Having been spared to the close of the forty-eighth volume of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, and the forty-eighth year of the editorial labor of the senior editor, we feel constrained to record the goodness and mercy of God to usward, for we are deeply sensible that it is because his mercies fail not that we are not consumed. But having obtained mercy, we faint not, and we are encouraged to believe that
“He who has helped us hitherto,
Will help us all our journey through.”
At the age of thirty-two years, when physically vigorous and in the prime of life, we felt that a necessity was laid on us to assume the responsibility of attempting the publication of this periodical, but it was not without fear and much trembling we entered upon the work. At that time we issued our Prospectus, in which we stated the object and design of the publication, and also gave a condensed abstract of the doctrine and order which we proposed to assert and maintain. And now, after the labor of almost half a century, we do not know that we have been charged with any departure from the summary which we then set forth.
The elders and brethren from the various States of the Union, who met in solemn convocation at Black Rock, Maryland, in 1832, to consider the necessity of withdrawing fellowship from the Fullerite or Missionary Baptists, as they were then called, examined our abstract of sentiments and approved them; and in their Address to all the saints who continued steadfast in the doctrine and fellowship of the Old order of Apostolic Baptists, recommended our paper as a reliable exponent of Old School or Primitive Baptist doctrine and order, and ordered that their first and second Manifestoes should be published in our columns.
The issuing of the SIGNS opened a medium of communication for the Old order of Baptists, and our circulation extending into nearly all the States and Territories of our country, was joyfully received and readily patronized by many isolated brethren of our faith and order, who had supposed that they only were left alone to contend for the faith as it was once delivered to the primitive saints. For several years we encountered opposition almost exclusively from those of the New order of Baptists, from whom we had withdrawn the fellowship which for a time had only nominally existed. The reproduction of our editorials, which were republished in two volumes, will show that until it was thought that in a pecuniary point of view our paper had become self-sustaining, we had to encounter opposition principally from those from who we had withdrawn our fellowship. But after the New School Baptists had concluded to retire from the field and let us alone, we were soon compelled to realize that we had opposition to encounter much nearer home, and that we had enemies which were of our own household, of the nature of whose opposition, and mode of whose warfare, the patrons of our later volumes are already apprised. We do not wish to murmur or complain, for we have great reason to rejoice and be thankful, that the number of those who profess to be Old School or Primitive Baptists who oppose us is comparatively very small, while a very large majority sustain us, and our patronage for the past years has been considerably extended. Although we have reached and passed the age of four score years, our physical powers have been remarkably well preserved. During the past year we have traveled about seven or eight thousand miles, visited and preached in many States and Territories of the United States, and in Canada; and in every association and church where we have visited and preached the word we have been cordially received and kindly treated, and invited to repeat our visits should providence permit. We feel to boast only in the Lord; it is of his goodness and loving kindness alone, in putting into the hearts of dear brethren to extend their fellowship to us, that we desire to speak. We feel truly humbled under a sense of the goodness and mercy of God to us, notwithstanding our utter unworthiness of his kind and gracious regard.
Our prospect for the Forty-ninth Volume is encouraging. With an increasing list of reliable subscribers, and a goodly number of valiant men of Israel, “all holding swords, being expert in war; every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night,” to keep us supplied with able communications, with which to fill and enrich our columns, we hope to make this volume as interesting and edifying as any which have preceded it. Our son, who is now associated with us in business, has charge of the business affairs of the office, by which arrangement we are enabled hereafter to devote our more time fully and constantly to the editorial department of the paper.
The forty-eight consecutive years of our labor in this field is all the guarantee we deem necessary, that as long as we shall be spared to conduct the editorial department of the SIGNS no pains shall be lacking on our part to make the succeeding volumes reflect the doctrine and order of the gospel. We feel a desire like that expressed by the apostle Peter (2 Peter i. 12-16). Like him we wish to stir up the pure minds of our brethren. Knowing that we must shortly put off the tabernacle of flesh, we will endeavor that after our decrease they may know that we have not followed cunningly devised fables, in setting forth the self-existent and eternal Godhead, and Mediatorial glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the extent of our ability. That we have never believed in what is called the Parkerite Two-seed doctrine, nor the Arian heresy, nor the non-resurrection of the dead; but have constantly contended for the opposite of them all. We have never claimed to be infallible in our views of the doctrine of God our Savior, only so far as we have been sustained by the divinely inspired scriptures of truth; nor have we ever desired any of our readers to follow us or our views, any further than we, through grace, have followed Christ.
The SIGNS will continue to be printed on a fine and costly quality of book paper, on a Hoe cylinder steam power press, and its mechanical execution by a first-class practical printers in a workmanlike manner; each number containing forty-eight columns of reading matter, and on the same terms as formerly, namely, one copy for one year, two dollars, payable in advance, which, considering the quality and quantity, is as cheap as can be well afforded. WE request our agents and all friends of the paper to make an effort to extend our circulation by procuring new and paying subscribers.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 1
January 1, 1881.