EIGHTEEN hundred and forty-four years, according to the common register of time, have now elapsed since the angelic messengers surprised the shepherds in Jewry, with the news of a Savior’s advent to our guilty world. A new, a glorious era was on that day begun on earth, worthy of the anthem which was sung by the heavenly choir. That Prince and Savior’s name was brought down from heaven, announced and interpreted by an angel, because his name expressed the work which he came down from heaven to do: “For he shall save his people from their sins.” Joy, love and gratitude swelled the hearts of Simeon and Anna, who long had waited to see the salvation of the Lord. Nor were these two devoted children of the Lord alone in their joys; for all who waited for the salvation of God to come out of Zion, mingled with them in the transporting raptures of that grand event. The Savior came; the heavens bare record that he was the Son of God. His star appeared in the eastern. sky, and the wise men were guided by it to the humble birth-place of the King of Glory. Angels amazed looked on – beheld the condescension of the blessed Redeemer. From his manger to his cross, he was treated by the religionists of that age, as his truth and his people have been by the same class, from that period to the present time. Loaded down with reproach, slandered, derided, persecuted, and blasphemed, he was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. To do and to suffer all that was written of him in the law, the prophets and the Psalms were his meat and drink, until he had accomplished all his Father’s will; and then, with extended arms and bleeding heart, most solemnly declared, “It is finished!” and gave up the ghost.
Sinking down under the load of the transgressions of his dearly loved people, he poured out his soul unto death – was laid into his grave, and suffered his sepulchre to be watched by a guard of soldiers; but at the appointed morning unbarred the doors of death, and left the environs of the new tomb. Begotten from the dead, his Father recognized him, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” He sought, he found; he made himself known to some of those for whom he died, and gave them assurance that he was risen indeed, and become the First-fruits of them that slept. Henceforth he is seen standing in triumph upon Mount Zion as the Lamb that was slain, and saying, “I am he that was dead, and am alive; and behold I live for evermore, and have the keys of hell and death.” Who that has tasted his love, felt the application of his atoning blood, been clothed in his spotless righteousness, can contemplate his advent, his life, death and resurrection, and exaltation to the right hand of the Majesty on high, with cold indifference, or need the revolving wheels of time to bring about the season of the year in which it is customary to interchange congratulations, or wish each other “À happy New Year?” Why should the enemies of our God, the persecutors of our Savior Jesus Christ, the despisers of his gospel, and those who hate his people and his truth be more happy, that a new anniversary of the advent has arrived? It cannot be because that, by the constant stream of time they are hurried on still nearer to the perdition of ungodly men; and certainly not because they feel an interest in the Savior’s cause, but it must be regarded as an evidence of the blindness of the state which they are in.
With this new year we are permitted to present our readers with a sheet of our new volume of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES. We need not recapitulate all the difficulties we have had to encounter, and all the labors and toils we have been sustained under; it is sufficient for the present to say, that, “Having obtained help of God we continue.” Because our God changeth not, we are not consumed; and because his mercy endureth forever, we are encouraged to go on with our work.
At the commencement of our new volume, our brethren have a right to expect us to state what are our prospects, our views and our feelings in regard to our publication.
In regard to our prospects, we hope to be sustained, in a pecuniary point of view, by the liberality of our friends in patronizing its, by contributing as formerly to aid us in meeting the expenses of the work. We have not the ability to print and publish a sheet like this, semi-monthly, without the aid of our friends, nor do they expect it at our hands. t is for them we labor; for them we first engaged in the work, and when they think proper to withdraw their aid, the work must stop. We commenced our publication when there was no other Publication of the kind in the field, and when there was not another brother of our order within our knowledge willing to hazzard the expense of getting up such a publication. We advised with such brethren as we knew to be with us in sentiments, and they gave us all the encouragement they could to go on.
When the first meeting ever called by the Old School Baptists of the United States, was held at Black Rock, Baltimore County, Maryland, we attended, and by vote of that meeting our publication was recommended to the favorable consideration of the Old order of Baptists throughout the country. It was exceedingly doubtful, however, at that time, whether a sufficient support could he obtained to meet one-half the inevitable expense of the work: but with the assurance of our brethren that they would exert themselves to sustain us, we undertook: our brethren redeemed their pledge, and with the assistance of our enemies, whose violent opposition led them to publish us in their minutes and other publications, and thereby advise the oppressed among them of our undertaking, we were successful in our efforts. With much hard labor indefatigable perseverance and strict economy, we struggled through the first three or four years of our toil, encountering the most severe embarrassments, until at length we had obtained a subscription list of nearly three thousand names and spreading over nearly all the states and territories belonging, to our country. Our paper in the meantime had been the means of making the Old order of Baptists acquainted with each other, and of raising a formidable defence against the imposing religious inventions of those who bore our own name. Thousands who had felt themselves left alone in the field, and like the ancient prophet, had lamented that the Lord’s altars were thrown down, his prophets killed and their own lives sought for, were hunted out, comforted and encouraged to buckle on their armor, and again face the enemy. From various causes, our list of subscribers is reduced to about two thousand, and of that number several hundred do not pay; some are supplied gratuitously, and others from inability or neglect, omit to forward their dues. The patronage of our order is now divided among several periodicals which have been commenced subsequently to ours, and our opposition to certain heresies which have obtained in some sections of our wide-spread country has also had a tendency to circumscribe our circulation. We do not wish to be understood as complaining of the existence of other papers in the field; far from it: if the same cause in which we are engaged is suberved, if the same important truth which we have contended for is asserted and defended, it is of very little consequence by whom. It was not for our convenience we were induced to embark in the work, and however much our embarrassments may be increased by the multiplication of periodicals, purporting to set forth the doctrine and order of Old School Baptists, we will cheerfully hail as welcome contemporaries, such as contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. ‘We feel a desire that brother Jewett may be sustained, as we feel convinced that his utmost energies are enlisted in behalf of Sion, and his periodical will exert a healthful influence on the Old School Baptist cause. The Primitive Baptist also publishes much sold truth, but (pardon us) we do think that a periodical purporting to present the doctrine of the Old School Baptists ought to be tinder the supervision of a member of our communion.
Of the Western Predestinarian Baptist, we have hitherto forborne to remark; we have only seen a very few numbers, and have not been able to form so flattering an. opinion of it as we could wish. The wide-spreading heresy of what is termed the “Two seed doctrine,” ought to receive no countenance from those who claim to be Old Fashioned Baptists. From the days of John the Baptist until the days of Elder Daniel Parker, the doctrine was unknown among the Baptists, and God has been considered the creator of all things. We doubt not that many well-meaning brethren have been drawn into the error, and some have withdrawn their subscriptions from our list because of our opposition to the new theory, and others because we have refused to suffer our columns to be filled with long articles written in defence of that absurd theory. We have been complained of bitterly as being unfair to oppose that theory and refuse its advocates the use of our columns for its defence. If the two seed doctrine had ever been held as a part of the faith distinguishing the Baptists of former ages, we should not feel at liberty to shut out the defence of its advocates; but as it is a new theory among those who claim to be Baptists, we treat it as we do the arminian, the Campbellite, and the Arian heresy. And if our course should subject us to the loss of all our subscribers, and in addition thereto the loss of life itself, we cannot wink at, or in any manner, directly or indirectly, countenance what we conceive to be involved in that absurd doctrine.
We have no disposition to claim for ourself infallibility. None can be more sensible of the imperfections that mark and mar all that we say or do; but a sense of our weakness and liability to err, does not exonerate us from the responsibility resting on us to oppose what we know to be a departure from the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Our desire is to contend only for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, both publicly and privately, in the pulpit and through the press; but for the ability to do so we are as dependent on God as are any of our brethren.
We are far from believing that it is time to throw off our armor; the enemy still comes in like a flood, and it becomes us who have taken a stand against the delusions of the times to deport ourselves as good soldiers of the cross of our illustrious Leader, and never yield one inch of ground to the common foe. “Put yourselves in array against Babylon, round about, all ye that bend the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows,” is the word of our Commander. Let not a rag of her stolen livery remain to hide her abominable iniquity. “Take away her battlements, for they are not the Lord’s.” And as we follow our Captain to the field of combat, let us cheer each other with words of comfort; not forgetting that we have some in our ranks who have been sorely bruised and wounded by the enemy; these need our care and sympathy; some young recruits also which the Lord is bringing in require to be drilled and encouraged. We have nothing to lose in this warfare, we have everything to stimulate us to press forward.
“The weakest saint shall win the day,
Though hell and death obstruct the way.”
We have the assurance of our God that the saints shall triumph through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Onward, then, ye soldiers of the cross, to victory:
“And when our General, Christ, shall come,
With sound of trumpet (not of drum,)
Then we’ll march up the heavenly street
And ground our arms at Jesus’ feet.”
As for ourself, we hope that our eleven years’ campaign has made us somewhat familiar with some of the devices of our old adversary, and some of the base trickery of his legions; we feel disposed with all the ability our Lord shall bestow, to stand to our post; and although less than the least of all saints, record the progress of truth, and the exposure of error.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
January 1, 1844
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 373 – 379