Brother Beebe: In a former letter I requested your views through the SIGNS on Luke xvii. 13-20, concerning the “ten lepers,” and I still request your views on the same.
Ellisville, Miss., July 18, 1859.
Reply: Our brethren should bear in mind that we are constantly receiving calls for our views on various portions of the Scriptures, and if we were competent to explain them all, it would require more time and space than we can command. But the truth is, we are not competent; we are as dependent for every ray of divine light as any of our brethren or sisters can be. Still, we do feel disposed to do the very best we can, and when called on, if we have any light on the subject presented we take great delight in offering it; but when queries are sent to us, and we do not reply, let it be fully understood that it is because we have no satisfactory light on the subject; but we never decline from neglect or want of respect for those who call on us.
In the subject of the ten lepers and their being cleaned, we discover one of the numerous demonstrations of the goodness, power and Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ. When in his incarnation he dwelt among us, he went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out devils, yet bearing the reproaches of a wicked and gainsaying world. In all his wonderful works, in all his mercies performed, our faith may discern important lessons, not only of his goodness and power, but also of admonition and instruction for our special benefit. For instance, these lepers represent the loathsome and incurable disease of sin and pollution by which we were defiled, and which like the leprosy under the ceremonial law, shuts us out from the privilege of mingling with the congregation of the Lord. No human power or skill could cure us. Our condition was wretched and hopeless, until Jesus, the great Physician, revealed himself and took us in hand. He spake the word, and it stood fast; he commanded, and we were made whole. The power and grace of God our Savior is wonderful indeed in cleansing us from the leprosy of sin and guilt, and we are made to rejoice in the efficacy of his blood to cleanse and his righteousness to justify us. But in this case there were ten lepers cleansed, and but one of them returned to give God the glory. How very apt we are to forget the obligations of love and gratitude to God that we are under for his amazing goodness and grace displayed in our salvation. It is true the ten were all perfectly cured of their leprosy, whether they were quickened by the Holy Spirit and born of God at the same time or not; it would certainly appear from the saving faith in Christ possessed by the one who returned, that he was indeed a subject of the new birth; but of the others we are not positively informed of their having received more than a temporal cure. But it is certain that those who are cured of the defilement of sin, are all born of God, and shall eventually return to give glory to him. Yet it is to be feared that there are many, and, if we are not greatly mistaken, a very great many who have witnessed the healing efficacy of the Savior’s blood, who have been delivered by him from their burden of sin and guilt, and have been made to rejoice in him as their precious Savior, who have never returned in any public manner to give him glory, by declaring in Zion what he has done for their souls, or by publicly owning him in the ordinance of baptism, or by uniting with his disciples in the fellowship of the gospel. To all such delinquents what must be the reproof of his interrogation, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” Can it be supposed that all who have received an evidence of his saving power and grace, have owned their allegiance to him as their Lord and Master, by obedience to his commands?
And in our solemn assemblies, when a few, and but a few, of those who profess to love the Lord, are found in their seats, may not the inquiry be made, Where are the nine? or where are those whose vacant seats occasion sadness to the few who have not forsaken the assembling of themselves together? And, in many other applications of these words, may we contemplate them with propriety and profit.
August 15, 1859.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 257 - 258