“IN the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
The kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ being dissimilar to the world in its organization, spirit and institutions, can never by any art or device of man be made to harmonize in any treaty of peace that can be made; and indeed all amalgamation is forbidden. God has chosen and called the subjects of his spiritual kingdom out of the world, and enjoined on them that they shall not be conformed to the world, nor follow its fashions. The world, by wisdom, has utterly failed to know God, and the things of the Spirit are hidden from the wise and prudent of the world, and they are foolishness to every natural man; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. God alone can reveal them to the saints by his Spirit. The spirit of the world and the Spirit of the gospel are opposite; and hence it is that the world hateth the members of Christ, even as it has hated him. If they were of the world, the world would love its own; but as this is not the case, we cannot, as the subjects of our King, expect the favor or friendship of the world. The more we are enabled to exhibit, in our doctrine, ordinances, walk and conversation, the image of our Savior, the more opposition from the world we may expect; for if any man will live godly in Christ Jesus, he shall suffer persecution. Wherefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of them that believe. The history of the world from the beginning shows that God’s people have been chosen in a furnace of affliction, and that the depraved powers of the human family have, from the days of Abel, been brought to bear against the religion of divine revelation, and against all who are subjected to its power and principles. Much of the tribulation incidental to the children of God has been in the form of proscription and open persecution, reproach and violence, from the anti-christian powers of darkness, under various and multiform names and organizations, but much has also arisen from the conflicting elements, flesh and spirit, of which every member of the spiritual kingdom is composed. Not that flesh and blood can inherit the kingdom, for that cannot be; neither can corruption inherit incorruption. But those who are born of God, and are born of an incorruptible seed, by the word of God that liveth and abideth forever, are still, notwithstanding the implantation within them of the incorruptible seed, and the development of its vitality, for the present, compassed about with the infirmities and depravity of our human nature, in consequence of our being still in these bodies of flesh, in which none of us have ever been able to find any good thing. Thus in the close connection in which our carnal and our spiritual natures are placed, it is impossible to avoid such collision as will make and perpetuate a warfare between them. These are contrary one to the other, so that we cannot do the things that we would. Who that has been born of God, has not felt the strong current of the natural corruption of their fleshly nature in opposition to all that is holy and heavenly within them? Or who of all the spiritual family has not felt that love to, and desire for holiness as to make them loathe the corruptions of their carnal nature? This constant conflict involves them in tribulation while in the world, for their fleshly bodies are made of that dust of the earth which is under the curse, and which is doomed to bring forth thorns and thistles, until it shall return thither. But it is a glorious consolation to know that when they shall be finally raised up from the dead at the last day, they shall be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body, and raised in incorruption and immortality. It is right for us to mortify the deeds of the body, and to strive against sin; to crucify it with its lusts, but we can never repair, reform or new-model it so as to fashion it after the image of Christ, or destroy its corruptions so as to bring it with us into the spiritual exercise or enjoyment of the kingdom of our Lord. God will subject it, but not yet; he will slay the enmity and deliver us from the bondage of corruption at his appointed time.
As a general thing the saints encounter their greatest opposition, and are subject to their bitterest trials and severest tribulations in this world, from the warfare which rages so incessantly within themselves. The old man, and the new man; the inner man, and the outward man, though personally identified in us here, are nevertheless distinct in nature, emanation, disposition and destiny. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.
Of the various tribulations which the children of God experience, we may speak of those which appear to come upon us under the immediate providence of God. These will comprise our losses, bereavements, sicknesses, pains, poverty, darkness of mind and subjection to the temptations of the wicked one. Not that we would for a moment allow that any tribulation could assail us independently of the providence of our God, but some of our afflictions in the world seem to us more clearly and manifestly providential than others, and in this sense we speak of them. There were those among the ancients who sighed and wept because of the abominations which prevailed in Israel, and when we who love the gates of Zion, and pray for her prosperity, witness disorder, and distress, in the church of God, and a disposition to bite and devour one another, we feel ready to exclaim with the holy prophet, “O, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the hurt of the daughter of my people.” But these afflictions, grievous and painful as they may seem, are only for a season. In heaven no disorders will be seen, no waxing cold of the love of the saints; no waste places of Zion will be known, for “not a wrinkle or a spot shall her beauteous form deface.”
Although the kingdom of our Lord is not of this world, it is in the world, surrounded by the world and its vanities, its bewitching allurements, and its corrupting influences, its perplexing anxieties, and its corroding cares, and like a city which is set upon a hill, it occupies an elevated and conspicuous position. “As the lily among thorns; so is she among the daughters, and as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.” She has no right to expect solid comfort or substantial peace from any other source than from Jesus her Lord. “In me,” he says, “ye shall have peace.” Then may we well “Be of good cheer,” even the tribulations that we endure, are for our good; and under his mighty hand they shall all be turned to our advantage; working patience and experience, and hope which maketh not ashamed. We know that they work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not on the things which are seen, which are temporal; but on the things which are not seen, which are eternal. He is our peace. He has overcome the world, and we are destined to share with him the victory. And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith; for the faith of the saint, is the faith of Jesus Christ. He is both the author and the finisher of it; and we live by the faith of the Son of God who hath loved us, and given himself for us. Certainly it was in his mediatorial character, as the Head over all things to his church, that he encountered the opposition of the world, and grappled with the powers of darkness. Had he failed in the conflict, hope must have fled forever from us. But be of good cheer; the world is overcome, death destroyed, sin is put away, and all things put under his feet. The conquering Savior is exalted, and in his mediatorial glory he shall reign until the last enemy shall be destroyed. This is then our consolation; this is then our good cheer. The risen Savior has gone up to heaven with a shout, and the everlasting gates have been lifted up for his triumphal entrance; the heavens have received him, until the restitution of all things spoken by the prophets since the world began; and· thence shall he also come at the end of time, to raise the dead and judge the world. This is good cheer, the very best of cheer to heaven-born children. Weak as we are, trembling and incompetent to meet and vanquish our foes alone, “Cry unto Jerusalem, that her warfare is accomplished.” Jesus our Lord has taken the field, met and fulfilled all the requisitions of the law on our behalf, disarmed death of his sting and of his terrors, led captivity captive; and now in full power and majesty sits on his imperial throne; angels and principalities being subject to him. The stormy winds are in his hand, and all judgment committed to him, and he ever lives to make intercession for his saints. What better cheer could we ask than this? What are worldly honors, wealth or fame, length of days, or tents of ease, compared with that the Lord has provided for the cheer of his saints? It is vanity of vanities. Therefore we are brought to the conclusion that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
Middletown, N. Y.
July 15, 1854.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 93 - 97