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Circular Letter Of Virginia Annual Meeting: “Salvation of Sinners”

Drafted by William Middleton Smoot, August, 1890,

The Sectarian, Vol. 1, Issue 2.

To all of like precious faith, Greeting: -

Dear Brethren: We hail with joy the favored opportunity of addressing you in the holy and precious fellowship of saints. Gathered together “with one accord in one place,” we would write of the holy things of that Kingdom “whose God is the Lord.” We realize anew the gracious power and sweetness of that which binds us together as one people, knowing no North, South, East or West, but kindred in Christ, and “companions in tribulation, and in the Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” Though separated from you by many miles, dear brethren, yet there is a nearness, an eternal, vital oneness, and we feel the holy fervor of that fellowship which permeates the whole body of which Christ is the eternal Head, and which glows in living, immortal power in every member thereof.

What subject could we write you of greater interest than salvation experienced by us all, and by which lost and helpless sinners shine in immortal perfection before the throne of God? For nearly forty years now, our brethren here have been accused of denying the salvation of sinners, with many other absurd and false accusations circulated against them. We know of nothing calculated to comfort and encourage the saints in their mortal pilgrimage but a revelation of the Truth as it is in Jesus in the salvation of His people from sin and death.

We must follow the Divine Order, however, in presenting the subject of Gospel salvation. The eternal, unconditional, and personal election of the Church in Christ, the chosen seed, comes first in that order. Before all worlds were made, or time was brought into existence, this eternal choice in Christ, the chosen Head of all the members of His body, in eternal oneness. Let it be distinctly understood that this is not the election of sinners of Adam’s race. This would make the election in Adam, and not in Christ. Nor is it the existence of a family of spirits in full development in all eternity. But it is the existence and choice of the Church in the chosen Seed thereof, which Seed develops the “generation of Jesus Christ.” – Matthew i, 1. In that spiritual birth by which this development is made, the personal existence of the child of God in Christ is manifested. The birth develops that existence; hence the Redeemer says, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John iii, 6. That spiritual child was in Christ as the spiritual seed when He “was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” – Proverb viii, 23. The birth simply develops this personal existence within the vessel of mercy, afore prepared unto glory. We see this in Adam, “who is the figure of Him that was to come.”- Romans v, 14. In the figure, the natural birth of an earthly child simply develops the personal existence which this child had in Adam when Adam was created; hence the Master says, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh.” – John iii, 6.

The eternal choice is in Christ and not in Adam, and the birth manifests the chosen child whose existence was thus “hid with Christ in God,” the Father, before the world was made. Not the natural man born over again, and he, the natural man, by that birth becoming the child of God, entering into, or seeing the Kingdom of God. For it is very manifest that if the man born of the Spirit is the man who sees and enters into the Kingdom, and if the natural man is that born of the Spirit, then he must after such a birth see and enter that Kingdom. But natural man does not, and this, too, is very evident. This reasoning contradicts the testimony of the apostle where he declares that the “Natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they (the spiritual things of God,) are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians ii, 14. But the development of this “generation of Jesus Christ,” is in these “vessels of mercy,” called in the Scriptures the “old man,” the “strong man,” the “natural man,” the “outward man;” while the indwelling child of God, and that which is born of God, is called the “new man,” the “stronger man,” the “spiritual man,” the inward man.”

Take notice that this is not the natural man born again, or born of God, exhibiting one man with two natures; in one of which natures he is born of the Adamic flesh, and in the other, born of the Spirit of God. But rather, each birth reveals an existence in the parent seed of the flesh, and of the spirit of Adam and of Christ. Nothing, we supposed, is more clearly taught in the Scripture than the existence of these two men, each the parent seed of his family – the one natural, the other spiritual; the one the figure of the other. “The first man Adam,” we are informed, “was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.” – 1st Corinthians xv, 45. In the development of the generation of each of these two men, by a birth, we trace the lineage of the child born back to the parent seed. This is what we understand the Master to have said in the language, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” – John iii, 6. This exhibits a natural and a spiritual seed, a natural and a spiritual birth, developing a natural and a spiritual generation.

Notice that this is not the regeneration of the natural generation, and this natural generation constituting the “generation of Jesus Christ,” but is the development of two characters of seed manifesting two orders of birth, and developing a natural and a spiritual generation. “This is the book of the generations of Adam.” – Genesis v, 1; and “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,” – Matthew i, 1, which unfolds and reveals this heavenly generation in these “vessels of mercy,” yet not made out of them! To this agrees the inspired testimony: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.” – Hebrews ii, 14. The blending of these two distinct regenerations in one duplex being, in which “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh,” and wherein the old man, after the order of his father, “is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” and the new man, “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” – Ephesians iv, 22-24 reveals the wonderful “mystery of godliness.” – 1st Timothy iii, 16. The regeneration of this spiritual generation, in their being brought from under the law in the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the eternal and chosen Head of His Church, brings us to a brief discussion of subject of salvation.

We should bear in mind that it is the child of God, and not the child of Adam, which is the subject of Gospel address; that the new man is the motive power in that duplex being to which we have referred, and not the old man. Instead of its being the same feet (as it has been said,) that once carried us to the gambling den that now carries us to the house of God, thus making the old man carry the new man; it is the old man which is brought into subjection by the new, as it is written, in its type, “the elder shall serve the younger.” – Genesis xxv, 23.

But now let us regard the child of God as a partaker of flesh and blood, as developed or made manifest in a mortal body, in a vessel of mercy, in an outward man, a man that is born of the flesh is flesh. In this relation only is he subject to bondage. And the revelation of this eternal, spiritual life, the manifestation of this inward man, who is born of God, is the eternal and abiding testimony, the everlasting seal of the salvation of the mortal vessel which holds “the heavenly treasure,” In this mortal body he groans, longing to be delivered, and hungering and thirsting for the things of the heavenly Kingdom. “We ourselves groan within ourselves.” – Romans viii, 23. This groaning is not the result of the quickening of a dead sinner into spiritual life, but it is the manifestation of that which is born of God. The quickening is in the spirit and not in the flesh. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” – John vi, 63.

The child of God, in his mortal pilgrimage, realizes ever the weakness, the mortal passion, the sin and death of that which is born of the flesh. When he would do good, “evil is present with him.” The good that he would he does not, but the evil which “I would not,” Paul said, “that I do.” Tempted, distressed, beset on every side, weary of earth and sin, he looks with heavenly longing to the unending rest of his immortal home. ‘Tis there that he is delivered from earth, himself, and sin, and filled with the fullness of God. In this mortal body he groans, “waiting for the adoption, to-wit, the redemption of our body.” – Romans viii, 23, waiting for the adoption of that which is born of the flesh, but is not yet born again, or born of God; waiting for the birth from the dead [and someone has penned in this next remark, rightly] (as Christ is the firstborn from the dead,) of that which is thus born of the flesh; waiting for the appearing of our Lord from heaven, “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 – even our present corrupt body – Phil. iii, 21. Most assuredly this world is not his home! “Here he has no continuing city.” Bound with a mortal chain, and oppressed with many a care, he clings with undying devotion to the Cross of the dear Redeemer as his only refuge. The hope which animates him is the hope of salvation, the abiding testimony of the Spirit, “the anchor of the soul.” Amid all the storms that beat upon him this hope abides, “entering into that within the veil.” All that he has, is, or hopes to be, rests upon that which is embraced in the Christian’s hope.

The hope of the Gospel! What thoughts cluster around it! What affections are there! In the love they bear it, saints have forsaken the friendship of earth, its nearest and most tender ties, its wealth and fame, yes, all, to follow Jesus. Through commotion and division, opposition to them and the Truth they see and love, through flames and flood, they follow where He leads. They know by experience that they have not yet attained unto the benefits of the resurrection of the dead. But when this mortal body falls in death, when the glorious and wondrous change of the resurrection is complete, when that which is born of the flesh is born from the dead, and the royal army of Heaven in bright phalanx shall stand, redeemed from every nation and kindred of earth; when, in immortal splendor,

“the saints of all ages shall in harmony meet,”

Then, and not until then, shall they comprehend the fullness of that salvation, the “volume of His deep decrees,” which embraces every chosen vessel of mercy, every heir of immortal promise, which raises from the dust of earth to the splendor of eternity, adopting the sons of earth, changing their vile bodies, fashioning them like unto the glorious body of our Lord. Can more be done for the natural man than this? Can there be more perfect salvation for a lost and helpless sinner?

In the hope of this salvation we greet you, dear brethren, believing that we “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner-stone: in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” – Ephesians ii, 19-22.

We have enjoyed a refreshing season, we trust, in the presence of our God. A large and attentive congregation has attending our meeting, and our brethren feel comforted, and are led to rejoice in the testimony of the Lord’s unfailing goodness.

Wm. M. Smoot, Moderator
James Posey, Clerk, August, 1890.