Elder Peter Meredith’s appeal to the brethren of the Deleware Old School Baptist Association, which fills over five whole columns of the Deleware State Reporter, is principally made up of bitter complaints against the “Signs of the Times,” ourself, and some of our correspondents; but as he has appealed to the brethren of the Delaware O.S. Association, to them let him go. So far as we are implicated, there is no tribunal on earth to which we would more willingly consent to be tried, especially as they are so well acquainted with both accuser and accused. And as we have no wish to bias the minds of the brethren of that Association in regard to the merits of the case, we submit the whole matter, as he has presented it; and if on investigation, we are found guilty of the apostacy, heresy and sedition charged on us, we are willing to abide their decision. On the appeal itself, we will not at this time make any further remarks.
But as but few brethren of Delaware Association were present at the last session of the Salisbury Association, it is due to them, as well as to ourself, to offer some strictures on the Postscript which follows the Appeal; and lest we should, by accident or otherwise, mis-state the language, we will copy the postscript verbatim, inserting letters of the alphabet to mark those passages in the postscript on which we propose to remark:
“P.S. After writing the foregoing, I attended the Salisbury Association, and the Lord in his providence preventing the beloved Barton and Conklin attending the said meeting (a), Eld. Beebe and his workmen having none present to restrain them, gave us their new doctrine with a masterly hand (b). We were told that when Christ died, his church died in him (C); that the said Christ was a delegated being by whom God created all things (d): that the said Christ laid down his life for the church, but shed no blood until after he was dead (e). The same Christ, he that was born of Mary or both, (as they were not definite) needed redemption as much as his people (f). They represented their Christ to us as distinct from the man born in Bethlehem, and who died on Calvary, as the hog is from the sty in which it is fed (g). They told the congregation, consisting of hundreds, that we Arminians, who will not believe in their eternal flesh and bone Christ (h), believe that Christ shed an abundance of blood, so much that we could take a wash-basin full of it and wash our hands in it, but we were deceived, for Christ shed no blood until the soldier thrust the spear into his side (i), and if such language is not counting the bloody sweat in the garden and the three hours on the cross, an unholy thing, I am no judge of what men mean by what they say (j). But the heart sickens and my soul mourns over these things, and I pray God to deliver his people from such speculation (k). And now, dear brethren, you will please excuse me for addressing you through a political paper, as you know we could not address you through your paper, the “Signs of the Times,” because its columns have been closed against everything that is opposed to their new doctrine (l), except when some opponent’s moral character is to be traduced (in). - P.M.”
Remarks - a. None more sincerely regretted the absence of the two beloved brethren that we did. b. Who Eld. Meredith means by Elder Beebe’s workmen, we are not told. There were no preachers from Corresponding Associations present, but Elders Peter Meredith, Daniel L. Harding, R. C. Leachman, and Gilbert Beebe; and we are certain that no advantage was taken by any of these of the absence of brethren Barton and Conklin. Nor do we believe that any sentiment was advanced by any one of the above named Elders, with which Elders Barton and Conklin would not fully concur. Elder Beebe was not aware that he had any workmen in attendance, as he is certain he had employed none, and none have called on him for pay. If Elder Meredith wishes only to slur those Elders who were in attendance, or to deny that they are servants of God, and servants of the church, and are only Beebe’s workmen, we envy not the spirit that called forth this expression of his feelings. The Elders stigmatized, however, stand high in the esteem and fellowship of Elders Barton and Conklin, as also of the Delaware and the Salisbury Associations. Brother Meredith was probably correct in saying there was none present to restrain the brethren; for we were perfectly unconscious that we were advancing any doctrine in which all sound Old School Baptists do not fully concur; we therefore felt no constraint: but he is not correct in calling the doctrine which was preached at that time and place new doctrine; for however imperfectly the doctrine of the gospel was set forth by us, our aim was to preach nothing that had not been preached by our Redeemer and his inspired apostles in the primitive age of the church. And if Elder M. or any other brother present discovered any departure from the apostle’s doctrine, they did not make their discovery known to us at the time. c. This assertmn is altogether incorrect, except that it may have been implied in the preaching that the church of God has always existed in Christ, that Christ is the life of the church, that he suffered that death which was due to the law and divine justice for her transgressions, and that “the love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” 2 Cor. v. 14. The union of Christ and his church is not a new doctrine with Old School Baptists. But that Christ was presented as only a delegated being, or anything short of the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the true God and Eternal Life we deny. d. It is true that it was asserted that Christ laid down his life for the church; and we honestly thought that even Elder M. himself believed that doctrine; but it was not said that he shed no blood until after he was dead. One brother did remark that we have no account given us in the scriptures of his shedding any blood literally in his crucifixion until the soldier pierced his side with a spear, which was, as we are informed, after his death; but it was not said that he shed none before he died. On the other hand, we believe the nailing of his hands and feet to the cross, the crown of thorns which he wore, as well as the cruel scourging he endured, would all cause blood to flow from his sacred veins. The brother alluded to was showing that the saints being washed in the Redeemer’s blood had a deeper signification than a literal construction of the term blood. e. This is rather hard straining to give the impression that the preachers at that Association had been setting forth two Christs - one that was born of the Virgin Mary, and another Christ, and that one of these, without definitely telling which, needed redemption as much as his people. Not a word of all this is correctly stated. Neither mis, nor anything like it was stated in our hearing. One brother remarked on some passage which represented Christ as pouring out strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death; and of his prayer, “Father. save me from this hour,” etc., as implying that in that sense he was himself brought to view as a subject of salvation - not redemption. f. This assertion is altogether incorrect. No such irreverent comparisons were made by any preacher during that meeting. We would be shocked to hear such unbecoming language in connection with the great Redeemer’s name. No one at that meeting in our hearing attempted to represent Christ as distinct from, or any other than he that was born in Bethlehem, and who suffered on the cross; and how Elder Meredith dare charge such vulgar, profane, not to say blasphemous language to us, or our brethren, when he knows well that his assertion can be disproved by every one of the hundreds before whom he affirms that such words were used, we cannot conceive. In this we charge brother M. with departure from the truth, and we call on the church of which he is a member to attend to it. g. These assertions are also untrue. No preacher charged Elder Meredith, and those (if any who stand with him) of being arminians; nor did any preacher define arminianism to be the rejection of the doctrine of an eternal flesh and bone Christ. Not one of the preachers thus misrepresented believe that the flesh and bones of our Redeemer are eternal; nor have any one of them ever expressed or implied any such belief. But we do believe that Christ existed in his Mediatorial character from everlasting as the Head and embodiment of his church, which was chosen in him before the foundation of the world. But this Mediator so existed, not in flesh and bone, but as the Son of God, who, when the fulness of time was come, came into the world, was made of a woman, was made flesh, and took on him a body of flesh and bones and blood, in which he honored, obeyed and satisfied the law, bore its dreadful penalty for and in behalf of his church, died and arose in that body. h. Nor did any one of us charge that Eld. Meredith believed that Christ shed an abundance of blood, nor was there a word said about Elder Meredith and his party during all the preaching at that Association, unless it were said after we left. i. Where does Elder Meredith learn that Christ shed bloody sweat in the garden? We read that he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground; this is a strong figurative expression to show that he was in agony. But there was nothing said either affirming or denying that he shed blood in the garden, or in the three hours on the cross. It was simply remarked by one of the preachers that he did not know that we had any account given in the scriptures of his shedding any blood on the cross until he was pierced with the spear, after the soldiers had examined and found that he was already dead. Now how easy it would have been if Brother M. knew of any scripture asserting that he shed blood, before he was pierced, to have mentioned it in a brotherly way. As to brother M. not knowing what men mean by what they say, if his description of the preaching at the Salisbury Association be a fair specimen, and if he has given as fair and honest a statement of it as he can, we must concede that he has not the capacity to know what men mean by what they say, for he has missed the mark egregiously in his description. Indeed, this is the most charitable conclusion we can arrive at in his case, and we could well bear with his want of capacity to understand the clear and plain import of words, were he not more obstinate and stubborn than weak. If he fails to understand what men mean by what they say, he is not justified in reporting that they have said what he knows they have not said. And we venture the opinion that there was not a person at that Association who understood any preacher to say that their Christ was as distinct from the man born in Bethlehem, and who died on Calvary, as a hog is from the sty in which he is fed.
j. We feel shocked when we hear one slander the servants of God, traduce their character, misrepresent their language, and all with so much apparent malice and bitterness, and with the same breath take the holy name of God upon their slandering lips. When, as James says, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” Jas. Iii. 10.
k. It is surprising that any political paper, pretending to any respectability, should open its columns for such a purpose. If the columns of the “Signs” were closed, Elder M. knows of a paper, and an editor, ready to receive anything, however slanderous or abusive against those for whose disparagement his whole communication was designed.
l. If the “Signs of the Times” were open to those who oppose the doctrine which we hold and publish, when they wish to traduce any one’s moral character, we certainly should think Elder M. might have got his article in; it could not have been well rejected for want of a sufficient amount of calumny.
In conclusion, we wish to say that so far as we are personally misrepresented, we do freely forgive. We have borne the same kind of treatment from the same brother for years; as a general thing, he has confessed his fault about once a year, and we have buried the hatchet; but his reconciliation has not generally lasted but a few days, before we have been assailed with new accusations, and in some cases published as an heretic; still we have borne it; and still we are willing to bear all things; and still we do believe that brother Meredith is a subject of grace, and will be finally delivered from all these corruptions of the flesh, and through grace finally sing in sweet harmony with those whom he now assails, the songs of redeeming grace and saving love, when time shall be no more. But it is on account of those dear servants of Christ, brethren Leachman and Harding, and perhaps brother Slater, who are stigmatized as Eld. Beebe’s workmen. These brethren are younger than ourself; they may live to proclaim the everlasting gospel when brother Meredith and ourself shall slumber in our graves; we cannot persuade ourself to leave the false impression on them, to hurt their usefulness as the ministers of Christ.
The errors which Elder M. charges us with, we have constantly disclaimed, for years. Still he persists in charging us. We have repeatedly assured him that if he has from anything we have ever said or written understood us to advance Arianism, Socinianism or any other ism derogatory to the character of our divine Redeemer, or setting him forth as less than the Eternal God, he has not understood us as we have intended. None can be more uncompromisingly opposed to these heresies than we are. But that the files of the “Signs” should be searched for twenty-six years, and garbled expressions, disjointed sentences, and parts of sentences collected of what we or others have written, and these mingled in the most confused manner, to try to make the public believe that we hold what we disclaim, what we do not hold or believe, what we constantly deny, and what we abhor, seems to us unreasonable, unbrotherly, and beneath the character which christians should try to maintain.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 164 - 171