Dear Brother Beebe; Having a little leisure today, I feel impressed to write something for the “Signs,” if you think it will not be in the way of more important matter; and feeling at a loss to know what subject to introduce, can think of nothing that likely would more interest the many readers of your excellent paper, than that of the christians warfare in this world of sin and sorrow, and that of his final delivery from sin and all its consequences. The natural man is unacquainted with the many changes, joys and sorrows, or the exercises of mind of such as have the Spirit or mind of Christ, because he has no mind, but that which is fleshly or carnal, and such cannot please God, being the flesh only. But such as have the Spirit of Christ in them are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. Rom.8:8-10, I Cor.2:15.
When it pleases the Father of all the heavenly family to send forth the Spirit of his Son into the heart or mind of a poor sinner, crying, Abba, Father, then the warfare commences; for proud nature is opposed to it, and is greatly mortified; for the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. The poor sinner cannot tell what is going on in his own bosom, or the cause of his constant uneasiness of mind, but like Saul is saying, Who art thou, Lord? or, Why is it that I cannot be at ease in my feelings, as heretofore? All his natural powers are directly at war with that powerful spirit by which he is apprehended; but in vain is the resistance of carnal powers, because the stronger has come in, and bound the strong man that was armed and kept the palace and his goods in peace; but the stronger having possession, by his constant, mild, gentle and powerful working brings the praying sinner down, step by step, in a way he had not known, and in paths he had not seen, until sin actually revives in his view, till he dies to every hope of salvation by works, and dies to the love of sin, and is made to acknowledge that if his soul were sent to hell, God’s righteous law approves it well; but never, in my humble opinion, becomes perfectly reconciled to be banished forever from God; for that spirit by which he was first apprehended or quickened in his heart, still continues to cry, Abba, Father, or, God, my Father. When sufficiently taught the depths of his depravity, his weakness, and the worthless character of his prayers, reformation, and even his repentance or convictions, then by some strange unexpected working of the Spirit, his burden of sin and condemnation is removed entirely, unexpectedly, and hope in the mercy of God to the chief of sinners springs up, and all trouble is gone for a time. I do believe many of God’s people are delivered and cannot tell exactly how or when, while others can tell the time and place. Two or three cases now occur to my mind, which may serve to illustrate. The man whose eyes Jesus had opened could not tell where he was, or whether he was a good or bad man; but one thing he did tell, “that whereas I was once blind, now I see.” And after the Jews had cast him out of their synagogue, Jesus found him, and gave him another manifestation, and he said, Lord, I believe; and he worshipped him. John 9:38. Again, the man that lay at the pool, after being made whole, knew not who it was that made him whole; for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place; but afterwards Jesus found him in the temple, [a place for divine worship, where all such are impressed and pleased to go,] and gave him another manifestation, directing him to sin no more, lest a worse thing should come upon him. John 5:10-14. After this he could and did tell that Jesus had made him whole. So, no doubt, with many of the dear children of God, even to this day; but sooner or later their hope is fixed in Jesus, and unto them he is precious. Others, like the inspired apostle Paul, can tell the time and place, and unto them also he is precious. Let the circumstances be what they may, under which God’s people are brought to receive evidences of pardon, they all hope and rejoice in the same precious Savior, acknowledge with Jonah that salvation is of the Lord. While the benefit is theirs, they give God all the glory of their eternal salvation, while all boasting is excluded by the law of faith. Then they feel like all trouble was done, and expect a happy lifetime in the service of their God. But to their astonishment they soon find that their carnal nature was not made spiritual, but only subdued in silence for a little while, and now rises up and renews the contest against the spirit. This greatly alarms the young believer, not because such exercises are not common with all God’s children, but simply because he is not such a one as he had before thought a christian was – good; soul, body and spirit. Hence he concludes all his hopes are vain, and quite likely prays for his burden again, or, if deceived, that God would in mercy undeceive him, and let him know the truth of his condition. In such contests between the flesh and the spirit, many of God’s dear children neglect their duty, probably for years, hoping to know more about it, or become better satisfied; but in neglect of duty, instead of their evidences being brightened, they become more dim; and in pursuing this course for a time, the flesh and the devil gets greatly the advantage of them, till they may become inclined to throw away their former hopes of acceptance with God through Jesus Christ, but this they cannot do; but they may lay themselves liable to be led off by teachers of anti-christ, or under the flesh commit sins destructive to their own peace, and place themselves where that if ever they take up their cross it is with the greatest difficulty. So that beyond all doubt, the safest plan for the poor trembling, fearing, yet hoping believer, is to front the field and take up the cross at the earliest opportunity; for God has organized the gospel church with a place there for believers in Jesus, and of course it is the best and safest place for their protection from going into sin after the flesh, and from being carried off after the doctrines and commandments of men, teachers of anti-christ, which are so numerous in this day of strong delusion which God hath sent them, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. The cause why God sends them this strong delusion is that they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. II Thes.2:9-12. One thing is certain, deceived persons have no fears of being deceived, neither do they tremble at or regard God’s word, but treat it with careless contempt. Hypocrites have no fear but slavish fear, which worketh torment, while such as are enlightened by divine grace have perfect love, which casteth out slavish fear; hence they fear God because they love him. They love and tremble at God’s word, for it is truth, after which they are honestly enquiring, and with them the warfare will continue until this earthly house in which they tabernacle here shall be dissolved, and they taken home to that building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For now in these earthly tabernacles they groan, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their bodies. But in the general resurrection of the dead, God will bring with him [Christ] them which sleep in Jesus, and them which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep; for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Arch-angel and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. I Thes.4:15-17. Then will the ransomed of the Lord return and come to Zion with songs and with everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
I have written more than I intended, and will close with a few words to my dear ministering brethren. If one among you, I am surely the poorest of all, passing through some of the strangest exercises of mind. Sometimes when preaching with liberty it seems the delight of my soul; at other times my efforts are but a heavy drag, without spirit, animation or enjoyment to myself, or anybody else, preaching merely from memory, in a great strain, catching as catch I can, so to speak. O what a miserable affair under such circumstances. I am made to wonder if I ever can preach with liberty again, and the tempter rushes up and suggests that you are wrong in the unpopular doctrine you are advocating. Look at the learned and fashionable ministers around you, highly esteemed by the wise and great men of the world. Their churches are large and prosperous, while they receive bountiful salaries, making in their dress and manners truly a genteel appearance, and you, the only Old School preacher in the county, with but a few poor unfashionable, unpopular professors. Surely you must be wrong. With such exercises of mind and trials I become vexed and uneasy; but when I can meet the enemy [the flesh and the devil] with God’s word, and present the treatment Jesus and his apostles received while here, with the character of the people of God in every age of the world, and what they have suffered for his sake, then he flees in haste, and I am made to rejoice that I am counted worthy to suffer for his sake.
Yours in love,
Near Lexington Georgia, July 7, 1870.