By Thomas P. Dudley
Dearly Beloved Brethren,
In our youth, we were taught to seek instruction from those sources which time and improved opportunities, had rendered most competent to impart it. As we have increased in years, our desire to know the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, has increased.
Hence we have looked with intense anxiety, to those whose age, experience, and opportunities for the acquisition of Biblical knowledge, gave assurance that we should not look in vain.
But, dear Brethren, experience and observation, have taught us, that the best and wisest of men, are but men - that they are fallible; hence the best interests of the Church, imperiously require that she should seek instruction in matters of faith and practice, from the “more sure word of prophecy.”
Let us regard the admonition, “Be ye not called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren:” and “call no man your father upon earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven” - (Matthew 23:8,9).
Whilst we hold in as high veneration, the fathers of our faith, as they are sometimes called; and are entirely willing to accord as others, to them, higher claims to intelligence and Christian piety, than we claim; yet we feel that we do them no injustice when we test their opinions by the Word of God, and allow those opinions to exert influence with us, only so far as they shall be found to harmonize with the Word of God- “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The fathers did not claim infallibility.
There have been exceptions recently taken, to views which we entertain upon several items of the Christian faith; and denunciations of the “worst kind of heresy,” made against us, because of the avowal of those sentiments. We are entirely willing they shall be brought to the Standard; if they shall be found to conflict therewith, we are sure, we do not wish them to prevail.
There were those in the days of Messiah, who were “exceedingly zealous of the traditions of the fathers.” May we be allowed to suppose that there yet remain some of the same characters, in the professed Church of Christ? They said to the Master, “Why do your disciples transgress the traditions of the Elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Again - “Howbeit, in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men” - (Matthew 7:7).
Now, we have searched, closely, the Word of the Lord, for proof to sustain the notion; “the soul is regenerated;” “the soul, is born again”; “the soul, is quickened”; “the soul is resurrected”; the soul, in regeneration, becomes the new man”; and we are constrained to believe, the error, is the result of carelessly reading the Scriptures, or disregard of the lessons they teach; and is consequently, nothing more nor less, than human tradition: and that those who are engaged in propagating that notion, are, emphatically, “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.”
We are aware, that, because of our dissent from that notion, “the soul is born again, resurrected, and becomes the new man,” we have been denounced from Maine to Georgia; and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as heretics; and as having “left Old Baptist ground.” But, allow us to reply, if Old Baptists leave the Word of God, we have no wish to follow them. We may be allowed to say, we sincerely regret, that any Old Baptists, here and elsewhere, have suffered themselves to be imposed on by these new theorists, who disregard the authority of “Him who speaks from heaven.”
“For the hurt of the daughter of My people, I am hurt.”
It will not, we presume, be denied, that, man became an accountable being, when God, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Antecedently to which, he was a lump of dead matter, incapable of vice or virtue, praise or blame. Nor will the fact be controverted, that man has possessed a soul, from his earliest consciousness; nor yet, that it is that soul, which exercises volition for the body. The members of the body only do the bidding of the soul, or intelligent faculty which exercises volition within – “when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15). “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). “The soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezek. 18: 4,20). We enquire, if that soul, which exercises volition for the body, and caused it to go into transgression, becomes, by regeneration, or reformation, or by any other process, incapable of sinning; what is it that influences the members of the bodies of the saints, to rebel against God? The Apostle teaches us that, “whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin, for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9 and 5:18). We should not forget, that it is this soul, or intelligent faculty, which distinguishes man from the rest of God’s creatures; and makes him, justly, the subject of law, and accountable to God. If our position be correct, and we think no intelligent Bible reader, will deny it; then is man entirely incapable of contracting guilt, and of subjecting himself to punishment, in the absence of the soul, or intelligent faculty – incapable of discriminating between good and evil – right and wrong?
It is worthy of enquiry: If the soul, by any process whatever, becomes the “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” is not the proper term, re-formation? And are not the terms regeneration- quickening, and born again, inappropriate when applied to it, as the subject of Divine operation?
If the soul is incapable of contracting blame after its re-formation, (for that is the appropriate term according to the theory of our opponents) whence did an apostle, under the immediate influence of the Spirit of God, pray thus: “And I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”? (I Thess. 5:23). It would seem, the Apostle considered the soul as likely to contract blame as the spirit, or the body; and this, he knew full well was not the case if, indeed, the soul is born of God.
If the soul, is the subject of regeneration, and the new birth, is man not as incapable of sinning, subsequently to the new birth, as he was antecedently to the “breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, and man becoming a living soul”? Or will our opponents have it, that this soul, which they say, is regenerated and born again, and resurrected; and becomes the “new man,” which “after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” “blows hot, and blows cold;” or exercises wicked volition, for the “old man,” and holy volition for the “new man”? But, our opponents have found out, that “the wicked propensities and vile affections within compose the old man.” We do not so understand the Apostle - he says, “The old man is corrupt, with his deeds.” “The old man is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Thus, drawing a distinction between the man, and the deeds, lusts, and wicked propensities; by which he is made known. Deeds, whether mental or physical, do not give being to the Agent by whom they are performed; but only develop the nature of the Agent, who performs them.
Our adversaries tell us the soul of the Adamic man, by regeneration, becomes the “new man,” and the body, remaining corrupt, is the “old man,” and “these (they say) are the parties in the Christian warfare.” If this theory be true, then, indeed, would Christians have a much easier, happier, more contented life, whilst in the body, than we have realized; or than has been claimed by the saints of ancient and modern times! The enemy they are calling to combat is a dead enemy - entirely harmless- incapable of contracting blame – inoffensive - can’t fight. What does the Apostle tell us on this subject? “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). In vain might the devil tempt this dead body - his temptations could not reach it, in the absence of an intelligent faculty; It would lie in unconscious repose. “We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18). “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth” (James 1:18). How did the apostle Peter understand the doctrine of the new birth? “Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever.” Let us inquire, were not those brethren to whom the Apostle wrote, as emphatically, in the germ of that incorruptible seed, before their development, as “the blade - the ear, and the full corn in the ear, was emphatically in the grain, before it was deposited in the ground, or planted? The first birth, was of a corruptible seed; and the product will invariably be of the same nature as the seed which produces it. By what process is this corruptible substance, conveyed into the incorruptible seed, of which Peter’s brethren are born?
The second birth is of an incorruptible seed, and, consequently the product will necessarily be as incorruptible, as that which produces it. Hence, “whosoever is born of God cannot sin” – cannot be corrupted. But, did Peter consider the souls of his brethren, born of this incorruptible seed? If so, why did he say, “seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren?” If their souls were born of incorruptible seed, they were, necessarily, purified by that birth. What propriety would there be then, in his ascribing the work of purifying their souls, to them? Hence we see Paul, Peter, and John, concurring in their testimony; they all establish the fact that the soul, literally, is not quickened- regenerated or born again; and that the “new man,” proceeds from another source, and is no part of the Adamic man - but is of spiritual origin- “born of God.”
Seeing the views taken by our adversaries; ought we to wonder, that they palpably contradict an inspired Apostle? They tell us, “the fallen, guilty, corrupt and polluted sons and daughters of Adam, are the children of God” – “the elect in Christ.”
We inquire, who are these corrupt and degenerate children of Adam; and of what are they composed? The answer is, “the children of the flesh” – the literal sons and daughters of Adam, composed of body, soul, and spirit” – “Adam begat a son in his own likeness; after his own image.” These, say they, are the children of God! But, what said the apostle? “Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:7,8). Let us remind you, that the name Isaac, is elsewhere, expressly given to Christ; and that Christ has in all time, yea, before time began, had a seed - “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, ‘and unto seeds’, as of many; but as of one, and to Thy seed which is Christ.” Again, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:16,29). This seed of Christ, “His portion” – “His generation” – His inheritance – is brought forward in various parts of the Bible. “He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation.” “When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed” (Isa. 53:8,10). “The Lord’s portion is His people” (Deut. 32:9). The children of God, or seed of Christ, partook of flesh and blood; and in that nature, violated the law of God, and became exposed to its curse. Hence an apostle said, “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 (the children) who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject unto bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren; that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:14-18).
None but a “near kinsman,” could make the reconciliation required – and who, but the elder Brother, so fit or so competent to accomplish that work?
The Apostle draws the following conclusions from the above premises, “wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house, hath more honor than the house” (Hebrews 3:1-3). Who are these “holy brethren,” and whence sprang they? They are “born of God” – “born of the Spirit” – “born of an incorruptible seed” – “the seed of the blessed” – “an holy nation” – “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” – “If the root be holy; so are the branches” – “I am the root and offspring of David” – “I am the vine; ye are the branches” etc. Suffice to say, they are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” But who is this elder brother? It is He who said, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren. In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee.” Again, “I will put My trust in Him.” And again, “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me.” It is He “who loved the church and gave Himself for it.” It is He who said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” It is the Son, of whom it is said, “who being the brightness of His (the Father’s) glory, and the express image of His (the Father’s) person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance, obtained a more excellent name than they.” But who is He? The “Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds;” it is He of whom it is said, “But unto the Son, He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom; Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” “I will set My king on My holy hill of Zion.” The anointed King in Zion - King of Saints. But who are these, “His fellows,” above whom He is anointed? They are the “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” The citizens of the New Jerusalem – His brethren – they too, are anointed, and made kings and priests unto God. “Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who also hath sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Cor. 1:21-22). “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him” (1 John 2:27). The Apostle adds, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” Here we have presented, the King and His subjects. The Husband and the Bride – the “appointed Heir of all things,” and the “joint heirs with Christ” – and, although these “joint heirs,” wade through much tribulation in this world of sorrow, yet shall they all finally overcome – and “to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
Whilst the Apostles, on the one hand, maintain the real, proper, eternal, underived divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ – that “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” – that, “This is the true God and eternal life” – that, He is “the only wise God, our Savior” – “Alpha and Omega” – “the Mighty” – on the other hand, they, as clearly maintain the existence of His manhood, “ere sin was born, or Adam’s dust was fashioned to a man.”
“For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Again, “Now a Mediator is not a mediator of one: but God is one” (Galatians 3:20). If language has a meaning, we are to understand from the foregoing declarations, first – that the one God, is not the Mediator; for God is one – secondly, the Mediator, is a mediator of two; thirdly, the parties between whom He mediates, are first, the one God; and secondly, men. But who is this Mediator? We answer in the language of the inspired Apostle – “the man Christ Jesus.”
Because we maintain what the Bible plainly declares, our adversaries are endeavoring to persuade the brethren, that we deny the Godhead of the Lord Jesus – that He is Jehovah. If He be not God, we are unable to perceive how His children, in the “new birth,” are made partakers of “the Divine Nature.” “For, unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7). This “mighty God,” sustains the relation to His children, of “everlasting Father,” and the children, are thus brought forward by the Prophet, when personating this “everlasting Father,” “I will say to the north, give up; and to the south, keep not back; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by My name, for I have created him for My glory, I have formed; yea, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:6,7). But to return:
The position of our adversaries, if we understand them; is this: “Jesus existed in His Godhead, from eternity; but only in his manhood, from His conception in the womb of the Virgin.” Others of their party, tell us, “We can go back no further than Bethlehem, for a Savior.”
We invite the first, to consider, that it was not to His Godhead, but to His manhood, the sins of His people were charged. And to the latter we answer, to consider, that if no Savior existed in the four thousand years which preceded the conception of the Babe of Bethlehem; then all who died antecedently to that event are lost without remedy. If either position is true, the world existed four thousand years without a Mediator. We beg the advocates of both views, to consider the disastrous consequences which must result from establishing either of their theories. Not one of the millions who died in those four thousand years, including the patriarchs, could be saved. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me,” said the Redeemer. Again, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
We presume it will hardly be contended by those who regard the authority of the Bible, that the Godhead suffered, was made an offering for sin, or died! Yet the Lord Jesus said, “I lay down My life for the sheep.” Of Him it is said, “who was delivered for our offences; and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:2).
That it is in the relation He sustains to His people as man, we hear it said, “though He were a son yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” In that relation, it is said, “For it became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” And being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all men that obey Him. “For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices, wherefore it is of necessity that this man (not, this God) have somewhat also to offer” (Hebrews 8:3). What has this “man” to offer? “Wherefore, when He cometh into the world He saith, sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin, Thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, lo! I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O, God.” Whence did He come? Let Him answer. “For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:38,39). Again, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). Again, “What and if ye shall see the son of man ascend up where He was before” (John 6:62). “For the son of man is come (from whence? Heaven) to seek and to save that which was lost.” “The Lord possessed me (Who? The Mediator, the man Christ Jesus) in the beginning of His way, before His works of old, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning; or ever the earth was” (Proverb 8:22-23). In concluding this part of our subject, allow us to say, this Mediator who “was set up from everlasting,” is it He of whom it is said, “Because He hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained” (Acts 22:31). Need we multiply more proofs, that the “man Christ Jesus,” actually existed as Mediator, “or ever the earth was”? or that the “man, Christ Jesus,” came from heaven, when He made His appearance in this world? “They have Moses and the prophets; if they believe not them, neither would they be persuaded though one arose from the dead.”
That we may be no longer misrepresented, (unless indeed, the misrepresentation shall be willful) – allow us to say, whilst we most firmly believe the Mediator, “the man Christ Jesus,” existed, “or ever the earth was.” Yet we have never believed, or attempted to maintain, that He existed in flesh and blood, before His conception in the womb of the virgin - “a body hast Thou prepared Me” – “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But He spake of the temple of His body” (John 2:19,21). Hence it is seen, the body – the temple, was designed as a dwelling place for the “Man Christ Jesus.” The apostle Paul; under Divine inspiration, conceived the existence of “a man, in the body, as well, the existence of a man “out of the body,” (II Cor. 12:2), and shall we be charged with heresy because we believe, “The Man, Christ Jesus,” existed antecedently to the body of which He was prepared? “Jesus Christ he same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the same Mediator in the Patriarchal, Prophetic and gospel dispensations – “He, that is, and was, and is to come.”
Having maintained the doctrine of the lineal descent of the children of God, from their Spiritual Father, [in seed substance], that they are “born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man; but of God” (John 1:12-13). Allow us to inquire, if the children of the flesh, the seed of the first Adam were capable, by virtue of their oneness in and with him, of violating the law, and falling under its curse 5850 years since, and forfeiting the one life, that was then common to all that family; is it a matter entirely unworthy of our consideration, whether the seed of the last Adam were not as capable, in their oneness with Him, of meeting all the claims of the law and suffering the entire penalty due to their transgressions, when that life was laid down, to which the law was given; when Jesus said, “It is finished, and bowed His head and gave up the Ghost”?
You will learn then, as our settled conviction, (the representations of our adversaries to the contrary, not-withstanding) that regeneration, quickening, and to be born of God, in their order, are as indispensably necessary to our seeing, and entering into the kingdom of God, and enjoying “the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him,” as generation, quickening, and natural birth, are indispensable to our enjoying this natural world. And that each birth, is alike brought about without the agency of the being that is born. That the two men are fed and sustained upon different elements. The “new man” with spiritual food, is sustained. The “old man,” now, as formerly, is sustained upon corrupt elements.
But, it is said, we deny that any thing is done for the “old man,” which is a false accusation. Allow us to say, the Adamic man, is he who has violated the law and incurred the penalty; that the whole sufferings, agonies, and death of the Lord Jesus, was only for the Adamic man – the sinner! The spiritual seed of Christ did no sin, in their spiritual relation to Him, and hence, they, in that relation, needed no redemption!
In conclusion, we propose dropping a few thoughts on the subject of adoption. The intelligent reader, need not be told, that to adopt one’s own child - the fruit of his own body, will not advance the child’s interest. He is an heir already- an inheritor, by lineal descent. Adoption pertains to the child of another - a stranger - his interests may be greatly promoted by observance the statute regulating adoption. The child of a stranger, may, by adoption- legal adoption, be raised from penury to affluence- from poverty to plenty.
The “inward man,” or “new man,” is an heir of God by birth - “begotten of God,” and a “joint heir with the Lord Jesus Christ.” But the “outward man” - the Adamic man, is the son of a stranger - he is the child of “the first Adam, who is of the earth, earthy.” Hence, adoption into the heavenly family, will greatly improve his situation; he will, thereby, be brought into possession of an heavenly inheritance.
Here, he receives the “spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15 & 23), but when “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality,” then will he receive adoption itself. The apostle said, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father” (Romans 8:15). Adoption is in the future - hence Paul said, “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit: the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.” Then will mortality have been swallowed up of life, and the heavenly family “enter in through the gates into the city.” That which is the subject of adoption, will be raised to glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life; whilst the family impenitent will be raised to shame and an everlasting contempt.
The personality of the saints, will not be changed by possessing two whole and distinct natures; but he “shall see Jesus and be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
It is now more than four years since the “Circular on the Origin, Nature, and Effects of the Christian Warfare” was published by its author, on his own personal responsibility; we have hoped, as we have since, that if its principles were antagonistically to the Bible, some one capable of showing that antagonism, would come to the rescue. But as yet it remains unrefuted; as we believe it is irrefutable, from the Bible. It is true we have seen some attempts to caricature it - to make a “man of straw,” and fight the straw, but those puerile attempts prove that their authors look at it as unanswerable.
Dear Brethren, we invite you to a critical comparison of the doctrine maintained on the foregoing pages, with the Standard of Truth, the unerring Word of God - if found to accord, strictly, with that Standard; surrender it not but with your natural life. If at war with the Bible, reject it. God grant that you may be able to pronounce righteous judgment in the premises.
And now, dear Brethren, we commend you to God, and to the Word of grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified.
Done by order of the Licking Association, and signed in her behalf.
Attest: Thomas P Dudley, Moderator.- 1853
James Peak, Clerk