Time, with unremitting tread, and onward course, has brought us to the close of another eventful year of our mortal pilgrimage; but who can assure us that yet another year shall pass away ere we shall be numbered with the departed? Truly it is because our God is immutable that Jacob is not consumed. As with their lightning speed our moments pass away, and the close of every year reminds us that the time of our departure is at hand, it becomes us to reflect solemnly and soberly on the destiny to which we are so rapidly advancing. However doubtful to our understanding all else may be, we can not doubt that our mortal bodies shall soon be returned to the dust out of which they were fashioned. The silent grave will soon enclose the earthly house of our tabernacle. Of this it is impossible for us to doubt. But, how oft, alas! do we doubt in regard to the irrevocable destiny which awaits us in the world to come? Can it be that after death all that we are shall slumber in the grave? Can soul and spirit perish forever in the tomb, and we be as unconscious of all things after death as we were before our birth? It can not be. Death can separate the soul and spirit, the life and animation from these bodies, but it can not annihilate! We can not cease to be. The dust shall return to dust, but the soul shall return to God who gave it. It would be as reasonable to believe that we only exist in imagination, that we only are dreaming that we live, and move, and have a being, as to believe that we can cease to exist. For, if we do in reality exist, then it is an unavoidable conclusion, there must be an adequate pre-existing cause for our existence; and that cause must be God. Creatures could not exist if there were no Creator to give them being. And he who is competent to give existence must be self-existent, alone can be independent; and these perfections can only be found in God. Our own existence, therefore, proves beyond all successful contradiction the being of a God. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. (Rom. 1:20) The providence of God, of which we will not now particularly speak, also testifies of his existence, and supreme power. But on the revelation which he has graciously made, by his Word and Spirit, we depend for a saving knowledge of him. Admitting, then, his being, and that we are his creatures, we substantially acknowledge his right to rule over us, and our obligation to revere and obey him. To deny his existence is Atheism; to admit his existence is an acknowledgment of his right to order our destiny, and to dispose of us according to his sovereign will and pleasure; and, with the four beasts, and the four and twenty elders, it becomes us to fall down before him, and in their language, confess, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
As his creatures we have all sinned. By the offence of one man, sin has entered into the world, and death by sin; and death has passed on all men, because all have sinned. An indisputable demonstration of this is found in the universal mortality of all the posterity of that one man by whom sin has entered. Hence, the living know that they must die. Every year consigns its millions to the grave. The argument is irresistible. The year now closing has been more prodigal of human life than any of its predecessors, at least so far as our knowledge extends. And still the grim messenger, still unsatiated, lingers over our battle fields, our Navy, and our private dwellings. With unabating fury he aims his fatal shaft at the youth, the beauty, and the pride of our land, while all other classes of our fellow mortals are being hurried to their graves.
“Where is the man that draws his breath,
Safe from disease, secure from death?”
How blessed to know, amidst the ravages of death, and under the conviction that we who survive must shortly, in our turn, follow to the house which is appointed for all men, that for us Christ has disarmed death of its sting, and the grave of her victory. That, although in the earthly Adam we all die, in our spiritual Adam we are immortal. He is our Resurrection and our Life. He that believeth on him, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in him shall never die.
While we have much to lament, and great cause for deep humiliation before God on account of the strife and ill-will which abounds around us, and for God’s judgments which are abroad in our land, we who have a good hope, through grace, have abundant cause to bow down in humble acknowledgment of his goodness and distinguishing mercy bestowed on us, and for the hope of immortal glory beyond the grave. Truly, this world is not the Christian’s home. They would not live here always. For them to live is Christ, and to die is gain. In the world they shall have tribulation, but out of great tribulation they shall finally come up, with garments made white in the blood of the Lamb.
With the close of this year we close the Thirty-First Volume of the Signs of the Times, and the thirty-first year of our editorial labor. The fears of pecuniary embarrassment which were appalling to us at the commencement of the year, have been averted in the good providence of God, through the activity and generosity of our brethren, and friends, who have nobly sustained us, both with their liberal contributions, and their activity in extending our circulation. But for their kindness we think the publication would have involved us beyond what we were able to bear.
We tender our grateful thanks to those who have so cheerfully, generously, and voluntarily come to the rescue; and we assure them all that their donations, and also their successful exertions to procure new paying subscribers have been gratefully appreciated, and not only saved us from actual loss, but enabled us to reduce the amount of indebtedness under which we were struggling one year ago.
Although the price of printing paper fell to a lower figure during the past year, we are sorry to say it is now very high and still rising. And from the depreciation of our paper currency and other causes, of which our readers are aware, the cost of every kind of stock required for our publication is becoming enormous. But still, we do not propose to alter our subscription terms, lest we should place it beyond the limited ability of the poor to obtain it.
Several hundreds have been supplied during the past year out of the contributions which have been receipted as gratuitous donations.
December 15, 1863.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 438 – 441