At Home, Harrisburg, Ia., Nov. 27, 1848.
BROTHER BEEBE: – The Pharisees and Sadducees were two ancient sects which differed with each other, yet both endeavored to entangle Christ and the disciples with their questions. We have many of the former class in our times, and some of the latter. There are some West of me who call themselves Old School Baptist, who deny the resurrection of the body, which, to me, is equivalent to a denial of the entire doctrine. If the spiritual seed was perfect in Christ before the foundation of the world, and will so remain forever, in this same spiritual relation and existence, without increase or diminution, and nothing but that same original spiritual life, which never did sin, die, or become polluted by the fall, shall live in heaven, and that shall live just as it did, and where it did, in a state from which it never fell, and above which it can never rise, or ever desired to rise, I can see no resurrection at all in the case. I have received a long letter from Elder E. S. Raymond, of Westchester county, N. Y., objecting to a sentiment in my letter published in the Signs, of October 15th, in the following words, viz.
“And here the resurrection of the bodies of all the saints to a glorious, spiritual and immortal state, is clearly and fully established.”
My friend informs me that he is 44 years old, and has been preaching Jesus and the resurrection 23 years. He says he has no acquaintance with me except through Elder Sharp of Troy, N. Y., and through the Signs; he writes professedly in the spirit of kindness. He reproves me for an incongruity which he apprehends in the words above quoted, and in the following, viz.
“Christ, by a spiritual creation, is the Beginning, of the creation of God, and his Son – The First Born of every creature in the spiritual order.”
These two sentences are the quotations he has made from my letter; and to the last he raises no objection; but seems to think that if the first is good divinity it is very poor logic. Is it a strange, illogical thing to this old teacher in Israel, that God should raise the dead? He is very far from being the first who has viewed this as an incongruity. The whole objection seems to rest on a supposed incongruity in relation to the resurrection of the bodies of the saints; this incongruity is in the notion that natural bodies can ever be raised and made spiritual bodies; and, if I can comprehend my monitor, he supposes these natural bodies of ours will die, putrefy, and return to dust, and never be raised again; but that a distinct spiritual man, soul, body, and spirit, which existed eternally, never died, never saw corruption, never was depraved, but was always pure, holy, spiritual, and incorruptible, and immortal, and this is all that ever will be raised, and that resurrection is only regeneration, or being born by the Spirit, and so the resurrection is passed with every christian; and as the faith of some was over-thrown by this heresy formerly, and others may at the present time be bewildered, I will briefly examine this doctrine, and as my friend desires to hear from me soon, I hope he will receive this as a tribute of my respect for him, and written in the same spirit of kindness.
The resurrection is so important an item in the christian system that all our preaching and all our faith is vain without it. The apostle, for himself and all others, admits, that, “If Christ be not risen, we are found false witnesses of God;” but he allegs that Christ is risen from the dead and refers to the testimony, all of whom were eye witnesses, also to the ordinance of baptism as a standing memorial of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; All these witnesses sustaining him, he affirms the certainty of the resurrection of Christ; and from that established fact, proves that the dead do rise; for Christ has risen and become the first fruits of them that slept.
But, what part of Christ was raised from the dead? I answer, the same that died and was buried. 1 Cor. xv. 3 & 4. We read that his soul should be an offering for sin. Isa. liii. 10. And that his soul was sorrowful even unto death. Matt. xxvi. 38. Also that he poured out his soul unto death. Isa. liii. 12. And we hear his prayer for the deliverance of his soul. Psa. cxvi. 4. Now I ask, does the word soul in these texts refer to his natural faculties as man, or to his immortal, divine, spiritual faculties? So of his body we read that he bare our sins in his own body on the tree. 1 Peter ii. 24. Was not his body mentioned here on the tree, his visible, corporeal, fleshly body? Surely it was. This body God had prepared for him as an acceptable offering, according to Heb. x. 5. This body died and arose again. This very suffering body of flesh; for Jesus said to the Jews, when they demanded a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up;” thus he spake of the temple of his body; and so his disciples afterwards understood it. John ii. 12-22. So Christ was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. 1 Peter iii. 18. Thus he died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and was buried, and raised again the third day according to the scriptures. Now the same body that died, and was buried, was raised again from the dead; and we do know that he was put to death in the flesh, His flesh did therefore rest in hope.
Adam was a good man; but he was only a natural man; his act, of course, could only involve what was proper to him as such, and the law which he transgressed could demand no more than the life which he had. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This death was not the death of a spiritual soul or body, or a divine soul, body, or spirit, but such as the transgressor had. All this was in the crime, all this was under the curse; but no more than all that he was or had, could be demanded by the law as a penalty for the offence. Therefore no demand of law or justice could ever require Christ to suffer in any nature of soul, body, or spirit, essentially different from the nature of man in his creation. But by the Spirit Christ was sustained in his sufferings until his God forsook him, and through it, he offered himself to God; and by it, he was quickened and so he arose and revived, and became Lord both of the living and of the dead. The Mediator surely did pre-exist the visible creation, as one brought up with the divine Father. His goings forth were of old, from everlasting, &c. The union of Father and Son, or God and the Mediator, the Man, Christ Jesus; although beyond our weak capacity to dissect or analyze; yet we are plainly taught that there is, and was always two whole and distinct natures essentially belonging to the one Immanuel, God with us. The whole fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him. He and his Father are one. Such was and is the union existing between the manhood and Godhead, in the person of Christ the Mediator. The church or elect seed were of God, a spiritual seed, chosen and set up in Christ before the foundation of the visible material world; and being of God, and in Christ, who of God is made unto them, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, they have, as a seed of God, in Christ, an indissoluble union with both natures of the Mediator, and so, as the seed in Christ, their sonship or filial relationship to God is identified with the sonship of Christ, and they are joint heirs with him; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ: and so in their Father’s will, which Christ the Elder Brother was appointed to do, or execute, they, as the sons of God, which this Mediator or executor was bound to bring to glory, were blessed with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, or things, in Christ Jesus, according as they were chosen in him. Being then, of God and in Christ, they were perfectly related to both natures, with their Father, a spiritual relation as his one spiritual seed; and with the Man Christ Jesus, a legal relation by God’s appointment and choice. So we see that all the spiritual blessings of the will of God, come directly to them, as gracious bestowments of his will, and all legal blessings come to them by the legal official acts of Christ, as Mediator or executor of that will. In this sense Christ was legally bound to do, suffer, adn fulfill every demand of the law which was against them, and so redeem them from its legal curse, and justify them unto a legal life. So by him they are freely justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. Such are the legal blessings which result to the elect, from the ancient relationship in which they stood to him as man; and all spiritual blessings, which were not in Adam before he sinned, to be forfeited by his offence, are freely given to them in Christ, by the will of God – his, and their Father. These being God’s children, and being legally related to the manhood of the Mediator became partakers of flesh and blood, and in that state fell under the legal curse of the law, the reign of sin, and the power and sentence of death. The Mediator in whom they were originally by choice, and in whose nature, as Mediator they were identified, was, in that nature, and in the offices of it, legally involved with them: and as the executor or Mediator of his, and his Father’s will was legally bound to render legal satisfaction for them all. Their partaking of flesh and blood was no crime, but a legal transaction, resulting from the creative power and express command of God; and was therefore an essential and divinely authorized union of the human nature, or essence of man, with the flesh and blood, or material body of man and now the body, and soul, and spirit of this human, visible, corporeal being was but one accountable mass, or frame, or body in all its parts, or many members. Christ was the Head, Life, First Born, Elder Brother, and King of them all; that in all things he might have the per-eminence. So when they had legally partaken of flesh and blood, and in that state had sinned, he, as their proper and legal Mediator, legally took part of the same, that through death he might legally destroy death, and him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and so legally deliver all the heirs from the fear of death, in which they were held in perpetual bondage.
Christ, in partaking of flesh and blood, and thus becoming physically capable of suffering in all the parts and faculties of a proper man, violated no legal order: but obeyed the high authority of God, his Father, who prepared a body for him, sent him into the world, and assigned to him all the work he was to do while here. All was settled by the foreknowledge and determinate counsel of God, as to time, place, and circumstances. In this body of flesh and blood, such as his children were partakers of in creation, before it was corrupted by sin, he suffered, died, and was buried. His human spirit was pained with grief; his human soul was poured out unto death, and he was put to death in the body of his flesh. That soul which was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, was not left in hell, (hades) separated from the body; nor was the Holy One, the body of flesh, that holy thing born of Mary, suffered to see corruption; but being put to death in the flesh, and quickened in the Spirit, God, who had forsaken him when on the cross, returned and raised him from the dead, so soon that he saw no corruption. A soul and body Adam had before the fall; a soul and body Christ suffered in, and the soul and body were interested in the resurrection; the first was not left in hell; the last was not suffered to see corruption, but was directly raised form the dead by the glory of the Father. The very same flesh and hopes which died and were buried, was raised again; for Jesus shewed to his witnesses his hands and his feet, and told them to handle him and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as they saw him have. “It is I,” he said to them, “be not afraid.” The women and the two disciples found not the body in Joseph’s new tomb, for it was risen. It was seen by the two disciples, as they went to Emmaus, and by the ten at Galilee, by the eleven, eight days afterward, and the well known prints of the nails were still in his hands and the place of the spear in his side was still visible. My eastern Monitor says, If the bodies of the saints are raised from corruption, they have a pre-eminence above Christ in one thing, for he saw no corruption.’ I should think this fact would show that in this respect, he who saw no corruption had the pre-eminence. However I suppose Enoch and Elijah saw no corruption; and all the saints who shall be alive and remain on the earth at the final coming of Christ, and are then changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, will see no corruption. From all the scriptural testimony, and legal relations, it seems to me incontestable that the appointed Mediator of God’s will, standing legally bound for all the heirs, was sent by his Father unto this world, within the purview and ministration of the law which they had transgressed, and by which they were adjuged to death and already condemned. Their life and legal Head, Surety and ordained Mediator, was sent by his Father, was made of a woman, and made under the law, or under the purview, or ministration of the published law, expressly to redeem them that were under the law. For this very purpose he came; not in sinful flesh; but in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, &c. Now, man was not spiritual but natural – a body and soul, when he sinned, and the law could not require the life of any more; this Christ as Mediator had legally laid down at the demand of the law, being made a curse, or sin-offering for us, and so redeemed us from all iniquity; so that, in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Surely the same body of Christ that hungered, endured pain, was whipped, pierced, and wounded with nails and thorns, and finally crucified, under pain and reproaches, and was buried in Joseph’s new sepulchre, was the identical body in which he was raised from the dead; and in that same body, with all the marks of his sufferings he appeared to his chosen witnesses, as they have testified. In this glorious body of Christ we have a perfect model of what our bodies shall be when we are raised: for these (not some other; but these) vile bodies shall be fashioned like his glorious body. When we awake with his likeness, we shall be satisfied. In his resurrection he brought life and immortality to light. And when we, in like manner, and by the same Spirit shall be raised from the dead, we shall bodily possess that same immortality; for, not some other, but this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and shall be made incorruptible, or incapable of ever being corrupted; and this mortal shall put on immortality. That which was sown a natural body shall be raised a spiritual body. Death and the resurrection are compared to sowing seed, which is but bare grain of what ever sort it may be, but having in it the principle to germinate, and produces a number of grains of the same sort; so was Christ, when he was cast into the earth, and died, he was raised and the whole stock or body of the church with all the grains like himself. And so each of his regenerated subjects, having the risen Savior in them, by the spiritual birth, that same Spirit by which they are renewed, and by which Jesus was raised from the dead, and which has quickened and renewed them in the spirit of their mind, and now dwelleth in every regenerated believer, shall finally raise them from the dead, not giving them some distinct bodies, but the identical body belonging to that which was sown, made spiritual by the Holy Spirit; for we believe that he who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; will also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. This is surely the testimony of the witnesses of the resurrection. The primitive saints were surely taught to look for, and confidently expect to realize this blessed hope. See Titus ii. 13-15. Does my good friend in New York believe that the spiritual body of Christ, was mangled, scourged, pierced, crucified, dead, buried and raised again; or, does he believe that the body which was crucified, died, and was buried, and never raised again from the dead, but that another spiritual body which had never died, received his spirit or soul, and so there was in reality no resurrection? Can he suppose for a moment, either of these positions, and clear Christ and his apostles from the imputation of deception, in regard to the facts by them testified? Can he admit for a moment that the saints will not be raised in the resurrection at the last day, or that they which are in their graves shall not hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth? Or, is it their spiritual bodies which are dead and in their graves, that shall hear his voice and come forth, to a resurrection of life? Either of these would be attended with greater confusion than he supposes brother Beebe to be in when he rejects the notion of new modelling the carnal mind in regeneration, and yet admitting the spiritualizing of the body in the resurrection. I am sure that every quickened heir of grace, does feel daily evidence in himself, that his carnal mind is not new modeled or formed afresh. And the scriptures testify that, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be.” It is not therefore, nor can it ever be new modeled so as to lose its enmity. It was not in man before the introduction of sin; but is an effect of sin, which will never be raised with the just; but, like every other root of bitterness which sin has brought into man, either in body or mind, with all their consequent results, will be left behind, when the body clear of every evil, and all its train of concomitants shall be left behind, when the body shall be raised incorruptible and immortal; by the Holy Ghost, they will be spiritual bodies. The difference between a natural body, such as Adam had before he sinned, and the spiritual, immortal body, such as the saints shall have in the resurrection, is now known only in part; but we do know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
The subjects of the kingdom, in whom the Spirit that raised up Christ from the dead, now dwells, have received a pledge and an earnest of the resurrection, and feel the power of the resurrection mightily working in them, which wrought in Christ when it raised him from the dead and set him on the right hand of God. These workings of the Spirit, its fruits, love, joy, peace, &c., with all that hungering, thirsting, panting after God, mourning over inbred sin, and outward rebellion, groaning for freedom from the bondage of corruption, and ardent desire to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven; all these motions and longings, with every inward spiritual exertion to overcome the motions of sin in the evil passions and propensities of the flesh, are so many indications that the spirit and power of the resurrection is now working in us, and that it will ultimately, at the set time perfectly triumph and raise us up above the power of sin, death, and corruption. These struggles against sin, these mournings over depravity, and the war between the flesh and spirit, and the hope of certain conquest, are all encouraged by the assurance of a glorious resurrection. For death shall then be swallowed up in victory. This Spirit is God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Quickening Spirit: and when this Spirit of God’s dear Son is sent into the hearts of the legitimate sons and heirs of God, crying, Abba Father, they are taught the spiritual relation, in which all strictly spiritual blessings are made ours in Christ, and all legal righteousness effected by the obedience of Christ comes to us by and through Christ.
In ope of immortality, I am yours.
Signs of the Times
Volume 17, No. 1
January 1, 1849