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BROTHER E.D. TURNER’S LETTER

On two points in brother Turner’s letter we wish to offer a few remarks, not by way of controversy, for with the general sentiments of his letter we think we are agreed, and probably on every point, when we fully understand each other.

First, in regard to ministerial support. We do not understand that the minister of Christ is placed by the apostle on the list with the poor of the churches, who are to be sustained by the charity of the churches, unless like the poor saints they are in reality poor. But whatever may be the pecuniary circumstances of the minister, if he devotes his time, labor, and worldly interests in the service of the church, the apostle makes it binding on his brethren, according to their ability to aid him in bearing the burden and expense to which he is for their benefit subjected, whether that expense be in time, labor, or money. If the preacher be subjected to no extra expense in time, labor, or money, we know of no claim he has for remuneration from his brethren; if he is poor, then with the poor he is to be cared for. But the law of equality makes it the duty of the saints to equalize the burdens which are required to be borne. If, therefore, the minister, or any other brother, be required to leave his corn field or work-shop and spend his time in the service of the church, or to sustain heavy expenses for the church, or in consequence of the station which he is called to fill in the church, all the brethren in the church who are as able to bear that expense as the preacher is, should step forward willingly and cheerfully, and divide the burden and expense with him.

The other point is in regard to preaching on mysterious subjects. If the minister is to preach only what all the saints understand, why is it required as a ministerial qualification that he must be apt to teach? Is not the ministry for the instruction of the saints, and for their edification? True, secret things belong to God, and things which are revealed belong to us and to our children; but it is equally true that “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant.” All that the Bible contains, and all that the Spirit of truth makes known are things revealed. Things which the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, and which are hidden from the wise and prudent are revealed unto babes; for the spirit searches even the deep things of God, and God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit. The case which brother Turner has referred to is in point. That which was a profound mystery to the eunuch was a revelation to Philip, and he preached that mystery to the eunuch, and he was also made to understand and rejoice in the same. Paul said to the Corinthians that he or we preach the wisdom of God in a mystery. Even the hidden wisdom, or secret things of God, which none of the princes of this world knew. Though they were the secret things which belong to God, yet so far as he has by his word and spirit made them known to us, they are things revealed, and belong, by a gracious grant from heaven, to us and to our children, and to all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

We preach Christ - this is a mystery. Without controversy, it is a great mystery - God manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. Unto Paul it was given that he “should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eph. iii. 8-11.

We presume that brother Turner only designs to set his face and testimony against vain speculations in regard to preaching and foolish questions about the law, endless genealogies, etc., which serve only to darken counsel, and produce strife and discord among the saints. Our remarks are only intended to prevent others from so construing his words as to make them favor what we are persuaded he does not mean.

Middletown, N.Y.
December 1,1858.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 171 - 173