Prepared by Elder William L. Beebe
The Yellow River Primitive Baptist Association, in session with the church at Fellowship, September, 1876, to the churches whose messengers we are, sends love in the Lord:
Dear Brethren:- In view of the perilous times through which you are now passing, we know of no more appropriate subject to which your attention can be called, than the admonition of Joseph to his brethren, Genesis xiv:24.
“See that ye fall not out by the way.”
To such as trust in their own righteousness, this caution may seem unnecessary: but to such as have experienced the depravity of their own hearts as illustrated by the cruelty of these brethren to their brother, there is both instruction and deserved reproof in it. The literal history of Joseph is familiar to you; but the testimony of Jesus therein contained, gives it inexhaustible interest to all who by His Spirit are enabled to receive it. In him is presented a lively type of Christ as the Prince and Savior of Israel. His relationship and joint heir ship with them to the promise of God made to their ancestor, Abraham, was not broken by their unkindness to him; nor did their wickedness at all retard the accomplishment of the purpose of God in his exaltation above them, as signified in his dreams. So, the relationship of Christ and His spiritual brethren is not broken by our iniquities, which are all against Him, being laid on Him as our Surety and Shepherd. Isaiah liii:6. As this could only be done in strict justice, no further proof is needful to the point that in the eternal wisdom and justice of God the Redeemer and His redeemed are always regarded as one and inseparable. On no other principle could He be justly called to suffer the penalty of their sin, or to bear their iniquity, other than their eternal union with Him as his bride. This unity is the mystery hidden from the wisdom of the world, and known only by the revelation of the Spirit of God. In vain does the reasoning faculty of the natural man even of those to whose faith it is revealed, attempt to comprehend this glorious Truth; much less can it be taught by human means to those who have not the Spirit of Christ. Hence, it is manifest that the recipients of this revelation are indeed a peculiar people, unlike the world of mankind, and even unknown to their own fleshly minds.
Called with a holy calling and separated from the world by the incomprehensible grace of God, they have a nobler and higher vocation than to mind earthly things. This calling is more exalted than the most honored earthly position as Heaven is above the earth. But the saints who are so called, are sinners differing in no wise naturally from others of the fallen race of man. They still remain subject to the vanity of this mortality while they remain in the flesh; and hence, they have need of all the instruction and admonition of the Scripture and the leading of the Spirit of God, to enable them to walk circumspectly, keeping under the body, and putting off the old man and his wicked deeds. With all their poverty and destitution, however, they find the wisdom of the Captain of their salvation has abundantly provided for their every need, in the rich treasure of His perfect law written in their new heart, which is one and the same in all who are born of God; and the perfect fulfillment of that law is love from one to another, and from all to the Lord, in whom is the eternal fountain of that love. Evidently the free development of this love does not tend to cause its subjects to fall out of the way. “From whence come wars and fightings among you?” To this question, addressed to the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel which are scattered abroad, James by inspiration replies, “Come they not hence, even of your lusts which war IN your members?”
Yet none of these twelve tribes, including all the true Israel, would for a moment tolerate the suggestion of such vile spirits knowing them to be of Satanic origin. These discordant elements would not be effective in disturbing the peace of the saints, if they were known to originate in the polluted fountain of carnal selfishness. Therefore, with all deceivableness they claim to arise from earnest zeal for Godliness: and this deception can only be detected by the test furnished by our Lord Himself, “ye shall know them by their fruits.” If their fruits are manifest in the destruction of the peaceful fellowship of the saints, they are evidently not animated by the love of Christ. But if they result in the promotion of brotherly love and the crucifying of personal pride and selfishness, then they show their origin to be in the fountain of the love of God.
By the authority of your King, you are entreated to “walk worthy of the vocation wherein ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians iv. 1-3. There can be no difficulty in discovering the difference between the Spirit moving Paul to write this urgent entreaty, and that overbearing inclination to watch for our brother’s halting that we may stand approved in his downfall, which covers itself in the guise of assumed zeal for the Lord, while actuated in reality by a vain-glorious desire to secure the praise of men. While it is not required that the saints should court the ill will of the world, yet they are not at liberty to seek to please men. It is better to encounter the enmity of the combined world than to despise one of the little ones whose angels in Heaven do always behold the face of the Father. Among men it may seem a very trivial matter to despise a little one; but in the sight of the Sovereign Judge they are the objects of His jealous care. If there had been no possibility of saints despising these little ones, it would have been useless to caution them against that fearful error; but He who spoke no idle word, gave this solemn warning to His disciples. May He grant to each of us grace to enable us to heed the admonition, lest we be found putting a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall in our brother’s way. Then, while we seek to guard against falling out by the way, let us carefully examine ourselves by the divine standard, since we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and every one of us shall give account of himself to God; let us not therefore, judge another any more. So shall we fulfill the injunction of the text to “See that ye fall not out of the way.”
“Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another; for all the law is fulfilled in one word. Even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Isaac Hamby, Moderator
J. T. Jordan, Clerk
Transcribed by Stanley Phillips – April 2009