REPLY TO SISTER MATTHEWS, ON PSALMS 87:4-6.

In this short but beautiful psalm, the rich and discriminating grace of God is very clearly set forth, by unequivocal demonstrations of his peculiar regard for his chosen people. His foundation, which is the only foundation on which any can securely trust for life and immortality, is the holy mountains. Other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. And he is the sure foundation which the builders refused, and which God has made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them that stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed. I Pet. 2:6. God has not laid his foundation in Babylon, Sodom, or Egypt, but in the holy, consecrated mountains of Zion, where God commanded the blessing, even life forevermore. Psa.133:3. God’s special love to Zion is the reason given for providing her with this precious, tried, and sure foundation; for, “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” The mountains on which Jerusalem was located, were specially consecrated to God, and were ceremonially holy, and that place was more signally favored than any other city or dwelling place of his chosen tribes, under the old dispensation; and this peculiar regard was to foreshadow his special love for the New Jerusalem, or that mount Sion to which the members of the gospel church have come, as described, Heb.12:22, and Rev. 21:1,2 & 10. Her gates are described, Rev. 21:12-14 & 21, and through them the blessed who do his commandments, and have right to the tree of life, enter into the city, and participate as citizens with all their favored fellow citizens. There surely was nothing in all the dwellings of Jacob, under the legal dispensation, to equal the gospel position occupied by the spiritual or anti-typical Israel of our God. “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” Psa.48:2.

“Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” And among the glorious things spoken, her foundation, and God’s special love for her gates, are among the most prominent. But to them that know the Lord, mention is made of “Rahab, and Babylon.” Rahab is one of the names given to Egypt, and Babylon was the place where the children of Israel were held in captivity. They who know the Lord are witnesses of the wonders which God wrought when he broke the Egyptian yoke, and brought his chosen people out of the house of bondage with a high hand and an outstretched arm, when he “cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon.” The carnal Israelites, in the type, were often reminded by Moses and all the prophets, of their deliverance from Egypt, and of the glorious display of the power and majesty of God in the wonders which he there wrought by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Glorious things were there portrayed of Zion. There the paschal lamb was slain, and the passover feast was instituted; there the blood of the lamb slain was applied, and the peaceful sign regarded by the angel of wrath, for he entered not where the blood was applied. In Babylon also God displayed his peculiar regard for his captive people, not only in preserving them in the long and tedious years of their captivity, but in their final deliverance, when he raised up Cyrus to be his shepherd, to perform all his pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid; holding his right hand, loosing the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates of Babylon, breaking in pieces the gates of brass, and cutting in sunder the bars of iron. Isa. 45:1-3. Glorious things, by all these types, were spoken of the city of our God.

“Behold Philistia, and Tyre, and Ethiopia.” These nations were situated around about the people of Israel in their day, and like all other nations, were their enemies, often in open hostility, and at other times making with them treaties of peace, alluring and drawing them away from the law of the Lord into idolatry. God’s judgments were often sent on these heathen nations for their opposition to Israel. Thus indicating by the type, the judgments held in store for those heathenish denominations who, in the present dispensation, are around about, and in opposition to the spiritual Zion of our God.

But what seems to be more especially presented for our contemplation, in regard to Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia, is that it shall be said, “This man was born there.” This psalm is supposed to have been composed and sung by the sons of Korah, at the time of the return of the Israelites to Jerusalem, after their seventy years captivity in Babylon; and a large majority of them had been born in Babylon, during their captivity; but it is worthy of note that their being born there did not make them Caldeans, or Babylonians; for they were no less Hebrews for being born in Babylon. So also may it be said of all the people of God, that in their earthly or fleshly birth, they all were born in Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre or Ethiopia; but, as we shall see, they all are, or shall be born again, in Zion.

This man may embrace the whole church of God, as a body, with all its numerous members; in the flesh they were all born aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise; and we, all the members of the body of Christ, were by nature children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us set together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. What is truly glorious in this saying which is spoken of Zion, is that, although all her members were born of the flesh aliens, and in an enemies land, yet the Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this and that man was born in her. God’s people are too precious in his esteem to be taken in the gross, or in any uncertain or indefinite way; but, “The Lord shall count;” nor will he make any mistake in counting, for he shall say to the north, “Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name, for I have created him for my glory; yea, I have made him.” When he writeth up the people. For he will take account of their coming to Zion, and the sum total shall be written in Jerusalem, and there engraved upon the palms of his hands, and recorded as in eternal brass. This writing is, we think; when he writes his law in their hearts, and in their inward parts, and quickens them by his Spirit, and by the new birth makes them manifest as his children, and brings them with singing to Zion, and with everlasting joy upon their heads. Then shall they be counted and recognized as the children of promise, as Isaac was, and as the children of Jerusalem which is above, and is free, which is the mother of us all. Written up, counted, gathered into his fold, and endowed with birthright privileges. No more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. It will be seen by reading the second chapter of Ezra, and the seventh chapter of Nehemiah, that when the Jews were delivered from Babylon and returned to Jerusalem, they were counted, and their exact number was written; and to this the psalmist undoubtedly alluded; and by the unerring spirit of prophecy, predicted that God will gather his captives, who are Jews inwardly, and whose circumcision is of the heart, from all the nations and tribes, from whence he has redeemed them, and will see that every one of them is forthcoming, in the day when he makes up his jewels. And the record shall not be written, or summed up by guess; nor shall the estimation be left to another, but the Lord himself shall count them, and declare their first and second birth, with unerring exactness. These are truly glorious things, but they are spoken exclusively of the city of God.

But how shall all this be accomplished? Will it not require missionary societies, missionary labor, missionary boards, and missionary funds? O no. “The Highest shall establish her.” True, but will he not accomplish it by the use of means, instrumentalities and agents, or, in other words, by proxy? No. Glory to God in the highest. “The Highest HIMSELF shall establish her.” Well, then, if the Highest does it himself, it will be well done; for what he doeth is forever; nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; and the Lord doeth it, that men may fear, or be humbled and abased before him. What man or set of men could be trusted to write up the people of the living God, and to establish the city of our God? How many names would be entered upon the sacred register, who know not God, and how many of the poor weak, tempted, doubting saints, would be left unwritten, if the book of life were kept by finite men. But it is cheering to know that our Witness is in heaven, and our Record is on high. And the foundation which is in the holy mountains, “stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” Carefully counted, and accurately written, by the pen of God, the Highest God, the powers of earth and hell shall rage in vain, for they can never erase, blot out, or obliterate a single name.

“When God writes up the full account,
Of natives in his holy mount,
‘Twill be an honor to appear,
As one new born and nourished there.”

How highly then should the children of the New Jerusalem appreciate their sacred birthright, and not, like Esau, sell their birthright privileges for a mess of pottage, or for any carnal gratification. Born in Zion, of incorruptible seed, to an incorruptible inheritance, we come, not to the mount that burned, unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest; “But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth {Moses,} much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth; but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven {Jerusalem, or the church.} And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:18-29.

Middletown, N.Y.
March 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe