “The old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” and “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” “The flesh [or fleshly man] lusteth against the spirit, [or spiritual man] and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” “No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it.” Consequently the warfare is peculiar to those only who are possessed of two natures. Whence do they derive these two natures? The one is born of the flesh, and is flesh; the other is born of the Spirit, and is spirit. The one is mortal and defiled, the other is immortal, holy and pure. Hence we see that a new tenant coming into the house, tenement, or tabernacle, so directly opposite in every particular, the strife or war begins, and is continued until “mortality is swallowed up of life.”
In my younger days I contemplated with great delight the plan ordained of God for the deliverance of poor, rebellious sinners from the curse of the violated law, and their translation into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Now, having grown old, and as I near the end of my mortal career, I feel deeper interest in looking to the future of that existence, and knowing indeed that I have an old man, utterly unprepared for the enjoyment of the saints in light, how consoling to remember there is One “who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body;” that these poor bodies of ours, though sown in corruption, shall be raised in incorruption; though sown in dishonor, will be raised in glory; though sown in weakness, will be raised in power; though sown natural bodies, will be raised spiritual bodies. Then indeed will be brought to pass the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” And then will you see Jesus, and be like him, for you will see him as he is. That will be enough.
I trust you may not be as much fatigued in reading as I have been in writing this scroll. My niece, Virginia, will forward you my photograph as requested, and one for sister Purington. A line from you at your leisure will be very acceptable.
Your brother in hope of the better resurrection,
Thomas P. Dudley.