I hope, brother Beebe, you will not fail to give your views in full, as requested by brother Wilson, on Revealed Religion, for it is very strange to me that there is a Primitive Baptist who disbelieves in Revealed Religion. Be sure to write in full on the subject, if you please.
E. G. CLARK
Wilson, North Carolina, Dec. 9, 1858.
Reply: We cannot at this moment lay our hand on the number of the Primitive Baptist containing brother Wilson’s request for our views, nor that containing brother Temple’s remarks on the subject. But as we understand, brother Wilson does not intend to deny that every spiritual manifestation of God to us, embracing our whole christian experience, and all the teaching of the Holy Spirit, is a revelation of God by his Spirit, just as brother Temple and all sound Primitive Baptists hold it to be, but that he doubts or disputes the propriety of applying the word religion in the manner in which it is frequently applied by the brethren; that the word religion is used in the Bible to signify the conduct of men, rather than the spiritual state of the children of God. As we read of the Jew’s religion, and of pure and undefiled religion, which is to visit the widow and the fatherless, and to keep unspotted from the world. The word religion, in our language, is applied very commonly to all sorts of religion; that of the Pagans, the Papists, the Protestants, as well as that of the Jews, and of the children of God; hence he infers that it has no necessary connection with divine revelation.
But we think that the brother will concede that the course in which the children of God are to walk, even the visiting of the widows and fatherless, and more especially the manner of keeping themselves unspotted from the world, is a revelation from God, and as such clearly marked out by the precepts and examples of our Lord in the Scriptures, and that all that the Scriptures contain for our instruction is a revelation from God. Although in the Scriptures, the word religion is commonly applied to such outward rites, duties, ordinances, practices or professions as men rely upon for divine approbation; still, those rites and rules for the christian’s obedience are all revealed and divinely enjoined on them in the inspired Scriptures, and must therefore be regarded as revelation. Besides, the term is most commonly used in modern times, and by the children of God, to embrace the internal work of the Spirit, its teachings and manifestations to the saints, their faith, and hope, and love, as well as their obedience to the precepts of Christ, and therefore it must be a revelation. It is not a science, as the Arminian world hold their religion to be, which can be taught to unregenerated men, and children in infant classes, Sabbath schools, or theological seminaries; for except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, nor the things of that kingdom. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. No man by searching can find out God. Therefore, to know God, which is eternal life, is a revelation from beginning to end. How would the saints know what is and what is not their duty as christians, if it were not revealed to them in the Scriptures, and these Scriptures, opened to them by the Spirit which takes the things of Jesus and reveals them unto us.
Although we do not believe that the brother intended to deny that what we call religion is a revelation, but rather to dispute the correctness of our general application of the word to make it embrace the things which are revealed to us; still, we would in all kindness of feeling, admonish him against such sweeping declarations as that there is no such thing as revealed religion, for we would consider any religion which is not revealed as valueless, as is a profession of godliness by those who deny the power thereof.
Such sweeping declarations have a tendency rather to alarm the saints and stir up discord than to edifying, and should therefore be avoided; besides, they give the enemy great room to exult and deride us.
As the brother appealed to us by name for our views, and his appeal was seconded by brother Clark, we hope we shall not be considered meddlesome or intrusive in these remarks, we design them in love, and write them in the best of feelings towards all parties concerned.
January 1, 1859.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 181 - 183