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Written by T.S. Dalton   

 

C H A P T E R  XVI.

After this visit to the association referred to in the preceding chapter, we were afterwards written to by one of their champions. It seems they were determined to force their belief upon us if possible. I propose in this chapter to give my replies to the articles written to me, withholding the names, so my readers may judge for themselves whether I held my own or not. While it is true that these articles were written one in 1883, the other in 1884, yet they contain my views on this subject; and if they are wrong, I have been wrong all the journey through; for I began there and I expect to end there. They are as follows:

FIRST LETTER.

The above article from the pen of Brother _________ explains itself and we shall give it space in the Herald of Truth. And as we have ever been an outspoken man, Brother __________ must permit us to set forth our objections to his doctrine. He first wants to know if we endorse Brother _________ of Arkansas, to which we would reply that we have no recollection of ever reading an article from a man by that name, therefore we cannot tell. He may have reference to an article written by Brother S., of Arkansas; but lest we should be mistaken, we pass that until we hear from Brother __________ again. But the sentiment that he wishes to know if we endorse is, " eternal vital union between Christ as the head, and the church as the body; to which we would reply, how can we believe anything so contrary to Bible teaching? Vital means living. Then, my brother, how could there be vital, living union, and one of the parties dead? So far as the life of the church is concerned, we believe that it eternally existed in Christ as their head, but the church fell under the curse of God’s law, and became dead in trespasses and sins and enemies to God and strangers to the covenant of promise. How there could be two parties, and one at variance with the other, an enemy to the other, a stranger to the other, and yet there be union between them, we confess we are not able to divine.

Brother _________ says this Brother S. makes a child a child when it is born, in which we think Brother S. must be correct, for if it is not a child when it is born, what is it? As for what it was before birth, we suppose Brother S. never said; therefore as it was a child at birth, it must have been a child before birth and birth only developed the child. But this does not argue that it was an actual eternal child. As Brother _______ attaches M. D. to his name, we suppose him to be a Medical Doctor; therefore he ought to know it was not a child before it was begotten, but after it is begotten it is then a child in embryo, and so remains until birth, and at birth it becomes a full, actual developed child. Hence God’s children could not have been actual eternal manifest children, for this would make the child as old as its Father which we all know to be contrary to all rules of logic and reason.

We believe that God eternally loved His people, but we do not believe His people eternally loved Him. On the contrary they were haters of God, and "walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others," and God’s richest mercy rescued them from this condition. And how a sinner can be in the condition above described, and yet be in union with God we confess we are unable to see. But perhaps Brother _______ will say they were children in God’s purpose, in God’s predestination, children of promise. If this should be your position, my brother, please say so, and I give you my hand; but we should remember, my brother, that because God predestinated to do a thing, is not the thing already done; hence Paul says "predestinated us unto the adoption of children," not because we were actually eternally children, but God predestinated, that is, "before determined," to adopt us children, take us out of Adam’s family, and adopt us into His family, and thereby make us heirs of that eternal inheritance. Hence you will perceive, my brother, that we were only heirs in purpose before, children of predestination; but the manifestation of God’s predestinated purpose, makes us actual manifest heirs of salvation. Hence the manifest child was only a child of purpose, until God gave him the spirit of adoption, whereby he was enabled to cry Abba Father; and as soon as this is done, then there is a vital, living union, between that one and Christ as his head; but never before, was there living union between them. The poor soul thus dealt with loves God because God first loved him; and there is a vital living, loving union between them. They are of the same mind; for the poor soul has the mind of Christ, and he delights in the law of his God, and serves God from a pure principle of love that has been shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which has been given unto him.

If there was eternal actual union between Christ and His church, there could be no necessity for the death of Christ to reconcile the sinner to God, for he has never been otherwise than reconciled, if there was union between them; but Paul says, "Being reconciled to God, by the death of his Son," etc., and again Paul says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," etc. and surely if there had been vital, living, eternal union existing between them, there could have been no necessity of Christ dying to reconcile the sinner to God, for there could have been no irreconciliation between them. God was never irreconciled with the sinner, but loved him, even when he was dead in sins; but the sinner was not reconciled to God, but was an enemy to God, and a hater of God, therefore no union. But Christ died to reconcile the sinner to God, and by His death brought the union.

SECOND LETTER.

We must confess we are somewhat surprised that a man of Brother ________’s talent should fail to see that there could be no such thing as eternal vital union between Christ as the head, and the church as the body, without there being an eternal actual vital body; we must confess that we cannot see how there could be Now my brother, so far as what God has done in eternity, we believe it was actually done; but the question is, did God save sinners actually in eternity? Surely not, for there were no sinners in eternity to save; therefore we must conclude, that God only saved them in purpose, or predestination, and according to God’s purpose or predestination the sinner is made a partaker of the divine nature of Christ in time. So far as the covenant relationship is concerned between Christ as the head and the church as the body we know of no beginning to that; that is as eternal as God Himself. But we should remember, my brother, that this was only in covenant, not manifestly so with us; it is actual so far as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost is concerned, and without beginning with them; but with us it has a beginning, therefore not eternal.

The Bible teaches us that God in covenant embraced His people before the world was; and through the mediation of Christ, that is His obedient life to the requirements of the divine law, His vicarious sufferings on the Roman cross, His burial in Joseph’s new tomb, His triumphant resurrection from the grave, His ascension home to the right hand of the Father, and His intercession at the right hand of the throne of heaven, God loved His people from all eternity. Now remember, my brother, God did not love us for what we were, nor for what He foresaw we would be; but He loved us alone through Christ, and for what Christ did for us, and predestinated from all eternity to make us what He would have us to be. But the actual, manifest existence of this grand work of Jehovah, in bringing us into fleshly and spiritual relationship with Christ is wholly a work of time, and not eternal. When Christ took on Himself a body of flesh of the seed of David, was born of the Virgin Mary; we then, and not till then, sustained a fleshly relationship to Him; and when we were born of the Holy Spirit, and thereby partook of the divine nature of Christ, not till then did we sustain a spiritual relationship to Him. And this, my brother, as you know is wholly a work of time; therefore it cannot be that we sustained a fleshly or spiritual relationship to Christ in eternity.
God loved His people truly in eternity through Christ; but not because they were related to Him, either in flesh or spirit. And as regards Adam and Eve being figures of Christ and the church, Adam was truly a figure of Christ; but in what sense? It surely was not simply because Eve was bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh; for this would make all married men figures of Christ; but Adam was a figure of Christ in the sense that He was the head and representative of all the human family, and their life was given them through him; and Christ is the head and representative of all the spiritual family, and their life is in Him.

And as regards Eve being a figure of the church, we confess we cannot see wherein Eve is any more a figure of the church, than my wife is. The bible nowhere says that Eve was a figure of the church, neither have we any grounds to draw such inference.

The Bible says, "Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it," etc. Therefore we might very readily draw the conclusion that all married women are first in the transgression, and that Adam went into transgression in consequence of the love he had for her, and in this sense they were figures of Christ and the church. But if you will examine closely, my brother, you will find that you have only inferred that love was the cause of Adam’s transgression; the Bible does not say so. Adam said, "The woman thou gavest to be with me, she gave to me, and I did eat." He never said, I loved her so well, that I ate to be with her; this, my brother, has grown out of the imaginations of men.

And again, perhaps you will say that the rib was taken from Adam’s side, and God made it woman. Did you perceive, my brother, that this made Eve an actual, manifest, existent being, before she was taken from the side of Adam? And if in this sense we are to understand that Adam and Eve are figures of Christ and the church; then the church must have had an actual, manifest, in fact existence in Christ from all eternity, therefore ETERNAL CHILDREN; which you yourself propose to deny.

Now, my brother, be careful that you do not "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." Again you say, "I was not an actual child six thousand years ago when Adam was created and fashioned; but my relationship and union to him certainly existed then." This is true, my brother, your relationship, and union with Adam did exist, but was it vital (living) union? Surely not, for you have no vitality, or life in yourself at that time. Truly your life was in Adam; but there could have been no vital union between you and Adam at that time, for you had no actual, in fact, existence.

We believe, my brother, that our covenant relationship to Christ and our covenant union with Him is as old as Christ Himself; but this does not argue that there was vital (living) union between us, for this would make us vital (living) manifest children, as old as Christ (our Father) which you know, my brother, is contrary to all logic and reason, to say nothing of the Bible.

Again you say, "We were saved in eternity, but called in time." You surely do not mean to convey the idea by this, that we were actually saved in eternity, for this would do away with the death of Christ. The angel said, "He shall save His people from their sins." If they were actually saved in eternity, such language would be superfluous. Again Paul said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." We think you surely did not mean what you said in the above extract, unless you designed to convey the idea that God saved them in His purpose, or predestination, in view of the means which He Himself had ordained to accomplish this great end; for surely God purposed to save His people through the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and no other way. Therefore this idea of "actual saved sinners" in eternity, before the world was, is contrary to all reason, leaving the Bible entirely out of the question.

Again you say, "God viewed us as sheep before we heard His voice." This is true, my brother; but not as actual literal sheep, but as the people which His Father had given Him. "All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me." Therefore He styles them sheep because His Father had given them to Him in the covenant, before the world was, and not because they were different in nature from those He styled goats; for in nature there was no difference.

Paul says, "We were by nature children of wrath, even as others." Hence if by nature one is a sheep, so are all sheep, and vice versa; but we are only sheep in the sense that we sustained a covenant relationship to Christ, and the others did not.

Now my brother, we have spoken plainly, and we have spoken just what we believe to be the truth of God, as revealed in the sacred Scriptures. Let us be careful, my brother, and not do as the one-eyed horse. He was so afraid he would run off on the blind side, that he ran off on the side on which he could see.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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