Lebanon, Ohio, Dec. 2, 1841.
MR. BEEBE. - Sir: - You will discontinue the number of the “Signs of the Times” directed to S. Gard, as I consider the general sentiment or doctrine which they embody opposed to “salvation by grace,” as taught and exemplified by the inspired apostles. The very first principle of the doctrine which they advocate is evidently wrong, inasmuch as it substitutes feelings for faith. It requires no stretch of thought to discover that the very first promise of the new covenant which their author pretends to venerate so much is at utter and eternal variance with the rejection of the law as a rule of life. That first promise is, “I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts, saith the Lord;” a fact which is fatal to all such unholy applications of the doctrine of grace. In a word, their doctrine is the hope of a salvation from that holy salvation which is “the end” of election, redemption, and regeneration.
These are my humble convictions.
W.V. H. GARD.
REPLY: WE notice the preceding, not for the mere gratification of our ambition for such flattering expressions of benevolent sentiment and gracious feeling towards, as it so feelingly breathes forth; but more particularly with a view to commend the candor of the writer in so frankly avowing his decided preference for Judaism, alias Arminianism, to the doctrine of the gospel; and his readiness to expose his ignorance of the difference between the two covenants - the law of the spirit of life, written and engraved by the Holy Spirit upon the fleshly tables of the hearts of the children of God, and that which was written on tables of stone, addressed to the carnal Israelites, which was a shadow of good things to come, and destined to wax old and vanish away when the true tabernacle should be revealed. While others of the same Arininian fraternity may accord in feelings and sentiment with Mr. Gard, few of them have been so open in exposing their real preference for the bondage of Ishmael over the liberty of the sons of God. While we commend so much of the letter, and the generosity of its author, in attempting to convert us from what he seems to consider the error of our way, there are some little inaccuracies in some of his remarks which, although liable to occur in the productions of the wisest and best of writers, require some correction. As Mr. G. has the honor, (if honor it be,) to be the first to charge us with opposing the doctrine of salvation by grace, “as taught and exemplified by the inspired apostles,” he will confer a lasting obligation on us by pointing out very clearly and distinctly every particular in which he finds us hostile to that doctrine, and every point of discrepance between us and the inspired apostles. And if the very first principle of the doctrine which “they” (the editor of the “Signs of the Times”) advocate, is evidently wrong, and substitutes feelings for faith, we conclude that none can be more competent to demonstrate the fact than the man who made the discovery. We call on Mr. G., therefore, to come forward immediately to the work. If no stretch of thought it requires to discover that the very first promise of the new covenant, which their author pretends to venerate so much, is at utter and eternal variance with the rejection of the law as a rule of life,” we repeat it, Mr. Gard is eminently qualified for the undertaking. And when he shall succeed in proving that the law of Moses to the Jews, the Sinai covenant, or the ceremonial economy is by divine authority, to be observed as the rule of the christian’s life and practice, and that the law which God has promised to write in the hearts of his children, under the new covenant dispensation, is only a transcript of the law of sin and death, we shall have no further use for the New Testament.
The fact that God will write his law in the mind, and in the hearts of his children, Mr G. says “is fatal to all such unholy applications of the doctrines of grace.” We are not sufficiently learned to understand the meaning of this last sentence, especially as he has represented us as discarding instead of applying the doctrine of grace. Who can he mean? “In a word,” says our sapient writer, “their” (meaning the editor of the ‘Signs of the Times,’) “doctrine is the hope of a salvation from that holy salvation which is the end of election, redemption and regeneration.
What an overwhelming summing up! What extraordinary talent for cramming the world into a nut shell, the entire doctrine of the Old School Baptists screwed up into one word, and that one word spun out into a sentence, and that sentence big with meaning, explicitly declaring what mortals. never knew, what angels never thought.
But taking our generous friend upon his own ground, seeing he claims for himself what he denies to us, viz: to be consistent with the doctrine of salvation by grace, &c. We will demand of him, in the words of the apostle, “Tell me, ye (thou) that desirest to be under the law, dost thou hear what the law saith?” In what precept of the law is faith, repentance, baptism, the Lord’s supper, or any other sentiment or ordinance of the gospel church enjoined? If the law is the rule of life to believers, then instead of what Christ and the apostles have enjoined upon the gospel church, she should teach, and require all her members to be circumcised, with the circumcision of that law, in their flesh; they should maintain the priesthood of Aaron, offer their sacrifices as did the Jews; they should go up to Jerusalem, (literally) to worship, as often as did the Jews; they should observe days, and new moons, Sabbaths, meats, drinks, and divers washings, for the purification of the flesh. They should exact an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, blood for blood, life for life, &c., and not pray for their enemies, nor forgive them. The law shows no pity, neither should they; the law curses transgressors, so should they. For every failure to do the whole law, the law demands that the offender should die, and that the sentence be executed by those who are under the law as the rule of their life. Mr. Gard is, therefore, by his law, required to execute the work of death wherever he finds offenders, and if he fail to execute to the full extent of what law demands, himself must die.
What charming harmony this with the doctrine of salvation by grace, as taught by inspired apostles; and especially where the inspired apostles declare, “By the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified” - Gal. ii. 16. “This only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish, having begun In the spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” - Gal. iii. 2, 3. “I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law, Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace.” - Gal. v.3, 4. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith; but after that faith is come, we are no more under the schoolmaster.” - Gal. iii. 23, 25. “But if ye are led by the spirit, ye are not under the law.”
How now, friend Gard, did you ever read these scriptures? Well, just turn over and read the second chapter of Paul to the Colossians - read the chapter through; and then, if your courage fail you not, accuse the old apostle Paul of opposing the doctrine of salvation by grace, and smack it right into his teeth, that, if he teach that the church is not under the law, but under grace; then his doctrine can be summed up in a word to mean no more nor less than that he hopes to be saved from that salvation which is connected with election, redemption, regeneration, &c. But (privately between ourselves) we advise you, before encountering the old apostle, to stop and count the cost; he will not let you off as we do. Better not be in a hurry. Return your quill to the goose from whence it was plucked, she will have a better use of it; and when you have done this, tony yourself at Jericho, or at some other place remote from Zion, until your beard be grown.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
January 1, 1842.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 740 – 744