“Wherefore, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.”
WE are not unfrequently reminded by some of our esteemed correspondents, that our course with those with whom we differ has the appearance of too much harshness and severity, and is thought to be the reason why some who profess to oppose the doctrine for which we uniformly contend, have complained of the spirit of our paper. We will not presume to say that these friendly admonitions are altogether gratuitous or uncalled for; but we would wish rather to inquire at the holy oracle for instruction on this point. From the days. of Cain the cause of God and truth has been opposed by wicked men under the garb of religion. Abel found an early opponent to the religion revealed from heaven, in the person of his brother Cain, who, by the bye, was a religionist of a new school. Abraham was opposed by the kings of the earth, from the slaughter of whom he was returning when Melchisedec blessed him; Isaac had to bear the cruel mocking of the son of the bond woman; Jacob’s life was sought after by Esau; Joseph had to encounter the sons of Leah; Moses and Aaron the magicians of Egypt; the prophets of the Lord were sorely vexed by the sons of Belial, the prophets of Ahab and of Jezebel; David was distressed by the strange children from whom he begged to be delivered, and all the spiritual children of Abraham by the carnal Israelites throughout their generations.
When Jesus our Lord was held in the arms of the virgin Mary, Herod, under the pretention of worship, sought to take his life. During his visit on earth he was constantly opposed by the most popular, powerful, zealous and influential sect of professed religionists on the earth. The apostles of the Lamb were harrassed continually by false brethren, Judaizing teachers, false apostles, vagabond Jews, and those who thought gain was godliness, as well as the similitude of beasts at Ephesus; and the whole church of God in her primitive standing were cruelly opposed and persecuted by the hosts of anti-christ.
Now let us seriously inquire how the ancient saints of the Lord - the patriarchs and prophets under the old, and Christ, his apostles and the primitive saints under the new dispensation - were instructed to meet and withstand this most formidable host? Were they to meet them as friends? Were they to treat them as brethren? Certainly not. Under the old dispensation they were permitted in some cases to call fire from heaven and consume their adversaries; in other instances they were sent forth to fall upon and slaughter their foes. But under the gospel dispensation the kingdom set up by the God of heaven was not to be supported by the force of arms or by violence; “not by might nor by strength, but by the spirit, saith the Lord.” Hence, in the example given by our Lord Jesus Christ, no legal or corporal punishments were by him inflicted on his adversaries; he returned good for evil, and when they smote him on one check he turned to them the other also. No appeal was made to the civil department to sustain his kingdom from the violence of wicked men and devils, while he pursued his course and went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out devils; and thus he taught, his apostles, and all his disciples to love their enemies, and pray for those who should despitefully use and persecute them. Agreeably to their divine instructions, they endured all things and suffered all things; yea, even rejoiced and thanked God when they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for his name’s sake. Yet, notwithstanding the gentleness of that lovely spirit, which, in the person of our incarnate God, and in all who were born of him, breathed “peace on earth and good will towards men ;“ this same spirit was sent forth “to reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment;“ by this spirit the apostles were instructed to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; to fight the good fight; not however to contend with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places; this spirit led the saints to resist unto blood, striving against sin; not to shed the blood, of their opponents, but to lay down their own lives, if necessary, rather than yield one item of the truth or order of the gospel of Christ; and by the same gentle spirit, too, the charge which we have quoted at the head of this article was indited. In perfect harmony with this blessed spirit, the Son of God rebuked the scribes, pharisees and hypocrites, sadducees, lawyers and doctors, in language the most pointed and severe; declaring to them that they were of their father, the devil, and the works of their father they would do; calling them serpents and vipers, and demanded of them how they could escape the damnation of hell. Paul was under the direction and influence of this holy spirit when addressing himself to a popular preacher of the new school, he said: “O, full of all subtlety and all guile, thou child of the devil how long wilt thou not cease to pervert the right way of the Lord?” And Peter also, when addressing one, who, like the patrons of theological schools and the like institutions, supposed that the gifts of the Holy Ghost might be purchased with money, said, “Thy money perish with thee;” and when addressing certain others, who wished to make a gain of godliness, he said, “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” By this spirit David’s hands were taught to war, and his fingers to fight; and by this spirit it came to pass at noon that the prophet of the Lord mocked the prophets of Baal while at their protracted camp-meeting, and while they were so deeply engaged in their ardently pious devotion and vain endeavors to bring down fire from heaven in the sight of men, to consume their sacrifice, as to leap upon their altars, cut themselves with lancets and call aloud upon their idol.
We know not where to stop when tracing the severity with which the apostles and prophets, under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit, handled the enemies of truth and righteousness. It is very certain, however, that all the servants of God of whom we have an account in the scriptures, held themselves bound by the most solemn considerations to rebuke their religious antagonists sharply, and especially such of them as were unsound in the faith; and we conclude that as long as it is written that the Lord will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and their respective seeds, however this enmity may be disguised by professions of charity, soothsaying, deceit and hypocracy, there will continue to be war between the people of the saints and the children of the bond woman. In regard to our editorial course we have only to say that we, in the commencement of our labors, announced oar design to wage war with the mother Armianism, and her entire brood of institutions. Our flag is nailed to the mast-head, and when we discontinue our course we expect to cease from our labors. We wish to be governed by the word and Spirit of God; we have no idea of pleasing the world or carnal professors, nor are we surprised ever and anon to find some of our brethren, whom we highly esteemed for the truth’s sake, recommending something like compromise.
NEW VERNON, N Y.,
January 1, 1836.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 269 – 272