With this number we close the volume of 1863, and the thirty-first year of our labors in the publication of the Signs of the Times. Whether we have justly delineated the signs of the times in our record of passing events, and in our labors generally to show the tendency of the religious developments of the thirty years which have just passed, our readers must judge. We have never assumed the infallible inspirations of the holy apostles or prophets, but we have not shunned to declare the counsel of God, so far as we have had light on the subjects which have been discussed through our columns.
When we spread our banner to the breeze there was great commotion in the religious world. The new theories of doctrine and legions of humanly invented religious institutions which were at that time deluging and overwhelming the Baptist denomination had become so oppressive to those who were unwilling to be governed by any other than the laws and institutions of our Lord Jesus Christ, or by any other rule of determining what were the laws and institutions of Christ, than the holy scriptures, they were compelled to withdraw fellowship and companionship from those who were wedded to their own inventions. The great fight of afflictions, persecution, and derision to which we were then subjected is well known to the few who were our contemporaries then, and who now survive. According to common computation, a generation has passed from these mortal shores since then, and of those who were with us then, but very few, comparatively, now remain on the earth. Those who do yet live and those who have access to the early volumes of this paper will bear us witness that we did so interpret what we regarded as the signs of the times, as signifying, as we believed, the very things which are at this day so fully and so fearfully realized throughout our country.
That the numerous humanly invented religious institutions, falsely called Benevolent, blending the Church and World in their embrace, partaking of the elements of Christ and State, and claiming a national character, and withal, promising the evangelization of the world, and the speedy advent of their promised Millennium, we interpreted as indications of the ripening abominations of anti-christ, which would, as we understood the predictions of the scriptures, culminate in a millennium of blood. Such signs have been noted, and as the spirit of fanaticism has increased, and as the world has been more and more fascinated with the spreading delusions, our announcement of our convictions have been attributed to a fault-finding spirit, and a perverse disposition to oppose everything that is good. We do not claim for ourselves, or for our brethren who have written for our columns, any more sagacity, or ability to unveil the dark pages of the future than others possess, but we do claim that we have relied on what God has spoken by the mouth of all his prophets and apostles. And still the dark cloud lowers upon the world, like a gloomy pall, mantling in its deepest shades alike the clergy and the laity of the Man of Sin, the son of perdition, whose coming, as we are informed, is with all signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.
Signs are also given of the oppression, and persecution of the saints of God: Signs of Zion’s oppressions, and of her deliverance’s: Signs of delusions, of vital piety, and of revivals: Signs of the falling away from the faith and order of the gospel, and of being turned to fables: And finally, there are signs which we are admonished to heed of the final coming of our God and Savior, when he shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on his enemies, and for the everlasting deliverance of all those who love his appearing.
Brethren, friends, patrons, of the Signs of the Times, in view of the present state of the Church of God, in view of the eventful period we are now passing through, in view of the manifest indications of the near approach of the resurrection of the Lord’s Two Witnesses, and of the awful judgments, long restrained, but now about to overwhelm the adversaries, can you afford to dispense with the further publication of the Signs of the Times? To sustain it will require, as during the past year, your exertion to extend its circulation, and the liberality of those who are able to contribute to its support. Should we increase the rates of subscription, as most of the publications of the day have, we greatly fear that we should thereby place it beyond the ability of very many of the poor who desire to receive it. The liberal support, so seasonably given during the now closing year, assures us that we shall be sustained, and if the Lord will, we shall issue the first number of our next volume on or about the first of January, 1864, and continue its publication through the year.
December 15, 1863.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 441 – 443