HAVING had a little time to reflect upon the past and that which so recently took place: the death of our beloved associate, Elder Chick, the above word is very expressive of our feeling, and we think a short article along this line will not be out of place at this time. The SIGNS was founded by Elder Gilbert Beebe and other brethren, as will be seen by the prospectus, and edited and published by him from 1832 until 1881, when he was called home to enjoy the fullness of salvation at the right hand of God. After his death Elder Wm. L. Beebe, his son, was appointed to the position of editor, and continued until 1894, when he retired. During his service he resided in Warwick, N. Y., and Elder Benton Jenkins was in the SIGNS office, and of course was of great assistance to Elder Beebe, so that he was not “alone.” Elder Jenkins was still in the office when Elder Chick succeeded Elder Wm. L. Beebe, and was appointed to the editorial staff with Elder Chick, so that neither was “alone.” At the death of Elder Jenkins, in 1897, brother Benton Beebe, owner and publisher of the SIGNS, became associated with Elder Chick in the editorial work, hence was not “alone.” At his death, in 1904, we were assigned to the office work that had been done by him, and after a year or two were appointed to the editorial staff with Elder Chick, so that he was not “alone.” We served together in perfect union and fellowship to the day of his death. Now that he has been called to his eternal reward we are left entirely alone, a condition of no editor of the SIGNS since the time when Elder Gilbert Beebe was the sole editor, and even then in the latter part of his work Elder Jenkins was in the office with him. The fact of Elder Chick having lived in Hopewell, N. J., one hundred and twenty miles away from the SIGNS office, much of the work, such as preparation of copy and proofreading, fell upon us, but while he lived we felt that he shared the entire responsibility of the publication of the SIGNS, and whenever anything of special importance came up we could advise with him, and always found his counsel wise and his attitude kind and gentle. But he is no more, and we are “alone” in the editorial department, which position we feel altogether unequal to, and never imagined that such responsibility would fall upon us. Few, if any, realize what the position means. Not only are we expected to write for each number of the SIGNS, but to see that nothing but sound doctrine enters its columns, also to avoid controversy and at all times to deal gently and kindly with all writers and subscribers, regardless of conditions or circumstances. The SIGNS OF THE TIMES has ever been a representative periodical, setting forth the doctrine of the original, or genuine, Old School Baptists of America, and to maintain its standard means more labor and hardship than many imagine. To write editorially number after number requires a very fruitful mind, in order to have sufficient variety to keep its readers interested. To answer the many questions regarding doctrine, order and practice requires much understanding of the Scriptures, order of the house and plainness of expression. To judge matter for publication, and the preparation of the same, requires almost acute judgment, much patience and hours of labor. To convince a brother that it would be better not to publish his article, which in itself might be excellent, for the reasons that it would be likely to cause controversy or offend some tender conscience, is not at all times an easy matter to accomplish. After enumerating the above qualifications of a man suitable for an editor of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, is it any wonder that we feel utterly insufficient for the responsibilities now resting upon us? We humbly trust that the Lord has a David or a Solomon somewhere for the place, but until made manifest we shall have to do the best we can. Some way or other we feel that the Lord does not intend that such a grave position shall be occupied long by us.
We have received many letters of sympathy and encouragement since the death of brother Chick, and we appreciate each one and thank the brethren for their remembrance of us. Some have hoped and suggested that we maintain in all our efforts the meek, quiet, gentle and loving spirit that characterized all of dear brother Chick’s, labors. How gladly we would be such a man as he was, but the brethren doubtless know that every man has his own gifts, and it would be hypocrisy to be other than self, or, in other words, try to imitate another. Each editor of the SIGNS from its first issue has had his own gift, style of writing and expression; no two have been at all alike. This is also true in the ministry, every man has his own gift, and while the same truth is expressed, it is always done in different language and with different emphasis. We can only look to the Lord for help, strength and guidance, and if he gives to the writers and subscribers of the SIGNS to hold up our hands we shall do the best we can to maintain the high standard of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
Be it remembered that if we delay in replying to requests it will be for lack of time or understanding, was we do not mean to be indifferent toward the wishes of any one. We hope the brethren and sisters will continue to write for the SIGNS as often as they can, we need their help in this direction also, and while it may he burdensome to one, and another feel that his or her gift is not great in writing, we say for your encouragement that often articles and private letters published in the SIGNS are much more enjoyed than the editorials, and we feel sure that such will be the case now more than ever before. The SIGNS is read by hundreds of believers who need just such comfort as those give who feel poor and needy, weak and worthless, sick and faint.
Before closing we desire to say that the Old School Baptist denomination has suffered a great loss in the death of Elder Chick. Not only was he an able editor, but an excellent preacher of the gospel of the grace of God. We had known him almost from childhood, and knew him to be a favorite with all classes of men, because of his kind and gentle manner. We never knew of his speaking illy of any one, but rather was always ready to excuse and forgive any who manifested faults and failings. His disposition was to be envied. He said of himself that he was never angry but once in his life, and that time when a mere boy. How richly blessed of the Lord was he, an example of good works.
Often the people of God are made to wonder at his dealings with men, suffering hundreds to remain who would be glad to go because of age and infirmities, because of poverty and distresses, and taking those so useful, so much needed, in the very prime of life. At this time in our eastern associations there seems real need of ministers, as there are many more churches than preachers, and some churches accustomed to having meeting every Sunday have had to divide the time of their pastors with sister churches that have been left destitute through the death or moving away of their own ministers. But the Lord is able to supply all the needs of his people through the riches of Christ Jesus, and his promises are yea and amen to his honor and glory. Yet often many of us become “faint-hearted,” and say with Jacob of old, All these things are against us. May the Lord give to each of his ministers to stand in their lot with zeal and fortitude, remembering that He is the builder of the house and the keeper of the city, and that when it pleases him the wilderness shall blossom as the rose, rivers break forth in the mountains and springs in the valleys. May the Lord keep all his people as the apple of his eye and reconcile them to his holy will in all things. K.
Elder H. C. Ker
Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 11
June 1, 1914