Lexington, Ky., May 25, 1871.
MY DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I have read attentively the kind and affectionate letter of Elder John A. Thompson, of Lebanon, Ohio, published in number eleven of the current volume of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, and brother Thompson will pardon my obtuseness in not perceiving wherein he has shaken the position taken in my answer to his former communication, in which I represent the earthly Adam as the old man to whom Paul alludes as one of the antagonist parties of the christian warfare.
If I were as entirely confident of interest in the atoning blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, as I am that the earthly, fallen and depraved Adam, is the old man, I do not think I should entertain a doubt of reaching the heavenly glory.
I find no where in the Bible, the idea taught, of three men, in the disciple of Christ, and yet brother Thompson’s theory presents three. First, the first man Adam [who] is of the earth earthy; Second, the second man, is the Lord from heaven, and Thirdly, brother Thompson’s old man: “Sin and Lust.” He tells us “I have not wished to build my views upon inference, because to me inference proves nothing. Now I ask brother Thompson, in all candor, Does the Bible anywhere in its sacred pages say that sin and lust is the old man? What then is his assertion based upon but inference? But this is not the only objection I have to his theory; he would seem to represent the earthly Adam as a mere myth, and entirely to absolve him from any participation in the christian warfare, and entirely irresponsible for all the opposition and rebellion against God, which is found in the old man, and to hold sin and lust, his old man, alone responsible. Will he be kind enough to inform us how he will have sin and lust punished, otherwise than in the living, conscious, responsible earthly Adam?
Was the law given to sin and lust, or to the man whom the Lord God formed of the dust of the ground, and into whom he breathed the breath of life, and man became a living soul? Was it to sin and lust the Lord said, “For in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die?” Or, “The soul that sinneth it shall die?” Sin and lust composed no part of the man to whom the law was given; it was brought forth in the original transgression, which brought death and all woes upon us. “When lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished, bringeth death.” “Lo this only have I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.” Eccl.7:29. Man then is the guilty party, and sin and lust, that which exposed him to the curse of a violated law. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” I cannot be mistaken in these views, and I think brother Thompson and all other intelligent christians, upon mature reflection, will say, they are in strict harmony with the record God has given.
Now if I understand the teachings of my Bible, sin is the cause, and death the effect of transgression, and by them Man procured the curse of the law.
My flesh is as incapable of violating the law independently of an intelligent principle, as my horse’s flesh. An idiot, or insane person, is altogether incapable of violating the laws of the land, and incurring the penalty; because of the absence of mind, reason or sense, none of which are known to exist in brother Thompson’s old man. When the Bible speaks of man, I do not understand a myth to be intended, but one who is possessed of mind, will, action and determination. Hence it is said, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression.” Adam, knowingly, wittingly and wilfully transgressed the law and incurred the penalty. It certainly cannot be necessary that I should labor this point further.
If however, brother Thompson desires more proof to sustain my position, I invite him to a close and critical examination of the following: “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Ye shall know them by their fruits. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Make the tree good, and his fruit shall be good, or make the tree corrupt and his fruit shall be corrupt.” Brother Thompson would make active principle, a corrupt fruit to exist, irrespective of a corrupt tree which bears it, and thus transposes the Bible order of things. We do not expect to make the tree better or worse by tampering with the fruit. If we desire good fruit, we go directly to work with the tree. Again the Savior says: “A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man, out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” The evil man is the guilty party, and his guilt is established by the evil things; his sin, lust, &c., which he brings forth, or discloses. The law was given to rational, intelligent beings, as a test of their obedience. The gospel is addressed to the subjects of Christ’s spiritual reign, to whom it is said appropriately: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Col.2:6. Again: “The night is far spent, and the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness; not in chambering and wantonness; not in strife and envying, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Rom.13:12-14. Again: “For as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” Gal.3:27. Now I feel confident brother Thompson on reflection will admit this putting on, and putting off, is not literal, but figurative. As ye have put on Christ by profession, you should engage practically in the performance of those duties which exemplifies your high calling; namely, that “Ye should be followers of God as dear children, and walk in love, even as Christ hath also loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.” Prove your faith by your works.
If I am right in the foregoing exposition of putting off, and putting on, as I am confident I am, then those other passages to which brother Thompson has referred, are susceptible of easy, natural and scriptural solution. Now after the same manner, we are exhorted to put off the old man, we are commanded to put on the new man. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be ye angry and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath; neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labour; working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
We see the apostle draws the distinction between the old man and his deeds, while brother Thompson confounds them; the evil deeds the work of an evil agent. Paul said, “Knowing this that our old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that hence forth we should not serve sin.” The apostle does not say our sins and lusts are crucified, but our old man. It would seem superfluous to prosecute this subject further. It does seem to me so plain that I am not exhorted to put off my natural body, or man, literally, but the erroneous, or sinful practices, affections, passions and propensities; which proceed from the old man, and are the fruits of the flesh, or fleshly man; and exhorted to put on, practically, that new man, and to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, which are “love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, faith, temperance, against such there is no law;” and that we are exhorted to add to our faith, “virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity; for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” that I feel some surprise that any should doubt.
I cannot suppose that brother Thompson anticipates that his old man, sin and lust, will be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God; and yet I look forward with pleasing anticipations to a period when “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.” When I shall see Jesus and be like him, for [I hope] to see him as he is.
But brother Thompson quotes from my former letter: “You say brother Dudley, that the old man, harasses the saint; I say so too, but brother, do you want to loose your body.” I answer that I most ardently desire to “keep under my body, and to bring it into subjection.” – to cast off the works of darkness; the works of the old corrupt Adamic man, with whom I have so often to grapple, and over whom the Lord Jesus will ere long give me the victory.
Brother Beebe, I should perhaps offer an apology for drawing so largely upon your columns, but I felt that brother Thompson’s letter called for a response at my hands, and I desired to make it so full and explicit, that no further explanation shall be needed.
I am as ever, most truly and affectionately your friend and brother in hope of the life which now is, and of that which is to come,
Thomas P. Dudley.