Dear Brother Beebe; Having attended the last association for this season, in our southern country, which have all been in peace, with warm evidences of brotherly love and christian fellowship, I feel inclined to write again, and herewith send you a letter written to me by my third daughter, Martha Emily, or, Mitty, as we call her, which you will please publish. When she speaks of “Burr,” it is in reference to her brother-in-law, M.B. Brooks, and cousin to her husband, Wm. Brooks. They live in Gorden County, Ga., about one hundred and seventy miles from me. Also I send a letter signed “Pilgrim,” [over which signature I find a letter in the “Signs” for Oct.1st] which you will please publish, as “Pilgrim” desires my views through the “Signs,” on Luke 4:4 & 43. I am at a loss to know who the writer is, but feeling assured that whoever it may be, he is acquainted with the language of Zion, or the doctrine of salvation by sovereign grace, I feel disposed to offer a few thoughts in connection with the verses, which read as follows: “And Jesus answered him, It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” – verse 4. “And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also; for therefore am I sent.” – verse 43. The answer made by Jesus in the fourth verse, was directly to the devil. The time and circumstances under which it took place are worthy of notice. It was soon after Jesus was baptized by John, his forerunner, that he was tempted forty days of the devil, and had ate nothing, and began to be hungered for natural food, when the devil took occasion to try him, and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” This same tempter came to our mother Eve in the garden, with a lie in his mouth, and deceived her, and through her Adam did eat the forbidden fruit knowingly, and so brought death and ruin upon his natural family, so that the chosen people of God were equally involved, and were by nature children of wrath, even or exactly as others. But Jesus, the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven, being eternally united to his bride in the covenant of redemption ordered in all things and sure. As Eve had her natural life and being in Adam, even before taken from his side, even so the church of Christ’s, the Lamb’s wife, had her eternal life in Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, before it was bestowed upon, or manifestly communicated to the vessels of mercy, [or his chosen people] which God had afore prepared unto glory. And as Adam the first [who is the figure of him that was to come] took knowingly of the forbidden fruit, even so the Second Adam came down from heaven and took on him, not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham; took part of the same flesh and blood with his chosen people, and in that body grew up, and in it was baptized by John, and in it he hungered, wept, and went a mourner all his days; in it he was crucified, and in it rose triumphant over the grave, and ascended where he is exalted a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins, and to intercede for his redeemed. In his body he was tempted of the devil, who knew nothing of any support, but that which was natural; and just so to this day, his ministers, who transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, [I Cor.2:13-15] know only natural religion, obtained by works, advanced and supported by the use of means; namely, money, education &c. Young believers in Jesus Christ, before and after baptism, and all through their pilgrimage, are subjects of temptations from the same arch enemy, who presents his suggestions to the natural reasoning of the saints, [for that is all he can operate upon] that they must support themselves by good qualities, or good works; and teachers of anti-christ are plentiful, and always ready, proclaiming the importance of the use of means, as they say, for the salvation of the world, such as Theological Schools, Bible, Tract and Temperance Societies, Missionary Boards, Conventions, Sunday Schools, paying preachers high and stated salaries, conforming to the world in fashionable show, even in religious devotion, all of which is not only without scriptural authority, either by precept or example, but is positively forbidden. Rev.22:19.
Dear Pilgrim, God commands you and me, and all that love our Lord Jesus Christ, in the following language, Col.2:21-23. “Touch not, taste not, handle not, which all are to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men; which things indeed have a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility and neglecting of the body, not in any honor, to the satisfying of the flesh.” Which all looks beautiful to the carnal reason, even of the saints, and often too many of them follow their natural reasoning on this subject, and unawares are enticed to unite with the church of anti-christ, and invariably it is the case with them that they realize a famine in that country, and they begin to be in want, not for natural food or teaching, but for the sincere milk of the word; and with the treatment they receive, they are perishing with hunger, and no man gives to them. And though their natural appetites would fain fill themselves with the husks which the swine [or natural religionists] do eat, yet no man gives to them, until stern necessity causes them to remember that in their heavenly Father’s house [the church of God] there is enough and to spare, and they are reminded of the only rule of faith and practice for the saints – the New Testament; and of the precious promises of God to his children, who sees them though far off. When they realize that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God, they determine to arise and go to their Father’s house. It is the truth, that while natural life is sustained by natural food, the spiritual life and happiness of the believer is sustained by the power of God, the truth of his infallible word, and the believer’s steadfastness therein, and conformity thereto. Many of God’s little ones who have been unawares led off by false teachers, are of late returning to their Father’s house, [the church of God] which has continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers; and truly there is rejoicing and making merry. O that God would deliver all his dear children from the power and influence of anti-christ, or Babylon, [confusion] which is so apparent in this day of delusion. But I must proceed. Jesus in his Mediatorial, representative character, met and overcame the tempter in all these varied temptations, including [when properly noticed] every temptation that ever has or can be presented to the saints in their pilgrimage here, and for them has forever put the tempter behind him, and consequently behind them. For proof, read I Cor.10:13. “But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Also, Heb.2:14,15. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Again, Heb.4:15, “We have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” While Jesus Christ in his Mediatorial, representative, subordinate character came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of his Father which sent him, and became obedient even unto death, yet in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and he had power over all devils, men, angels, principalities and powers, in heaven and upon earth. Then, beloved Pilgrim, it is said to Zion, and is equally applicable to every humble believer in Jesus, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” Read Isa.17.
The 43rd verse referred to the necessity of Jesus preaching the kingdom of God to other cities also, for therefore was he sent. The preaching of the kingdom of God was that of the new covenant or gospel system of salvation by grace, independent of the works of men, all the fullness of which dwelt in Jesus, which was proven by the extraordinary miracles he was performing, and which caused so much excitement, and gave him such notoriety, that the kingdom of heaven was suffering violence, and the violent were taking it by force. Mt.11:12. That is, they were so well pleased with the King, because of the natural cures he effected, and the many miracles he performed, and the great notice taken of him, and the literal exploits he performed, curing the sick, casting out devils, &c.; not that they knew and loved him, and the doctrine he preached, and his reign, as a spiritual King, but externally they were pleased with him, because he was so beneficial to them literally. Hence they fell in with, and crowded him, and did not want him to leave Capernaum. On another occasion, when he had fed such a multitude with a few loaves and fishes, they desired to take him by force and make him an earthly king. But he departed from them. And some who saw the miracles, and ate of the loaves, voluntarily and violently took shipping and went over the sea to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus, and when they found him, soon became offended at his doctrine, a portion of which we will notice. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37, 44. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” And when he spake of his flesh and blood, as being bread and drink indeed, and that except they ate and drank thereof they had no life in them, this had a spiritual meaning about it they could not understand; and putting all he taught them together, these voluntary disciples were so offended that they said, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” Jesus told them, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” They went back, and walked no more with him. – Verse 66. To this day, all such as voluntarily go seeking religion, and violently make profession in times of protracted, or rather distracted meetings, where all fleshly motives and passions are roused up to see the great advantages of worldly gain, popularity, and of going to heaven and escaping hell, all such being actuated by selfish motives, cannot endure the doctrine of the cross of Christ, for it is offensive to them. Hence we hear so many in this day saying that the doctrine is too hard, and those who believe and preach gospel truth are, by way of reproach, called Hardshells. Well, be it so. The Judge of all the earth will do right, and the time draweth near when it will be realized. But all such as God calls by his grace, and draws with the cords of his love into the kingdom of his dear Son, are made sweetly to hope in his mercy, through a dying and risen Savior, not violently or voluntarily, but of stern necessity, they trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon their God, and never will be offended at the doctrine of sovereign grace, according to God’s eternal, unchanging purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began, and which he accomplished independent of the works, means or plans of men. If the question were put to such, as it was to the twelve, “Will ye also go away?” They of necessity would reply, as did Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Dear Pilgrim, I have just touched on some things that appear to me consistent with the verses you suggested, and I hope it may be satisfactory. And I greatly desire that ere long you may be able to come out openly, and distinguish yourself with the poor and afflicted people of God, in gospel order; for I hope and believe you have, like Moses, been made to choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
Peace be to all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Yours in love,
Near Lexington Georgia, Oct.,17, 1870.