Dearly beloved Brethern and Sisters:
Our foundest gratitude is due the Author of our holy religion, for the privilege of associating once more in our annual convocation, and for the sweet, and we trust, profitable converse we have held with each other.
We know not how better to subserve the cause of truth, or the interests of Zion; than by submitting such views of the divine economy of redemption and salvation, as we entertain; whilst we most cordially accord to others, the right to test the correctness of those views by the standard of truth.
We have long esteemed the doctrine of the indissoluble union of Christ and the Church, as being at the very base of the Christian system; that it is second, in point of importance, to no point in that system; and that to overturn it, would be to remove one of the main pillars of the spiritual temple; yea more, to raze the foundation itself, and prostrate all the well grounded hopes which saints indulge, of meeting in another and better state of things.
As we attach so much importance to this doctrine, and have made it the topic of our present Annual Address, it will be expected of us, that we enter into a calm, dispassionate and scriptural investigation of the subject. The doctrine is so lucidly inculcated in the Holy Scriptures, that, with a consciousness of incompetency to a full and thorough elucidation of its momentous bearings, we are nevertheless encouraged to present such considerations as have brought conviction to us of its truth and vital importance.
The history given us of the “first Adam,” combining within him, his bride, with all his natural family, and who is declared to be “the figure of Him that was to come,” is such, that, being understood, must carry with it undying conviction of the doctrine of “union,” with reference to that family.
Professing as we do, to take the Bible for our guide, does it not behoove us to inquire for truth at its sacred pages? Whether our pre-conceived opinions shall be found to harmonize therewith or not, all should bow without a murmur to its doctrine.
We proceed with the figure: “And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,” &c. “So God created man in His own image: in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” - Gen. 1:26,27. By the term, “In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them,” we cannot suppose the Holy Ghost meant that Adam was created a god - that he was immutable. Then would he not have sinned and fallen under the sentence of condemnation - or that he possessed the attributes of the Deity; but that he was created in the image and after the likeness of “God manifest in the flesh;” in the image of the “Everlasting Father,” of the Spiritual Husband; in whom the Bride, and all the sons and daughters of Zion were created. “This is the book of the generation of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam; in the day when they were created.” - Gen. 5:15. “And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” - Gen. 3:20. From all which, it is manifest that God is, alone, the creator of the “first man Adam,” who is of the earth earthy - that his bride, and all his natural seed were created in him - that it took all combined to constitute the “first Adam,” (the Adam of the Bible.) “And He called their name Adam.”
We next inquire, Whence did Adam derive his vitality, and what were his susceptibilities? “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.” - Gen. 2:7. Man was destitute of life, of consciousness, and, consequently, only became a responsible being, when he “became a living soul.” It took soul and body to constitute him a rational, intelligent being - the subject of law, and accountable to God. “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 commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which the Lord had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” - Gen. 2:8,9,16,17,18,21-24. We presume that all intelligent beings must see the doctrine of “union” fully and conclusively taught in the foregoing reference to the Scripture of truth.
Irrespective of “vital union,” we should be totally at a loss to comprehend the following declarations, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” - Psa. 51:5. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” - Psa. 58:3. “Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (For until the law, sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law.) Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one, (Adam) many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one Man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's (Adam's) offence, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness; shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” - Rom. 5:12-17, inclusive.
Had the union between Adam the first, and his natural seed (who were created in him, and simultaneously with him,) been dissolved by transgression, there had been no development of one son or daughter of Adam. But we go further, and say, that “union” is proven to have existed both antecedently and subsequently to transgression, in the fact that, “Adam the first,” though created upright, is the father of an apostate and degenerate family, as is manifest in the case of Cain, and multitudes of others. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.” - Eccl. 7:29. “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.” - Gen. 5:3.
From the quotations made, we recognize two heads. The one of the natural, the other of the spiritual family. Let us not forget the character of the respective heads, or we shall mistake the character of their families. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” Hence, the Apostle continues, “Howbeit, that was not first which was spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward 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 also 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.” - 1 Cor. 15: 45-50 inclusive. Here we are presented with two distinct families; the first, “living souls” - the second, “quickened spirits.” The first, natural beings - the second, spiritual; the first, earthy - the second, spiritual beings.
We maintain, that Eve, and all the natural family, were created in, and known only as “Adam.” “And He called their name 'Adam'.” That they all received the law in him - transgressed in him - became the subjects of condemnation and death in him - in a word, such as he was after the transgression, such are they in a state of unregeneracy. We confess we are utterly unable to see the force of the figures used in the Bible with reference to this subject, if the Bride, and all the “sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty,” were not created in, and known only, as Christ, mystically - received the gospel, and all their spiritual blessings in Him. Hence, an Apostle said, “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Again, “As He is, so are we in this world.” Adam the first conveyed death, condemnation and moral depravity to all his natural seed, who descend from him by ordinary generation, in consequence of “union.” “Adam the second,” conveys all spiritual blessings to His spiritual seed, in consequence of “union.” Adam's natural family are born as a consequence of previous existence in, and “union” to him. Christ's spiritual family, are born again, as a legitimate consequence of previous existence in, and union to Him; as the “branches in the vine” - “created in Christ Jesus” - “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world” - having “grace given them in Christ Jesus, before the world began” - “preserved in Christ Jesus and called.”
Imputation necessarily follows relation, else would not Adam's family have been effected by his disobedience? Nor yet, would Christ's spiritual family be effected by His obedience?
The doctrine of the Eternal Union of Christ and the Church, when unfolded to, fills the hearts of the regeneration with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Hence the Psalmist said, “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, even from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God.” - Psa. 90:12. “In all their afflictions He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His piety He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” - Isa. 63:9. “Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd, He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” - Isa. 11:10,11. “My substance (said David, personating Christ,) was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see My substance, yet being imperfect; and in Thy book all My members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them,” (that is, none yet made manifest upon the earth.) - Psa. 139: 15,16. The Psalmist further illustrates the “union,” when he says, (with reference to Christ,) “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint.” - Psa. 22:14. Although His bones (for “ye are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones,”) are “out of joint;” yet is there not one of them broken, or dead; in consequence of “union.”
The various metaphors, or figures, found in the Scriptures, and which are designed to set forth the union between Christ and the Church, it would seem, are unmistakable, if the children of light “would contemplate them in their connection; for example, we hear it said, “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him (Christ) to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” - Eph. 1: 21,22. Destroy “union” between head and body, literally, and that destruction is necessarily fatal to both head and body. The Apostle continues, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ. From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edification of itself in love.” - Eph. 4: 15,16. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church, and He is the Saviour of the body. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies: he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” - Eph. 5:23-32 inclusive. “And He is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.” - Col. 1:18. “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the Church.” - Col. 1:24. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” - 1 Cor. 12:12. We invite special attention to this chapter. But, the “union” is brought to view by other metaphors. “For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given, the government shall be upon His shoulder; His name shall be called wonderful counsellor; the mighty God; the everlasting Father, and the prince of peace.” - Isa. 9:6. Compared with Gal. 4:5, - “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.” Again, “For thy maker is thy husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called.” - Isa. 54:5. “And I (the good shepherd) lay down My life for the sheep.” - ohn 10:15. “Feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.”- Acts 20:22. Thus we see, that “union” gave sanction to His work, as shepherd, for His sheep, as Father for His children, as Husband for His Bride, as Head for the members, including His whole body.
But Christ is emphatically, the life of His people. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” - Col. 3:4. Can “union” be closer or more indissoluble? The chosen family, transgressed the law, and incurred its penalty, in their earthly head. Life is the forfeit - nothing more or less than life can meet the demands of divine justice. “The wages of sin is death.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever.)” - Psa. 49: 7, 8.
Such the Apostle considered the nature of that “union.” He says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.” - 2 Cor. 5: 14,15. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” - Gal. 2:20. “But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sin, hath quickeneth us together with Christ; (by grace are ye saved.)” - Eph. 2:4,5.
Adam the first, possessed within him, all who have been, now are, or ever shall be developed, as living souls, and imparted to them the nature which he had as a “living soul.” Christ, the “second Adam,” possessed within Him, all who shall ever be developed as “quickened spirits,” and imparts to them the nature which He possessed; which is indispensable to serve God aright, and enjoy the world to come.
We feel, we own, we have transgressed the divine precept, that “in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing;” “for to will is present with me, but how to perform that that is good I find not.” “I cannot do the good I would , nor keep my conscience clean.” But O! with what transport is the heart of the believer filled, when he feels some application made of the declaration, “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” “For ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power.”
“My filthy rags are laid aside,
He clothes me as becomes His bride;
Himself bestows my wedding dress,
The robe of perfect righteousness.”
“Unto her it was granted that she should be clothed in fine linen, clean and white, and the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Hence, the angel said to John,
“Come hither, and I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife.” “Thou art all fair My love, (said the husband,) there is no spot in thee.” “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord His God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.” - Numbers 23:21.
O ye sons and daughters of Zion, - Ye who mourn and so deeply lament “iniquity” within, and long for deliverence from “perverseness,” destroy “union;” eternal, indissoluble “union,” with your living Head, and whence could you look for comfort, or hope for acceptance? Your King, your Saviour, in His prayer on your behalf, says, “And the glory which Thou gavest Me, I gave given them; that they may be one, even as We are One; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one: and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me. Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world.” - John 17:22-24.
We confess, most frankly, that in the absence of “union,” we are utterly at a loss to reconcile the justice of God with the sufferings endured by the Lord Jesus, and His death upon the cross; or to reconcile that justice with the salvation of sinners. “The wages of sin is death;” but Jesus was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” “who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” “Who His own self bear our sins in His own body on the tree.” “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied. By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” “As for thee, by the blood of Thy covenant, I have sent forth Thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Why is it, that the shepherd is holden responsible in law, for the trespass committed by sheep placed in His charge, if not by virtue of His relation as shepherd? Why is the husband holden responsible for the trespass of the bride, if not by virtue of His relation as husband? “The reproaches of them that reproach Thee, are fallen upon Me: Then I restored that which I took not away.” Why is the Head holden responsible for murder committed by the hand, if not because of union or relation?
We presume that no intelligent Christian will deny that “union” between the “first Adam,” and the “living souls,” who descend from him, existed antecedently to their development; and that, that “union” is the cause of their being born into an earthly state of existence; susceptible of earthly enjoyments, and sustained upon earthly productions. Is it not passingly strange then, that any who have been brought to taste that the Lord is gracious, should deny that “union” to the “second Adam,” who “was made a quickening spirit,” is the cause of all those who concentrated their spiritual existence in Him; being “Born of God;” “Born of the Spirit;” “Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever?” The being born of corruptible seed, and “going astray from the womb speaking lies,” no more necessarily results from the born corruption of the fountain whence they proceeded; than the being born again of incorruptible seed and possessing holy desires, results from the incorruptible nature of the Fountain; whence they derive their existence. “Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin: because His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” - 1 John 3:9,10. “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.” “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His son Jesus Christ . This is the true God and eternal life.” - 1 John 5:18,20. The cause of rebellion, and disposition to sin, is found in the “first Adam,” hence we are at no loss to account for the effect, as manifested in all his natural seed. “There is none that doeth good, no not one.” The cause, or nature of holiness is found in the Lord Jesus, hence they who are in love with holiness, are ardently desire its practice, manifest that they are born of God, that they are branches in the “true vine.” And here we perceive the root of all spiritual or holy obedience; “God is a spirit, and they that worship Him; must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” In all this, the doctrine of the indissoluble “union” of Christ and the Church, is taught; let it be successfully controverted, and we despair reaching that “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” or joining the heavenly anthem, “Great and marvelous are Thy works Lord God Almighty, just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of Saints.”
“This sacred bond shall never break,
Though earth should to her centre shake;
Rest, doubting saint, assured of this,
For God has pledged His holiness,”
“Because I live, ye shall live also.” “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee; therefore, we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
It is matter of no little surprise to us, that there should be found among those claiming to be old school Baptists, some who can make no distinction between between the doctrine of “union,” as taught in the Holy Scriptures, and illustrated in the foregoing pages, and the modern “two seed” heresy - that they destroy both the head and the body. Destroy the union between the head and any one member of the body, and the body is imperfect. But God is to be thanked that there is nothing that can separate us from our Head for every member is kept by the power of God, and it is the same spirit that animates the whole body; for all God's people are taught of the Lord, and are led by the same spirit to admire the riches of that grace which has made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom is treasured all riches, and glory. Brethren beloved, rejoice evermore, and be exceeding glad, for He who has called you is faithful and true, and has declared that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, neither shall the purposes of His grace be frustrated, for He must reign until all enemies are put under His feet.
We were greatly comforted in having the presence of your messengers with us, and we desire that God will continue to bless our correspondence to our mutual comfort, and to the strengthening of our love in the truth.
Our next association will be holden with our sister Church at Rockbridge, Bourbon Co., Kentucky, on the 2d Saturday in September, 1849, where we hope again to hear from you.
Done by order of the association, and signed in her behalf.
T. P. Dudley , Moderator.
Attest: - James S. Peak, Clerk.