“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood bath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day; for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father bath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even be shall live by me.” – John vi. 53-57.
The inspired apostle Jude addressed his brethren as follows: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints; for there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Is there not a faith to be contended for? But how? In a spirit of bitterness and strife, in order merely for the mastery? Certainly not; but earnestly; and how can it be done earnestly, if we have not had an “earnest of the Spirit in our hearts?” Did not the apostle say to the saints at Ephesus, “After that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory?” Earnestly, in common parlance among men, merely means, warmly, zealously, &c.; but in the scriptures it has a much more profound meaning, as applied to the children of God in their experience; for they “have tasted the good word of God, and the POWERS of the world to come.” When the children of God feel it their solemn obligation to contend for any cardinal principle of the doctrine of God our Savior, as recorded in the scriptures and taught them in their experience, it will not be done perfunctorily, but with an earnestness and zeal which clearly exhibit that the heart is in the matter. Sometimes matters are contended for in such a manner as to gall and chafe the tender mind; but such course shows that the fault is not in contending for the truth, but the manner in which it is done. Were not our Lord and his disciples often found reasoning with the opponents of truth? Not any where in the scriptures is there anything recorded forbidding the children of God contending for the faith; but, on the contrary, they are expressly exhorted to contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
In the chapter from which we have made the quotation standing at the head of this communication, is a record of the miracle performed by Jesus, in the feeding of about five thousand men, upon the two small fishes and five barley loaves. The great multitude “took shipping and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled.” In the answer of Jesus to the multitude, one awfully momentous truth is set forth, viz: that our God knows the hearts of all men, and that nothing can be hidden from his divine scrutiny; for with Jehovah it is one eternal now; no yesterday, no to-morrow; and if we will carefully read the one hundred and thirty-ninth Psalm, I cannot see how we can doubt for one moment the truth that our God is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. In the sixth chapter of John our dear Redeemer, in his answers to the Jews, brings the matter more and more close, until he comes to the point that he makes the awfully sublime declarations upon which I now feel to make some remarks, for publication in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, if the brethren editors think proper to do so.
Then Jesus said unto them. How many of that multitude who heard the answers, except his disciples, knew anything about him as the true God and eternal life, we are not informed, or whether any besides the disciples, we are not informed, neither need we surmise, as it is plainly evident that the great mass of them were dead in trespasses and sins; and the chosen disciples themselves were still under the legal dispensation. Then, as now, the truth of Jesus caused murmuring; and Jesus “said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day;” but as the answers were given, “the Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” The saying of the immaculate Son of God cannot be changed, by any means that mortals ever have used, are now devising, or ever can concoct, but will remain true.
Verily, verily, I say unto you. That awfully potent and divinely solemn asservation of Immanuel, made to those Jews more than eighteen hundred years ago, can never be invalidated by all the ingenuity and sophistry of all the subtle metaphysicians who have ever lived upon the earth, are now living, or ever will be in this world; and were all the nations of the earth to-day, without the exception of a single person in those nations, arrayed in open hostility against the saying, they could no more change its truth than they could prevent the stars of heaven from fulfilling (or moving according to the will of God) his purpose; for all “the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold he taketh up the isles as a very little things.” When the written word of God is received by the saints with the childlike simplicity and reverential awe, its declarations are believed, however dark they may, in many instances, appear; and that portion which reads thus, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory,” is received by the meek, humble child of God with reverential awe.
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. In perfect harmony with this declaration of Jesus, was the apostle’s words to his Corinthian brethren; for said he, “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Those Jews whom our Savior thus addressed were alive as men, as the children of Adam; but so far as spiritual things are concerned, and the immortality which God only hath, they were dead – had no life, unless they ate the flesh of the Son of man and drank his blood. Now this leads us to examine the scriptures upon this momentous subject, and see who are prepared to receive these important things, and to show from scripture testimony WHY the flesh and blood of the Son of man is meat and drink to the heaven-born and heaven-taught; and that all who vainly suppose they can merit salvation by their own works, are living on their own flesh and blood, having no spiritual life, consequently are dead in sins. The Lord said of certain characters, “And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh, and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh [Jew and Gentile] shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Were not the Pharisee’s fleshly works (his own flesh) sweet to him? For said he, as he “stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all I possess.” Were not his own carnal doings like “sweet wine” to him? Certainly; therefore he was feeding on his own flesh, and destitute of immortality, or eternal life, consequently was the prototype of thousands upon thousands of carnal professors of religion in our day.
The scriptures, in positive and unequivocal language, describe two lives: for it is recorded in Genesis, that “the Lord God formed man (of) the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, [or lives, as the marginal translation reads] and man became a living soul.” He was man before he became a living soul; and when that “breath of life” is taken from him, he is man, but a dead man. That life the man received is no where in the scriptures called immortality or eternal life; and what is termed death, as it regards our bodies, is the taking away of that life which God breathed into his nostrils; and as to the never-ending existence of that life, it appears that the scriptures are quite plain in the matter; for the wicked are destined to everlasting punishment, or endless life, in an eternal separation from God and holiness, which is eternal death; for death is separation – not annihilation.
Why the lovers of truth should be so much concerned about the final destiny of the non-elect, or wicked, for whom Christ did not die, is some-what surprising to me; for the just, the infinite and holy God has fixed that matter according to his will, and will be glorified in their final destiny, and there I wish to leave the matter.
The inspired apostle settles the matter concerning the two lives and two distinct men which shall be developed without a member lacking; for said he, “And so it is written, [in Gen. ii. 7] The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam (was made) a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first [in manifestation] which is 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.” Now such positive declarations must be conclusive evidence that the spiritual immortality, the eternal life of the church, of which Christ is the Head, is in him – is Christ; for, “if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” The body is not dead as it regards being animated by natural life, but is separated from Christ, so far as our fleshly nature is concerned, causing a warfare in every child of God, until released by the death of the fleshly body. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Therefore the fleshly or natural man, however great his attainments, however skillful he may be in the letter of the word of the scriptures, can no more eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood than he can by his power call a world into existence. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
The difference between the worship that God respects and that which he does not respect, was clearly manifested in the offerings made by two brothers, when but few of the posterity of Adam had been born of the flesh. “And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell;” and the result was, as soon as permitted, Cain slew his brother Abel. The inspired apostles forever settle the matter concerning the offerings of those brothers; for Paul says, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh.” And John says of Cain, “who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”
Now instead of limiting that wonderful transaction to the two men literally, we have set forth clearly the two kinds of offerings, or worship, which have been amongst men in all ages, both under the legal and gospel dispensations; one by faith, the other carnal works; for “Abel was a keeper of sheep; but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” All worship performed by carnal men, however much zeal may be manifested, is but the fruit of the ground, or originating in themselves; and however varied the forms may be, all proceed from the carnal mind; and the same persecuting spirit and thirst for blood has often manifested itself in the “hydra-headed” monster, antichrist; which Cain manifested on account of God’s sovereign choice in accepting his brother Abel and his offering, and rejecting himself and his offering.
We will now notice the great significance involved in their names, because such wonderful things are recorded for the lovers of truth and should not be passed by carelessly. In the three letters, G-o-d, are involved the wisdom, justice, love, immutability, power, grace and mercy of him who “created the heavens and the earth.” And now the name of Cain represents matters of deep interest, for it signifies possession, or possessed; and that has been the aim of the abominable spirit of priest-craft in all ages, not willing that men should enjoy their God-given rights. In the name Cain there is not a radical contained in the root of the word from which the terrible name, God, is derived; and that name was not given by chance, but to represent his true character. But how different the signification of the name Abel; for it means, vanity, or a city of mourning; and in this there is a doctrinal point involved of vital importance to every sincere inquirer after the truth as it is in Jesus; for in this name we have not only the radical, but the very term from which the terrible name, God, is taken; for El is the term used for God; because Jacob erected an altar and called it “El-elhoe-Israel,” which signifies, “God, the God of Israel.” He also “called the name of that place Bethel,” the house of God; also, El-beth-el, the God of Beth-el; and Peniel, face or vision of God. His name was changed, before the angel who wrestled with him left, from Jacob to Israel, a prince with God. The dear Redeemer’s agony caused him to cry with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,” &c. The term, Eli, signifies, my God. Here is the same El, with an annexed letter i, equivalent to the word my. Now in the name Abel, the same El is incorporated, but the prefix Ab takes from, according to the idiom of the original language, and makes the name mean what has already been said of it. So lost and ruined sinners feel strong in themselves, until Christ is implanted in them the hope of glory; and sooner or later they are brought to see their own impotency, and are separated from all trust in man, whose breath is in his nostrils. Saul of Tarsus was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and he died. He also said he was less than the least of all saints; and he begins his epistles with the name Paul, from Paulus – little; and can we not see the force of the El in the name Abel? For Paul said of God’s children, that they are “made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.” Job said, “So am I made to possess months of vanity.”
I have dwelt somewhat at length on the force of El, as found connected with the names in the Old Testament, for I have been satisfied for years that those names containing that root set forth the awful truth that separate from Jesus Christ there is no immortality, no eternal life; for “if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” The spirit of Christ IN Abel led him to take the proper sacrifice to typify the immaculate Lamb of God, who, in the fullness of time, would lay down his life for his church; and the taking of the lamb was prophetical, for the great atoning sacrifice was yet to be offered when Abel was enabled by faith to offer his sacrifice. The spirit of Christ always leads his loved ones to himself, before they can be satisfied, for it is Christ in them the hope of glory; for the sunbeam comes from the sun; so in the light of the Son of God he is seen, or in his light we see light.
Now concerning the spiritual life of the church, which was hid with Christ in God, how careful all ought to be in expounding the scriptures not to confound the body prepared for the sacrifice, with the eternal, spiritual life of the church, which never sinned, which life the saints of God under the patriarchal, as well as under the legal dispensation, were made the recipients of; but all were under the righteous demands of the law, which was not satisfied until Christ, the atoning sacrifice, was offered. Of this Redeemer it was said, “And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, not out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever.” The apostle Paul, one of the inspired judges in Israel, said, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty ears after cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” In these quotations from the Old and New Testaments, as well as in many more places in the scriptures, in which the term seed is used, if it be not the ZERA-EL, seed of God, or ZERA-KEDOSH, holy seed, distinct from the life given Adam, then terms have no just meaning, and there is no possible way for us to express ourselves in an intelligent manner.
All spiritual blessings were given the church in Christ Jesus before material things were created; for said the apostle, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children [not merely adopted children, but unto the adoption of children] by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”
In the fullness of time the church was redeemed from under the demands of the law by Jesus Christ – not her eternal, spiritual life, but a definite number of Adam’s race, or vile sinners by nature; and they “were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” “And they sung a new song, saying Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood OUT OF every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.” “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Concerning the great matter of Christ’s coming in the flesh, and of them who lived and died before he came, the inspired penman said, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, [not made up of those mortal principles, but partakers of them] he also himself likewise took part of the same;” (not by ordinary generation, for the declaration is, as made by the angel, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”) “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 in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”
In the fortieth Psalm, the speaker is certainly the Messiah, as the apostle assures us in Hebrews x. 5-9. Does he not in this Psalm call the distress into which his unity with his people and his covenant relations brought him, an horrible pit? Certainly; and then he says, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book [of the Father’s eternal purpose] it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Then it is recorded in verses eleven and twelve, that he prays for deliverance from his deep distresses, saying, “Withhold not thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me.” When was this terrible agony? When did his iniquities take hold upon him? When did he pray for deliverance? These terrible realities were all felt and known while in his incarnation; for in perfect harmony with the acknowledgement and supplication in that Psalm, is the record made of him by the apostle John, which says, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but this cause came I unto this hour.” The true cause of the dear Redeemer’s great agony was, that God the Father had laid upon him the iniquity of every member of the church, his body; and, if their iniquity, the tremendous consequences. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah contains a prophecy concerning the Messiah, his death, sufferings, and the subsequent glory; also the sixty-ninth Psalm, as well as many other portions of the Old Testament scriptures, are predictions concerning the sufferings of Christ in the flesh, while fulfilling the law in all its righteous requirements, for the seed of Abraham. In the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah it is declared concerning him thus: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 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.”
Not any where in the scriptures do we read any thing about the precious Redeemer’s soul, only in connection with his incarnation; and he “poured out his soul unto death,” for his body, the church. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” In the flesh and blood with which Immanuel was clothed, or in which God was manifested, every requirement of God’s righteous law was fulfilled, in every jot and tittle; for said the Savior, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in now wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” In the flesh our dear Redeemer did fulfill the following: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy might, and thy neighbor as thyself.” “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” When he had in his flesh endured every sorrow, borne every grief and suffered eve pang ordained for him by his heavenly Father, he laid down his life; for said he, “And I lay down my life for the sheep. * * * No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” The shame and pain endured from the Jews, the Roman soldiers, the thorns, the nails and the cross, were but a small part of his sufferings; his agony, on account of the bearing the sins of his people, is past describing by mortal man. “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.” “For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” Now as he liveth unto God, “being raised from the dead,” he “dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him;” and he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.
Now with tenderness, forbearance, love and childlike simplicity I would ask the sincere lovers of the truth as it is in Jesus, whether in the visibly organized church, or now lingering about the fold, Have you found any thing in your flesh upon which the new man, Christ in you the hope of glory, can feed; or have you been enabled, since quickened by the spirit of God, to feed upon your own carnal deeds, that is, like the Pharisee, eat your own fleshly doings? You, beloved, will certainly answer, No! Then you have found in your experience the truth of the Savior’s words, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, (they) are spirit and (they) are life.” Such awful truths may be uttered by our powers of speech, but experience must teach us their vital force. You have learned, or will, that our fleshly nature is so empoisoned and perverted that we cannot keep the law of God judicially, that is, be free from a spirit of covetousness; then how impossible to do the greater, if we cannot do the less; and the greater is to worship God in spirit and in truth. If we have found this to be true, in our experience, do we not feel that the apostle Paul is a brother? For he said, “For 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.” But did the ancient Pharisees find any such difficulty? No; because they were dead in sins, and in their worship were like Cain, “Tilling the ground,” and bringing their own works forward, eating their own flesh, and modern ones of our day do the same. Yet Paul delighted “in the law of God after the inward man,” which was Christ in him the hope of glory.
Now my dear brethren and sisters, do you have any real satisfaction and joy, only as it is made known to you through faith that Christ did magnify the law and make in honorable, and you have the good hope through grace that he died for you? If such be your hope, and you feel that Christ is your shield and hiding-place, his flesh you eat in deed and in truth; for in that flesh only were all the commands of the law and its righteous requirements fulfilled.
The spirit of Christ in a vessel of mercy sooner or later leads the recipient of that divine nature to Christ, the author and finisher of the faith of all the election of grace; and there will be no real rest until brought to him experimentally and made to obey his commandments. However weak, trembling and fearful one may be, if the finished work of Christ be that which such one loves, that person possesses the spirit of Christ, and eats his flesh, and has eternal life; and on the other hand, however painful it may be to contemplate, if the flesh of Christ be not the meat, though the moral attainments may be of the first order, though one may be of the first order, though one may be orthodox in the letter of the word, may deliver sound precepts, may be able to entrance multitudes with his eloquence and his appeals to the passions of men concerning their condition as sinners, and picture the humiliation, sufferings and death of the Savior in such a pathetic manner as to draw tears from the eyes, if such teacher does not eat the fleshy of the Son of man he is but “as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” The child of God who feels so ignorant, so unworthy, that all that can be uttered is, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and inwardly eats the flesh of the Son of man and drinks his blood, already has eternal life; for his blood is truly drink to all such; for it was said of the Messiah, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” They to whom the flesh and blood of the Son of man is meat and drink, cannot receive a sentiment which takes any of the glory from their dear Redeemer; but they who are alive spiritually, do not always enjoy a feast, for at times they find to their grief and sorrow that the spirit is willing but that the flesh is weak; that they are always dependent upon their heavenly Lover for every blessing, and that they have different frames of mind.
Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. In whatever condition of life, whether rich or poor, wise or ignorant, high or low, Jew or Greek, Barbarian or Scythian, bond or free, if they spiritually eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, they have been made the recipients of eternal life, and are certain to be raised up at the last day. Does this look s though nothing has been done for the Adamic man? Has not that been done for such ones that is too profound a subject for the angels to look into? Said the apostle to his brethren, “For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” The very fact that God’s children know an internal warfare, is an evidence that they are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” And you, beloved, who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, find the conflict within, at times, to be very sharp indeed; but did you not experience such internal struggle, you would not be in the company of the ancient patriarchs, prophets and apostles. The ancient and modern Pharisees are the characters to whom this warfare is unknown; therefore you, distressed and afflicted ones, be of good cheer; though the conflict be severe, it will not last long.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. The Jews then, and mortals to-day, say, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Nicodemus said of the spiritual birth, “How can these things be?” Mortals, in all the plenitude of their carnal wisdom, cannot see how such things can be, so contrary to reason and justice, they often tell us; but their language clearly and fully shows that the matter cannot be grasped by our mental powers, neither does the natural man ever feed upon that food prepared for the members of Christ’s body; but the immortal man, Christ in the believer, the hope of glory; and that life never has been separated from Christ, for it is absolutely Christ in them, the hope of glory. In the seventy-first Psalm it reads thus: “Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness and comfort me on every side.” In the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah it reads thus: “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.” In the third chapter of Col. it is recorded concerning the body of Christ, that having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. No power of enemies can hinder the increase, neither can mortals hasten it. These passages have direct reference to the manifestation of the body of Christ, in the vessels of mercy, not an increase of the hidden or mystical body of the Redeemer. The reconciliation being completed, the manifestation of every member of the body is certain. “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him. How is it possible for language to more fully express vitality of life and oneness, than these words of Christ? And such union shows that the same life is in the Head and all the members; “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.” Such then is the union that the Head and body have the one life, and upon no other principle can any person justly contend for the final victory of every member of Christ’s body, than this oneness of life; for Paul says to his Corinthian brethren, “But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Such a union defies the assaults of earth and hell; for the eternal Deity must be destroyed, for Christ not to live; and Christ must die, if his chosen people die, which things are impossible; for our God lifts up his hand to heaven and says, “I live forever.”
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. Our earthly fathers are dying fathers, who appear for a little time, as the vapor, “and then vanish away.” But of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ it is declared, “But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” Truly they who love these truths and know by experience the power of their heavenly Father, can sing with deep emotion and joy the words,
“How can I sink with such a prop
As my eternal God,
Who bears the earth’s huge pillars up,
And spreads the heavens abroad?”
Just before the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ, he said to the troubled disciples, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” And in the seventeenth chapter of John it reads thus: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have 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.” Such vital union as these declarations show, made by our dear Redeemer while God incarnate, ought to silence all caviling concerning the unity of Christ and his people, the church, his body, “the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” How careful all readers should be and notice particularly that the scriptures make the plain distinction between the spiritual life given the church in Christ before time began, and the natural life of the vessels of mercy developed through their earthly head, Adam; and when our venerable brethren, who have been long contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, treat upon the eternal, vital union of Christ and the church, that they are not contending for a flesh and blood union, but that our God, in his absolute, uncontrollable sovereignty, predestinated a definite number of the fallen race of Adam to be redeemed from sin, death and hell, by the death of Christ, and that the spiritual blessings given them in Christ should be bestowed upon them; and in and through them the complete body of Christ should be manifested, and that all should be made like the glorified Head of the church; and so vital was the spiritual union, and fixed was the purpose of the living Father, that all will be exemplified here in time, in exact harmony with the divine purpose; and Paul did not receive a blessing predestinated for Peter, nor John endure a sorrow appointed for James; and the glorious truth that there never has been a reversing either of the blessings or sorrows, shows positively that the doctrine of eternal, vital, spiritual union is true. Concerning the predestination of the election of grace, and that every individual member was foreknown of God, and that for that foreknown number only Christ died, we have the testimony of one of the inspired judged in Israel, which reads thus: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren, Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
As I close my remarks, concerning eternal life, and what are the evidences of that, which I have endeavored to show from scripture testimony, and in harmony with the experience of the heaven-born and heaven-taught, I feel to say that we, in speaking or writing, should never confound the spiritual life of the church, given her in Christ Jesus before time began, with the natural life given in the Adamic head; and we should endeavor, when treating upon the atonement to show according to the scriptures the distinction between the offering and the eternal Deity, who made the sacrifice; but enough proof has been given upon that important subject. If any one will read carefully the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, such one must be convinced that something is done for the Adamic man; but he is not made a spiritual man in this fleshly state; but the spirit of adoption he receives “whereby we cry, Abba, Father;” and he having been sealed with that holy spirit of promise, is “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Beloved in the Lord, we are living in a time of great confusion, and infidelity, deism and atheism abound in our land, and prowling wolves are roaming around, seeking whom they may devour; therefore does it not become the remnant of the woman’s seed now in our land to inculcate the principles of love, peace and forbearance, as much as in us lies, or so far as our God may enable us thus to do? Ought we not to take heed to the apostle’s words, as addressed to his Colossian brethren? “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so ALSO do ye.”
My dear brother Beebe, another year will soon be numbered with the past, and another volume of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES will soon be completed, and you will, if spared, commence in a short time the forty-eighth volume of our, to me, valuable paper; and I do hope that our brethren, sisters and friends will do all they possibly can to sustain you in the publication, and not forget the trying circumstances under which you commenced the publication, and for what purpose; that you have given much of your time to the preparing the matter and the issuing of the paper; and now as your sun of life is far down the “western hill of life,” that a generous and cordial support will be given you in your efforts to still make our family paper interesting to all lovers of the truth.
Affectionately your brother in Christ, I hope,
WILLIAM J. PURINGTON.
Hopewell, N.J., Dec. 12, 1879
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Volume 48, No. 1
January 1, 1880