In this post we take up the next entry of Benjamin Morgan Palmer’s great discourse delivered at the first meeting of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America in Augusta, Georgia, December 4th, 1861.
The section under consideration is for the consolation of the Southern Church as she has suffered indignities from her Northern brethren. Palmer writes:
Fathers and brothers, I must not shut down the gate upon the flood of this discourse, without pointing to the consolation for us in this day of darkness and trail, wrapped up n the headship of the adorable redeemer. What tenderness it gives to the whole doctrine of providence. The new Southern infant church finds consolation in the providence of God.
How different the above is to today’s modern preaching which searches the corrupted depths of human understanding to console human suffering.
Palmer laid out the headship of Jesus Christ as his sermon builds, now he turns his attention to the bride of Christ, the church. Palmer defines the church the following manner:
1). The object upon which the fullness of the grace expends itself. Notice the sense of oneness that Palmer connects to Christ and his church.
The glory of Christ is not simply in being the architect of space, by whom it was historically wrought out and engrafted upon law; but in being also for depostory of grace – its dispenser no less than its procurer. The two cannot be viewed apart; Christ the head of all principality and power, and the church complete in that gracious fullness he imparts.
2). The church of the elect is the body; that is to say, it is the compliment of the mystical Christ. Listen to the amazing statement by Palmer:
In the covenant of grace, the second Adam is incomplete except as associated with his spiritual seed.
Have you ever thought of Jesus Christ as perhaps incomplete? It almost seems heretical to even think such a thing. Nonetheless, like Adam in the garden was incomplete without Eve, so is Jesus Christ incomplete without his bride, the church. What priceless value is the body of Christ! Listen to Palmer again:
This is the ground of our confidence and hope, as we pass beneath the rod and stagger under our cross; that it behooved the great captain of our salvation to be made perfect by suffering.
You will certainly not hear this preached by the “health and wealth” crowd!
3). This church of the elect is the fullness of Christ, as constituting the reward of his mediatorial work. The high level of Christ’s saving power can only mean a church victorious, a church in dominion over Christ’s enemies, a church advancing the gospel in human history until “all god’s enemies be made a footstool for his feet.” Where is the devil? Where is the rapture, where is the antichrist destroying God’s plans for his earth? None to be found in Palmer’s preaching, only a sovereign, mighty king and a Spirit filled, blood bought, trumpet blowing, torch bearing sons of God that bring terror to the devil and demons.
Please read four pages from this section of Dr. B. M. Palmer’s discourse on “Christ’s Universal Headship,” it will elevate you from being earth bound into heavenly freedom
Dr. Steven J. Ottolini is President of Covenant Leadership Training Institute. MA Theology, Covenant Seminary, St Louis, MO. Ph.D. Theology, Trinity Seminary, Newburgh IN. Celebrating 32 years of Christian ministry. Married to Molly 35 years, father of 3 and grandfather to Eleanora Jayne Ottolini, 9 months.