Elder G. Beebe: - Suppose a member of the Missionary Baptist church, of undoubted piety, and sincere in his attachment to your church, were to apply for admission, would you receive him, without rebaptizing him? What should an individual do who can have no fellowship with the various (so called) benevolent enterprises of the day, and who still believes that the Old School Baptists have gone into error in reference to predestination, &c., and that they so hold and teach these doctrines as to produce bad practical results, supposing him to believe that salvation is wholly of God, and that good works do not procure salvation, but ought to be constantly required of church members as a test of christian character; and an evidence and the chief evidence, of being under grace? These questions are propounded in all honesty and sincerity, and with the purest motives, if a constant and intense desire to see the Baptist church what it has been, constitutes such motives; and I hope you will find it convenient and agreeable to answer them in your next issue of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, and in so doing you will gratify one who has been for some time burdened with a sense of the terrible corruptions existing in the christian world.
Tyro, Jan. 21, 1856
REPLY: If by the Missionary Baptist church our querist means those who are engaged in the modern missionary schemes of the present day, we do not recognize them as the church of Christ, and consequently we cannot hold their administrations valid. Should a member therefore of that class of professed Baptists, apply for membership or communion with the church of Christ, we should suppose he ought to be baptized according to the order of the Gospel, though he may have been immersed by the modern Missionists. And on the supposition that the applicant is a person of undoubted piety, we have no doubt it would be his wish to be baptized in an orderly manner, by a regular minister of Christ, duly authorized to administer that ordinance, and sustained in so administering it, by the fellowship of the church of God. If, however, a person who has been regularly baptized before the division took place between the church, and those Missionists who went out from us, because they were not of us, has been led off into the modern schemes of the day, and having discovered his error, and returned with his confession to the church, he would not, in our judgment, require to be again baptized. A person who has been once regularly baptized in the fellowship of the church of Christ, by a minister of the church duly recognized at the time by the church, under no circumstances requires rebaptism.
A person who can have no fellowship for the various so-called benevolent enterprises of the present day, and who still believes that the Old Baptists have gone into error in reference to predestination, &c.. We think such an one should remain where he is, until he can find a church sufficiently pure for him to unite with without defiling his garments. There is a wide difference between going up to the house of the Lord, and being so holy that the house of the Lord must come up to us. We know of but one way of holding the doctrine of predestination, and that is as it is taught in the Bible, and by the Spirit of truth. Any person, however pious he may be, who believes that an unwavering belief in the Bible doctrine of eternal predestination, is productive of bad practical results, cannot make a sound member of the church, and he ought not to subscribe to what he does not believe. And furthermore, we give it as our honest opinion, that any person professing to believe in predestination, who does NOT find ALL the tendencies of that doctrine to be such as humbles him in the dust before the thrice holy God, and to inspire within him a profound reverence, and desire to be fully conformed to the will of Jehovah, lacks the evidence that he is born of God, and therefore should refrain from making any profession of religion until by a new and heavenly birth he is qualified to "see the kingdom of God."
There is a palpable contradiction involved in the idea that any person who denies the doctrine of predestination, can at the same time believe that salvation is wholly of the Lord. The practical result of God's predestination is conformity to the image of the Redeemer. "For whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." Thus the Bible holds the doctrine; to hold it any other way is virtually to reject it. God Himself saves sinners, only as He has predestinated them to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, and has made them acceptable in the Beloved. And as salvation certainly follows predestination, and results from it, so good works as certainly follow salvation and result from it. For it is God "that worketh in you" (His children) "both to will and to do according to His good pleasure."
We do not doubt the sincerity of the desire of our correspondent, to see the Baptist church what it has been. When he shall see her from the eminence on which John stood, she will appear to him a holy city, coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband. The perfection of beauty, for she is all glorious within, and her garments are of wrought gold. She is fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army of banners. It is very true the poor, vile, bodies of God' dear children, are black as the tents of Kedar, but that which is born of God is as fair as the curtains of Solomon. But in looking after the church of God, we are to know no man after the flesh. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. The kingdom is spiritual, and those who inherit it arc spiritual; these vile bodies will not participate in the inheritance until they shall have been sown in weakness and raised in power, sown corruptible, but raised in incorruption; sown a natural body, but raised a spiritual body. "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
That only is the church of Christ which is what she has been, for the church is the kingdom which the God of heaven has set up, and which shall never be removed. "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her, arid that right early." "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." May it be our happy lot, through grace abounding to the chief of sinners, to enter in through her gates, and have a right to the tree of life.
"There would I find my settled rest,
While others go and come,
No more a stranger nor a guest,
But like a child at home."
One word in conclusion, to our correspondent. Would you behold the beauty of the Lord, His love, His dove, His undefiled, never look down in searching for His loveliness. She is "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great king. God is known in her palaces for a refuge." For behold the mountain of the house of the Lord is established on the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills. She is the fairest among women, clothed with the garments of salvation, and covered with the robe of righteousness. Look up for her, she is clothed with the sun, and the moon is under her feet, and on her head is a crown of twelve stars. If you have too large a stock of perfection to allow you to be identified with her, wait until every rag of it is stripped off, and then you will be glad when they say to you, "Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord."
We know but little about the "christian world," only that our Lord has said, "In the world ye shall have tribulations." And that the world by wisdom knew not God. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." - (I John 2:15,16) And again, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." (I John 4:4-6)
The spirit of error which is in the world, has invented many counterfeits of christianity, but in reality the terms Christian and world are of opposite signification. To be a christian is to be called out of the world, and that we may be known as christians, we must renounce the world, for we cannot possess the love of the Father, and also the love of the world. It is true, there are terrible corruptions in the world, and especially in that portion of it which make pretension to christianity, and there are terrible corruptions even in the depraved worldly nature of the children of God, which every christian feels and laments; but the church is nevertheless the body, and members of Christ, quickened with His Spirit, and made perfect in His righteousness.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times