WHAT EARLY CHRISTIANS BELIEVED

{Keep in mind that when you read this article that it was written back in 1855. But also think about how many modern day "professors of Christianity" say pretty much the same thing but in different words. TA}

Brother Wm. Batting has sent us some paragraphs clipped from the New York Chronicle, for which he will please receive our thanks.

The sentiments expressed by the editor of that journal, although blasphemously contradictory to the inspired Scriptures, are harmonious with the popular doctrine of New School Baptists, and of all Arminian will-worshipers of the present age. The assertion of the Chronicle, that, "The early Christians believed that they could conquer the world to Christ," is a slander on the primitive saints; but probably true in reference to the modern nominal professors of Christianity. The missionary stock-jobbers, and probably all other workmongers, act upon the principle that they could greatly enlarge, and essentially improve the kingdom of Christ, by their exertions and treasures, and their belief of that falsehood, is the grand principle of all their unscriptural operations. But the primitive saints held sentiments diametrically opposite. Instead of believing that they could in any sense, conquer the world to Christ, they believed that Christ could conquer the world unto them, and all the victory that ever had expected or desired was that which God giveth them through our Lord Jesus Christ. They believed that Christ could make them more than conquerors; but they never had the vanity to believe that they could make Christ a conqueror by anything in their power; for well they knew the truth of the Savior’s words, that without him they could do nothing. The apostle John testifies that "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" – 1 John v. 4,5. This is a very different thing from the saints conquering, or subduing the world to Christ. "Whatsoever is born of God," had its existence in God before its birth, and therefore is not of the flesh. The power then by which the saints triumph over the world, is of God, and not of even the saints. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." This declaration, read in connection with the first clause of the text, "Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world," shows that the faith of God’s elect is born of God, and not a thing of earthly or human origin. By grace you are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Paul says, The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me. Of this faith which overcometh the world, Jesus Christ is both the Author and Finisher. – Heb. xii. 2. And for the examplifications of faith’s victories over the world, read the eleventh chapter to the Hebrews.

The sense in which the editor of the Chronicle uses his extravagant language, was not, as he would not pretend, in reference to the triumphs of faith in Christians over the lust of the world, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, according to 1 John ii. 16, for he made the declaration in connection with his boasting assumption, that the weakest possessor of a Christian hope, "believes that he can bring sinners, as trophies to his Master. He believes that the worst of men may be converted, and goes at the work with the assurance that he shall succeed"; then follow the words quoted and commented upon. "The early Christians believed that they could conquer the world to Christ."

Being called on, in a subsequent number of their Chronicle, by a writer over the signature "C. S." to prove by Scripture testimony, that the early Christians believed that they could conquer the world to Christ, and after proving they so believed, prove by the same authority that they were correct in so believing, and if they believed so, and were correct in so believing, to show why they did not arise in their might, and do it; they attempt very adroitly to back out of their position, by saying, "We did not mean that they believed that they could conquer the world in the sense of bringing every man it, or even the great majority, to be true Christians; but only that they could vanquish the enemies of their personal holiness, and also succeed in the face of all opposition, to establish the kingdom of God in the world, and could multiply its subjects in all lands," &c. Well, how much will this subtetfuge avail? Pray, Mr. Chronicle, tell us, if Christians can convert the worst of sinners to Christ, why they cannot with equal ease and expedition convert the better class, and so save them all? Is the machinery so geared, that it will only take in the worst? You say, "The weakest possessor of Christian hope believes that the worst of men may be converted, and goes at the work with the assurances that he shall succeed." Now if the weakest Christian can succeed in converting the worst of men, and bring them in, as you say, as trophies to Christ, why, in wonder, cannot the stronger Christians, the Sampsons, for instance, manage to convert the better portion of mankind, and so subdue the whole human family as trophies to Christ? Is it possible that he worst of men are so much easier converted, that the weakest saints can manage them, while the very best of men, are more than a match for your Sampsons? But, "You only mean they can vanquish the enemies of their personal holiness, and succeed in the face of all opposition in establishing the kingdom of God in the world, and can multiply subjects in all lands." Did the primitive saints believe even this? Did Paul believe that he had power to vanquish the law in his members, which warred against his soul, and brought him into captivity to the law of sin? Did he believe that he was able to vanquish the body of this death, that made him cry out, "O wretched man that I am?" Did he and his brethren really believe that they were going shortly to bruise Satan under the feet of Messiah? Or, did they not feel encouraged in the thought that God would shortly bruise Satan under their feet, and give them victory over sin, death and hell, through Jesus Christ their Lord?

Again, Mr. Chronicle, How do you ascertain that the early Christians possessed power, or that they believed themselves able to establish the kingdom of God in the world? Christ has testified that the kingdom of God was prepared for the saints from the foundation of the world. Daniel, by the Spirit testified that, "In the days of these kings the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and shall consume all these kingdoms, [which were indicated by the image in Nebuchadnezzaar’s vision], and shall stand forever." Pray, where did you learn that the early, or the latter Christians, were to do this? Is the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, a house made with hands? a building of men, set up, or established by men? When the eternal Jehovah said, "I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." – Psalm ii. 6. When, "Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." – Heb. i. 8. "When he spake in vision to his Holy One, and said, I have laid help on one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people: I have found David my servant; with my holy oil I anointed him: with whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also with whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him; and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers, he shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven." – Psalm lxxxix. 19-29. Was all this designed to teach us that the kingdom was to be established by men, or that the trophies to Christ were to be gained by the zeal and labor of his disciples? Was it said that Jesus should ask of his early or later saints, and they would give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession? Or, did his people say unto him, Sit thou at our right hand, and we will subdue all things unto thee? We will procure thy trophies? We will make thine enemies thy footstool, and we will establish thy kingdom? Where shall we find a record of anything of this kind? Why, in the New York Chronicle; but not in the Bible.

Nor less fallacious are the assumptions of the Chronicle in regard to the subject of Christ’s kingdom being either multiplied, or diminished, by the Christians, early or late. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Those who are born again, are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Such, and no others, are subjects of the heavenly kingdom; for them exclusively, the kingdom was prepared before the foundation of the world. It is the good pleasure of God that such, and only such, shall inherit the kingdom. Christ will gather all such with his arm, and carry them in his bosom. He shall say to the north, Give up, and to the South, Keep not back, bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the world; even every one that is called by my name, for I have created him for my glory. "All that he Father giveth me, shall come unto me, and he that cometh, I will in no wise cast out." "No man can come unto me, except my Father which sent me, draw him." It does not depend on the mission efforts of men, but the sovereign power and purpose of the unchanging God. Christ, the good Shepherd, putteth forth his own sheep, and goeth before them, and they follow him, and he giveth them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand.

In conclusion, we will say to the Solons of the Chronicle, Cease your ravings, at least until you issue your new Bible. We do not wonder that you desire a new translation of the Scriptures; for it must be hard for you to kick against the pricks.

Middletown, N. Y.
May 1, 1855

Elder Gilbert Beebe