Lexington, Ky., Jan.25, 1877.
MY DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - My attention has been recently called to an expression which occurs in the Circular on the Warfare – “quickened spirits.” I remember the expression was severely criticized immediately after the Circular was first printed. Recently it has been called up by a brother, who seems to conclude the expression is inappropriate. The term quicken is susceptible of several meanings, as we learn from several of our lexicons, as Brown’s Dictionary of the Bible, Buck’s Theological Dictionary, and Webster’s Dictionary. There is more than one of those meanings which in my judgment justifies the use I have made of the term – to give life; to hasten; to accelerate. To quicken is ascribed to each Father, Son and Spirit. Hence, “As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” Again, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal body by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” It was said, on another occasion, “That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.” This expression is applicable in a two-fold sense: “dead in trespasses and sins,” and corporeally dead. First, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” “If we be dead with Christ we believe we shall also live with him.” “For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” “The last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.” Whence the term quickening Spirit, if he does not quicken somebody? Another suggestion, before I proceed with the exposition. There is a recognized difference between the man and the body, or temple, or house, he dwells in. “If this earthly house of our tabernacle were dissolved.” If crime be committed; it is not charged against the house, but against the man that dwells in it. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” Here is the body, house, or dwelling place of man. “And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Paul conceived the idea that man could live in the body and out of the body. And the man Christ Jesus said. “A body hast thou prepared me.”
I now proceed with the matter directly in issue. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” We do not suppose he meant to say or intimate that their fleshly nature or mortal body was then quickened, but that the seed or germ of eternal life was implanted in them. Allow me to say, I understand that quickening necessarily antecedes birth, whether we apply it to the natural or the spiritual birth. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” As I have said, we cannot suppose, rationally, that he meant that their mortal body or fleshly nature was then quickened with Christ; nor yet can we rationally suppose that when the apostle further says, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ,” he meant that the Adamic nature had been so highly blessed. What then? That the germ had been quickened, “born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And this “new man” sat in heavenly places in Christ. “The old man” was not created in Christ, and consequently could not descend from, or be born of him.
The Bible informs us that “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Paul asks the question, “What man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” From what I have said, it is demonstrated that those, and only those, who are quickened and born of the Spirit, can worship God aright; and they often complaining of slothfulness, coldness, and want of zeal in the cause of God and truth. Indeed, they are represented as asleep; yea, as dead. Hence we hear the exhortation, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” They cry, Quicken us, and we will call on thee; draw us, and we will run after thee. Now, if Christ quickens them, “gives grace to the humble,” so that they “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable unto God by Jesus Christ,” I ask, What are they but “quickened spirits?” No petition is intelligently raised to the divine throne to quicken my fleshly nature, that I may worship God aright. How common is the cry of the distressed in Israel, “I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.” “We are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Who are these but “quickened spirits?” Our God has so ordered that the “new man, after God created in righteousness,” and the “old man, corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” shall here inhabit the same house or tabernacle, antagonists as they are in nature, whence arises strifes, contentions, wars, wrestlings and runnings; that the new man is constrained to often cry, Lord, save! Lord, help! Lord, deliver! And is only consoled for the time by the hope that ere long he will put off this his tabernacle, and be clothed upon with his house which is from heaven. It is this continued strife which incites to prayer and supplication. We find very many appeals to Christ for help and deliverance. The psalmist cried, “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes.” “Quicken me according to thy word.” “Turn my eyes away from vanity, and quicken me in thy way.” “Behold, I have longed after thy precepts; quicken me in thy righteousness.” “This is my comfort in my affliction; for thy word hath quickened me.” “I am afflicted very much; quicken me, O Lord, according to thy word.” I might add many more such supplications, but consider it unnecessary. In none of those cries for help and deliverance have they proceeded from an unsanctified heart; all, all addressed to “him who is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” The members of the spiritual family, who have here no abiding city. But the comfort, O! The consolation, in the assurance that “though our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens;” and the remembrance that our God has provided celestial bodies for all his family; that our body, though sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; though sown in weakness, it is raised in power; though sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; though sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Hence an apostle says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
I sincerely hope, brother Beebe, that I may not be called on again for an explanation of what I have written. I am as ever, most truly and faithfully your friend and brother in hope of the better resurrection,
Thomas P. Dudley.