The Regular Baptist Association, called White Water, convened with the Church on Pleasant Run Creek, to the Churches composing our body, sendeth this epistle of love:
Dearly Beloved Brethren in the Common Faith: – So many subjects have been presented as the basis of our former circulars, and so narrow are the limits assigned us, that we do but little more than touch the theme, and leave it for your improvement. In this brief way, we shall now invite the churches of our body, and all the members of them, with all who hope for immortality, to a few thoughts on the SONSHIP OF ALL THE SAINTS. This is an all absorbing subject – in every way suitable for contemplation and gratitude, and we hope that all the children of our Heavenly Father may derive great strength and comfort from a true and sensible knowledge and enjoyment of this filial relation.
Jesus Christ is declared in Scripture to be “the only begotten Son of God, in whom the Father is well pleased.” This declaration excludes all others, for He is the only begotten; or as in eternity, the lone, or solely begotten of the Father; yet all saints are owned of God as His children as being found IN Him, and are taught to invoke Him in the endearing relation of Father. Christ, as Mediator, being brought forth from everlasting ere the earth was, and the elect church with all its members, and graces set up, chosen, and given in Him, as their Covenant Head, or Executor of their Father’s testament or will. The purpose, covenant or will of the Father, ordained Christ the Mediator, Surety, and only Performer in fulfilling all the stipulations and terms of this will or testament. He stood bound in this relation to meet every demand, pay every debt, and sustain the whole cost that might accrue in executing the Will or Testament of God. Hence, in Him every heir was chosen, in Him every grace was given, to Him every promise was made, in Him they were all “yea and amen to the glory of God,” on Him the law had its full power, and Justice claimed its whole demand; for He was appointed of God to execute His Will in behalf of all the heirs.
This covenant relation between the Mediator of the Will of God, and the chosen heirs in this Will, constituted all His legal acts in their behalf valid and binding, and so was a lawful and final acquittal in their behalf of all demands. But in addition to this Testamentary relation, Jesus was born of a woman, became man, was made under the law and took on Him, not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. This seed of Abraham was all the members of the elect church – all the heirs of the Will of God – all the children which God had given Him- all the sons He was appointed to bring to glory. In this relation He is One with them, one Son, one Seed, one heir, one Life, one Man, one Head with its proper bodies and members. Here is not the doctrine “of seeds, as of many,” but as the promise runs to One, “and Thy seed which is Christ.” Now if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” In this relation all the seed are one body in Christ, and members one of another. He was the only begotten Son of the Father, and they have their son-ship in Him; He is the Son of God, the seed of Abraham, the Heir of all things, and He is formed in them, “the hope of glory,” the incorruptible seed by which they are born again. They have their son-ship, their portion, their life, their light in Him. The Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary, therefore that holy thing which was born of her, should be called the Son of God. This holy child being formed in each saint, and they receiving His Spirit, His image, His nature and fullness, are distinguished as the “sons of God” by Christ. As He was set up from everlasting in this relation to them, and they were all chosen in Him, ordained and foreknown IN Him, so He was the Image into which they were predestinated to be conformed, and this conformity is effected by the Holy Spirit which forms the image of Christ in them, which is the pledge, token and seal of their sonship. He is, therefore, the only begotten Son, and they have their sonship in Him, and His Spirit in them is the testimony, pledge and seal of this filial relation. Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying “Abba Father.”
Now, as they were predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ, so they were also predestinated to the adoption of children by Christ, and the Spirit of Christ is the “spirit of this adoption.” So their son-ship is in Him, and He, as the only begotten Son of God, dwells in their hearts richly by His Spirit, which is the spirit of their son-ship or adoption, by which they cry (the Spirit cries) “Abba Father,” Father, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, and if sons then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Him.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, hath richly and gloriously made known His will, revealed His grace and Truth in the person and gift of His only begotten Son, and proclaimed it to all nations in the Gospel of their salvation. In this Will or Testament, the eternal purpose, appointment, council and knowledge of Jehovah, which were all purposed in Himself, hid in Christ, and ordained to the glory of the Church, “are now made known by the appearing of Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” This Will was immutable and eternal with God, well ordered in all things and sure in Christ the Mediator; and the promise and oath of the Eternal confirmed the immutability of this council, for the strong consolation of the heirs of promise. This promise is made sure to all the seed, and this immutable Will with all the stipulations, conditions, terms, heirs, guarantees and blessings in it, were all purposed in Himself before the foundation of the world; they were all IN Christ, in whom the heirs were chosen from eternity, the blessings given, the inheritance bequeathed, and the son-ship confirmed. He was verily ordained before the foundation of the world as Heir of all things; He was to fulfill all things required in the Will, and unfold it to all the heirs of promise. He was manifested in these last times for this purpose. He who came to do the will of God – He to whom all its promises were made – He in whom all its heirs were chosen and blessed with all spiritual blessings – He is the rich Fountain of grace and glory in whom they find their filial relation to God and all their heavenly portion. This Will or Testament, fulfilled in the blood of Christ its Mediator, and published in the form of Testament or Covenant, is the Gospel of the grace of God. – The glad tidings of God’s Will is herein revealed, its conditions fulfilled, its guarantees confirmed, its heirs saved, its blessings flowing, its Mediator reigning, its promises free and absolute, its inheritance sure and eternal. The Gospel is a proclamation of the Will of God to the heirs, and by it they are encouraged to come and enjoy all the blessings it reveals, and feast eternally on the rich bounties it bestows without money and without price. Grace is here bestowed to the unworthy, mercy is flowing to the suffering, life is given to the dying, pardon to the guilty, living water for the polluted and thirsty, food for the hungry, rest for the weary laborer, and salvation for the lost.
The Spirit of the only begotten Son of God is sent into the heart of the heirs of promise, and begets in them a filial longing for God, and a godly sorrow for sin; they pant for the living water, they hunger and thirst after righteousness, they confess their sins, renounce their own righteousness, die to the law, are crucified to the world, and come as bankrupt and guilty petitioners to God. They are encouraged thus to come by the Gospel which shows them Christ the Way, opens His fullness to supply all their needs, sets before them the rich bounties of a feast, and says, “eat, O friend, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” This Gospel proclamation of Christ having perfectly fulfilled the Will of God as the appointed Mediator, Surety and Sacrifice, is the Word of faith or of the message to be received by all the heirs. The Spirit of Christ forms His image and nature in their hearts, reveals to them their son-ship in Him, or reveals the son of God in them, and seals them as the heirs of the grace of Life. The Gospel furnishes them with all needful instruction, encouragement and testimony. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit of Christ which, enlisting all the power of the soul of the heirs, enables it to take hold of Christ and His righteousness; and the Gospel is a sufficient warrant to the most unworthy sinner to come to, and trust in Him. This faith wrought in Christ when He fulfilled the law and bore the curse, when He died to sin and rose to God; and now this “faith of Christ” works in His members and brings them to Him, and in them claims His obedience in their behalf, and a portion in the Will of His and their Father. As this “faith of Christ” wrought in Christ in their behalf, it is the substance of things hoped for, and as it testifies in them and brings them to Him; it is the evidence of things not seen. – Faith is the Spirit’s evidence which it bears in the soul of us being an heir of New Testament, by which the heir comes to Christ the Mediator, and claims its portion in the Will of God. In this view of our son-ship, we see Jesus exalted as Head over all things to His church, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. He is our elder brother, our Mediator and Surety, our Righteousness and Life; in Him we have our son-ship as the children of God. – in Him we are acknowledged as the heirs in His Will – in Him we receive our portion and our crown; by the faith of the Son of God we live, for He liveth in us, and in us and for us He overcomes the world, and gives us the victory.
Now, dear brethren, while such rich grace is so freely bestowed on such unworthy sinners as we are, how humble and thankful we should feel! Why was I made to be an heir of such immortal bliss? O, let all our hearts be dissolved into contrition, and love; let every tongue be vocal in His praise; let every eye be looking to Jesus, and every foot be running the race set before us; let holy devotion, like a hallowed flame, burn on the altar of every renewed heart, and a deep sense of the unparalleled riches of saving grace, call up every ransomed power of our soul to praise the God of love. This is the work we are called to do, not to save ourselves, or to make ourselves heirs of life, nor to fulfill the conditions of our acceptance, but to serve, adore, and praise “Him who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began.” In this Gospel plan, the poor, the naked, the helpless, the lost, the guilty, vile and polluted, may take encouragement to come to the Savior with all their crimson sins and guilty stains, and claim the promise of His grace and pardoning mercy; for the Gospel is a sufficient warrant to the most ungodly sinner to come and trust in Christ; and only as such, can any sinner come with acceptance. Our limits forbid us to proceed further.
May we all contemplate this amazing and love-inspiring theme, till the heart of the mourner is filled with joy, the feet of the lame leap as an hart, Zion’s pilgrims become inspired with heavenly zeal in their journey, until the tongue of the dumb sing, till the ears of the deaf are charmed into attention; and all the sons of God rejoice in hope of His glory, till the vestment of a glorious immortality adorn the mystic body of Christ, and celestial glories expand every redeemed power to swell the creed of the heavenly throng – “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thee be the glory for ever and ever.” Amen.
Wilson Thompson, –1836.