DEAR BROTHER WILLIAM: - According to the request of my beloved brother W.L. Taylor, of Alabama, appearing in the MESSENGER of the 15th of May last, I feel inclined to offer a few thoughts in connection with the following text, Rom.8:37, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” This language has its application immediately to believers in Jesus Christ, who are engaged in perpetual warfare as long as they remain in this present evil world. The flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and so these are contrary the one to the other, so that they cannot do the things they would. Gal.5:17. Though they cannot do the things they would, yet it is very important they should be careful not to live after the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof, but after the spirit, minding the things of the spirit, which spirit bears witness with their spirit that they are the children of God, not for the purpose of becoming conquerors, but because they are already more than conquerors, through him that loved them, being children, then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, as such it is given them in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Phil.1:29. It appears necessary then that they should suffer for his sake, as well as to be glorified together with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Some of the things to be suffered are tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword, and to be killed all the day long for his sake, and to be accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Tribulation and distress is and has been realized by God’s children in all ages of the world, some though to a greater extent than others, owing greatly to the circumstances surrounding them during their pilgrimage in this world, but all of them have trouble or distress because of their own sinful nature which causes them to cry out as did Paul, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” The world with all the perplexities of this life, with the temptations of the wicked one. When all these combined, show themselves in opposition to the peace and spiritual prosperity of the poor disconsolate christian, how he is made to fear and tremble lest he is mistaken and not what he has professed or once thought he was, but whether the conflict is short or long, the language of his heart is, If not saved by grace exclusively, I am undone forever, and if I am not a christian, I wish I could be, above every other consideration, while his prayer is that the Lord would be merciful to his unrighteousness, and teach him what his true condition is; and instead of his pursuing sin, to destroy his trouble, like many nominal professors do, he is more careful to shun the very appearance of evil, while his tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and occasionally his strength is renewed, so that he concludes for a moment that there is some reality in his hopes after all, and surely he will be more careful and never get into such a dark and disconsolate condition any more, but ere he is aware something else interrupts his pleasant anticipations and into trouble he falls again, and he has no more control over these changes in feelings, than he has over the wind that blows.
But there is one pleasing reflection to me at last, that 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, and he is able to succor them that are tempted. Persecution, too, is the lot of every one that will live godly in Christ Jesus. In some ages of the world the saints have suffered it in the severest manner, while it was inflicted by legal or civil authorities.
God has truly cast our lot in a godly land, where, under our civil republican government, every man is protected in the right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience, but this does not destroy the enmity and disposition to persecute, that have ever existed with the children of the bond woman, or work-mongrel religionists, against the children of the free woman, or such as believe and preach the doctrine of salvation alone by grace, and it is a little remarkable that men making no pretensions to religion have but seldom, if ever, made any efforts to persecute or oppress the Church of God, but it has been done extensively by the most zealous professors of religion, industriously engaged in secret conspiracy, inventing plans and applying frequently to law-making powers for exclusive religious liberties, acting always on the offensive, for no other purpose but to oppress and persecute the Church of Christ. Many have suffered martyrdom, while others have been hunted as wild beasts of the forest, a poor afflicted, unpopular, despised few, who have never persecuted anybody, but have always acted on the defensive, not even asking earthly powers to help, but trusting in the name of the Mighty God of Jacob, and with no other weapons of warfare than his holy word, they have ever been victorious through him that loved them, for though many have been put to death, this was setting them at liberty to behold and enjoy the conquest Jesus had wrought for them. Persecution is not now in the same shape, nor to the extent it has been in past ages, but still the same enmity exists in the enemies of the Cross of Christ; which manifests itself in this day by making efforts to make the Church of Christ appear contemptible to the commonwealth, and particularly to the rich, wise and noble of this world, their actions as well as their words, speaking loudly something like the following, “See what we are doing for God in our religious improvements, our many new plans, societies, boards and conventions, all put in operation by us for the salvation of the world, surely the Lord is with us, none evil can come upon us – but there is a poor illiterate, crazy few, calling themselves the people of God, who are so tenacious for Scripture authority for what they do, that they will not unite with us in our new plans, nor societies to advance the cause of Christ, sure such ought to be hated by all good people.” While all the Arminian or workmongrel societies agree in opposing the Old School Baptists, none of them dare say the doctrine we preach is false, or the ordinances we practice are unscriptural; yet many of them seem ready to suspect our motives, and anxious too for an occasion to injure our religious character. In this way we are persecuted and everywhere spoken against, but these are not strange things happening to the people of God, therefore we are authorized to speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, and that she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sin, not only pardon, but justification too, for Jesus has not only conquered, but destroyed her enemies, for he shall reign till the last enemy, death is destroyed. Then shall come to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us. Farewell.
Yours in love,
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, May 29, 1857.