Lexington, Ky., Feb. 29, 1872.
DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I have reflected much on the crude and undigested notions of almost, if not altogether, the religious world, so-called, excepting Particular, or Old School Baptists, with regard to the mediatorial work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and am constrained to acknowledge, that, if those notions comport with the teachings of Christ, and his apostles, and prophets, I have wholly mistaken them.
It will be conceded that all laws, whether human or divine, are quite as much designed to protect the innocent as to punish the guilty, we learn from the divine word that Christ was “holy, harmless and undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Heb.7:26. Again, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” I Pet.2:22. We furthermore learn that, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.” Prov.17:15.
Having regard to the character of Christ, and the immutable justice of God, a momentous question is presented for our solution, where is the justice, and what the propriety of the following declaration: “Who was delivered for our offences; and was raised again for our justification?” Rom.4:25. Again, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye are healed?” I Pet.2:24. I know of no provision of law whereby an innocent person can be made to suffer the penalty annexed to transgression, though he will do it willingly, and the guilty party, is exempt from punishment. And why is it so? Because the law imposes the penalty on the transgressor, and not on the innocent party. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4. Now we know that what things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Rom.3:19. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Rom.3:23. If it be asked, when and where all have sinned; allow the apostle Paul to answer, “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.” Rom.5:12. Hence we learn that the violation of the law by one man, was fatal to all who sustained vital oneness to and with him. Having shown that all those who were vitally united to the earthly Adam, were directly and fatally effected by the original transgression, which brought death and all our woes upon us; and he, the earthly Adam, being “the figure of him that was to come,” that he, the first Adam, was the embodiment of all of his natural family. I now propose showing that the Lord Jesus was the embodiment of all his spiritual family, and that by virtue of his union or oneness with his family they, and they only, derive the blessings resulting from his mediation on their behalf. The Psalmist informs us that, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1. Again, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth, and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” Psalm 90:1,2. And yet again, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph.2:10. Once more, “Who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” II Tim.1:9.
I presume it will not be denied, that imputation invariably follows relation. There could be no justice in imputing the transgression of Tom to Gilbert, and holding the latter responsible in the absence of legal union, or relation.
If I mistake not, the record God has given is that; Christ sustained relation to his church, as shepherd, husband, and head, “ere sin was born, or Adam’s dust was fashioned to a man.” Now, when a flock of sheep commit a trespass, by which damages are incurred, I have never heard of a case in our jurisprudence where the sheep have appeared in court as defendants in action for trespass. The action is maintained against the shepherd. Hence we hear it said, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones,” Zech.13:7; again, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep,” John 10:14-15; and yet again, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16.
We know that an action for debt brought against a wife in her own name cannot be maintained, while she has a living husband. But if brought against the husband, although he may not, in his own person, have contracted a farthing of the debt, yet, if the claim be just, is he holden responsible for payment. The prophets said, “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. The relation of husband invests him with the right of redemption. Again, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without a blemish. So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever 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 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.5:25-32.
I will present one more bible figure, and am done with this part of the subject. We know that the life of the sheep is not forfeited by transgression or trespass, although the shepherd has to pay damages, and that the life of the wife is not forfeited by negotiating a civil contract, but the husband is held for payment; but the life of the body is forfeited by the commission of a capital offence. “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” I Cor.12:27. Again, “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. Now for the Headship of Christ: “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.” Eph.1:22,23. “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. Sustaining the relation of head to his people, when they violated the divine law, it demanded his life as the forfeiture. Hence it is recorded of him, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit.” I Pet.3:18. Again, “Forasmuch 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 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 that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” Heb.2:14-18. Thus it is seen that not only legal, but vital union, or oneness, is indispensable to make the work of the Lord Jesus, available on behalf of his chosen people.
In the year 1852 I attended the Scioto Association, Ohio, and by request, preached the introductory discourse. I was also chosen to preach the first discourse on the following day. Just before I arose, a ministering brother said, “Do you know that _____ has been endeavoring to make the impression on the congregation, that you had said the eternal life of the church died, when Christ died on Calvary, and that you had furthermore said, the children of God existed in flesh, and blood, and bones, before the foundation of the world?” I replied, I had not heard any such thing of such charges before. After opening worship, I called the attention of the congregation to the charges, the preacher who made them being present. I asked what greater absurdity could be presented to the mind of intelligent persons than that eternal life died? The earthly Adam was not possessed of eternal life when the law was given; and consequently could not forfeit that of which he was not possessed, and proceeded to say, if you will tell me what life man had when the law was given him; I will tell you assuredly what life it was that died because of transgression. We should not forget that “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” Eternal life is given in quite another Head. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” I John 5:11. I maintained that the second charge was alike preposterous. That according to the charge, we should have the children partakers of flesh and blood four thousand years before their father. I, however, maintained that the children of God had a seminal existence in the Lord Jesus as a seed before the world began. I had the satisfaction of believing, from the demonstrations made, that the congregation generally understood me and received the doctrine. The preacher who misrepresented me neither offered any explanation or apology.
Brother Beebe, the foregoing pages are submitted to your judgment and discretion. As ever, most truly and affectionately, your friend and brother in hope of life eternal,
Thomas P. Dudley.
P.S. – Brother Beebe, I have endeavored, and I think, proven conclusively, that oneness or union gave validity to Christ’s offering as shepherd for his sheep; as husband for his bride, and as head for the body, and all the members. I may be allowed to say, hateful as the doctrine of eternal union or oneness of Christ and his church seems to be to a large majority of professors of the religion of Christ, destroy this main pillar in the Christian system, and I am left entirely without hope of the “better resurrection.”