There is truly a diversity of opinion among brethren on the subject of religious controversy. Some of our brethren have expressed a great aversion to the discussion of important and deep subjects, on which our corespondents do not fully agree, while others profess to be greatly edified and comforted by hearing and comparing the conflicting views of those who differ on such disputed points. Under such circumstances, what course should we, as the editor of this paper, take? A venerable and dear brother writes us from Warwick, N.Y. that our readers in his vicinity are tired of the discussion on Justification; another brother writes from Troy, N.Y. that he is pleased with the idea of discussion through the Signs, when such discussion is conducted in the spirit of the gospel, with a desire to instruct. A third published a pamphlet in Maryland in opposition to our views on Justification, and says he is no sectarian, and hints that until the Old School Baptists can see eye to eye in every particular, that he judges it an unauspicious time for uniting with us. Again we ask, what course should we pursue? It is our desire (as far as we can do so without sacrificing truth) to please all our brethren; but we have a still greater desire to edify, instruct, comfort and build up the sheep and lambs of our Heavenly Father's flock.
From a conviction in our own mind that well written discussions, in a spirit of kindness, on various subjects, will contribute to the interest and usefulness of the Signs, we have concluded to ask the indulgence of such of our brethren as do not see with us the propriety of such a course, while we will promise, on our part, to reject all such communications on controverted points as are written in an all-natured or unbecoming spirit or style. Why should we be afraid to discuss what we hold to be the truth? Nothing but error can suffer from investigation; the more closely the truth is scrutinized, the more brilliantly it will shine.
On the discussion of the subject of Justification, much has been written, and of that much, some has not been in that brotherly edifying manner that we could wish; but we conceive that more remains to be said, and more can be said to great advantage on the subject. We are persuaded that very little difference would remain among our Old School Brethren, could they understand each other, and each feel willing to yield to the word and testimony of Holy Writ. The communication of brother Goldsmith, in this number, appears to us to be written in a proper tone; we therefore cheerfully admit it. Let those who wish to reply to him, or otherwise to shew their opinion, avoid harsh expressions, and manifest at once in their writings their love for the truth, and their desire that all the purchased possession of Christ may know and be set free by the truth. Remember we are brethren.
January 15, 1839
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times
Republished - Volume 151, No. 5 - May 1983