Lexington, Ky., Jan.3, 1874.
MY DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER BEEBE: - Although my natural vision is so much impaired that I can read or write but little, without suffering more or less, yet my thoughts are more busy on the things of the kingdom of our dear Lord, I think, than when less embarrassed, and I sometimes hope my spiritual vision has not been obscured by bodily infirmity.
There are two problems which the wisdom of this world has failed to solve, and a solution of which “The Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God,” has prevailed to disclose to the understanding of his spiritual children, to their comfort and delight.
The first problem is; How can God be just, and save a sinner? The second; Reconcile the justice of God with inflicting the penalty of the law upon him “who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”
I am your senior in years, but you are my senior in the public service to our gracious King. I therefore propose submitting some of the convictions of my judgment to you, with the hope that if wrong you will act the part of Aquilla and Priscilla, and teach me the way of God more perfectly. The text I propose investigating is found in Romans 5:14 – “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.”
I remember that in my early ministry the question was asked; Who were they that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression? The answer generally given was, “They are infants.” I have been unable to see the propriety of this connection, and cannot restrict the expression to infants, because within the long series of years which intervened, death was not confined to either young or old, but was common to both. I find no authority in my Bible that warrants the belief that God has made another man in his image, after his likeness, combining in him a vast posterity, and pronounced, with the rest of God’s creatures, very good, and to whom a law, permissive and prohibitory, was given, threatening death, as the result of transgression, and who, transgressing the law, has conveyed to that posterity all the ills to which flesh is heir. I cannot therefore concur in opinion with Doctor Gill, and others, that infants, to the exclusion of all others, were they “who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” Now with regard to the figure, I believe it is generally, if not universally, conceded that the expression, “Him who was to come,” Christ, the second Adam, is intended. Now if the first Adam be the embodiment, the head and representative of all his natural family, [“And he called their name Adam”] is not the figure lost, if the last Adam be not the embodiment, the head and representative of all his spiritual family, “even every one that is called by my name.” “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”
Could the first Adam convey to those not vitally united to him all the ills resulting from transgression? If the last Adam be not vitally united to his spiritual family, could he convey all the spiritual blessings to that family? The decree had gone forth, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God.” This sentence pertains alike to head and body. “And He is the Head of the body, the church.” “For His body’s sake, which is the church.” “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” “As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that body being many are one body, so also is Christ.” Now the law and justice of God spent their whole force on head and body, when Christ said, “It is finished.” “For if we be dead with him, we believe that we shall also live with him.” 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 that died for them, and rose again.” Hence Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Now we know that the law and justice of God only pursues the offender to the suffering of the penalty. Henceforth “ye are not under the law, but under grace.” In this arrangement, seeing that Christ “was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification,” have we not a full and complete solution of our two problems?
I might have added, “As the husband is the head of the wife, even so is Christ the Head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” Again, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
Based on the foregoing considerations, Paul says, “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” “Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.”
Regarding what has been previously said, we see how God can be just, and save a sinner, and can reconcile the justice of God with inflicting the penalty of the law on the Mediator of the new and better covenant. Where, then, is the justice in charging us with contending that nothing is done for the old man, or sinner? Especially when we maintain that all that Christ did and suffered on earth was for and on behalf of the sinner. But, brother Beebe, this indispensable work of the Mediator did not prepare men to “serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.” “Ye must be born again,” or ye cannot enter into or see the kingdom of God. A higher order of life, even eternal life, must be had, to “know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.” Or to believe the record that God has given of his Son. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believed on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Without this birth we should be unprepared for the heavenly glory.
Brother Beebe, we cannot too highly appreciate the pardon of sin. But though the chief pardon the guilty culprit, and he goes free from suffering the penalty his crime deserves, yet it does not remove his guilt. I desire more than pardon. I want to be clothed in “fine linen, which is the righteousness of saints.” This will enable us to hold up our heads, being justified from all things from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses.
If Christ did not exist from the beginning in another nature than his eternal, underived, unbegotten, unproduced Godhead, what Mediator had the Old Testament saints? Could any approach God but through a Mediator? Now Paul said, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” And Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” “I am the way, the truth and the life.” “For no man can come unto me, except the Father which sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
“He saves, and none beside him can;
Come, sinners, come, behold the man.”
Brother Beebe, I have not written the foregoing pages for publication, as they may provoke controversy, and injure the pecuniary interests of the “Signs,” but with a hope that you may find a leisure moment to reply. Really, I feel some hesitancy in taxing you so far as to read it, with the assurance that I will at no time intentionally embarrass you.
As ever, most faithfully and affectionately your friend and brother,
Thomas P. Dudley.