Wheatley, Ark., Feb. 13, 1880.
ELDER BEEBE AND SON – DEAR SIRS: – I take the liberty to address you, (as I’m taking your paper, through the kindness of J. H. Freeman,) in order to ask your views in reference to some particulars concerning myself. But I will first relate a part of my experience, to show you that I have endeavored to act honestly heretofore, and have the desire to continue acting thus.
I joined a Missionary church in the summer of 1848, when, during revival meeting in the summer of that here, I was awaken to the fact that I was still in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity, which caused me to flee to Jesus in the bitterness of my soul, and thanks be to God, I found peace. This caused me seriously to reflect upon my former proceedings, and through these reflections I was made aware that I had joined under conviction, and had taken the same for conversion. This discovery cause me to a knowledge the same to the church to which I then belonged, and her decision was that it was necessary for me to be baptized, to which I gladly submitted, feeling it to be my duty. Since that time I have lived with the Missionary churches were my lot has been cast. Now the question is, Am I still in the wrong place, and is it necessary for me to join the Primitive church in order to be correct, and that my baptism and ordination may be valid, (for I have received both from the Missionaries)? I have ever acted on the principle that obedience is better than sacrifice, and to hearken then the fat of rams. I have read nearly all the histories of the church of Christ, and have thought that I was a member of that church, believing the Baptist were the true church, and that although in former times their rose a division among them about missionary operations, and did not think it would unchurch either, for I did not see that there was any departure from the faith by the Missionaries. You see I am plain, because I want you to be so in your answer to this. I know all the grounds occupied by extremists on both sides, but have applied to you, and not to them, for the needed information, believing you will counsel me as a father in Israel. I hope the readers of your paper will not be so blind us to take any exception to these questions, (should you publish them,) so as to cause any of them to think that I am seeking the controversy with them; though if you or they should require of me my views and full as regards the faith, I am nothing loth to give them, as one who believes simplicity in the word of God as far is understood by him.
I am your brother, if permitted,
J. C. COOK.
REPLY: – It becomes those who fear the Lord, if they lack wisdom, to ask counsel of him who giveth liberally and upbraideth not, and to search diligently and prayerfully his word for instruction. We cannot safely rely upon the historical account written by uninspired historians of what has been the faith or practice of the church since the scriptures were written, as the church, or that which historians have regarded as the church, has and every aid since the church of Christ was first organized been as liable to err as at the present time. We have no standard of truth on which we can with safety rely short of the doctrine, laws, ordinances and order which God has given us in the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing short of that reed like unto a rod, which was given to the apostle John, (Rev. xi. 1,) will do to measure the temple of God, or the altar of the Lord, or those who worship in the true temple. We may be cut if I’d and instructed by the gifts which are now in the church, but we are to rely on the judgment of the saints only so far as they are sustained by the word and spirit of our God
Many have been fearfully misled by reposing undue confidence in the views, creeds and decisions of uninspired man, whom they have esteemed as sound in the faith in clear in their judgment; but we have a still more reliable, and even an infallible standard, to which we do well to take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in our heart.
In reply to the questions submit it to us, or on which our views are solicited by our correspondents, we give, only as our understanding of the subject, the following.
First. If after a thorough application of the reed which is like unto a rod, our inquiring friend is satisfied that the organization he is in is the church of the living God, the ground and pillar of the truth, answering in measurement the true temple of the Lord, that their altar, priesthood and worshippers are standing squarely upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, whereof Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone, then it is our firm conviction that he has no right to sever his connection with, nor to ignore her ordinances, nor to leave her communion. It is written, “For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons of Mary of the: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” – Isa. lxii. 5. It is adulteress to ignore that relationship and be joined to another while she liveth. But if by a faithful measurement with the reed I can to ride, he finds that the temple which he had mistaken for a house prayer is a place of merchandise, dealing in all manner of wares, and inventory of which is given in Revelation xviii. 12-14, “The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all the thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious would, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odors, and only minutes, and frankincense, and wine, and while, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of man, and the fruits that thy soul lusted after;” if it be found by fair investigation that the temple in which he has been worshipping, and the altar on which he has been offering, and the worshippers with whom he has been mingling, are such as are described in the word as belonging to Babylon, and let him listen to the voice of God, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of our sins, and that ye receive not her plates.” – Rev. xviii. 4.
By the Missionary church of which our friend speaks, we presume he alludes to one of that class of profess churches which patronize Missionary Societies, as organize bodies, distinct from the church, and who receive members for a specified sum of money, without requiring from them a christian experience, and which have among the varied attractive articles of their merchandise flattering titles, directorships, life memberships, life directorships, presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, treasurers, executive boards, &c. Now it seems to us only necessary to inquire whether the King of saints has ever in his word authorized any such appendages to his church. If he has not, we ask, By what authority are they now tolerated? For what purpose are they brought into requisition now? We’re told that they are intended to aid in the salvation of sinners, that they are required for evangelizing the heathen, and for the salvation of the world. If this be the object in design, is it not idolatrous to ascribe saving power to any human institution? We are expressly told that beside that Jesus which was crucified, whom God raised from the dead, that stone which was set at not by the builders, and which is become the head of the corner, there is no salvation; “For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – Acts iv. 10-12. And God hath declared by the prophet, “I, even I am the Lord; and beside me there is no Savior.” – Isaiah xliii. 11. The most daringly presumptuous species of idolatry we have any knowledge of is involved in ascribing salvation or saving power to any other being or power than the God himself. To ascribe saving power to the works of our own hands, or to any other being or power that God, is defined in the scriptures as idolatry. And God has said, “They shall go to confusion together their makers of idols.” – Isa. xlv. 16.
The answer to the questions in regard to the validity of your baptism and ordination to the ministry, depends on whether in your baptism you were baptized into the body of Christ, and married to the virgin daughter of Zion; if by your baptism you are wedded to harlot, and into the body of antichrist, that baptism cannot connect you with the church of God, which is the body of Christ. And if ordained by a false church, and in that ordination solemnly charged to preach their doctrine and administer their ordinances, and advocate their humanly devised institutions, the solemn promises in which you pledged yourself to their ministry must be renounced totally, and ye must be received and baptized on profession of a very different faith from that held by them.
Our friend Cook may regard us as an extremist, for we know of no legitimate fellowship that righteousness hath with unrighteousness, or communion that light hath with darkness, or concord that Christ hath with Belial, or part that a believer hath with an infidel, nor do we know of any agreement the temple of God hath with idols. – Read 2 Cor. vi. 14-18. Therefore we can only say, if what are called the Missionary Baptists are right, then those who oppose humanly devised religious organizations are wrong; and if he is satisfied that he is now in the church of Christ, he cannot consistently with his convictions the them; and as long as he can remain comfortably with them, he cannot improve his condition by any alliance with the Primitive Baptists, nor have the Primitive Baptists any use for him. But if he is thoroughly convinced that the Primitive Baptists are, and the so-called Missionaries are not, the church of Christ, and can come out from among them, and bring none of their unscriptural traditions with him, if he can conform to what God commanded Israel (Deut. xiii. 16-18), and give satisfactory evidence of a gospel experience, have a desire to be baptized by divinely authorized administrator, who has been regularly set apart by solemn ordination, and is sustained by the fellowship of the gospel church, he will beat joyfully received into their communion and fellowship; and then, if the church shall find in him the requisite gift in qualifications of a gospel minister, it will be recognized, and she will see that he is properly set apart to the work of the gospel ministry. But the church can make no compromise between truth and error. The day that are not for us are against us, and they have gathered not with us, scatter abroad.
Compare with the multitudes of professors of religion in our day, the membership of the Primitive Baptists is very small; and while our members greatly desired a witness and in gathering into their ranks of all who are born of God, and give evidence of that birth by their love of the truth and willingness to suffer reproach for the truth’s sake, they have no worldly inducements to allure the world. We are an afflicted and poor people, who trust only in the Lord; and if any man desires to follow our Lord, let him deny himself, and take his cross and follow him. God’s people are a cross-bearing, despised and persecuted little flock; yes small as they are, and much as they desire to see the redeemed of the Lord coming to her gates, she desires to welcome to her solemn feasts only such as can leave all their idols behind, and the abundantly satisfied with provisions which our God has supplied.
While we would deal very tender of the with all who are inquiring the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, we would cautiously avoid enticing words to allure those whom God has not taught to clearly and distinctly pronounce the SHIBBOLETH which is the test of their spiritual nativity.
Elder Gilbert Beebe,
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 48, No. 13
July 1, 1880.