ELDER R. A. BIGGS
WRITTEN BY ELDER BIGGS, SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH IN 1915:
I was born in Rusk County, Texas, June 2, 1849. My father, B. F. Biggs, was a native of Tennessee. My mother's maiden name was Alsa Jane Starr. She was a native of Illinois. My father was a farmer. I grew up on the farm, grew up during the War Between the States, and consequently had no opportunity to receive an education. Never attended school but very little, only enough to learn to read and spell imperfectly. I worked on the farm and took care of the family during the War.
In my nineteenth year, I was married to Miss Kisiah Crauley, a native of Alabama. In the winter of 1867, we moved to Collin County, Texas, where we lived for eight years. Here I first saw myself a sinner in the sight of God. For two years I labored under a great burden of sin and guilt, trying every effort I could for relief; but like the woman we read of in the Bible who spent all she had with physicians, got no relief until she came in touch with the Savior. So I seemed to grow worse and nothing I did brought me any relief until one day in the month of March 1870, as I plowed along in the field in dark despair and under a heavy burden of sin and guilt praying to God to be merciful to me, a sinner. This was my condition as near as I can describe it. I did not see how God could remain just and save such a sinner as I was. The next thing I realized I was singing the song, "Jesus Thou art the Sinner's Friend." My burden of guilt that had rested so heavily upon me for the past two years was gone. I was happy and rejoiced in the hope of the glory of God, and for the first time was enabled by an eye of faith to see, as I humbly trust, how God could be just and save a poor sinner like me. My sins had been transferred to Jesus and he had borne them in his own body on the cross for me. And now righteousness was made over to me, and God, for His sake, had forgiven me my sins. So I realized that I had peace with God through Jesus, who loved me and gave himself for me. So I could sing with the poet "E'er since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been and shall be till I die."
From this time on, I had a burning desire in my heart to tell what a precious Savior I had found. So if I have any call to preach, it came in connection with my deliverance from the burden of guilt. In May following (1870) I presented myself to Orchard Gap Church in Collin County, and after relating my little hope to them, was received and baptized by Elder J. E. Dethrage who was their pastor at the time. For awhile I felt easy and greatly enjoyed our meetings, but ere long that burning desire of my heart to tell others what a precious Savior I had found became a burden to me that I could not throw off. I was poor, imperfect and so unfit for such a high and holy calling that I could not be reconciled to it; so I thought I would move to other parts and perhaps get rid of this burden. In 1876, we moved to Erath County, Texas, but that burning desire and
burden to speak in His great name followed me here. In July 1877, I took my first text and tried for about an hour to tell the people some of the wonderful works of God in the salvation of sinners, From this time on I had regular appointments, and the brethren and sisters gave me great encouragement, so I pressed on as best I could.
About this time Damascus Church was organized in Erath County and wife and I became members of it, and in the winter of 1879, this church called for my ordination. It was with great reluctance that I submitted. In January 1880, I was ordained by this church by a presbytery composed of Elders W. S. Harris and F. London. Was soon called to the care of this church and other churches, and up to 1896 I served four churches most of the time.
In the spring of 1881, I lost my wife by death, leaving me with five little children, the oldest a boy about ten years old, and the youngest an infant girl. A neighbor lady took my youngest children and took care of them for me while the three little boys stayed at home and finished our little crop. The following winter, 1881, I was married to a Mrs. Sarah E. Hackler, whose maiden name was McGee. She was a native of Texas.
Up to 1900, I kept a record of all my ministerial work, but after my health gave way, I paid no further attention to theft. Up to 1900, I had tried to preach 1,623 times since being ordained, assisted in the organization of 10 churches, assisted in the ordination of 8 ministers and 15 deacons, baptized 170 persons, and married 55 couples. Since the above date, I have assisted in the ordination of several, baptized some 25 or 30, and married several couples, but have no record of the number.
In all my serving of churches none of them have had any serious trouble, most of them have prospered and built up in number, and I have enjoyed their services, The brethren, sisters and friends have been good to me, and have borne with my many short comings, imperfections and weaknesses, and have manifested that they have enjoyed my feeble efforts in trying to preach to them. I have tried as best I could to read and search the Scriptures for the truth contained in them, and not for the purpose of trying to bolster up some pet hobby, or vain speculations or theory of some man. I have tried to avoid hobbies and vain speculations, and have tried the best I could to present the truth of the Bible on
doctrine, experience, and practical godliness. To what extent I have succeeded, those I have tried to serve are the judges. While I have had many pleasant seasons and enjoyments in my association with the dear saints of God, I have also had many crosses and losses and bitter cups to drink. I have been up against many hard places and have seen many sore trials, which space forbids me relating in this short sketch, but amid them all the Lord has been good to me. Praise His holy name.
NOTE FROM DAVID MONTGOMERY: Elder Biggs was a man of deep humility and wisdom. His labor for the peace of the Baptists in Texas in the early 1900â€™s was significant and far-reaching. He was held in great respect by all that knew him. He has many descendants in the Primitive Baptist Church, including my dear wife who is his great great granddaughter. Elder Biggs died at Santa Anna, Coleman County, Texas on June 1, 1915.
An Appeal For Peace
Written by Elder R.A. Biggs
From "The Writings of Elder R. A. Biggs"
AN APPEAL FOR UNITY
Trusting it may tend to peace and be a help to unify our beloved brethren on some points of doctrine and good order, in which there seems to have been some difference of opinion among our people, the Primitive Baptists, I feel it a duty to give what our people have and do subscribe to on some vital points.
First: On predestination, I have understood our people to believe that God's predestination embraces everything needful in the salvation of his people from sin, and that God is the author of his predestination, together with its results, full establishing his foreknowledge of all conditions and events harmonizing in His election of His people to salvation in Christ Jesus, in the effectual calling, justification and the final glorification of his people in heaven.
Second: I have always understood our people to believe that Christ made a special atonement on the cross for all the sins of all His elect people.
Third: I have understood them to believe that His elect people are sons and daughters of Adam's fallen family.
Fourth: That they (his people) are in time regenerated, or born again in soul and spirit and that their bodies will be in their resurrection.
Fifth: That man in regeneration is passive and receives eternal life from God as a free gift.
Sixth: That after regeneration God's people are complex, possessing two natures, human and divine; two lives, natural and spiritual; two men, the outward man and the inward man, hence the continual warfare.
Seventh: That the child of God is active in obedience; that he obeys from the heart that from of doctrine delivered unto him, that the grace of life in the soul is the efficient cause, and all acceptable obedience thereafter is the effect or fruit of the good tree or renewed heart.
Eighth: That the man that is quickened or regenerated in soul and spirit loves God, mourns over and hates his sins, hungers and thirst after righteousness; but that man in body sins, makes mistakes, goes astray; man in body dies, man in spirit goes to heaven at the death of the body; man in the body goes to the grave, but in the resurrection the body will be quickened, made spiritual, immortal, and spirit and body reuniting, then man in his entirety will be changed and glorified in heaven.
Ninth: That divine life in the soul precedes hunger, thirst, love, faith, joy, peace, and all holy aspirations; life is the efficient cause and that which life produces being the effect.
Tenth: That the child of God as a complex being can do wrong and live after the flesh and thus lose his spiritual enjoyments here in this present world.
Eleventh: That the child of God by the grace of God in the soul, can mortify the deeds of the flesh and keep his body in subjection and glorify God in his body and spirit which are His.
Twelfth: That sin is a transgression of God's Holy Law by his creatures.
The above I have understood our people to heartily believe, and I heartily subscribe to it as the truth, recommend the same to our people as a basis of agreement among them, that unity of sentiment may abound everywhere among us.
Under this head, I have understood our people to regard it disorder for any faction to assemble and declare themselves the church proper without first having proved that the church departed from the faith and order that Christ established for the government of the church in her act of excluding them. And any and all persons are acting disorderly who are or may be engaged in gathering or attempting to gather any such excluded members and advising them to declare themselves the church in order. Our people generally regard it disorder for any minister who may have a grievance against another brother preacher to take it to his church and have his home church to raise a complaint against his brother before he takes the matter up with his brother and makes an effort to adjust their differences. And they regard it disorder on the part of any church who will hear such a complaint before her member has made any effort to adjust his matter of grievance with his brother. They also regard it disorderly for a minister or any other member of the church to take up the report against a brother and circulate it to the injury of the brother and the cause before the church has time to investigate the report and see whether it is true or false (also to deny the truthfulness of a report after investigation by any church only by proper gospel steps.)
This seems to be a growing evil and should be condemned by all the churches. And any preacher or any other member of the church who is guilty of such conduct should be rebuked by their churches, and if they persist in such conduct should be disciplined by their churches.
I submit the above and recommend it to our brotherhood at large, hoping thereby to kindly and tenderly in love place beyond our borders all offenses false sentiments and practices, not embraced in God's Holy Word.
My observation through life has been that, generally speaking, our churches have had more trouble and difficult cases from a lack of discipline than from any other one thing. Strict discipline is the life of any kind of organization, without it no organization of any kind will last long. I have known of long, wearisome cases in the church because the order laid down in the Bible was not observed. Such a lack will always lead to unnecessary trouble. When cases of trespasses occur, and the offended party goes off and tells the trouble to others, they themselves thereby become transgressors, because the Bible rule is plain and simple, and says, "If thy brother trespass against thee, go to him alone and tell him his fault." This is the only right course to pursue in cases of trespassing, "go to him alone," not to others with it. I think when anyone is aggrieved at another, if they fail to go to the offender, and go out to others and tell of their trouble they should be mildly rebuked and advised to go to the party whom they claim has hurt them, and try to get a reconciliation. If they succeed, no one else need to be burdened with it. But if the event they should fail to get satisfaction, then take one or two more, and then if they succeed in getting the matter settled, let it stop right there; never bother others with it. But should they fail to get the matter adjusted, then let it be reported to the church, and not before. Moderators sometimes are responsible for trouble in the church, by allowing a matter to come into the church before it has been gospelly treated. I think a moderator, when such cases are reported to the church, should inquire into the matter, and if he finds it has not been gospelly treated, refuse to allow it to come before the conference until it is gospelly treated. If found to have been gospelly treated, then let the church take hold of the matter, and after duly laboring to save and reconcile, should she fail, why then exclude. In public offences such as "theft, fornication, adultery," etc., these are not private trespasses and do not require private dealing. All that is necessary in such cases is for the church to have the evidence that the parties accused are guilty then cut them off or exclude them from the church for the apostle says: "Such have no inheritance in the church of God." The honor of God requires this, His holy cause requires it, the well being of the church and her peace and fellowship require this.
Now I wish to say that sometimes our brethren and sisters get up unnecessary trouble. We ought to be forbearing people. I think sometimes we become too sensitive and take offence when we should have borne it. I never have had any trouble with any member of a church to which I belonged. I have had some hard things said about me, but I bore it, never even told my wife of it, and I feel today that it was best. I saved the church perhaps a great deal of trouble, besides the parties were saved by my forbearance.
I feel sure that a brother or sister has a perfect right to bear the faults of others, and to do this is to keep it in your own bosom, to tell it is not to bear it. But if you feel you cannot bear it, then go as the Bible requires, and tell him or her their faults, go in the spirit of love, considering that you, too are imperfect. When this rule is strictly followed in the love of God, and His cause, there is seldom a case of trespassing but what is agreeably adjusted.
There is according to my observation too much exacting on the part of some. We should all remember we are all imperfect creatures here, and should make due allowances for the words and actions of others toward us. Always remember the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and a great deal of unnecessary trouble would be avoided. Let all cultivate the spirit of love and forbearance one toward another and try to curb hatred and malice and envy, and times will be better with us. Don't you think so?
PRIVATE TRESPASSES, AND PUBLIC OFFENCES
I will express some of my thoughts concerning "private trespasses," and "public offences." First, I will say that private trespass is only against the one offended, while a public offence is against the whole body (or church.) In the private trespasses I will say it is the duty of the one that is offended to go to the trespasser and try to get satisfaction unless he aims to "bear" it, and first I will say, any one has a right to "bear" with a brother if he feels it is right to do so, then in that case the matter should never be mentioned to anyone. I have known cases where one brother felt offended at another and would go around among the brethren and tell every one of it but would say I want peace; I do not want to make any trouble about the matter so I will bear it. Now I think such a course is just the thing to make trouble. If a brother wants to bear with his brother that is all right but he is not doing so when he is telling everybody he meets about it, but if he wishes to bear it then never say anything about it to anyone, that is bearing it. But if he feels that he cannot bear it, he should go to the trespasser, and tell him his fault alone, if satisfaction is made then the matter is ended, never to be brought up again. But if not then take one or two more, and try again to get satisfaction and if it is obtained, there it ends, no one else is troubled with it. But if you still fail to get satisfaction then tell it to the church, now it becomes public and the church should take hold of the matter and try to get the trespasser to make satisfaction; should she fail, then withdraw fellowship from him. Thus I have briefly stated what I consider to be a private trespass, and the course to be pursued in such cases, and I will say in regard to public offences, that a public offence is a wrong committed publicly, and such are against the whole church, no more against one member than another, but against the whole body, and, the cause is exposed, and I consider it the duty of the church as soon as she comes in possession of the facts to take it up and through some of her members have the offender appear before her and make satisfaction to the church then the church should forgive, otherwise withdraw from him; but such offences as "fornication," and such like should be withdrawn from as soon as the church comes in possession of the facts, until the offender by an orderly walk gives evidence that he has turned away from such a course; then he may be restored to fellowship in the church. These are some of my thoughts in regard to "private trespasses" and "public offences" and I feel sure that if this rule was followed up strictly among all our people, a great many troubles would be obviated.
MY LAST APPEAL FOR PEACE
In as much as there is, and has been some differences of opinions among our people, thePrimitive Baptists in Texas on some points of doctrine and order, producing confusion, and in some places divisions; and desiring to see all this stopped among us, and if possible see our people and churches united in peace and love, I humbly submit the following as a basis upon which all may come to an agreement, hoping kindly and tenderly in love to place beyond our orders any occasion for further strife and discord among us that is contrary to God's word and express in wholesome words our sentiments of the truth.
1. On predestination: We believe God's predestination embraces everything needful in the salvation of his people from sin, and that God is the author of his predestination, together with its results, full establishing his foreknowledge of all conditions and events harmonizing in His election of His people to salvation in Christ Jesus, in the effectual calling, justification and the final glorification of his people in heaven.
2. We believe Christ Jesus made a special atonement on the cross for all the sins of all His elect people.
3. We believe His people are sons and daughters of Adam's fallen family.
4. We believe they, his people, are in time regenerated, or born again in soul and spirit and that their bodies will be in the resurrection.
5. We believe God's people in regeneration is passive and receive eternal life as a free gift.
6. We believe that after regeneration God's people are complex, possessing two lives, natural and spiritual, two natures, human and divine, two men, the outward and inward man, hence the warfare.
7. We believe this complex person is the child of God.
8. We believe the child of God is active in obedience, that he obeys from the heart that form of doctrine delivered unto him, that the grace of life in the soul is the efficient cause, and that all life in the soul is the efficient cause, and that all acceptable obedience thereafter is the effect or fruit of the renewed soul.
9. We believe the person thus regenerated or born again in soul and spirit loves God, mourns over and hates his sins, hungers and thirsts after righteousness that this person in body or flesh sins, makes mistakes, goes astray; this person in body dies, this person in spirit goes to heaven at the death of the body, that this person in body goes to the grave; that in the resurrection this person in body will be quickened made spiritual and immortal, the spirit and body then reunited, then this person in his entirety will be changed and glorified in heaven.
10. We believe that divine life in the soul precedes hunger, thirst, love, joy, faith, peace and holy aspirations, life is the efficient cause, and that which life produces being the effect.
11. We believe that the child of God as a complex being can do wrong and live after the flesh, and thus lose his spiritual enjoyments here in this present world.
12. We believe the child of God by grace of God in the soul, can mortify the deeds in the flesh and keep his body in subjection, and glorify God in his body and spirit which are his.
13. We believe sin to be a transgression of God's holy law by his creature, man.
A Plain Statement
Written by Elder R.A. Biggs
From "The Writings of Elder R. A. Biggs"
A PLAIN STATEMENT
I desire to make a plain statement of facts based upon the evidence that has been put before me in regard to the division in the church at San Antonio and the trouble that followed, that all the brethren and churches may see and understand the true situation.
The division in the church at San Antonio was over a "point of order." A letter had been received from Mineral Springs Church, Glen Rose, Texas, charging Elder T. L. Webb of publicly denouncing Elder J. S. Newman with preaching "the whole man doctrine." The letter was read and referred to a future date for consideration. In the meantime Elder W.H. Richards had an appointment at San Antonio, and after preaching Elder Webb gave an opportunity for members, and a brother presented a letter and was received. When they met again in conference Elder Blackwell called in question the action of the church in receiving that member, claiming the church was not in order to receive members until Elder T. L. Webb made satisfaction about the letter from Mineral Springs Church. Elder Webb and others contended that the letter was not in their way of receiving members, or transacting any other business as a church. After laboring to reconcile Elder Blackwell, to no avail, they finally withdrew fellowship from him and those who followed him. Then Elder Blackwell and those with him proceeded to withdraw from Webb and those with him. Thus the church divided.
Was the church in order to transact her business, or was she not? When you decide on these questions you have settled the matter of who was right in the contention.
After the division two sister churches, Yancey and Sabinal sent messengers there to investigate the trouble, and after investigating, pronounced Elder Webb and those with him the church in order. Elder Blackwell and those with him utterly refused to be investigated.
About the same time San Marcos Church, without any investigation, declared Elder Webb in disorder and closed her pulpit against him over the protest of ten or twelve of her members, who would not stand for such an action without an investigation, and excluded them for contempt.
Seeing that the brethren and churches in that part of the country were divided about the matter, T. L. Webb and those with him called a general council to meet at San Antonio to consider their doctrine and order, agreeing to abide their decision. Then Elder Blackwell submitted to the same. The council met, and after a thorough investigation decided by a two-thirds majority vote that Elder T. L. Webb and those with him accepted the findings, while Elder Blackwell and those with him refused to abide, after having agreed to do so.
Following this council immediately some of the churches down there began to oppose and reject the decision of the council; others adopted or endorsed the findings, and some divided over this matter. And this gave rise to the call for the Temple council, which met and advised the brethren what do to in order that peace might be restored, but so far as I am informed the opposing element has turned a deaf ear to them.
Now, in conclusion, I will say that in the San Antonio council, there were thirty-two churches represented. Six of these churches and one faction of a divided church rejected the findings of the council. These are the churches that now recognize Elder Blackwell and his faction as being in order, leaving twenty-five churches who were represented that have adopted or endorsed the findings of the council and recognize Elder T. L. Webb and those allied with him as being in order.
There are twenty-four churches in the Temple council and they unanimously sustained Elder T. L. Webb and those with him as being the church in order and all these churches approved the findings of the Temple council. This according to the evidence in the case, presents the true situation. Now it is before you all, and you can act as your judgment may dictate. I have not written this to defend Elder T. L. Webb and those with him nor to condemn those who oppose him, but to place the matter before our people in a clear light according to the evidence in the case.
Written by Elder R.A. Biggs
From "The Writings of Elder R.A. Biggs"
REGENERATION-- EXTREMES CONSIDERED
There is at all times considerable controversy going on over the new birth as to what is born of God. Some express themselves as believing "that no change is wrought in the sinner in regeneration or new birth at all; that they still love sin as well as ever; that they have not been killed to the love of sin," etc., while others in their opposition to this "no change theory" express themselves as their believing that the "whole Adam sinner is born again in regeneration." Now my brethren, I believe both of the above ideas are extremes and unsafe ground for us to occupy. There is no comfort or edification to us in either of the theories spoken of above, which I will now attempt to show: First: to say that no change is wrought in us in the new birth cuts us off entirely, hence, you can see that there is no comfort or edification to us in the first theory. Next, to say that the whole man is changed or born again is regeneration, carries with it the idea of complete sanctification, hence, "whosoever is born of God sinneth not, for his seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God." Now apply this text with the above idea, that it is the whole man that is born of God, then go to your experience and examine yourselves and see if there is any comfort to be derived from this theory; certainly not! Why not? Why, because we still realize that we are sinners; we still sin in the flesh and we know if we do that it is not us that is born again because "he that is born of God doth not commit sin;" hence you see that we are again cut off without any comfort or edification. But that it is man that is the subject of this birth, I have no doubt; but it is an inwrought work; it is man's spirit that is born again here in time, and "his spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." The spirit of our mind is renewed, thus, we are made partakers of his divine nature, and in this new life which we receive by being made alive or born again we sin not. Because his seed remaineth in us and we sin not; because we are born of God. Hence with the mind (the renewed) we serve the Lord, but with the flesh we still serve sin, hence, the necessity of keeping our bodies in subjection. Then brethren our hope is that his spirit dwells in our hearts or spirits, not in that old deceitful, wicked, depraved heart. But he has cleansed it, washed it in his blood, changed it and give to it a new nature and thus prepared it for to dwell in by his spirit, and if he thus dwells in us here he will finally quicken, made alive or cause our bodies to be born again or resurrected from death. This is my hope, for this I am waiting! When I awake in his likeness, then I will be satisfied. Brethren let us guard against extremes and abide in and with the Bible and our own experience, and then all will be edified and comforted in love.
BORN AGAIN BEFORE FAITH AND
"Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Joh 3:3.
The terms "born again," "born of God," "born of the Spirit," "begotten of God." "Quickened together with him," "washing of regeneration," according to the best Bible scholars, we have, all mean the same thing; are from the same root. The man born again was first born of the flesh; but is now (being born again) passed from death in sin to life in the Spirit. This passing from this dead state to the living is miraculous and divine. The natural man cannot know spiritual things, because they are spiritually discerned. This new spiritual life comes suddenly without observation; but may develop gradually; at one moment the sinner is dead, the next he lives. This is regeneration; this is to be born again; this is passing from death to life. As in the natural so in the spiritual life, the conscious moment is not the real moment of birth, but follows it. His life in us by his Spirit goes on until Christ is perfectly formed in us the hope of glory. Being born again does not give ideas; it prepares us to hear; gives "ears to hear;" prepares us to discern the things of the Spirit; to see, and enter the kingdom of God. Dr. Gill says about this on the subject: "Regeneration is God's act; conversion consists both of God's acts upon men in turning them and acts done by men; regeneration is the motion of God towards and upon the sinner; conversion is the motion of the sinner toward God." Regeneration then gives life, not ideas. Infants and idiots may be born again, regenerated, as the thief on the cross, who was not permitted to live to grow in grace and come to a knowledge of the truth. We should always distinguish between life and the motions of life; between a spiritual mind and the operations of that mind. We may conceive of natural life prior to any kind of actions, either physical or mental; so we may conceive of spiritual life prior to faith, repentance, love or any other spiritual action. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous;" Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Then instead of faith, repentance, or any other righteous act upon our part, coming before, these declarations of God's word plainly prove that regeneration is first, and that these graces are evidences of it, instead of being a part of it. As fruit demonstrates the quality of the tree, so faith, repentance, love, etc., demonstrates the quality of the heart. "He that loveth is born of God."
Another writer says: "In regeneration we are passive, and receive from God; in conversion we are active and turn to God." Another says: "Regeneration is a spiritual change; conversion is a spiritual motion." So I conclude that it is from this principle that all the acts of believing, repenting, etc., do spring. "By their fruits ye shall know them;" By this we may know that we are the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments." These acts then are evidences that we are children of God. A man may have the Spirit and never see its fruits but still he would be a child of God, as fruit has nothing to do in producing the tree. But we should remember that it is only the good tree that bears good fruit. Fruit-bearing then is no part of the process that made the tree a good tree. So faith, repentance, love to God, etc., are no part of regeneration, quickening or being born again, but are evidences, or fruits, that prove it. "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."
I sometimes hear brethren use such expressions as these: "Man must be changed in regeneration in some sense in his entirely because Jesus said to Nicodemus: "Ye must be born again." He did not say your soul or spirit must be born again."
Now can't I say with as much truth that man's body is not changed in regeneration because Jesus did not say, "Nicodemus, your body must be born again in regeneration?"
Again they say: "The body must be included in the regeneration here in time because it is the body that weeps and feels condemned, not something in me, but ME; it was me that felt I was a great sinner; it was me that was grieved and mourned over my sins; it was ME that afterwards hated sin and loved God; it was me that was lost, and when Jesus was revealed as my Saviour I felt just like it was me that was the beneficiary of His mercy. It was me that rejoiced in a Saviour's love. I am the man born again or regenerated, not something in me, but ME.
Now, I want to say what you have said clearly indicates an experience of grace alright enough, but I doubt very much that the arrow of conviction that caused you so much trouble, grief and sorrow on account of your sins, ever touched your physical body, even if it did weep. I do not believe that those pains, grief and penitential tears were the effect of bodily pains or bodily wounds. Such an experience is not the result of bodily ailments or bodily wounds. If the cause of all these penitential tears and sorrow were from bodily suffering or bodily wounds, then I would believe your body was born again in regeneration. But I believe all this burden of sin that caused you so much grief and sorrow and so troubled you was in your mind, not in your body. Neither was it your body that was so filled with sorrow that caused your tears to flow with penitential tears. It was something within your body that was so sorrowful and filled with grief. And as your soul is within you, I believe it was in your soul that you suffered and not in the body. It was in soul or spirit you so rejoiced when Jesus was revealed as your Saviour. So in soul or spirit you are born again, but not in your body yet. It is in your soul you love God and rejoice in the Saviour's love. David said: "The Lord hath delivered my soul from death." So in soul David was delivered, regenerated or born again. So were you, and all men and women who have such an experience, in soul or spirit delivered from death in sin. But you are not yet delivered in body. So your body is not yet born again. "Yes, says one, "but my body must be affected in the new birth." Well, we were not talking about what was affected, but what was born again in regeneration. Jesus did not say, "Except ye be affected ye can not see thekingdom of God," but, "Ye must be born again." Let us stay with the proposition. So I see nothing in all these expressions that convinces me or proves to me that your body is yet born again. It is in your soul or spirit that you are born again. It is in your soul you love God. It is in soul or spirit that you magnify and rejoice in God, your Saviour. So in soul you are delivered from death not in body yet. David said: "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul." So in your grief and sorrow and felt sense of condemnation before God, and, finally being brought out of it and made to rejoice in a Saviour's love, only shows you are now in your soul free from sin and death. But your body is still dead because of sin; has not yet been made free nor yet delivered. But if his spirit, by which you were born again in spirit dwells in you and bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God, He will also in the resurrection, quicken your mortal body. Then you will be delivered in body as well as in soul, and then in your entirety you will be free from sin and death. So when you awake in His likeness you will see Him as He is and be like Him.
THE "WHOLE MAN" DOCTRINE
The question that has been in agitation among our people in Texas for quite a while is the only question, and that question is, "Is man changed in his entirety in regeneration?" This is and has been the issue all the time. If there is one that doesn't believe that it is the Adam man that is the subject of regeneration, I don't know who it is. If there is one that doesn't believe it is the man that we see here walking about that is the subject of regeneration, I don't know who it is. If there is one that doesn't believe that man is made a better man in or by regeneration, I don't know who it is.
These are not, nor never have been the questions at issue. The question is, Is this man changed in his entirety in regeneration? Our brethren say no. We say and believe this man is changed in his spirit, that man's spirit is reproduced, recreated, renewed, washed and is cleansed by the blood of Christ. Therefore he is a new man in spirit, a changed man in spirit, a better man in spirit. We believe that regeneration is a life-giving proposition. That man is brought out of death in sin in spirit by regeneration; that man is made good in regeneration in spirit, made "pure in heart," so is a much better man after regeneration than he was before.
To accuse our brethren of denying that it is the Adam sinner that is the subject of regeneration, or that man is not made better by regeneration, misrepresent them. Regeneration is an internal work wrought in the soul, while our walk in obedience is a result and this practical change in our conduct comes this side of and not in regeneration. This man in regeneration received spiritual or eternal life in soul, and when he gives evidence of this change from death in sin to life in Christ in spirit, we recognize him as a child of God. He the man, has the life and nature of Christ imparted to him in spirit and is vitally changed in spirit, but is not thus changed in his body or flesh, nor will not be until the resurrection. This man dies in body, but this man lives on in spirit. So we speak of this man as being dead, and also of him as living. He is dead in body, but he lives on in the spirit, and in the resurrection this man in body will be raised from death, and his body will then be changed, and then this man in both soul and body will have been changed into the glorious image and likeness of his blessed Redeemer, freed from sin and death in his entirety.
To teach that this man is changed in his body in regeneration is to teach that man in body is made spiritual, because regeneration is a spiritual change.
Experience of B.F. Biggs
Written by B.G. Biggs
The Primitive Monitor--October 1887
ENGLEMAN, TEXAS, August 3, 1887.
Robert A. Biggs: My Son: By your request I now attempt to write to you of my hope in Christ. I was born June 20, 1818, in Tennessee. My father, Asa Biggs emigrated from N. C. before I was born; he was a Baptist preacher, and was in the division on the Mission question. Just before I was grown, there was a considerable revival of religion among the Methodists, and I went up to be prayed for, like others. A good many-made profession~ and so did I. From then on I tried to live strictly moral, so long as I was under that influence ~ but when I got away from there I was just what I wash before. Shortly after this I married, and moved to Mississippi, where there was a revival among the MisÂ¬sionaries. A neighbor professed religion, and I thought he was a good man, and that if he could get religion I could too. So at it I went by trying to pray and reading the Scriptures;, but I did not go up to be prayed for as others did; but as soon as the meeting was over, and the excitement ceased, I was just as I was before. Soon after this I moved back to Tennessee; and then in February 1841, to Texas. Here I heard ElderDaniel Parker preach; also Elder William Brittain. Here, in April, 1843, while plowing in my field by myself, something got hold of me, or in me, that caused me to mourn and shed tears; and when I got to the fence, I laid my arm on the corner of it and said, â€œLord, have mercy upon me.â€ﾝ I then thought, if I canâ€™t quit crying, I will plow to the other end of my row, and go off to the woods, but when I got to the other end, the first thing I knew, I was in the corner of the fence, crying for mercy upon me a sinner. I got up, went to the house, wiped my eyes as best I could, as I did not want my wife to suspect any thing, went through the house to the other door, and on the steps my knees gave way, and I fell on the ground and cried, â€œLord, save, or I perish. Have mercy on me, a poor, helpless sinner.â€ﾝ My wife came to me, asking what was the matter. I told her I thought I was going to die. She ran to a near neighborâ€™s; he came; I asked him to pray for me, for I thought I should soon die; and he prayed for me. After awhile his wife came; then the news went all over the neighÂ¬borhood. My father and mother came to see me, and I asked him to pray for me; he did so. I was still lying on the ground; and laid there from ten in the morning till about two oâ€™clock in the afternoon when by help, I got in the house, and lay down on the bed. I got up about sunset, walked off about a quarter of a mile, sat down under a large tree, and mourned over my condition, as a poor sinner, condemned to die without God or hope in the world. By morning I was able to go to work, and did so.
And now, my son, to make a long story short, I will just say, I was in great trouble, going and coming, for eleven months. About that time I was taken sick with measles. I had made many vows and promises; had tried to pray; but it all seemed to avail nothing. I was going bowed down in sorrow and distress, and could not see how God could be just, and the justifier of such a poor, condemned sinner as I was. I had read the Scriptures a. great deal, and had read where the Savior was born in a manger. So I concluded in my distress to go to the stable, just as I was getting up out of the measles and just as I reached the place my troubles, sorrow, and grief all left me, and I was praising God with all my heart. Then I thought I could see how God could be just, and the justifier of such a poor sinner as I was, through the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The next day I saw my father coming to see me. I thought I could tell him all about it, but I could not. I thought I would tell my wife, but could not. The next Saturday I went to preaching, not thinking of joining the church; they offered an opportunity for members; I got up, walked out about fifty yards, when this scripture came into my mind: â€œHe that is ashamed of me and my words, of him will I be ashamed.â€ﾝ I then thought I was not ashamed; so I went back in the house; the invitation was still extended; I went, and told them a portion of this; was received into their fellowship; baptism was deferred a month.
My son, I saw more trouble in that month, seemingly, than in the eleven before. I thought I was deceived, and had deceived the church. But when the time came, I was willing to follow in the footsteps of my Savior. There were six baptized the same day I was, I think, and your mother was one of them. Then we enjoyed religion. Soon after this my wife died, leaving me with three children to mourn. Four months later your mother and I were married. About these times we had good meetings, and refreshings from the presence of the Lord; but this was followed by a difficulty in the church. Then came trouble, such as envy, hatred, evil speaking; and finally, dissolution; all for the want of strict discipline in the church. Jesus says to his disciples, â€œTake heed to yourselves: If thy brother transgress against thee, rebuke him; if be repent, for-give him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith;â€ﾝ Lu 17:3-5.
Now, my son, and the household of faith, I think, from the above, that a brother is required to turn and repent; then you shall forgive. To turn means to change your course, and go in another direction. Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. The apostle James has told us, â€œKeep yourselves unspotted from the world.â€ﾝ This may be done by keeping the commands of Jesus. Peter says to follow his footsteps. Paul says, â€œBe ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.â€ﾝ Jesus says, â€œIf a man love me, he will keep my words.â€ﾝ Eternal life is the gift of God to us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Salvation is by grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves. No man can say that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost. Then, the Holy Spirit quickens sinners into spiritual life; and when he commences a good work in them, he will comÂ¬plete it.
Now, what shall I render unto the Lord for I all his benefits unto me, but the fruit of my lips, in an orderly conversation? May God bless you, my son, together with the household of faith, is the prayer of your old father.
Written by R. A. Biggs
The Gospel Messenger--August 1887
As there is unusual attention directed at this time to the work of God in the hearts of his people, and as many are crying perfect personal holiness, a few thoughts on the subject might not be amiss. The doctrine of perfect personal holiness--absolutely sinless personal perfection--is revived in forms and from quarters that would make John Wesley blush were he alive. Scripture is quoted, and some of the Lord's people are being led astray by false teachers who know nothing of the infallible word of God. Now, we know from the experience of God's people recorded in the past, that they are not satisfied with their present attainments in the divine life. His blood-bought church has always mourned over her low estate; and from the hearts of the Lord's people is now and has been going up the earnest prayer for more complete conformation to the divine will. It is evident to every thoughtful person, that man needs a fitness for heaven no less than a title. With capacities and qualities unfitted for heaven, and with a heart unprepared, the most valid title to enter and abide there would be no blessing, but rather to the contrary. Eternal life is a gift of God to us, but it is the personal property of every believer, for he has eternal life. This life produces spiritual appetites and desires; it is holy, and is the personal fitness of every saint for heaven, given him through the blood and righteousness of Christ. The title deed is signed and sealed with the precious blood of the Lamb of God, and will stand the tests of time and the issues of eternity. On this the believer may rest. But purity always accompanies pardon; the justified believer is sanctified. When the Lord gives the blood-bought title, he works in the accepted son or daughter the personal fitness for his heavenly home. For salvation in all its parts is one; it is the application of the one grace of the one God to sinful man; the links are many, but the chain is one. To make this clear to our finite mind, the Holy Ghost speaks of the various parts of our salvation. The believer is said to be justified, adopted, regenerated, sanctified, glorified, but the work is one, and Christ Jesus is the author and finisher. "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;" in order of thought some of these precede and some follow. Justification is tile act of God wherein he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous; it is his act, not our work, but God's act as Judge sitting upon the throne, seeking after sin and settling the destiny of the sinner. It is judicial, instantaneous and complete, and never to be repeated. Adoption is also the act of God, the Father, wherein he admits us among his children, thus making us equal members of his heavenly family. The act of adoption, like justification, is a thing done, completed and finished, never to be repeated or annulled. Regeneration is the implantation of spiritual life in the soul and surely is instantaneous. There was a moment ago the sinner was dead in sin, the next moment he is alive.
We now come to what we wanted to Write about--sanctification. Sanctification, if we correctly understand the Bible, is the work of the Holy Spirit working in us the personal fitness for that heaven to which we have a solid title. It is progressive, in the sense that the Spirit continues to work until we are made perfect in personal holiness, when we will at once pass into glory. "We all, with unveiled face, behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord; are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord." Sanctification is not justification, for it is wrought in one who is already justified; it is not adoption, for it is the work of the spirit in the heart of one of his children; it is not regeneration, for it is the development of spiritual light that has been implanted in the soul. Let us now look at the different significations of the word as used in the Bible.
First, the word "sanctify" is used by the inspired writer in Ex 13:2; the Lord to Moses says: Sanctify unto me all the first born of whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is mine. It is evident here that personal holiness is not intended; no allusion to holiness is made here. To sanctify, then, here means to set apart, to consecrate to God. Jehovah claimed the first born as his; "It is mine." In Ex 19., the word is used again: "The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai and commanded the priests to sanctify themselves." When the children of Israel were about to cross Jordan, Joshua commanded them to "sanctify" themselves. In those quotations, no reference is had to personal holiness, but the word is used in the sense to set apart, to consecrate. In the New Testament we find a number of instances where the word is used in the same sense. In the Lord's Prayer, as recorded by John, Jesus says: "And for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth." Here, Jesus Christ, as High Priest of his people, consecrates himself go God--devotes himself as a sacrifice. This is his own priestly act of devoting himself to God in his sacrificial work. The other clause in the verse points to the work of the spirit in all believers: Again in Hebrews the apostle says: "By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified;" them that are sanctified are those who have been set apart, or consecrated to God by the priestly act of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle addresses the church at Corinth as those who are sanctified. The apostle surely did not mean that they were sanctified in the sense of personal holiness; the phrase, "Them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus," must mean those who have been set apart, consecrated to God by their great High Priest, Jesus. Again, "Such were some of you; but ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God," It is claimed by some that this passage proves that believers are as completely and perfectly sanctified as they are justified, and that the sanctification here means personal holiness; but I would call attention to the fact that this was spoken of all believers at Corinth, and any careful reader of this epistle will note the fact that those Corinthians were anything else but in a state of sinless perfection. The mistake is often made by confounding sanctification as here used, in the sense of the continuous work of the Holy Spirit. If we understand the words "Ye are sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus," as applicable to the great act of consecration performed for them by the Lord Jesus, as High Priest, under the covenant of grace, then we can understand that this act of consecration was just as complete and final as the act of God in pronouncing them justified; both sanctification and justification were alike complete and perfect. This view harmonizes with all other portions of this epistle; but if understood in the sense of personal holiness, it is in direct conflict with the entire epistle. Understanding the word in the sense of consecration, there are no degrees; all who are thus consecrated by the Great High Priest, Christ Jesus, are completely consecrated--one as munch as another--and none more so than another In Christ all believers are justified, and all of them are sanctified; many passages might be cited here, but we forbear.
The second sense in which the word is used, is to express or set forth the work of the Spirit in the hearts of believers, enabling them more and more to die unto sin and live unto holiness and unto God. The first use of the word designates the act of our Lord Jesus Christ in his office as High Priest; the second use of the word is to express the continued work of the Spirit in the hearts of the believers. An illustration of the use of the word in this last sense is found in John: "Sanctify them through the truth; thy word is truth." The same idea is repeated again, thus: "That they might be sanctified through the truth." Surely a process of personal holiness or purification is here spoken of a work of sanctification is being wrought in them. In Eph. it is said "That Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it that he might 'sanctify' and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." The apostle prayed that God might sanctify the "Thessalonians" wholly. These examples are sufficient to show the progressive work of God, the Holy Spirit--a work in believers transforming them, day by day, into the likeness of Jesus Christ. The apostle was "Confident that he who had began this work in believers, would perform At until the day of Christ Jesus." This work of sanctification is like unto the "leaven" hid in the three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. The reader will not understand that we are here contending for perfection in the flesh, far from it; but we are to understand that a work is going on in us that will eventually perfect us in glory. When we awake in the likeness of our blessed Lord, then we will have attained unto this blessed state, and not until then. Nothing less than absolute purity and perfection, at all times, and under all circumstances, is thought, word and deed, will satisfy the demands of the law as a rule of duty.
The believer is bound to seek in all that he does and says, the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Bible holiness; this is sinless perfection; this is perfect sanctification; but, alas! who of all God's people have attained unto this? We look over the lives of the saints in the past; we may look at the lives of the saints now living in the flesh, we may examine our own hearts in the light of this law, and we can no where find perfect conformity of heart and life to God's will as revealed in his law. In the scriptures we have the lives of many saints spread out before us; we have their experience, left upon record by the Holy Spirit who will not deceive us, and their experience in this matter of sanctification is of great value to all who are willing to be taught of God. We surely cannot go very far wrong in testing this subject by their lives; the lives of those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and who upon the testimony of God himself, have entered into rest. Abraham, the father of the faithful, and friend of God, long after his regeneration and call, not only felt in his soul the struggle between the flesh and spirit, but was guilty of sin--even falsehood. Jacob represents us with almost ceaseless conflict between his old and new nature; between his own selfishness and the love of Christ in his heart, and while this was his experience, yet there was a steady progress in his life towards God and holiness, and in the end the grace of God triumphs most gloriously. Moses, even, the meekest of men, who spoke face to face with God; who was honored in his burial as no other ever was; who was faithful in all his house; even this man late in life, and near the land, so sinned that he was not permitted to go over Jordan into the goodly land. David, the sweet stinger, the man after God's own heart, whose feelings as expressed in the Psalms have cheered the hearts of many saints for thousands of years, this man so beloved of God, was guilty of adultery and murder--sins for which he was punished in his own family. Peter, an apostle of Christ Jesus, long after his conversion and call to be an apostle, in the presence of enemies of his Lord and after the most solemn warning, even denied his Saviour, adding oaths to his denial; and then again, long after his restoration; he betrayed for a time the gospel of Christ at Antioch for fear of some Judaizing teachers who came down from Jerusalem to spy out the liberties of these Gentile believers. Transgression of the Divine law is sin; want of conformity to that law is sin; and all these saints knew in their sad experience that, tested by that perfect standard, by that law which was holy, just and good, they had not attained unto perfect personal holiness; unto what many now claim to have, and call sinless perfection. The Apostle Paul, in Ro 7., details at length his own Christian experience, his own personal conflict with evil. In this conflict, a true picture of every Christian's spiritual warfare is set forth. Every soldier of the cross must have and take a part in this struggle, in which the Holy Spirit will, ere long, bring victory and perfect personal holiness to every one who has been thus called. This is the experience of one who has been born again; of one who is a child God. The unrenewed sinner knows nothing of this conflict and struggle with sin in our members. The reader is requested to read the seventh chapter of Romans. The description and picture set forth are the experience of one that has passed from death unto life. The natural man never has such an experience; he cannot say or feel these things; no one who has not felt in his soul the terrible conflict here described, its fierceness and bitterness, could cry: "Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" These words do clearly describe the spiritual conflict going on in every renewed soul--in every Christian's heart, this is his or her sad experience; the child of God knows that this is in substance his experience. They know that as a steward, they are and have been unfaithful, as a servant they have been unprofitable, as a child of God they have been disobedient. Daily do they mourn over their failures, infirmities and sins; daily go they to their Father in heaven for peace and pardon, knowing that if they confess their sins, God is faithful to forgive and cleanse them from all their sins and unrighteousness.
In his own heart and life the believer finds, from day to day, that good and evil are mixed--wheat and tares are growing side by side in the same field. The more he knows of the deceitfulness of the heart, the more he knows of the spirituality of the law, and then the more ready is he to say with Paul: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." Brethren, I count not myself to have yet apprehended.
In love to all lovers of truth,
Selden, Texas. R.A. BIGGS.
Defending The Temple Council
Written by R.A. Biggs
"Brother Briggs, what did the majority do that caused them to be no part of the church?" - J.S.N. in Signal.
I suppose Brother Newman means Biggs in the above instead of Briggs, but this mistake is about like the mistake he makes in the matter he refers to in the above question. He is referring to the division in Bethel Church, and he says, "The Temple council recognized the 21 as the Bethel Church." And again he says, "The Temple council said in their findings that the 58 out of the 79 lost their identity by not adopting the findings of the San Antonio council."
Now, all I wish to say is, the Temple council did no such thing. This is what Brother Newman says they did, but the minutes of the council say nothing about recognizing the 21 as the church, nor anything about the 58 losing their identity by not adopting the findings of the San Antonio council. Just such misstatements as these are where all the confusion among us comes from.
Let us have the facts as they exist. According to the evidence before me, Bethel Church divided 21 on one side and 24 on the other side. The 21 withdrew from the 24, and adopted the findings of the San Antonio council, and then dismissed. Then the other side came together, chose them a moderator and proceeded to deal with the others. Thus the church divided. The 21 claimed to be the church, the 24 also claiming the same.
Seeing that some of the churches in that section were rejecting the findings of the San Antonio council, thus starting a division, and other churches adopting the findings, the 21 claiming to be Bethel Church, together with about seven or eight other churches, called for the Temple council, and when this council met and came to the item of Bethel Church, did the council recognize and seat her messengers? No. Who said she did? Brother Newman. Did the council in all its deliberations say a word about adopting the findings of the San Antonio council? No, not one word. Who said it did? Brother Newman.
What did the council do then? It found that the 21 who were represented had erred in pressing the matter prematurely of making the findings of the San Antonio council a test of fellowship to the dividing of the church, and recommended that they go home, make amends for their wrong to the other side and ask them to forgive and meet them upon the R.A.B.'s "Appeal for Peace" as a basis of reconciliation, and let the past be the past.
They went home and did as the council recommended, made their acknowledgments, adopted the "Appeal for Peace," and appointed three messengers to bear their acknowledgments and the appeal for peace to the other side. They went.
Did the other side receive their acknowledgments and forgive? No. Did they meet them upon the basis of peace offered? No. The other side ignored them altogether.
Thus the 21 set themselves in order, the other side going on in disorder by refusing to receive their acknowledgements and basis for peace offered them.
A basis for general peace was outlined by the Temple council and if it were not for your opposition, and a few others to have your way about everything, peace today would be abounding among the Old Baptists of Texas. May the Lord bless you and cause you to see the mistake of your life, is my desire and prayer.
"The Temple council convened 150 or 200 miles from where the trouble was, not by the authority of any church; for the churches of that section were all opposed to it. The opposing parties did not meet, therefore it was composed of those only who had previously endorsed the order of Elder T. L. Webb. The Temple council was not needed, for it has divided our people of Texas. Misrepresentation is the cause of the distressed condition of our people today." J.S.N., Signal of Feb. 1915.
Now I desire all to read the following and then compare with the above:
"Call for council - Bethel church, together with the following other Primitive Baptist churches of Southwest Texas, to-wit: Valley Springs, Elm Grove, Little Vine, Good Hope, San Antonio, Pilgrim's Rest, Prairie View and Field Creek, to our sister churches all over Texas: Dear brethren and sisters: Owing to the fact that there has been for quite awhile, and is yet, much contention, confusion and dissatisfaction among the Baptists of Texas in regard to the object of regeneration and the order of the church, which has resulted in divisions in some places, and many who once walked together can no longer affiliate with each other until something is done." See letter for call for Temple Council.
Now what do you think about the Temple council meeting without any authority from any church? And again, how could all the churches in southwest Texas have been opposed to calling the council when all these churches are in that part of the State that joined in the call? And again, whose fault was it that the other side did not meet? The call was general.
And again, how could the Temple council divide the Baptists of Texas when they were already divided in places?
It is true that misrepresentations is the cause of the distressed condition of our people today, but who is it that is misrepresenting things? Look and see who it is that is responsible for this state of affairs. The Temple council was by the authority of several churches, all wanting peace. Who is it that opposed it and still condemning it as an ungodly meeting? Surely those who are so engaged have no confidence in the word of God. If it was of ungodly men, it will come to naught, but if of God it will stand amidst all the opposition heaped upon it. So I am not uneasy about that, but I do hate to see such a spirit of jealousy, envy and unforgiveness manifested on the part of the opposers. So let all who desire peace and love to abound, just go on in the good old way, and those who will not, just let them go; they will consume themselves.
The Temple council was composed of peace-loving Baptists, and if their advice was heeded by all, peace like a river would be flowing among us today. May the Lord ever keep me clear of an envious and unforgiving spirit.
The great ado and scarecrow that some are making about councils and making them a test of fellowship, is remarkably strange to me. I wish to ask in all candor, who it is that has started the making of their findings a test of fellowship? Was rejecting the findings of a council by an action of a church making it a test of fellowship? If you say no, then why try to make it appear that a church that endorses the findings is making it a test? But if adopting or endorsing the findings of a council is making it a test of fellowship, is not rejecting the findings of a council by a church making it a test? Who started this test? Was it not those who rejected the findings? If rejecting the findings of a council by a church is not making a test of fellowship, then why, oh, why will you say the church that adopted the findings are making it a test? Consistency is indeed a jewel. If you have not non-fellowshipped the findings of the council, then why claim those who approve the findings are making the test? If you are not making it a test, why all this ado?
The truth is, the opposers are the ones who are responsible for all this ado. For everybody knows if it had not been for the opposition to the findings of the council there would be no confusion among us today. The sin lies at your door of opposition, Remove it by giving a listening ear to the confessions of the wrongs of the brethren or churches as the case may be, and extend a forgiving heart and hand, and peace is at once restored; continue to refuse and be consumed.
The brethren assembled at Temple were requested by one of the parties involved in this division to meet her and advise them what course to pursue to bring about peace again. They met, not as a faction, but messengers from churches desiring peace and fellowship. As such they met and pointed out the wrongs that they saw those who were represented had done, and asked them to make amends for them, and confess their errors to their opposing brethren and ask them to forgive and meet them on the R.A.B.'s "Last Appeal for Peace" as a basis of reconciliation, and thus put an end to the trouble. Have any of the opposers received their confessions and forgiven and met them on the basis or reconciliation? If not, is it not clear that the sin lies at your door, and you are the ones responsible for the result?
May the Lord ever keep me clear of an unforgiving, malicious, envious spirit. In love of the truth.
CLARIFYING THE TEMPLE COUNCIL
The 11th item of the Temple council reads as follows: "By motion and second the council recognizes Elder T. L. Webb and those allied with him as the church proper at San Antonio."
Item 12: "By motion and second the delegates from the church at San Antonio were seated in the council."
This act of the council was based upon the fact that twenty-five churches had endorsed him as being in order, and now every church represented in the Temple council endorses the findings thereof, so that upwards of forty churches by their official actions have endorsed the findings.
The charge that Elder T. L. Webb sat in the Temple council on his own case is refuted by the 12th item, which shows that they were not seated until he was declared in order by the council.
It is charged also that the Temple council was not by the authority of any church; for the churches of that section were all opposed to it." Now read the first part of the minutes of the council and see if that meeting was not in response to a joint call of eight or nine churches, and these churches are in Southwest Texas. That doesn't look much like they were all opposed to it, does it? Oh, shame, where is thy blush? It is said that "misrepresentation is the cause of distressed condition of our people today." I say so, too, but who is it that is misrepresenting things? Who is it that refuses to have peace, and is manifesting such an envious unforgiving spirit?
Instead of the Temple council dividing the Baptist of Texas, they were already divided and the Temple council pointed out the way for peace and reconciliation, but the opposers refuse to forgive and have peace. So the sin lies at your own doors. The churches represented at Temple are peace-loving Baptists, and if the advice given at Temple were heeded, peace like a river would today be flowing among us.
I love a spirit of love and forgiveness; I love a spirit of confession of wrongs. But I hate a spirit of hatred and unforgiveness. May the Lord ever keep me clear of such a spirit.