Near Lexington, Ky., Feb. 16, 1841.
MY DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: – Although a controversy has been going on between the Old and New School Baptists in the west, for some years, in relation to what Adam was antecedently to his transgressing the divine command, yet I was not aware of a discrepancy in the views of “Old School” Baptists, on that point, until I read your editorial remarks in number 20, vol. viii., of the “Signs,” in which your readers were informed that “A part of the Redstone Baptist Association, Pennsylvania,” take exception to the views contained in the circular of the Licking Association to be “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the Chief Corner Stone,” and consequently that she recognised the Bible as the only infallible standard of faith and practice. I am very sure that no evidence can be had thence to sustain the opinion that he was spiritual; and I confess I was surprised to learn that such an idea was entertained even by a part of that body. The New School party in this country assume that he was a spiritual being; hence he was obliged to the performance of spiritual duties, such as evangelical faith and repentance, and liable to condemnation for non-compliance. I say assume, because it s assumption without proof: indeed the proof is altogether on the other side, and we have abundant cause of adoration to God that it is so – were it otherwise, the christian’s hope would be entirely prostrated.
God created this material globe to be inhabited by beings susceptible of its enjoyment: Those beings were susceptible of being maintained by material food; and that food is produced by the earth from whence those beings were taken, and to the products of which alone do they look for a perpetuation of that life imparted to them in creation – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Thus we see the connexion subsisting between man and the ground, and hence his susceptibility of being sustained by the food brought forth spontaneously by his uncorrupted mother, [the earth] – “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen. ii. 7,8.9,15,16,17, compared with 1 Cor. xv. 46 to 50, inclusive – “Howbeit that was not first which is SPIRITUAL, but that which is NATURAL, and AFTERWARDS that which is spiritual. The FIRST MAN is of the earth earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. AND AS WE HAVE BORNE THE IMAGE OF THE EARTHY WE SHALL ALSO BEAR THE IMAGE OF THE HEAVENLY. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” The life communicated to the first Adam prepared him alone for an earthly habitation, and that life communicated to his offspring not possibly prepare them for a higher abode. We should not forget that, although created upright and uncorrupted, he subsequently “sought out many inventions,” he became corrupt, as is manifest by his transgression, and imparted the same corrupt nature to all his offspring: yet did he not thereby forfeit heaven and immortal happiness; because he neither possessed nor had title [in creation] to either. It is worthy of remark that his connection with the earth was such that in consequence of his transgression corruption seized upon the ground whence he was taken, and it became thereby susceptible of producing food suited to his vitiated nature. The elements being corrupted, he could yet subsist upon them, – “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it thou wast taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” Gen. iii. 17,18,19. If, as is contended by some, the object of the second Adam was to restore the ruins of the first, why is the curse not removed from the ground? why does it yet produce “thorns and thistles”? and why has man yet in the sweat of his face to eat his bread?
The truth is, had Adam remained as incorrupt, as pure and sinless as he was when his Creator pronounced him good, yea, very good, he never could have entered that heaven to which christians are destined. Man’s capability of earthly enjoyments was given in creation and in connexion with his spiritual Head, “The Lord from heaven.” He is born to a natural inheritance – born AGAIN “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Why? Because the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, – “My kingdom is not of this world,” – and man in his best estate was only a natural being. “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh,” and “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” That there are two births brought to view in the third chapter of John, and only two, I think must be obvious to all attentive readers, and that the Saviour designated to show the ruler of the Jews, the necessity of the natural birth, in order to see, understand and participate the enjoyments of a natural kingdom, and that he urges thence the necessity of the spiritual birth as enjoyments of the spiritual kingdom, – “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” We see two births brought to view in the foregoing quotation, and they are connected by the copulative conjunction and; they are in the plural number, and consequently cannot [as I conceive] refer alone to the spiritual birth. I have no hesitancy in believing that by the term “born of water,” is meant the natural birth, (the figure is appropriate); and of the Spirit, the spiritual birth; by which (the latter birth) man is capacitated for spiritual duties. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,” I understand the Saviour to explain in the sixth verse what he means in the fifth, viz: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, [the natural birth – ONE] and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” – TWO births, and both necessary to enter the visible church of Christ.
The idea that Adam was spiritual before he transgressed the command of God, would involve its advocates in a similar dilemma with that experienced by Nicodemus; he apprehended that the two births were of the same nature, – [“How can a man be born when he is old?”] – both natural; they apprehend them to be of the same nature, – “both spiritual.” If either were correct in their apprehensions, I should be at a loss to account for the warfare experienced by all those who are “born again.” “The old man is corrupt, with his deeds,” whilst the “new man, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness,” – “The flesh [or old man] lusteth against the spirit, [or new man] and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things ye would,” – “If an man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” I do not believe, brother Beebe, that God adopts the method in making christians which is said to be resorted to sometimes by hatters, viz: to work over an old hat and apply some new fur to the exterior and sell it for a new one. This indeed seems to be the New School idea, for they (or some of them) contend that all regeneration does is to repair the faculties which became vitiated by sin. If this theory be true, I want to know Whence the warfare?”
But to return – All the perceptions and powers bestowed upon man in his creation were purely of the natural kind: hence his feelings, his enjoyments and happiness are all earthly, – “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,” “Unto you [disciples] it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without it is not given.” “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things [spiritual matters] from the wise and prudent and hast REVEALED THEM UNTO BABES.” But why need I multiply proofs, since the whole chain of divine truth runs in the same channel?
The assumption that man was spiritual seems to be forced upon “New School Baptists” in their dilemma, in order to harmonize their views in reference to its being the duty of mankind indiscriminately to repent and believe the gospel evangelically, to the saving of the soul, whilst they admit the gospel to be a spiritual system, and referring their condemnation to its rejection. They are not, however, agreed among themselves. Some of them avow their belief of the doctrine of Infant Purity, and hence say, All they who die in infancy go to heaven. I would ask such persons to tell me how infants, if pure, can die, since the Bible informs us, “THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH.” Death is only an effect, and of necessity is preceded by its cause. I apprehend such as believe the doctrine of Infant Purity, have not considered that they are charging God with injustice in inflicting the penalty annexed to transgression upon innocent beings. Nor is this the only awful consequence attendant upon this theory. It effectually excludes from heaven all who have been born within the last eighteen hundred years. Let us not forget that Christ died upwards of eighteen hundred years ago; that he died for sinners, that “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin,” that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh to the Father but by him, that he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, and withal, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” All know that infants, as well as adults, possess flesh and blood, else could they not be subjects of death.
When a false theory is embraced, a perversion of truth to sustain it follows as a natural consequence: hence the shifts to which the advocates of the notion that Adam was spiritual in creation are driven. If man did not sin as a natural being possessing flesh and blood, whence the propriety of the Apostle’s reasoning, “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 to bondage; For verily he took no on him the NATURE OF ANGELS; but he took on him THE SEED OF ABRAHAM.” It is manifest that in their natural or flesh and blood relation, they sinned against God; hence Christ’s humanity paid the forfeit of his people’s rebellion. If Adam sinned as a spiritual being, I cannot see how he could be redeemed, seeing “a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have,” and Jesus “was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” A spirit has no blood to shed, and without the shedding of blood is no remission.” But we have incontestible proof that Adam was natural, not spiritual, in creation, in the fact that his seed are natural, – “Every seed will produce his kind;” and Paul said of them “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.
Hence it is seen, brother Beebe, that the young, as well as the old, “must be born again or never see the kingdom of God.” “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power.” The first death had power over that life bestowed upon man in creation, and which he imparted to his natural seed; but, blessed be God, “the second death hath no power over” those who have “part in the first resurrection,” because they derive their spiritual or eternal life from Christ their spiritual Head, “that HE should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” It is therefore manifest that man did not derive his spiritual or eternal life form Adam the first, who was “of the earth earthy.”
I have been more prolix than I intended when I commenced writing, and must desist: for the present; but I may resume the subject hereafter when I have more leisure. In the mean time, those members of the Redstone association will do us a kindness by pointing out (through the Signs) the discrepancy, or rather supposed discrepancy, between the views contained in the Licking circular and the Bible. I hold no principle too sacred to yield on conviction that it is erroneous; and such I would hope to be the case with all Old School Baptists. Indeed I have no doubt but such is the fact with real Old School Baptists.
For the last six months I have been more actively engaged in preaching than ever before. I think I have averaged four discourses per week, and rejoice to tell you that the children of the promise, in the sections where i have travelled, (within a circle of some 80 or 100 miles) are manifesting a determination to take heed to the divine injunction: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
By special invitation I attended the formation of two associations last fall; the one in Henry, which I see noticed in the Signs, – the other in Boon, composed of eight churches, five ordained and two licensed preachers. Six of the churches came out en masse; one was a newly constituted church, and the eighth was the orderly part of another body, the majority of which had left original ground.
THO. P. DUDLEY.
Signs of the Times.
Volume 9, No. 7.
April 1, 1841