Dear Brother Beebe; I have just received a request from brother Edmund Duggan, of Louisiana, for my views on the following text, Gen.6:3 – “And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Also, Acts 7:51 – “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.”
The object in teaching and learning the scriptures should be to arrive at their true meaning, as nothing else can be profitable to any one. I will therefore first attempt to show what the text does not mean. We all know that it is not intended to show us that the eternal, all-powerful God is striving to save sinners, and does succeed in some cases, but in other cases fails, and cannot accomplish what he is striving to do. This would represent God, who is a Spirit, to be one like ourselves, only less powerful; for if he strives to save a sinner and is successfully resisted and outdone in the contest, the sinner would prove the stronger, and of course he would not let the Lord damn him, nor take his natural life. Such evidences of self-importance, gross darkness and ignorance, are lamentable, and yet quite common among some who profess to worship God. The first text then must be in close connection with the following language, namely: “What if God willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Noah and his family representing the church of God, vessels of mercy which he has afore prepared unto glory. The same spoken of in the language of the angel to Joseph and Mary, “And thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt.1:21. Again, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Psa.110:3. “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Is.54:13. The world of mankind, in the days of Noah, before the flood, represents the unbelieving world, including all the devotees of anti-christ, teaching and believing false doctrines and commandments of men, who after their own lusts heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” II Tim.4:3,4. And yet God’s long forbearance is manifested to all. But as God’s forbearance waited, or strove with man, in the days of Noah, and it was determined that man’s days should be an hundred and twenty years, [the time Noah was preparing the ark] and then all, except Noah and his family, should be destroyed by the flood, even so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. As they, before the flood, were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even so it is now, and will be till this world shall be destroyed by fire. Noah and his family were few, compared with the human family before the flood; even so the true worshippers of God shall be few, compared with the world of mankind, including all such as have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. As all such had no hiding place when the flood came upon them, even so they, or all such, shall have no hiding place when their folly shall be made manifest, as was that of Jannes and Jambres, who resisted or withstood Moses. Though they shall cry out and say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works?” Then will the Judge of all the earth say unto them, “Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, for I never knew you.” Awful, awful disappointment! But they shall realize their awful doom. As the Lord securely shut in Noah and his family, the favored few, even so the poor and afflicted people of God, of every nation, kingdom and tongue under heaven, are and will be found securely shut up in Jesus Christ, the glorious ark of safety, where sighing and sorrow will have fled away forever. In him they lived, in him they died, in and with him they arose, representatively, and with him they shall dwell forevermore where he is, to behold his glory.
In the case where Stephen was martyred, can anyone conclude that the Holy Ghost was in, or striving to enter into those wicked men who stoned this humble, faithful man of God, who was full of faith and power, and which his enemies were not able to resist, the wisdom and spirit by which he spake? Yet they were stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Ghost; not in their uncircumcised hearts, but its working in Stephen, and in others who were possessed of it, and by it spake with power, and performed many extraordinary and supernatural good works. For truth’s sake, and for God’s sake, let no mortal be so vain and deluded as to conclude that those poor, feeble, helpless, yet devil-possessed persecutors and murderers of Stephen had the Holy Ghost in them, or that the Holy Ghost was striving to enter into them. Their resistance was against the men who were under the power and influence of the Holy Ghost. As their fathers had resisted the servants and prophets of God in past ages, so they resisted and even murdered the servants of God then. No one who is acquainted with, or believes in the true and living God, who will do all his pleasure, and none can hinder; working all things after the counsel of his own will; declaring the end from the beginning, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; I say, no one who believes in the God of the Bible can for one moment harbor such blasphemous notions, as that the eternal God would do if he could, or that poor, feeble, dying worms of earth could successfully resist him. I feel sure that none of his children believe any such thing. It is a great thing to be a worshipper of the true and living God. I often fear that I am not one of that favored few. If I am not, O that I might be. Anyway, I can say, he is all my desire and all my salvation.
I will close, hoping my scattering remarks will do no harm to any of the dear children of God. The Lord bless and sustain you, brother Beebe, in old age.
Your brother in great tribulation,
Near Lexington Georgia, Feb.28, 1876.