Dear Brother Beebe: I have thought for some time of writing for the Signs of the Times and have made the attempt two or three times, but not finding it convenient to send it to the office immediately, on a subsequent perusal committed it to the flames, which in all probability will be the fate of this.
I have been reading with interest recently in the Signs of the Times some calculations in relation to the time of “Slaying the two witnesses,” which may be all very correct. I do not profess to know much about it, but it has been the cause of some reflections which, to my mind, is of more importance to poor fallen, perishing sinners than as to “When these things shall be.” It is to know whether we are prepared for the great result treated on, or whether we are prepared to meet our God. O! solemn thought! Me! a poor sinful reprobate, who was born a sinner, have been but only evil all the time! Yet, some times I hope the Lord, for Christ’s sake, has pardoned my sins; and, ever since that time, if indeed he has extended to me so great a boon, my life has been a life of up and down, down most of the time. Am I prepared for that great and awful meeting? Brother Beebe, have we (old fashioned Baptists, I mean) been as prayerful as we should have been? Have we been as circumspect in our walk and conversation? Have we been as devoted to the service of God, and our own best interest, as we have been to Mammon, the peif of this world? Let each of us examine ourselves, and come to judgment in our own cases, and with one voice we would cry, Guilty before God! And be compelled to say, “My punishment, though great, is not as severe as I deserve.” Can we then look for any thing from the Lord but chastisement? Has he not said, if his children neglect his law, and walk not in his statutes, “I will visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes.” But then he has said for the comfort of his children, “Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” He will bring his children off more than conquerors through him that loveth them. Is it not, brother Beebe, a much more important enquiry for us to make, Am I interested in the atoning blood of the Saviour of sinners, than as to when these things should be? Could not some of the fathers, Trott, Rittenhouse, Johnson, Power, Owen, or yourself, who write so well, tell us something of the way-marks along the road that leads to heaven and immortal glory, that we poor ignorant stumblers may arrive at some thing of a certainty as to whether we are in the way - whether we have started right - and which is the right road - tell us whether we have an interest there as a son, or a daughter - and whether we will finally rest in his embraces? If our claim to heaven and immortal glory is good, then come wars, come trouble of any kind - come that final dissolution of all things earthly, while we are in the embraces of our blessed Jesus, all is well - for he has all power given him both in heaven and earth, - and he has said, “Father I will that they which thou hast given me may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” Will not that be enough, to be where Jesus is, and to behold his glory? Brother Beebe, I feel as though to publish this in the Signs of the Times will be excluding more interesting matter, therefore, do with it as seemeth good to you, and all will be right with your friend, and I sometimes hope, brother.
A. F. Dudley
REPLY: Nothing can be of more vital importance to the saints than a reliable evidence of a personal interest in the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ; and next to that evidence that we be found endeavoring to observe all things whatsoever Christ our King has commanded us; as our evidences of acceptance with God through our Lord Jesus Christ can not afford us peace and comfort, if we find not in our hearts a paramount desire to glorify God in our body and spirit, which are his. If we are indeed quickened by the spirit of immortality we can not live without aspirations after holiness; therefore, we have reason to doubt the validity of any evidence of a glorious state in the absence of a hungering and thirsting after righteousness. But while it is enjoined on the saints to examine themselves, whether they be in the faith, and that they add to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity; it is also most solemnly enjoined on them that they should observe the “signs of the times,” and watch the fulfillment of the declarations of prophecy in regard to what the Spirit hath expressly spoken concerning what shall be developed in the last days, both in regard to the saints, and the revelation of the Man of Sin, the son of perdition. We are not prepared to say that our research for the testimony establishing our personal interest in the grace of God is any more important than our attention to the solemn charge which Christ and his apostles have enjoined upon us to watch the indications of the coming of the day of the Lord, which shall come as a thief in the night. Both are commanded by the same authority. The first we should do, and the other we should not leave undone. “Take heed,” said Jesus, “that no man deceive you.” And Peter exhorts us to be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the “commandments” of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour; knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts. Paul also calls attention frequently to the same important charge, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” But he adds, “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” And he has also admonished the saints to forsake not the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is, but to exhort one another, and so much the more as they should see the day approaching. It is true there are many things said and implied in the figurative language of the book of Revelation, and of the prophet Daniel, and elsewhere, which we may not yet any of us clearly and fully understand; but, should we, therefore, pass them heedlessly? Then for the same reason may we not be excused from searching the scriptures altogether, for who perfectly and fully comprehends any portion of the scriptures? Rather let us, as we feel conscious that we lack wisdom, ask of God, who giveth unto all men liberally, and upbraideth not. To many of our most enlightened brethren there seems to be evident indications of the near approach of the termination of the forty and two months of the prophesying of the Lord’s two witnesses in sack-cloth, and of their being slain; and however imperfectly the whole scope of that important subject and its minor details may be understood, it does claim the most profound consideration of all the saints who are looking for and hastening to the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye, being led away with the error of wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”
June 15, 1863.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 374 - 377