Pensive and alone, surround by men and things, and even God himself invisible in his person, yet manifest by and in his works, my mind recoils at the sensation of being so unreconciled to the dealings of his providence, which, though afflicting, is in tender mercy, and I hope designed to work for my good.
My beast having been hurt and got lame, and remaining so for some time, will probably disappoint me in visiting on this tour some places I had contemplated. But the Lord not only knows: he will do that which will be most for his people’s good, and best declare his glory: and with what he does I ought to be satisfied. Yea, in it I ought to rejoice. But my carnal mind, my sinful nature, works so in opposition, feels such a rankling, pours forth such a flood of corruption, that I am sick of myself – ashamed of myself, and sometimes vexed at myself to think that the dealings of God directed in infinite wisdom for the good of them whom I delight to serve, and long for their prosperity, and by which he will glorify himself, should produce in a feeble, foolish worm such wanton exercises, and lead him into such abominable, God-dishonoring feelings of mind and conduct, as I am too often found in before him: especially when I am reminded of my christian profession and character as a minister of the gospel of Christ: and cannot but believe that God has taught me many things in the testimony by the Light of his Holy Spirit, which he has hid from many flaming professors of religion – made me to differ from them, taught me that I have nothing but what I have received, and afforded me by turns that consolation of soul in the contemplation of the perfection of his eternal unchanging plan for the gathering, instruction and salvation of the bride of the Lamb, which all the honors, wealth and pleasures of this world cannot give.
Discovering that I feel and act so much like a whimsical petulant body, who has passed so many years, and has sometimes talked of being an old soldier, and who has had some official business to attend to, now to feel and show such irascibility, how becoming, especially when God has been so kind! I ought surely to blush and be ashamed to find such base ingratitude lurking within me, as to repine and find fault, and forget all the multitude of favors which he has granted, merely because one in ten thousand times ten thousand is denied, which I perhaps foolishly craved. And it may be in great mercy, even to poor sinful me, that infinite Wisdom and Goodness has seen fit thus to lay his afflicting hand on me, as he has so long ago, and so many times over taught me that I cannot see the end from the beginning, and he has declared it. O for a heart to confide in God, that doubts not his kindness any more in the darkness than in the light, or in adversity more than in prosperity; in afflictions than joys, or in storms and tempests more than in calms and sunshine. May I ever feel like David when he said, Bless the Lord, O my soul; and let all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. God is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is he. Justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne; mercy and truth shall go before his face. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound. I found some comfort to-day in reading the 41st and 42d Psalms. For a thought struck my mind of a similarity between Christ and the old School Baptists in relation to the feelings manifested towards them by his and our enemies as towards a head and the members of its body. The substance of their feelings is expressed Psa. lxxii. 11, saying, “God has forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.” And in xli. 8: As evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him; and now that he liveth he shall rise up no more. Or, as I have heard since I left home, that some one had said (in substance) That he hoped he should live to preach the funeral sermon of the last of these (as he called them) old Calvinists. And while I was looking at the above named Psalms, a thought ran through my mind of the question of the Psalmist, and in contemplation of the Saviour whom he personated: Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance, and my God. I have also been told shocking as it may seem to an intelligent man, that among the operatives in the professed work of converting sinners, some one or more have gone so far aso t profess, and appear to die for sinners. If this is not witchcraft, can it be anything less than awful blasphemy, and a plain rejection of the blood of the cross, and a most vile attempt, to appear to take the place of the Saviour themselves! Sure I am, that if the blood of Christ is unavailing for any, as they seem to think it must be for some, theirs, though they should really die in their blasphemous mummery, would not be sufficient to save themselves, much less any poor dupe they deceive by their mockery. Can it be supposed that such creatures have, with all their apparent zeal any sense of the being or presence of God, or of their accountability to him any more than the mountebank, or any of the most open enemies of God that are in the world? And yet see what multitudes are following in the train, though many are not so boldly blasphemous. And I have serious fears that it is the same principle in its exercise spoken of by Daniel the prophet, (Dan. vii. 22) which should speak great words against the Most High, and wear out the saints, &c.
There is one thing more I wish to tell you, as I was informed on my way. A certain pious young man, late from Orange co., who is not at Hamilton, enjoying the blessings of that institution to qualify him for the work of the ministry, has reported that an Old School Baptist brother informed him that Elder Beebe had a contract with the people where he preached, for a specified sum to pay him for his preaching to them. If I recollect right the sum was $300 per year, and that Elder Beebe would not preach without such agreement. Also, that Elder Harding would not even preach a funeral sermon without having his pay for it. In reply to which, I stated that I did not believe any such thing. Now if I have done wrong in so doing, and am mistaken in relation to your sentiments and practice in the case, please be so kind as to correct me therein, for which you shall have my sincere thanks.
Yours as ever,
Signs of the Times
Volume 11, No. 15
August 15, 1843