THIRTEEN years’ incessant toil and labor in our connection with the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, has served to increase our conviction that, without Jesus, we can do nothing. All efforts to promote his cause, defend his truth, feed his flock, put to silence his enemies, or to proclaim his salvation with tongue, or pen, or press, are abortive and vain, if such efforts are not directed and attended by him who rideth upon the heavens in the help of Israel, and in his excellency upon the sky. A retrospect of he way in which the Lord has brought us, presents to our mind great cause for humiliation, devout gratitude and unfeigned love to God for his supporting grace; and thanks to our brethren for their kind forbearance, and for their seasonable aid from time to time, both pecuniary and co-operative.
Although with an honest heart we can affirm that we have discharged our duty as editor of this paper to the extent of our ability, and that we have labored hard and struggled long to sustain the publication, that we have met and overcome serious difficulties, encountered the disapprobation of friends as well as enemies, have borne reproach, incurred responsibilities, arid ceased not, by day or night, so far as we were able, to exhibit truth and oppose error; yet we freely confess that “the best obedience of our hands dares not appear before the throne” of God. Human weakness, depravity and sin mark and mar all that we have ever done. And if it were not for the encouraging reflection that God has hitherto helped, sustained and strengthened us thus far, we should feel disposed to lay by our pen and press, and leave the field which we have poorly occupied for the last thirteen years. But how can we forbear to hope that God, who is rich in mercy, and whose mercy has been so abundantly bestowed on us, will continue to be propitious, to bear us up and lead us on, until he shall see fit to discharge us from the war? And may we not hope also that our brethren who have so kindly borne with our infirmities so long, will still continue to extend to us their wonted kindness, and continue to contribute to the support of the publication their epistles of correspondence, and their efforts to extend its circulation?
We never have, nor would we now pretend or intimate, that a periodical publication is indispensable to the cause of truth; our claims are humble; we regard such a medium of christian correspondence as well worth all that it costs, for the satisfaction afforded in speaking to and hearing from one another. A paper of this description has its advantages and also its disadvantages; both should be duly considered. It makes the family of our Lord, scattered abroad, familiar with each other’s experience, travel, doctrine, order, conflicts, victories, fears and encouragements, doubts and deliverances. It opens a convenient medium for exhorting, admonishing, instructing, comforting and edifying one another. Letters might indeed be written, and a correspondence maintained, without the use of a printing press, but not at so cheap a rate, and it would be circumscribed to a very limited extent.
Now a letter written on doctrine, order, experience or exhortation may be read and appreciated by thousands, and among them very many who could have no benefit from the private correspondence of indiv1idual brethren. We have many, very many brethren located far remote from those they love in the Lord, and where the gospel is very seldom, and in some cases, never preached; such have strong claims upon the sympathies of their more favored brethren. Could we present to all our brethren the numerous expressions of joy and gratitude made by those hidden ones, we feel a confidence that those who enjoy superior advantages would cheerfully sustain the paper for their sakes, even if it were of much less importance to themselves.
It is true in a general correspondence, a discrepancy of sentiment on some particular subjects is made to appear, and brethren are wounded and discords are exposed which other wise might remain concealed; but does not the same consequences attend a correspondence conducted in any other way? If we may not write or correspond until we come so far into the unity of the spirit as to be perfectly agreed on every point that interests us as brethren, lest we display the depravity of our old natures, should we not also forbear to speak often one to another from fear of similar consequences? It is not pleasant for brethren to disagree; but if their different views be not expressed, how- are they to be benefited by the faithful admonitions of one another? Mortifying as it may be, let it come to the light, canvass every point, and settle every controversy by that standard which is infallible, the scriptures of truth. In the meantime, to be profitable to one another, we should learn to bear and forbear. Let none assume that they are the men, and wisdom will die with them, but rather cherish that spirit which leads them to esteem others better than themselves. If any are more highly favored of God in point of knowledge, wisdom, or discernment, or have been more deeply taught in the things of the blessed kingdom, let such not be exalted, or make a brother an offender for a word, but rather consider that all the gifts which God has bestowed on them, are the property of the whole church, and to be employed for common edification. Let that meek and loving spirit pervade our hearts, and our humble sheet, bearing the numerous epistles of love from brethren of the household of faith from every part of our wide spread country, will not, we trust, lie an unwelcome or useless visitor.
With this number we commence our labor under the new arrangement, and assume the name SIGNS OF THE TIMES, AND DOCTRINAL ADVOCATE AND MONITOR, having, as has been before announced, united the two papers. We can but feel that an additional responsibility is by this arrangement imposed on us. The talents of our departed and lamented brother must necessarily cease to shine forth as in former days. God has been pleased to beckon him away to fairer worlds on high, and in his absence it has fallen to our lot to occupy, so far as God may give ability, the ground which is vacated by his departure from the field; but as formerly, our dependence is in God; he alone can qualify us to serve his cause and to comfort his people. And, so long as it shall be his pleasure to incline our brethren to sustain the paper, and afford us strength, we desire to he found engaged as he shall direct.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
January 1, 1846
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 607 – 610